15 Pros and Cons of a Garbage Disposal Air Switch

Most garbage disposals require you to hook the unit into your home’s electrical grid. When you flip a switch by your sink, then you turn the appliance on.

If you have a unit with a garbage disposal air switch, then you can take the activation of the appliance off of your electrical grid. You’ll still need to plug the disposer into an approved outlet, but then another line runs to the side of your sink where the button can mount there or on your countertop. Some models offer an optional wall plate with the soft air button.

Your wall outlet must be grounded for this option to work. When you press the button, then a pulse of air goes through PVC tubing to the control box you’ll install under the sink. That’s where the air pressure switch is located, which then activates without the need for electricity.

Several pros and cons of a garbage disposal air switch are worth reviewing if you need to upgrade your kitchen today.

List of the Pros of a Garbage Disposal Air Switch

1. It is very easy to mount a garbage disposal air switch.
Because you don’t need to tie your garbage disposal air switch into an electrical grid, most homeowners with a little DIY experience can get this job finished rather quickly. There isn’t any new wiring to add to your circuit. Once you have the unit in place, the air switch ties directly to the outlet that you plug into the receptacle. The shot of air can then be placed within reach of the sink so that you can stay focused on what you are doing.

It is less common to use a garbage disposal air switch when compared to the standard electrical tie-in, but it is a method frequently used for kitchen island installations.

2. It is a design that’s super simple to use.
Most garbage disposal air switches can receive a sink-mounted placement because of their design. As long as the outlet you use for it is grounded, then it can be close to where you use water in the kitchen. This design process eliminates the need for a specialized receptacle and other costly upgrades that some homes require to install this appliance. Since all you need to do is reach over to tap the button, you can go on with your work quickly without creating a mess by reaching for a wall-mounted traditional switch.

3. It is an option that reduces the risk of an error.
Several TV shows and movies have used the idea of flipping the wrong switch for the garbage disposal as a plot element. This idea is possible because most kitchen switches near the sink use 2-4 selections as a way to maximize the GFCI installation. If your hand is in the drain area and someone hits the wrong switch, then there is a real fear of injury to consider. You can eliminate this risk with a sink or countertop placement for the air switch because everyone will know what that item controls.

4. It provides an extra measure of safety against electrical shock.
The control mechanism with a garbage disposal air switch doesn’t require any electricity outside of what you’d use to power the appliance. Its activation process doesn’t need a current to start the unit’s rotation, so the puff of air it sends is much safer for the average user. The installation means you can reduce the risk of electrical shock in your home. This advantage also makes it possible to install an activation switch in places that wouldn’t be possible with a more traditional design.

5. It comes with a variety of design options from which to choose.
When you decide that a garbage disposal air switch is the best option for your home, then you’ll have a variety of different looks and styles available for the installation. Most homeowners can find something that works with their existing countertop or sink so that the upgrade blends right in with the rest of the décor.

6. It still gives you a sanitary way to dispose of food items.
The benefits of a garbage disposal are still possible when you’re using an air switch. You have a fast and efficient way to get rid of your food scraps without clogging up your drainage system. It’s a sanitary method of removal that gives you more time to finish cleaning up your kitchen. Using a compost pile will always be a better option, but this choice is often a favorite if that isn’t a possibility.

7. It still provides you with a convenient way to eliminate scraps.
Homeowners often prefer a garbage disposal because it allows them to get rid of their food scraps instead of saving them until the next trash day. When you use this unit correctly with running water, it flushes away items that could attract pests or insects if you stored them in other ways. There might be limitations based on your septic capacity or the water usage limits you have in place, but you’ll find that an air switch still makes it faster and easier to clean off your plates when you’re finished with a meal.

8. It works to keep down odors that can form with compost.
Food decomposition can cause bothersome odors to spread in your backyard. Compost piles can attract rats, squirrels, and other pests that can bring fleas and other problems to your property. When you can use a garbage disposal with an air switch, then you can move away from the idea of rotting trash. Flushing away the waste won’t stop the issue of having too much food being used in the first place, but you won’t create additional problems that you’ll need to manage with this appliance.

