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ACityDiscount - Restaurant Equipment and Restaurant Supply

Waste Not, Want Not: A Guide To Selecting The Right Sink Or Disposal Unit

Posted: Jul 20, 2012

Sinks and waste disposal units are an integral part of creating an efficient dish pit, and even for maintaining general efficiency in a restaurant.  Sinks not only help maintain or exceed the requirements for sanitation, but they are also an integral part of much food preparation as well, and having the proper waste disposal can effectively reduce costs for trash removal. 

Where To Place A Sink:  There a many things to look at when shopping for sinks, and all should be examined before planning out your back-of-the-house floor plan.  Sink and disposal placement are important for two main reasons: 1. access to proper plumbing and drainage, and 2. because large pieces like sinks control the flow of kitchen operations.  Here are the main varieties of sinks, and where they should be placed.  Many of these sinks are available with 1 to 4 basins, and it is important to gauge how much volume a sink will see before deciding on size.

  • Bar Sinks – First and foremost is the easiest sink to place, a bar sink.  Aside from the obvious placement (behind a bar), it is important to examine the flow of your bar to pick the best location.  Like all sinks, there must be running water nearby and if a glass washer is present (or will be) behind your bar, it is best that the sink (or at least one of the sinks) be adjacent to the glass washer.  This way, empty drinks can be dumped, and glass racks can be placed over the sink basins.  This reduces the amount of liquid that will hit the floor or mats and create a hazard.  If glasses will be washed manually, then it is important to have a resting area for glasses to dry nearby.  Bar sinks are usually placed next to or near ice basins as well so that they may share drainage.


  • Mop Sinks – Since mop sinks are used to fill and empty mop buckets, and dump other dirty liquids, it is a necessity that they are a safe distance away from food products.  It is important to place a mop sink in an area that will not bring it into contact with prepared or stored foods, in addition to anything that may come in contact with food, such as paper products, plates, silverware, cookware, and utensils.  It is best, however, that it simultaneously be accessible to the dish area and the line.  The line and the dish area are the two areas that will be mopped most frequently, and the most likely to incur large spills.
  • Kitchen Sinks – A kitchen sink, more often than not, will be placed near the prep area.  Traditionally, most cooking and preparation that requires frequent water or drainage will occur in the prep area.  Line cooks will use small amounts of water during a shift, however when they do need water, they can get it from the prep unit.  Moreover, one of the primary needs of water on a line is the steam wells, which are filled at the beginning of the shift, and (when built in) won’t need to be dumped as they should have adequate drainage.  Sinks are not usually placed directly on the line because they can disrupt the flow between units on the line, because lines are typically away from direct plumbing (for safety purposes), and because space on a line is drastically important.


  • Dish Sinks & Tables – Dish sinks / table placement is incredibly important for several reasons.  First, it is important to remember that dishes will be coming to the dish area from bussers / servers, the prep area, the line, and even occasionally the bar, so nearly all employees will at some point need access to drop off dishes.  Next, it is important to note that a dish sink / table will be in some shape or form adjacent to a dishwasher.  In the case of vertical or conveyor dishwashers, this means there must be an open edge on each side so dish racks can seamlessly pass into and out of the machine.  Also, it is a necessity that the entire dish area flows from dirty to clean.  Dirty dishes and old food cannot come into contact with the area for clean and sanitized dishes.  This means there must be adequate space for employees to empty and stack dirty dishes.

When & Where To Place A Disposer:  Disposers can only be used in operations that drain into sewer systems.  This will be the case for most operations, however, it is something important to note.  They are not a necessity, however as previously stated, can drastically reduce trash removal costs as most of the waste produced by a restaurant is old food. 

  • Placement - Dish sinks can be purchased with a specific bowl for disposer placement; an important feature to have in a commercial environment not only to prevent accidents, but also to save silverware, ramekins, or other utensils.  Many mounting gaskets are available that feature a magnet to aid in salvaging silverware or other metal utensils.  Disposers should only be placed in a rinsing area if absolutely necessary to reduce chance of an accident.


  • Horsepower – The power of the disposer should be proportionate to the volume of food waste.  Businesses such as high volume cafeterias or catering services will have rushes where large amounts of food need to be constantly put through the disposer, and will require a stronger motor.  High horsepower units are intended to work hard for extended periods of time, but are not necessary in smaller operations.
  • Switches – When buying a new commercial disposer unit, it will most likely be necessary to buy a switch.  Though some waste disposers can be hard wired to a wall switch, most commercial disposers should be installed with one of the manufacturer’s standard switches.  They are usually more water resistant than a wall switch, and can be placed in a safe and convenient area for a dishwasher to turn them on or off during a shift.  More often than not the disposer will be turned on and off several times during a shift, and wall switches are not designed to be as water resistant as they would need to be in a commercial dishwashing area.


Mounting – There are many different mounting gaskets available for commercial disposers.  It is important to determine the size of the gasket needed to affix the disposer to your sink before your purchase, as well as determine if the disposer needs additional support because of its weight.  Higher horsepower units can be heavy, and sometimes just attaching it to the sink is not enough to keep it in place.  It is also important that your switch is nearby (with access to electricity), but not in an area that it will receive copious amounts of direct water c

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