Replacing leaky sink garbage disposal against code?

32 Replies

Hi there, one of my properties in Washington DC has a leaky garbage disposal. I told the plumber to go check it out and if he can fix it great but if he has to replace it then to just remove it all together and not replace it because I don't want to continue to deal with leaky garbage disposals in the future. It just costs me to send someone everytime. He responded saying he can't do that since it's against code. Is that true? What are my options?

thanks! 

Most handyman can replace a garbage disposal.  Its not against code.  He just doesn't know how to do it.

Disposal will cost $100-$125.  Labor for same $35-$85.   Pretty easy job ( 20-30 minuets).

@Zee Ayezain

I know squat about Washington DC code, but I know a bit about plumbers. Very theoretically, you may be required to have a garbage disposal in a rental. Only slightly less theoretically, monkeys might fly out one of my orifices in the next five minutes.

So this sounds like an exercise in poor communication.

Did you simply tell him to take out the garbage disposal? He may believe that you implied that he should leave an empty hole at the bottom of the sink. No, of course he can't do that, and yes, it is against code. He'll have to install a basket strainer and redo the drainage plumbing. This will cost money and require parts.

Yea he's saying not having one ona kitchen sink is against code and that the drain would be clogged inna few months or it will clog the whole building. 

Garbage disposals.are just notoriously low reliability. This property is 1 year old. I just don't want to have a recurring expense. 

how much would it cost approx for the basket strainer and redoing the drainage plumbing? 

rhanks guys 


Originally posted by @Jim K. :

@Zee Ayezain

I know squat about Washington DC code, but I know a bit about plumbers. Very theoretically, you may be required to have a garbage disposal in a rental. Only slightly less theoretically, monkeys might fly out one of my orifices in the next five minutes.

So this sounds like an exercise in poor communication.

Did you simply tell him to take out the garbage disposal? He may believe that you implied that he should leave an empty hole at the bottom of the sink. No, of course he can't do that, and yes, it is against code. He'll have to install a basket strainer and redo the drainage plumbing. This will cost money and require parts.

 Thanks what will that cost on average for the basket strainer and the drainage plumbing?

also he claims without it the drain will be clogged in a few months and that it could also clog the building drain. How true is that?

@Zee Ayezain

His prediction about clogged pipes is total BS. Get rid of him, this is a scam. Again, theoretically, there may be some kind of wild ordinance about garbage disposals where the rental is located. Call up other plumbers and confirm if that's true -- it probably isn't.

The basket strainer is less than $10 for the cheap kind made of chromed base metal and about $20 retail for an all-stainless or stainless-on-brass heavy-duty model (you should always go with heavy-duty basket strainers in your rental kitchens).

The slipjoint polypropylene piping you would use would cost an additional $20 retail. You could also theoretically put in heavier solvent-welded PVC or ABS drainage. That would actually cost less. The parts are never the main expense when you deal with plumbing, but in this case, putting in the right basket strainer will cost more than many think it's worth.

@Terrell Garren 's pointed out, the standard practice of function-minded LLs is to remove garbage disposals in cheap apartments. This is very common, and you should do it where you can.

@Uchenna A. Is that code specific to Maryland? I'm s plumber in Massachusetts and that is definitely not code here. I've never heard of such a thing. Removing a disposal from a rental is definitely a priority, and I typically tell customers not to install them.

Removing a disposal and correcting the plumbing is incredibly simple. It should take under an hour. If done properly, the money spent up front to remove it, will save you money over time.

Call other plumbers in the area to see what they say.

@Uchenna A. Another thing to be aware of when dealing with inspectors, they can make up codes to suit whatever it is they want. You can fight some things and win, but then you run the risk of upsetting that particular inspector. Do it might not necessarily be code, but just what he reacts to see. It just seems ridiculous.

@Zee Ayezain if you don't install a cheap garbage disposal, you will not have continuous issues. Buy one that is stainless steel parts internal.

That being said, having a disposal only increases the likelihood of sewer problems because it encourages people to grind and dispose of solids. Throwing solids in the garbage is better. 

not really answering your question, but i have new builds also with garbage disposals - what has worked for me is making sure they all have strainer baskets so that tenants dont toss any and every thing down the drain - this has lowered my replacement/repair costs by a large amount and each little basket is about 5$ for a good metal one. 

eta for clarity this is what i mean by a strainer basket 

https://www.plumbmaster.com/pl...

oh and yes, buy good disposals - like the 5 year ones...  will cost maybe $20 more but should also help cut down on problems. 

