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How to Install a Garbage Disposal in an RV?

How to Install a Garbage Disposal in an RV?

A garbage disposal system in the RV acts like a macerator to convert waste food and leftover items into fine particles that are easy to dispose. In addition, it prevents the sink from blocking and spots due to the blockage of pieces of stuff. 

How to Install a Garbage Disposal in an RV? Installation of the garbage disposal system in an RV requires plumbing and electrical work. Turn off the water supply and remove the drain connection to the sink. Install the new flange and mount the system under the sink. Connect it with a drain and provide a power source to run it. Test run the system for any leakage and disposal of garbage.

This article describes the method to install the garbage disposal system in your RV by doing it yourself. It requires knowledge of basic plumbing and electrical work to do the job without any difficulty.

What is the RV garbage disposal system?

A garbage disposal system is a small electric-powered device installed under the sink for chopping waste food and leftover items in utensils into small particles.

When you throw any tangible thing in the sink, it enters the chamber with blades or impeller to grind it into fine pieces. Water from the sink faucet takes the waste in the unit and it to drain and ends in the grey tank of the RV.

You can also connect it with a dishwasher drain to dispose of its waste too. However, it needs a 110-120VAC power source to run a ⅓ -½ horsepower motor that chops the solid waste.

Moreover, you need to run plenty of water to prevent the accumulation of debris inside the chamber that can cause a foul smell inside the cabin.

You will find garbage disposal systems in large motorhomes due to space and power sources available like a generator and shore power supply.

It also prevents piling up of solid waste inside the grey tank that is difficult to remove. Two types of systems available are batch and continuous disposal systems.

The batch system is better for an RV due to limited waste than a house with a large family. It will cost around $80-$150, depending on the motor size of the unit.

Can you install a garbage disposal system in your RV?

Installation of a garbage disposal system is a relatively specialized job requiring plumbing and electrical knowledge to complete the task.

You will also need tools and spares like a plier, screwdriver, electrical socket, pipes, and hammer. Therefore, it is good to go through the safety and installation instructions available in the product package. Here is a sequence of steps to follow to install the system properly.

Disconnect the sink pipes and remove the flange

The first step before installing the new system is to turn OFF the water supply to the sink. Use valves underneath or side of the faucet pipes to isolate them from the rest of the water lines.

Next, remove the drain pipe connected with the sink flange. After removal, use a plier to disconnect the sink flange and clean the seating space to remove any rusting or accumulated debris underneath the flange.

It comes in the form of a round metallic piece fitted with a drain. The sink flange has a gauze-like structure to prevent solid food items from entering the drain line.

Install new flange

Two types of mount assemblies are available, including easy mount and 3-screws assembly to install the system. First, use a plumber putty on a new flange and fix it in the sinkhole. Then, use a small weight on it to firmly press it in its place.

Next, install the mounting assembly according to its design. For the easy-mounting style, screw the mounting flange in its place on the sink flange.

While for the 3-screw design, install the new gasket and mounting ring on the sink flange and fix it with a snap ring.

Tighten the 3 screws to fix the mounting ring on the flange. It completes the procedure for installing the flange, and the sink is ready to mount the system underneath it.

Add a power source

You need to provide 110-120VAC with a 10-15amp breaker for the waste disposal system. It should be a ground fault current interrupter (GFCI) receptacle for safety to prevent the risk of electric shock in the vicinity of water.

However, overall it depends on the motor rating of the particular system you have purchased. Garbage disposal systems need to be turned ON only while using the sink or dishwashing for a short time.

Therefore, you can use any power outlet nearby reserved for other appliances like a dishwasher or electric iron. However, both should have comparable voltage and power requirements.

In case of a new installation, use a proper wire gauge for safe operation. Tuck the wire neatly near the sink to prevent the risk of any electric shock or wire due to a loose connection.

Make sure to turn OFF the breaker during all electrification work. Instead of using a plug, you can also hardwire the system to dedicate the socket for the disposal system.

Fix the garbage disposal unit in the RV

First of all, you need to connect power wires if it has a hardwired connection. Remember to follow the safety instructions and make connections according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

The Disposal unit has 2 inlets: one for the dishwasher and the other for sink water. The connection point for the dishwasher has a plug to seal it.

