What I'm Seeing Now


Disposal Electrical Connector Clamps And Cover Plates

Disposal connector clamps and cover plates.

When electrical wires enter any junction box or appliance they should be clamped.

The clamp does what you think it does.

It secures the wire so it cannot come loose or be pulled out of the device thus pulling apart the electrical connection.

And very importantly, the clamp also seals the hole so no sparks can escape.

Disposals especially need this as the kitchen cabinet is one that is often entered, and it is a space with the potential for water to get onto an electrical connection.

Many times I have looked under a disposal only to find the electrical connection hanging underneath or wrapped with electrical tape under the appliance.  This is common really as the disposal is an appliance many home owners think they can replace themselves and do so.

This particular day proved that home owners of two different houses, or other non-professionals, had installed two new disposals incorrectly.   And both had tried to secure the wiring.  Since both are done improperly, in this home inspector's opinion we have a safety issue as the installer has demonstrated that he/she is not a professional.

Taken together the two crops show things more closely.

On the left the connector clamp is indeed holding onto the wire, but the clamp itself was not tightly screwed into the disposal and so the cable was hanging loose.

And on the right the cover plate was used to secure the cable.  It was very tight, too tight.  Over time, as the cable is pulled or pushed around, the cover plate can cut into the insulation and expose or damage the wiring inside and create a short or spark.  The connector clamp was never used.

The cover plate is to provide a portal so the wiring can be done, pushed into a box inside the disposal, and covered completely to protect the connection.  The cover plate is NOT intended to be used to secure the wiring.

To paraphrase a cliche, DS, SD - different stuff, same day.  And same old, same old.

My recommendation:  look under the disposal to see what has been done during installation.  Was the wiring properly secured?  Does the disposal work?  Look at other electrical appliances - the water heater, or furnace - to see if cable clamps have been used.  It is a national electrical code item to have electrical wiring properly clamped.  And remember, the code is a minimum standard, so this safety connection has to be made.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 8 commentsJay Markanich • December 21 2016 10:17AM


If I had a disposal, I'd be rushing to the kitchen sink right now to check it out. Great information as always.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) about 4 years ago

Put the lesson out there and see if it can stick, Kat.  That's my philosophy.  If you have no disposal what do you do?

When I was a kid we had a "garbage" can in the back yard, buried.  Kind of an old version of a compost pit but it just rotted naturally, we didn't spread it around the yard.  It was different than the "trash" can in the kitchen.  And it was nasty!

Now I push stuff down the sink and flick a switch!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Yup....we have the all clear here Jay Markanich when we remodeled...we got everything where it belongs...and inspected and cleared !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 4 years ago

Good morning Jay. Have seen inproper installation many times! Thanks for the heads up. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) about 4 years ago

Jay Markanich See that quite often. Also if using Romex/NM cable has to be in conduit.


Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

Geeeze, see this all the time. Most people roll their eyes when I bring it up... just like the dead front cover screws on an electrical panel... lol, hey it is what it is!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 4 years ago

Or in my world, SSDD.  Same stuff, different day.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) about 4 years ago

S&D - I would have expected nothing less!  You are, after all, um, connected!

That is a big for sure, Wayne!  With photos, no doubt.

Don - I am seeing that on new construction.  Not in older homes, like these in the photo.  Once I saw a disposal from some pre-historic time and it had the original BX!  Apparently it would not die.

Fred - listing agents roll their eyes.  Once I explain it to my clients they don't!  As you know already...

There is that take also, Stephen.  Usually the second S stands for something different.  Like you, I take a higher road!   For the KISS principle I use the word Sweet for the first S - Keep It Sweet and Simple.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 4 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments