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Thread: Should a garbage disposal be on a GFCI?

  1. #1
    DIY Member Erico's Avatar
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    Default Should a garbage disposal be on a GFCI?

    I opted to install a switched outlet under the sink for the disposal (rather than a hard wire with a whip). Should I install a GFCI?

    Also, there will be a non-switched outlet for a potential hot water dispenser. I thought I remembered seeing in one set of specs that they recommend a GFCI but the specs I printed for a model we are considering do not say anything about recommending GFCI.

    My inclination is always GFCI near water. But will there be tripping issues with a switched appliance such as a G/D?

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erico View Post
    ...will there be tripping issues with a switched appliance such as a G/D?
    Sorry, I cannot answer your first question but as for this one, I think it could have a propensity to trip. All my outdoor recptacles are GFCI and when I use them to power motorized tools like saws and drills, they easily trip when shutting off the tool. I think it has to do with the collapsing magnetic field on the motor coils and/or the motor becoming a generator. Possibly not all GFCIs are created equal and YMMV.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erico View Post
    I opted to install a switched outlet under the sink for the disposal (rather than a hard wire with a whip). Should I install a GFCI?

    Also, there will be a non-switched outlet for a potential hot water dispenser. I thought I remembered seeing in one set of specs that they recommend a GFCI but the specs I printed for a model we are considering do not say anything about recommending GFCI.

    My inclination is always GFCI near water. But will there be tripping issues with a switched appliance such as a G/D?
    Is this a kitchen sink? If so then no GFCI required

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    DIY Member Erico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    Is this a kitchen sink? If so then no GFCI required

    Yes. Kitchen sink. Two outlets. One switched for the disposal and the other non-switched for a hot water dispenser.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    If it is a regular wall switch then it should be GFCI protected. Don't most disposers have an air coupled push button?

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I agree with jwelectric. I've never seen a GFI on a disposer.

    And I sold very few air switches for disposers. They are handy if there is no space on the wall for a switch though.

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    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    If it is a regular wall switch then it should be GFCI protected.
    Would you like to provide a code citation for this?

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Would you like to provide a code citation for this?
    Not really. The operative question was "should", not "must" as was my advice. There is no point in me quoting Canadian Electrical Code to the OP who lives in NY.

    If you can ground one hand on the sink or tap and reach the unprotected switch with the other perhaps wet hand, common sense dictates that a GFCI "should" be used. Canadian code may dictate it too. When I built my home 12 years ago, I did my own wiring and read through the code books at the time, but am too lazy to scour through it now.

    A quick google search suggests that GFCI outlets must be installed on all receptacles within 1.5 meters of a sink.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Here is an excerpt from my google search.

    GFCI Protection of Kitchen Counter Receptacles
    Rule 26-700(12)
    The 2002 edition of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code includes an Ontario amendment to Rule 26-700, which requires Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection for Kitchen Counter receptacles effective January 1, 2003. The new Subrule (26-700(12) states that effective January 2003:
    (12) Receptacles located in kitchens and installed within 1 m of a kitchen sink along the wall behind counter work surfaces shall be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter of the Class A type.
    Appendix B note: Distance of 1 m is measured from edge of kitchen sink.
    The following guidelines shall be used for consistent interpretation and application of this new subrule effective January 1, 2003.
    1. This rule applies to all receptacle installations located within 1 m of a kitchen sink along the wall behind counter work surfaces where the plans or application for inspection is received on or after January 1, 2003.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    So........are you planning on using the disposer like a toaster? And have it on the counter?

    Everybody knows that the outlets "above" the counter are GFI''d
    That wasn't' the question though. The question was for a disposer that is "below" the counter.
    Below; opposite of above.

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    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    I realize the outlet is "Under" the counter but the switch presumably will be "Above" the counter. I'm sure I can find some code reference to a light/fan/switch near a sink or bathtub/shower etc. We GFCI protect anything that is within easy reach of a sink/tub/shower/etc. Why would a disposer be any different?


    We see here in a lot of new construction that the light switch is on the outside of the bathroom. Mine is on the inside, albeit protected by GFCI. The same with my laundry room. Now, I stopped short of using GFCI on the washer because it would likely trip it. I don't generally operate the wash machine while I have a hand in the sink or on the tap. A garbage disposer however is more prone to be operated whilst touching the faucet which is why they came out with those air switches. If you guys want to build to minimum code, that's your choice.

    I would choose not to use a GFCI but then I would use an air switch.
    Last edited by Terry; 02-22-2011 at 03:55 PM.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Being that Canada uses the NEC there is no requirement to GFCI a receptacle below the sink there just as there is no requirement to protect the receptacle with GFCI here.

    Switches are not required to be GFCI protected at all in any location.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A typical light switch would have to be in really bad shape to get a shock off of it. Now, a static discharge if you happen to hit an exposed cover screw could happen!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LLigetfa View Post
    I'm sure I can find some code reference to a light/fan/switch near a sink or bathtub/shower etc. We GFCI protect anything that is within easy reach of a sink/tub/shower/etc. Why would a disposer be any different?
    No, this is a case of not knowing the code and throwing an OVER coded situation at it to cover yourself, in the guise of "safety".

    So you wired you own house a few years ago, and "read through the code books at the time", and you think this give you the authority/experience to be giving advice on electrical mesage boards???

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    So we have a guy that works in an IT department for his day job that used an air switch in his home.

    And all the electrical contractors that wire homes for a living, that know what the code says and can wire to code saying; No. a GFI is not used.
    Sounds like the question has been answered.

    NO GFI needed for a disposer.
    Thanks to all the sparky's that had a handle on this.

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