List of the Cons of a Garbage Disposal Air Switch

1. Installing a garbage disposal air switch can cost more.
You can expect to pay up to 30% more for your garbage disposal if you opt for an air switch instead of the traditional version. It requires a specialized installation point instead of being hardwired into your kitchen’s circuit, so there can be several issues that require specific construction methods. You might need to drill out a hole in your countertop or sink of a mounting placement isn’t there already, which could reduce the integrity of the entire installation.

If you don’t have a wired circuit near your sink, then a garbage disposal air switch is about the same cost as hiring an electrician. If you do, then the only way to avoid this disadvantage is to do the work yourself.

2. This design doesn’t work with all types of garbage disposals.
If you want to use a garbage disposal air switch, then the best practice is to purchase a unit from the outset that works with this option. Older models that are already installed in your home may not have the capability of receiving this upgrade. Before making a purchase, make sure that your current type of disposal can function with the air switch.

3. You can’t get rid of the power source entirely.
It is essential to remember that a garbage disposal air switch still requires electricity to function. You’re going to be plugging the appliance into a receptacle under your sink, which means there is still a water hazard next to an electrical circuit. You’ll want to invest in a GFCI outlet for this unit if one isn’t in place already.

4. There can be jamming or clogging issues that occur.
All garbage disposals can get clogged occasionally. If you put the wrong food scraps down the drain, like potato peelings, rice, or coffee grounds, then you can jam up the system so that it won’t work. A garbage disposal air switch may not activate the appliance with the same initial wattage as a hardwired circuit, which means you might end up dealing with more clogs than you would with a traditional design.

One of the best ways that you can avoid this disadvantage is to avoid putting hot grease or expanding food products into the system. Not only can you create problems with your drain when these items congeal, but it can also lead to higher levels of water waste.

5. You might dull the blade prematurely.
Because a garbage disposal air switch might not create the same spinning RPMs as a traditional unit with some designs, you may find that the blades of the appliance become dull faster. This disadvantage occurs most often when you try to grind hard foods with the unit, such as meat products or starchy items. When the blades are no longer sharp, then it takes longer for the unit to cut through the food scraps.

This issue can contribute to the jamming or clogging issues mentioned above in this guide.

6. It can contribute to more odor issues in the kitchen.
When you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen that uses an air switch, then you must correctly maintain the appliance to ensure that the benefits of using it remain possible. You can eliminate odors with this technology, but poor maintenance can also cause foul smells to develop in your kitchen with greater frequency.

The garbage disposal can allow food particles to stay along the blade or the inner lining of the appliance. Those items will start rotting over time, creating a foul smell from your drain that can be challenging to remove. You’ll want to use baking soda or an approved cleaning product from the appliance manufacturer to help resolve this issue.

7. You are still running the risk of a potential injury.
Even when you use a garbage disposal air switch with your setup, there is still a risk of injury that you must consider. If you are reckless or careless with this appliance, the sharp blades can quickly injure any body parts you stick into the unit. Teach any kids that live with you how to properly use and care for this unit to avoid issues with this disadvantage. It may be helpful to invest in a product that uses a magnetic cover to avoid unintentional injuries.

There is also still a risk of electrical shock to consider with a garbage disposal air switch. The puff of air might activate the unit, but you must use a grounded outlet to supply power to the appliance. Failing to do so could cause current-based injuries by touching the sink or countertop when it is operating.


Most homeowners will find that the traditional method of installing a garbage disposal works well for them. If you already have an outlet that ties directly to a switch near your sink, then you can plug the appliance into that receptacle without any installation work at all. You also have the option of directly wiring the circuit to a switch with GCFI protection to gain most of the advantages listed in this guide.

The best time to evaluate the pros and cons of a garbage disposal air switch is when you have a sink placed in a kitchen island. If you don’t have wiring that goes underneath your floor, then this design will give you more placement options while reducing the risk of exposure to electrical currents.

It costs a little more to use an air switch, but the advantages are also worthwhile to consider. This option isn’t the best choice for everyone, although it could be the best way to install or upgrade a garbage disposal in your home today.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.