@Zee Ayezain

Modify your lease and have certain issues covered by the tenant- such as: garbage disposal, clogged sewer lines, a/c filters, screens,

Originally posted by @Zee Ayezain :
Originally posted by @Jim K.:

@Zee Ayezain

I know squat about Washington DC code, but I know a bit about plumbers. Very theoretically, you may be required to have a garbage disposal in a rental. Only slightly less theoretically, monkeys might fly out one of my orifices in the next five minutes.

So this sounds like an exercise in poor communication.

Did you simply tell him to take out the garbage disposal? He may believe that you implied that he should leave an empty hole at the bottom of the sink. No, of course he can't do that, and yes, it is against code. He'll have to install a basket strainer and redo the drainage plumbing. This will cost money and require parts.

 Thanks what will that cost on average for the basket strainer and the drainage plumbing?

also he claims without it the drain will be clogged in a few months and that it could also clog the building drain. How true is that?

 I know lots of places without garbage disposals and I have rarely used one.  Never had any problems (knock on wood).  If people don't put stuff down the drain that shouldn't go down it, there isn't a problem. Scrape plates and pots, and don't put grease down the sink. A simple basket strainer works wonders.

@Theresa Harris I believe the issue is the dishwasher....  if there is a DW many places say you must also have a disposal....  (not sure why? - so the disposal catches the food debris and chops it up??) 

I have rentals in DC and MD and I removed the garbage disposals from them without issue. 

Originally posted by @Mary M. :

@Theresa Harris I believe the issue is the dishwasher....  if there is a DW many places say you must also have a disposal....  (not sure why? - so the disposal catches the food debris and chops it up??) 

 Interesting.  I've never encountered that in Canada.  I was just looking at a place today with a dishwasher and no disposal.  I know one of my units is the same-dishwasher and no disposal.

I used to remove and rebuild the drain, add basket, etc.   Takes a knuckle-busting while plus parts and I don't charge myself $100/hr. 

Then I started replacing them with Costco 1-1.25hp fatties.  $85-$100 and 10 minutes if the old one wasn't hard wired. 

Originally posted by @Mary M. :

not really answering your question, but i have new builds also with garbage disposals - what has worked for me is making sure they all have strainer baskets so that tenants dont toss any and every thing down the drain - this has lowered my replacement/repair costs by a large amount and each little basket is about 5$ for a good metal one. 

eta for clarity this is what i mean by a strainer basket 

https://www.plumbmaster.com/pl...

oh and yes, buy good disposals - like the 5 year ones...  will cost maybe $20 more but should also help cut down on problems. 

 Thanks Mary, so you keep the garbage disposal but add a basket strainer effectively eliminated the option of having something go down the drain into the disposal 

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

I used to remove and rebuild the drain, add basket, etc.   Takes a knuckle-busting while plus parts and I don't charge myself $100/hr. 

Then I started replacing them with Costco 1-1.25hp fatties.  $85-$100 and 10 minutes if the old one wasn't hard wired. 

There's a neat trick you can do with the InSinkErator Badgers if you're self-managing your rentals and handling basic maintenance. These things usually go one sale once a year or so for $99 at HD or Lowes. They're pretty well-made and install easily and securely.

When the Badgers clog up, they have a socket on the bottom that you can use a quarter-inch Allen wrench/hex key on to try to get them free. So in something like an SFR situation, you show the most responsible of the tenants how to use the socket and you leave a hex key there. InSinkErator actually sells a really cheap 1/4 in Allen wrench they call a "Jam-Buster." Sounds impressive enough...

While the tenant will be able to use the hex key to get out their first one or two grease jams (after which they become properly receptive to your teaching them about not pouring hot grease into their disposals), the Allen wrench is way too weak to do real damage to the disposal. The wrench will deform in the tenant's hand. So in the event that the clog is bad enough, the tenant will damage the key and call you. You show up with your real garbage disposal wrench, free up the clog, scold them about the grease, and you're the hero of the hour.

It really cuts down on the maintenance calls over the long haul.

I have rentals in Maryland and had licensed plumbers remove the disposals from my rentals because of recurring issues due to tenant negligence. No code issues I’m aware of. 

@Zee Ayezain

I include garbage disposal and dishwasher in all units.

Rarely ever have maintenance problem with either.

Without these my units would go vacant as prospective tenants would choose my competitors.