We’ve only been completely finished with the kitchen for a few months and we already made a change.
That was a trick photo, as the update isn’t visible in the photo.
Also, to be fair, it was a change we knew we might want to make–adding a garbage disposal back underneath the sink. We had one in the old kitchen, but we didn’t replace it when we upgraded to our farmhouse sink because there wasn’t a lot of room in the cabinet, or our budget. The sink came with a little strainer basket insert for the drain that caught food scraps and we figured we’d try that for awhile. We could always add the disposal later if we wanted.
Ideally, we would have emptied and cleaned that little cup every time we used the sink…but we all know that didn’t happen. Yuck.
So, after a few months of wishing we had put in a garbage disposal, we decided to grab one at Home Depot and just get it over with.
It turned out to be a pretty simply project, and it only took us an afternoon to get it all done. But, we did end up having to make an extra unexpected trip to Home Depot which I’ll explain later.
To start, we chose the Insinkerator Badger 500 model. It was in the cheaper line (the ones without extra sound insulation) and the middle offering in terms of power. We didn’t really know what we were doing when we chose this one, but figured the middle of the line was the best bet in terms of our needs since we don’t use often enough to justify the heavy-duty one, but also didn’t want to worry about it getting jammed with not enough power.
The next step was to get the electrical ready to go.
This disposal didn’t come with a plug-in. Instead, it’s just wires to connect directly to a power source. Our old disposal (before we redid the kitchen and removed it) was set up with a light switch attached to an outlet below the sink and we preserved that system but left the outlet empty with no disposal plugged into it.
(The other plug you see there is the dishwasher.)
Since we wanted to use continue to use that switch, I bought a power cord kit at Home Depot which allowed me to convert it from being hard wired in to being a plug in model.
I just followed the instructions that came with the kit, but as usual, if you’re unfamiliar with electrical work, make sure you consult a professional. But, this is pretty simple because you’re not working on any live wires.
Once we had the disposal itself ready to go, we had to remove the strainer/drain flange from the sink by unscrewing the large nut that holds it in place underneath the sink. Then, I could push it up through the sink hole. I also took the old drain and P trap apart down below using channel-lock pliers and cleaned out the old pipe parts and the connection to the sink since we were going to reuse those. I also had to unhook the dishwasher because it gets hooked up to the disposal as well.
The disposal comes with it’s own sink connector for the drain. Once we were ready to put everything back, I applied a roll of plumbers putty to the new sink connection.
The putty goes around the flange piece of the sink connection that you put on the top side of the sink. Don’t worry about using too much, as any excess with squeeze out as you tighten it down, and it can be easily cleaned off the sink.
It’s best to alternate tightening each screw a little bit at a time until the mounting assembly locking ring is evenly tightened against the bottom of the sink on all sides. The putty should be squeezing out all around the flange.
Once that locking ring piece was in place (Melissa made sure to line the writing up, so it wasn’t crooked), I tightened everything down from below. We wiped away the excess putty from the sink.
Because we were also connecting our dishwasher, I needed to tap out the dishwasher knockout plug before getting under the sink. Don’t forget to remove that plug from inside the disposal. Then, I was ready to make the connections underneath.
The disposal itself just attaches onto the locking ring at the bottom of the sink. To do that, align the disposer with the three mounting ears on the sink mounting assembly. Holding the disposer in place, then, rotates it about 1/3 of a rotation to lock it in place.
After that, we just needed to hook the pipes back up to the main drain waste pipe, which should have been easy, but because our sink is so deep, we didn’t have enough room and the disposal overlapped where the main drain pipe needed to be. That meant a quick run to Home Depot to get an extra few pieces that allowed me to cut the pipe and reattach everything in a slightly different location. Frustrating, but not too bad.
The disposal came with the pipe needed to connect to the existing P-trap, so I just had to install the discharge tube to the disposer and then turn it to align with the drain trap (the one I just moved). If you had the alternate problem and there is too much room, you might need to purchase extension pieces to make it all fit. There should also be a rubber gasket.
Finally, I connected the dishwasher tube to the disposal.
After a quick test to make sure the disposer worked, we ran the water for awhile to ensure we didn’t have any leaks, and we were good to go. All in all, a simple project that we probably should have done awhile ago, but we’re just glad we no longer have to clean soggy food crumbs out of the strainer basket.
This is a pretty simple project, but it’s best to read all the directions, first. If you’d like more help, try this video from This Old House.
We’ve been really happy with this little update. It’s easier to wash dishes and there’s less of a clean-up process since we don’t have to dump and clean that bucket all the time. We were a little concerned it wouldn’t work with the big sink, but it turned out to be an easy fix to accommodate both.
Melissa says it’s the best of both worlds. Or that she’s having her cake and eating it, too. I apologize for her cheesy comments.
Any questions? Are you a fan of garbage disposals or prefer to do without?