Garbage disposals are pretty standard fare in American homes. They are convenient in the sense that they are useful for eliminating certain kinds of food waste. That said, having a garbage disposal isn't necessary. It is a convenience more than anything else. If you have one and it breaks, you might not want to invest in replacing it. But can you simply remove it?
Yes and no. Garbage disposals can be completely removed. But doing so isn't necessarily a simple task. Doing it yourself requires at least a basic understanding of both electricity and plumbing. Without that knowledge, it is better to call a licensed plumber. A professional can do the job in just a couple of hours. The cost should be pretty reasonable, as well.
Water and Electricity
The big issue with removing a garbage disposal is that you're working with both water and electricity in the same space. The two don't mix. A licensed plumber knows how to safely deal with the electricity before affecting garbage disposal removal. If they don’t deal with the electricity, they put themself at serious risk.
Some garbage disposals are plugged into standard wall outlets located under the sink. Under such a scenario, simply unplugging the disposal does the trick. When the disposal is hardwired into a home's electrical system, things are a bit different. The plumber starts by going to the electrical panel and turning off the circuit breaker in question.
With the power off, the plumber opens the junction box containing the garbage disposal's wiring. They disconnect the wires, make sure to cap the wires remaining in the junction box, and close everything up. They then use a voltmeter to make sure everything is safe once the circuit breaker is turned back on. If the garbage disposal is on a separate circuit altogether, the circuit breaker can remain off.
Removing the Disposal
The hardest part about removing a garbage disposal is detaching it from the sink. Garbage disposals are heavy – they have heavy electric motors and metal blades that chop up food waste. To remove the disposal, the plumber first disconnects it from the discharge pipe. If there is a dishwasher pipe connected to it, it must also be disconnected.
Next, the unit's tailpipe flange is removed by taking out the screws holding it in place. The unit itself can be removed from the sink by twisting its clamping ring counterclockwise until it stops. A simple nudge should then free the unit. In cases where the mounting assembly is held in place by three bolts, they must be removed before the clamping ring can be twisted.
Finishing the Job
With the garbage disposal removed, the plumber now has to remove the sink flange and drain. The drain has to be replaced with a standard basket strainer. Once that's done, the new pipes must be installed. Where no dishwasher is involved, it is pretty simple. The plumber fits a new pipe that connects the drain to the outflow. If there is a dishwasher to deal with, its discharge pipe must also be connected.
If all of this sounds complicated to you, it is probably best to not try to remove a garbage disposal yourself. The job is not at all difficult for a licensed plumber. But if you don't know the basics of plumbing and electricity, it could be too much for you to handle on your own.