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  1. #1
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    Default Food disposal question

    Should a food disposal be used on a septic tank system?

    While I'm on disposals.
    Is a shutoff switch required for a batch type disposal?
    If it is, then why use a batch type disposal at all?

    Thanks

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  2. #2
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    I have not seen the batch type disposals, but a quick google search confirmed that the switch is present in the hopper and activated by the plunger. I would think that a 2nd switch would be redundant, but I am no expert.

    No, there should not be a disposal on a home with a septic system.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Insinkerator makes a line of disposals intended for use on septic systems. LINK


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Rick,

    "Is a shutoff switch required for a batch type disposal?"

    This is in the installation instructions for GE batch type disposers: "Turn the power switch (normally a wall switch) to the off position before attempting to clear a jam or remove an object from the disposer.", and this "When not operating a disposer, leave the drain stopper in place to reduce the risk of objects falling into the disposer."

    Those two tell me that a wall switch (or other switch) is necessary for proper installation and operation of both types of disposers.


    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 10-01-2007 at 05:38 AM. Reason: speelin'
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Thanks

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    A lot of plumbers will tell you that there shouldn't be a disposal on ANY plumbing system.... of course, some plumbers are just cranky.

    I think a lot of people expect more from disposals then they are capable of and run into trouble. Just because you can cram it down the hole doesn't mean it's okay to do so.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    For those that like to be up on their terminology:

    The proper term is disposer. Disposal is General Electric's brand name. Not much different than saying hot water heater.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    For those that like to be up on their terminology:

    The proper term is disposer.
    Actually ... the proper term is "food waste grinder".

    Not much different than saying hot water heater.
    Yeah, I've always wondered why one would *heat* *hot water* - it's really a 'water heater' instead of 'hot water heater'. I know, some architects still show them on the plans as HWH, and some older-than-I-am old fogies still call them 'hot water heaters', but this is the 'post-ice-age' where we have progressed beyond starting fires by rubbing two sticks together.

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  9. #9
    Russel Ray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    My family and I have had great success using bio-additives in our septic systems. All of us use disposals/disposers/food waste grinders. Note that I come from a very, very, very large family (Mormons and Catholics) and very rural (Texas, Idaho, and Utah) family. Figured I would open that can of worms for everyone.

    My water heater is, indeed, also a hot water heater by the very nature of the fact that it is a tank water heater and not a tankless water heater. Several years ago when this topic came up here and elsewhere, I determined that the thermostat setting on my Richmond water heater is about 6F increments with the manufacturer's recommended setting providing water that is at about 121F. Consequently, when the water temperature in the tank get to about 115F, the thermostat causes the burners to light to heat up the 115F water back to 121F. The last time I held my little ol' finger under 115F water, it was, indeed, hot. Ergo, our tank water heaters are, indeed, hot water heaters. A great reason to go to a tankless water heater when next you need a water heater; prevents a lot of wasted energy heating that hot water to an even hotter temperature.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    FWIW Evanston, IL - which is usually pretty persnickety about electrical matters - did not require a dedicated disconnect means for the batch FWG in my kitchen.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 10-02-2007 at 06:41 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    FWIW Evanston, IL - which is usually pretty persnickety about electrical matters, did not require a dedicated disconnect means for the batch FWG in my kitchen.
    Michael,

    I'm guessing it does ... is your food waste grinder cord and plug connected?

    If 'Yes.', that is your disconnect.

    If 'No.', then I am wrong (again).

    However, that said, what is being discussed is not 'the disconnect' but 'a switch'.

    Say your batch food waste grinder clogs up ... turning the switch off would allow you to 'un-stick' it with having to unplug it or turn the breaker off.

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  12. #12
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    Post Re: Food disposal question

    I've lived in three homes now (two of which I built and the other one was an extensive remodel) all of which were on septic systems. They all had garbage disposers (two in fact in one of the homes). I have had no septic problems over the years (5 - 15yrs). However, when I'm inspecting homes on septic systems and I run across a disposer in the kitchen (which by the way is quite frequent), I recommend to the client(s) not to over use it (meaning don't throw everything down them).

    RJDalga
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Jerry,

    The GE instructions operating instructions apply to both the batch and continuous feed models, as do the installation instructions.