Therefore, while installing the dishwasher, you need to remove the plug by hammering a screwdriver inside the point and remove it from the chamber. If you don’t remove it, it can damage the impeller. Therefore, in the absence of a dishwasher, don’t remove the plug.

To mount the disposer:

  1. Lift the unit to the flange and align it with the mounting assembly.
  2. Twist the locking ring with the help of a screwdriver until you hear a clicking sound.
  3. Make sure that everything, including the sink flange, is in its place after fixing the unit.

Connect the drain lines

The next step is to connect the drain and dishwasher line with the unit. Take measurements and cut the pipe according to length. Secure them in their places by fixing screws and clamps.

I prefer to use new fittings after new installation to prevent leakage problems. Finally, check the sink flange for any extra putty and clean it thoroughly. It completes the installation procedure.

Check for leaks

Before turning ON the disposer, it is safe to test the system for any water leaks. First, turn ON the water supply to the sink using valves.

Next, keep a bucket or container under the garbage disposal system and run the water in the sink using a tap.

Observe for any water leakage or dripping at pipe joints and mounting flange under the sink. In case of any leakage observed, take remedial measures by refixing the unit or using silicone sealant to seal the leaks. If there is no water leakage, the system is ready for use.

Test run the system

The last step is to turn ON the system for its testing. To test the system, plug in the power supply, and you will hear the motor of the garbage disposal unit turned ON.

Next, put food waste and vegetable peels in the sink, and you will observe them disappear within seconds. Finally, turn ON the tap after using the disposer to flush the crushed waste into the grey tank.

After completing the washing of utensils or disposing of any garbage, remember to turn OFF the disposer. In the case of non-compliance, it can result in a waste of power and malfunctioning of the system.

Do you need a plumber to install the garbage disposal system in an RV?

Installation of the garbage disposal system is a job relevant to the plumber and requires appropriate tools. On average it takes only 2-3 hours for the complete procedure.

If you find the procedure mentioned above difficult, you better need to call the plumber to do the job. Improper or misalignment of the system can result in water leakages and mess inside the RV.

Moreover, there are chances of damage to the impeller and other parts of the disposer system. Therefore, if you have no experience or idea about doing the installation, you should hire the services of an expert to prevent subsequent issues and financial loss.

Do you need an electrician to install the setup?

The garbage disposal unit needs a GFCI type outlet with a switch button to operate it. GFCI has specific wiring, including a connection with the ground of the RV.

Moreover, if there is no power outlet available in the vicinity, you will need to run the wires from the breaker panel to the kitchen sink.

If you are sure to install it using the procedure mentioned in this article and the manufacturer’s instructions, you should do it yourself to save labor costs.

However, don’t take risks if you have no experience and hire the services of an electrician. Any faulty wiring connections or GFCI can lead to electric shock and damage to the wiring of the RV.

Why are garbage disposal systems not common in RVs?

Garbage disposal systems are not very common in RVs due to various reasons. When emptying, people use external macerators or pumps to chop the solid garbage and food items piled in the grey tank.

The most prominent reasons to avoid the system are limited space under the sink and additional power requirements. They use the area under the sink as a storage option, and the disposer can occupy that space.

Availability of limited power options also hinders them from buying the solution to dispose of garbage. Moreover, it also requires excessive water to flush the chamber into the grey tank. Therefore it needs frequent refilling of the water tank.

Other reasons are the foul smell inside the cabin if you don’t properly flush the chamber after using it. It also increases the maintenance as clogging of the unit results in blockage of the water drain from the sink and dishwasher. Therefore, you need to regularly clean it to avoid problems and increase its service life.

Piling up fine garbage particles in grey tanks results in debris that involves thorough cleaning at the end of the journey or camping season. In severe cases, it reduces its water storage capacity requiring frequent visits to dumping sites.


A garbage disposal system is a good option for RVers to properly get rid of waste inside the cabin. However, you need to install it properly for its efficient use. Furthermore, regular cleaning and plenty of water for flushing can prevent clogging or foul smell inside the RV.

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