What Does an Air Switch Do for a Garbage Disposal?

In addition to being clean, you also want your kitchen to be orderly. Having your appliances and supplies like pans or utensils placed in logical places saves you from having to walk all over the place in order to make a meal. Depending on your kitchen setup, an air switch for your garbage disposal might make sense for your work zone.

Air Switch

Air switches replace wall switches for garbage disposals.

An air switch is an alternative method for activating the garbage disposal unit installed in your sink. Traditionally, garbage disposal units are turned on using flip switches mounted on the kitchen wall, usually on the backsplash near the dishwasher. A more recent innovation is the air switch, which is a push button mounted directly into your kitchen countertop beside the sink. Instead of connecting to an electrical switch, the button connects to an air tube. Pressing the button sends a pulse of air down to the power control for the garbage disposal, turning it on.


Air switches offer advantages including not having to strain or lean far over in order to reach a wall switch to activate the garbage disposal. Because it doesn’t look like a wall switch, it eliminates the problem of flipping on the disposal unit when you mean to turn on the light. There is no electrical connection, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the button if water gets on it, the way you must take care to keep water away from a regular switch.


To install an air switch on your garbage disposal, you’ll need a drill and a set of pliers. The switch can be mounted in a standard accessory hole in the sink, or you can drill a hole for it through the kitchen counter. The air switch comes with a power module, which needs to be plugged into to a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle for safety. Attach the air tube to the button and the power module.


Air switches are good options for kitchens when you are remodeling and you move the sink. They work well for sinks that do not have a backsplash, like those attached to a pony wall so you can look out from the sink into a dining or living room. They are also good options for sinks located in kitchen islands. In these cases, there is no nearby spot to place a traditional electrical switch. The air switch saves you from having to walk several steps in order to turn on the disposal.