    The installation instructions (pp 2) say:

    "Most houses have electrical outlets under the sink that are half-hot. This means one outlet is controlled by the wall switch, while the other is always hot. The batch-feed or “TC” model connects to the hot side, while the continuous feed model connects to the switch side."

    This implies to me that at least as far as the manufacturer is concerned, these models do not require a switch.

    http://products.geappliances.com/App.../r02488v-1.pdf

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    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 10-02-2007 at 07:07 AM.

  14. #14
    Martin Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Should a food disposal be used on a septic tank system?
    No

    While I'm on disposals.
    Is a shutoff switch required for a batch type disposal?
    Yes
    If it is, then why use a batch type disposal at all?
    The switch may be installed out of sight.

    Martin


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    New guy on the block here - - - so please correct me if my understanding of this matter is incorrect.

    The reason that a "Waste Disposer" is not recommended in a home utilizing a septic systems is that the septic system may not be of sufficent capacity / size to handle the added water volume.

    However, a system may be designed / spec'd to allow for the use of such waste units.

    So, one may have to confirm the actual size of the current system and do some calculations to know with any certainty if the unit may or may not be an issue.

    Anyway, that's my take on the matter.....

    Oh ya, great site - thanks for all the info!


  16. #16
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger P View Post
    New guy on the block here - - - so please correct me if my understanding of this matter is incorrect.

    The reason that a "Waste Disposer" is not recommended in a home utilizing a septic systems is that the septic system may not be of sufficient capacity / size to handle the added water volume.

    However, a system may be designed / spec'd to allow for the use of such waste units.

    So, one may have to confirm the actual size of the current system and do some calculations to know with any certainty if the unit may or may not be an issue.

    Anyway, that's my take on the matter.....






    Oh ya, great site - thanks for all the info!
    Try this link. Scroll to bottom.
    Avoid Garbage Disposal Problems by Limiting the Waste Going Down the Sink, plus Odor Tips

    EPA PDF- Page 11 Using a disposal frequently can significantly increase accumulation of sludge and scum in your tank and result in need of more frequent pumping.
    http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/homeow..._customize.pdf


  17. #17
    Roger P's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    The whole purpose of that article seems to be to push the idea of recycling and composting, which are great; and, I do more than my share in those areas.

    But it did not address the posters ?Q - can a waste disposer be used with a septic system?

    The following except from that article is, in my opinion, not completely accurate -

    "Here are a couple of things to consider:
    • The ground-up waste does NOT go back to nature's water supply to be gobbled up by fish and other life forms. It must first pass through the sewage-treatment plant (or your septic system). This not only increases the load on our already overburdened sewage-treatment facilities, the process also removes any food value the waste might have had further down the line."
    How do they know if it will overburden any system when they have no idea what size the systm is, how many people are using it, etc. = answer, they don't.

    Yes, any added material may require a more frequent pumping of the system. But, depending on which camp one is in, "how frequent" is also up for dispute.

    Why can't things be simple

    Last edited by Roger P; 10-02-2007 at 02:00 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    For those that like to be up on their terminology:

    The proper term is disposer. Disposal is General Electric's brand name. Not much different than saying hot water heater.
    Hi Eric,

    Just last week I spent a LOT of time on the phone and internet researching that bit of information. To the best of my ability and belief, I must state that it's just not true.

    Garbage disposal and garbage disposer are not trademarked or trade names. All variants that are commonly used are acceptable. "Garbage Disposal" is by far the most popular and is used by EVERY manufacturer that I could think of. It's also the most common term in dictionaries and such.

    If anyone has any evidence otherwise, I'd be happy to be wrong just to know the truth.

    It'd be like Kleenex trying to trademark the words "facial tissue". You can't. The words belong to everyone. They're part of our language.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    For those that like to be up on their terminology:

    The proper term is disposer. Disposal is General Electric's brand name. Not much different than saying hot water heater.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Fabry View Post
    Hi Eric,

    Just last week I spent a LOT of time on the phone and internet researching that bit of information. To the best of my ability and belief, I must state that it's just not true.

