Beware Fiber Optic GD switch!

ginny20September 7, 2011

If you're getting granite, check this out carefully before buying a fiber optic switch!

OK, so when I read about the Waste King Fiber Optic Switch a few months ago, I was excited. The OP pointed out that since the gasket was sealed, you avoided the problem of water/soap that can get down in the air switch and disrupt it. Then Suzanne mentioned that her fabricator couldn't drill a 3/8" hole as required. So I asked about this. My fabricator said that he prefered not to drill small holes because when he tries, he destroys the very expensive diamond drill bits. So the place I bought the switch contacted Waste King Customer Svc (I was standing right there), asked if one could use a different sized hole, and they were told, "just drill a 1 1/4" hole and purchase the adaptor that we sell that modifies existing 1 1/4 holes. And yes," they said, "you have to do this, because it really needs to be in a 3/8" hole" (for some reason that was not explained). So I did buy this adaptor. $20(including shipping). Then I had the fabricator drill the 1 1/4" hole, just like Waste King instructed. Today, my GC is trying to install this, and clearly, this adaptor does not go in this hole. I called Waste King and was told, "oh that adaptor is for thin counters - it won't work on granite." AARRRRGGGGHHHH!

My GC is very creative, and he has come up with a way to make this work. But unless your fabricator will drill a small hole, DON'T BUY ONE OF THESE! Of course, it's still not clear why a hole of, say 3/4" or 1" wouldn't work just fine. Maybe it would.

Actually, the general incompetence of their customer service department suggests that one should not buy anything from Waste King.

Also, the switch itself is plugged, not direct wired, so my GC had to adapt the wiring to work with the disposal. What a pain. Stick with the air switch. It's also way cheaper.

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This is a great tip for anyone contemplating a fiber optic switch instead of an air switch. But I wouldn't draw the conclusion that Waste King as a whole isn't a good company just because their fiber optic switch didn't work out. That is not fair or realistic. They are a garbage disposal company, and have been making garbage disposals since the 1930's or so. That's their expertise, not fiber optic switches. They probably sourced out the fiber optic switch from someone else and are selling them under their name cause they thought that's what the public wants, but it's not really their thing. I have a Waste King garbage disposal in place for 6 years, and it is fantastic. I throw all kinds of things in there, and there is never a problem. BTW, I have a batch feed style disposal, so I don't need any switch at all (I didn't want to deal with a switch in my backsplash or a hole in my counter).

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:27PM
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You are right, akchicago. I believe that Waste King makes excellent, durable disposals. I almost got one, actually. I was just disappointed in the performance of their customer service people. The company should train them better. The fiber optic switch does work, now that we jury-rigged it.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 8:38PM
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I can't figure out what happened on your installation. Here's the Waste King adaptor:

which clearly says:

"Technical Details

Satin nickel finish fiber optic Adapter Plate
Reduces standard 1-1/4-Inch sink opening to 3/11-Inch
Decorative and convenient fiber optic adapter plate"


"Product Description
From the Manufacturer
Fiber optic switch adapter plate, reduces standard faucet sink or countertop inside diameter to adapt fiber optic technology switch. "

Did you double check the actual diameter of your drilled hole? Otherwise, I'm really confused.

[FYI, this piece on Amazon is $9.79. Sorry.]

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:25PM
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Yes, it does say that. But those prongs don't fit into a 1 1/4" hole that is 3cm deep. Yes, we checked the hole diameter. The adaptor is larger than 1 1/4, and the prongs are supposed to kind of hold it in by spring pressure. My GC tried, but it wasn't going to work. The woman I talked to told me that it was meant for a thinner counter, not granite. The woman suggested that we fold it flat, then glue it down. She also suggested installing it in a cupboard. My GC ignored the adaptor and managed to install the switch in the hole in the granite without it.

I did get it on Amazon for 9.79 plus 8% sales tax, but I had to pay $8 plus tax for 2-day shipping because the place I was going to get it locally told me the day after it was due that it was backordered and they didn't know when it would be in. (they should have orderd it on amazon) It was all a fiasco. But it does work very well, without the adaptor.

As kitchen disasters go, this isn't one. But it's still worth checking before you try to put one of these in a stone counter. I think the best bet is to ignore the adaptor, drill a hole smaller than 1 1/4, and glue it to the counter with a drop of clear silicone.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 2:26PM
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I've been an electrician for over 35 years. I started using fiber switches (as the Waste King switch was then called) many many years ago. Back then, these cost under $50, they could be customized for special applications, and the owner finally sold out to the current manufacturer and, I believe, retired.

These switches have been very reliable for me, more reliable than air switches. Like most things, however, they have to be correctly installed. And, like most things mechanical, it is important to have the item in hand before you prepare to install it.

I have found discrepancies between written instructions/specifications and the hardware for light fixtures, generators, automotive parts, appliances, you name it. Unfortunately, the business model we now deal with hires inexperienced people to give technical information over the phone. That customer service person was undoubtedly simply reading what he/she found in their instructions. This is where Ginny20 unfortunately got caught, and having been there, I sympathize with her situation.

The fiber optic switch she bought will probably give her good service for years. Many building departments want disposers (and dishwashers) to be plugged in so that a service tech can cut off all power to the appliance without trying to find a circuit breaker. This is the reason for the receptacle on the Waste King switch.

I do not understand why a 3/8" hole could not be drilled in a granite countertop. I have drilled these small holes with a cheap diamond hole saw with no problem at all (using lubricant). My diamond drills are cheap - under $20, and have lasted for quite a few holes. Regardless, had the switch been in hand, a 1/2 or even 3/4" hole could have been drilled.

I don't believe that the customer service's mistake is a good reason to boycott Waste King.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 7:49PM
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You're right, mpcleve, and it's good that you explained this for future GWers. I have really enjoyed my switch for over two years now. It works great. Looking back, the problem was not just the customer service person, and the appliance store that didn't get the part in when they said they would, but also the apparent inexperience - or inattention - of the contractor who was installing it. He was the one who thought it should have been hard wired and didn't put in an outlet. He knew I was getting one of these, and I did have it in hand (it was the adaptor that we had to get in a hurry). So it was a perfect storm of mistakes, and I was really exasperated at the time. But he did manage to install it, and I have since recommended the fiber optic switch many times on GW.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 10:22AM
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I had these fiber optic switches installed four years ago during my kitchen remodel, and I strongly advise AGAINST their use. Over the past year the garbage disposals have been turning on and off by themselves; calls to the distributor (Waste King) give no satisfaction. They apparently have received other similar complaints, but cannot explain the problem. If you travel, potentially expect to come home to a burned out disposal. Also, be aware the disposal will only stay on for 20 seconds at a time. I have found that to not be enough time to collect all the waste in the sink and push it down the disposal before it turns itself off.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:05PM
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Wow wolverine, this is timely! Mine turned on by itself a couple of weeks ago, just once. Waste King had me contact the people who make it for them, and they offered to refurbish it for me. I probably would just buy a different one. But they can't explain why it happens. I wondered if it might have to do with water getting in something.

I've actually liked it up until now, but we aren't the only ones with this problem.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 12:34PM
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