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Are Garbage Disposals Required By Code in USA

Garbage disposals are used in half of all the houses in the USA. Since people use these machines in everyday life, many are not sure whether they are required in a house by code or not.

Garbage disposals are not required by code anywhere in the USA including states like California. Installing a garbage disposal is purely optional and so far, no state or local legislation in the USA mandates them in houses. But for certain commercial establishments, garbage disposals are a must.

Not only are these machines not mandatory, but some cities and states are also thinking of banning them because they overload the sewage treatment systems.

Why do people use garbage disposals

Garbage disposals are used as an alternative to trash cans. Instead of putting food wastes in the trash can, you can dump them into the garbage disposal. A garbage disposal sits beneath the sink between its drain hole and the drain pipe. It uses an impeller to grind food wastes, and the ground food wastes are sent through the drainpipes into the sewer system.

Also, people prefer garbage disposals because the food wastes won’t sit in the bin rotting. Getting rid of food waste is easier with a garbage disposal since all you have to do is dump them in the sink.

Is garbage disposal an appliance?

A garbage disposal uses electricity to work, and it has a motor. But it is part of the plumbing system. So people are often confused about whether a garbage disposal is an appliance or a fixture. Which is it really?

Garbage disposals are neither appliances nor fixtures. They fall into a special category called Plumbing Appliance. As per the 2012 International Plumbing Code, a plumbing appliance is a drain connected device with one or more energized components.

Other examples of plumbing appliances are water softeners, water heaters, and dishwashers.

Are garbage disposals environmentally friendly?

There is a robust ongoing discussion on whether garbage disposals are good for the environment or not. Many insist that they are more environmentally friendly than trash cans since food wastes do not end up in landfills. Food waste dumped in landfills emits methane gas that contributes to global warming. Using garbage disposals instead of trash cans reduces these emissions.

While this argument sounds solid in theory, there are many downsides to it. The food wastes dumped in the sewers end up in waste treatment facilities, and not all such facilities are capable of handling such large amounts of organic matter. Some facilities convert these food wastes into fertilizers and energy. But many other facilities dump them into landfills which is counterproductive.

So using a garbage disposal doesn’t make much environmental sense unless the wastewater treatment facility in your locality is equipped with technology to convert food wastes into energy.

Why were garbage disposals banned in NewYork City

Garbage disposals were banned in NYC until 1997 becuase the aged sewer system there couldn’t handle the excess food debris in the water.

Further Reading:

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.