    Garbage disposal and garbage disposer are not trademarked or trade names. All variants that are commonly used are acceptable. "Garbage Disposal" is by far the most popular and is used by EVERY manufacturer that I could think of. It's also the most common term in dictionaries and such.

    If anyone has any evidence otherwise, I'd be happy to be wrong just to know the truth.
    Chad,

    This is where you have Eric ... "l" ... one measly little "l".

    GE uses, and has the trademark on, "Disposall" - with TWO "ll".

    So, what should have been a simple 'typo correction' you turned into (in your words) "Just last week I spent a LOT of time on the phone and internet researching ..."

    Larger Photo

    That said, ...

    SECTION P2716
    - FOOD WASTE GRINDER

    - - P2716.1 Food waste grinder waste outlets.
    Food waste grinders shall be connected to a drain of not less than 11/2 inches (38 mm) in diameter.
    - - P2716.2 Water supply required.


    Foodwaste grinders shall be provided with an adequate supply of water at a sufficient flow rate to ensure proper functioning of the unit.



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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Jerry,

    If I had known it was a simple typo that needed to be corrected I would have just mentioned that. I've seen so many folks claim "garbage disposal" was trademarked I had to check it out for myself.

    It's really funny though, now that you've let me in on this fact, that GE's legal and advertising department made no mention that they coined the "disposall" phrase. It's even funnier because I never spelled the term when I asked if they owned it or knew of any other company that owned it.

    ISE had the same response.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Fabry View Post
    It's really funny though, now that you've let me in on this fact, that GE's legal and advertising department made no mention that they coined the "disposall" phrase.
    Chad,

    All that time you took and ...

    ... all one had to do was look at a GE food waster grinder and see the "R" or "TM" (not sure which, but I'm sure I could solve that lingering question in less than 5 minutes on the internet) at the upper right end of the word Disposall.

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  22. #22
    Chad Fabry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Sometimes I insist on taking the long road


  23. #23
    Martin Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Hi Gents!
    As a South Carolina DHEC tank inspector, I can tell you in a nutshell what's wrong with garbage disposals and septic tanks.

    The additional solid waste does add to the load of the lowest or sludge layer, but that isn't a problem if the tank is sized to take it; however, the additional load to upper layer (the floaties, mostly animal fats) seem to find their way into the drain field during heavy use and clog the lines. BTW the 2nd most prominent failure of drain field lines is parking cars on them!

    DHEC also strongly suggests you put no additives (such as Riddex) in your tank. It works surprising better on its own.
    Martin


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Martin,

    I've heard that about the additives. I've also heard that they work. I tend to lean towards letting the tank do its own thing. Of course people going crazy with the detergents, bleach, other household chemicals, feminine products, hamsters and such really monkey up the tank's intended function.

    I'll bet that if I had lived alone (without wife and 3 daughters) I could have avoided some of the septic expenses that I've incurred over the years. But then life probably wouldn't have been as interesting. Seems that each time the tank is pumped the guy is amazed at all the toilet paper that's crammed inside. It explains the Kimberly Clark stock performance over the years.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  25. #25
    Chip O'Brian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Would some one in "simple terms" explain batch type and standard food waster disposers?


  26. #26
    Martin Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    [ the tank is pumped the guy is amazed at all the toilet paper that's crammed inside. It explains the Kimberly Clark stock performance over the years

    That's a hoot and oh so true! Girls!

    There are two basic types of garbage disposals: the continuous feed type that operates from a wall switch, and the batch type, that turns on when you put the top in, and turns off when you remove it.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Chip
    Contunious feed disposals are operated by a switch either inside the cabinet under the sink or on the wall near the sink. This is the most common disposal in use.
    A batch type disposal does not use a switch to operate, it turns on by inserting the disposal stopper and twisting it. The switch is inside the disposal. The stopper, much like a regular sink stopper, can be used to block water from draining (off), allow water to drain (off or twist to turn on), or removed to load food to dispose of.
    Its called batch because you load it, lock it, run it, then repeat for the next use.

    In reguard to my question:
    "Is a shutoff switch required for a batch type disposal?"

    Since code requires a means to disconnect the disposal from power, and a batch type does not use an external switch, would an extrenal switch still be used as the means of disconnect, or are there other accepatble means of disconnect?

