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A waste disposal air switch is a type of push-button or plunger control that activates waste disposal by pushing a blast of air through a plastic or vinyl tube to a control unit mounted under a sink. These air switches do not rely on electricity and therefore allow mounting on counter or sink surfaces. This allows for easier access to buttons compared to traditional wall or cabinet mounted electrical switches. Buttons are sometimes sold individually or as part of sets, including tubes, power cords, and single or dual-outlet receptacles for activating the junction box waste disposal. They are often easily installed, but are more expensive and more difficult to repair, and may be limited to continuous feed disposals.
Electrical switches are best mounted off the surface area of a counter or sink, which sometimes puts them out of reach of the disposal unit’s arm, or even across the room. Instead of mounting an electrical switch on the flat surface of the counter, where leaking water could create a potentially fatal shock hazard, a garbage disposal air switch eliminates this hazard and allows for user-preferred placement on a horizontal surface. This versatility works well with island sink installations, for example, while dual outlet designs provide an additional power source for hot water dispensers.
The switches work with most types of garbage disposals with common power ratings. Power receptacles, however, should generally be placed within a few feet of the disposal unit under the cabinet. A hole is drilled into the workbench to support the cylindrical mounting of a waste disposal air switch, which typically has a flange-and-button design, with a raised or flush button, or sometimes a touch-sensitive fiber optic pad. Users who are not comfortable or equipped to drill a hole in a particular countertop material can hire a service technician to complete the installation for them.
These options are less common compared to electrical varieties. One downside of the garbage disposal air switch is the higher price, as well as additional installation issues such as access to power. Waste disposal connected directly to a wall for safety may require the services of an electrician to install a distribution box. In addition, sufficient air piping must be provided to go from the switch to the disposal unit.
An additional consideration includes the material or finish of the waste disposal air switch. These buttons are available in both traditional and modern materials. Some specialty finishes, such as satin and polished or brushed metals, can be damaged by cleaners used on the sink and fixtures. A sturdier surface, such as brushed or satin-brushed stainless steel, can better withstand the heavy cleaners and bleaches of heavy residential or commercial use.