    "If it is, then why use a batch type disposal at all?"

    And if a switch is used as the disconnect, then why use a batch type disposal in the first place?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Martin,

    Is it true or is it a myth that you shouldn't put yeast tablets down the drain lines to a septic tank?

    I've heard rumors of teens doing this and going outside to watch the septic explode latter.

    Rumor or fact?


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    In reguard to my question:
    "Is a shutoff switch required for a batch type disposal?"
    ...

    And if a switch is used as the disconnect, then why use a batch type disposal in the first place?
    *I* would not want to try to 'unjam' a batch type without a switch there ... would you?

    Chip.

    A "continuous feed" is the typical type you see, you leave the cover off, there is a splash guard rubber piece, you turn the cold water on, then, as the water runs, you "continuously" feed in the food waste.

    A "batch feed" is one where you load the food waste into the disposer, turn the water on, place the 'stopper' in place, and, the act of placing the stopper in place closes the switch and turns the disposer on, grinding up that "batch". You then remove the stopper, load another batch, and repeat the process until all of the food waste is down.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    ***SEPTIC TANK STORY***

    All of the houses in my area are on septic tanks. A few years ago the house across the street from me was being rented by by some male college students. Shortly after moving in, the guys began having problems with the plumbing system backing up. The owner had the septic tank pump and all was well. A few month later the problem returned, the boys complained, and the tank was pumped again.

    All was well for a few months, but then the plumbing problem returned. This time the boys threatened to break their lease and move out. The owner agreed to have the tank pumped out again, but this time he observed the operation himself, with the tenants present as well. The boys were suprised at the number of condoms and tampons, etc. retrieved from the system. The owner informed the boys that they would be paying for this pumping of the tank, and that there better not be any more plumbing problems in the future. All was well from that day forward.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    I've had septic systems and I've had cesspools.
    It was always recommended to me to place yeast (the main ingredient in rid-x) into the system in order to aid in the anaerobic process. The solids placed into a tank need to be liquefied by bacterial action in order for the leech fields to remain open.
    There should be, under ideal conditions, a separate dry well system to accommodate waste water containing bleach, such as from a clothes washer. Bleach will kill the bacteria in a septic tank which most often leads to septic failure.
    As far as cesspools go, I was told by an old timer to throw in a piece of road kill every once in a while. Apparently the bacterial action of a decomposing carcass creates the same bacteriological action required for the liquefaction process. (and a lot cheaper)

    I cant understand why a food disposal system would be harmful to a septic system. I would think that the decomposition process would aid in the anaerobic process.

    Last edited by Victor DaGraca; 10-05-2007 at 08:19 AM.
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  32. #32
    Martin Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Martin,

    Is it true or is it a myth that you shouldn't put yeast tablets down the drain lines to a septic tank?

    I've heard rumors of teens doing this and going outside to watch the septic explode latter.

    Rumor or fact?

    Hi Rick!
    Though many enzyme additives are marketed as septic system digestion aides, the effectiveness and usefulness of many of these products is
    questionable. If waste products are not being properly digested before they are discharged, the most likely cause is hydraulic overloading. In cold climates, lower average tank temperatures can also inhibit digestion.

    Similarly, many chemical additives are available for system cleaning and rehabilitation. However, many of these products are not effective and some may even harm the system. The use of chemical additives should be avoided. Yeast? Can't hurt.

    Martin


  33. #33
    Martin Baker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    I cant understand why a food disposal system would be harmful to a septic system. I would think that the decomposition process would aid in the anaerobic process.[/QUOTE]

    Because of the fats Victor. The "floaties".


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Food disposal question

    Probably not the PC answer, but I have had 3 homes on septic (2 conventional; 1 aerobic). All 3 homes had disposers and used them alot. In 35 years, never had any problems. Very, very infrequent tank pumping.

    We don't put potato and carrot peelings in them b/c they get clogged in the disposer itself. Oh and we don't put meat or small children or pets down the disposer.

    The aerobic home is 8 years old and I used a yeast product for 3 yrs. Went 6 yrs before pumping!! (can't say it was b/c of the yeast).

    Never have had problem.

    Bruce


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