I am replacing the outlets for my garbage disposal/dishwasher circuit in my kitchen. Currently on that breaker there is one non-GFCI outlet with a pigtailed switch controlling the garbage disposal and one non-switched GFCI outlet controlling the dishwasher. The garbage disposal outlet is currently not in series with the dishwasher outlet, but is "upstream" of it in relation to current coming from the breaker box.

I want to install GFCI protection for both of these outlets. I would also like to replace the current GFCI outlet behind the dishwasher with a normal outlet, so that if it trips, I won't have to remove the dishwasher to reset the outlet. Ideally, I would like to install a GFCI outlet for the current garbage disposal outlet, and have it protect both the garbage disposal and dishwasher outlets. However, there is a catch with this plan. I still need the garbage disposal outlet to be switch-activated, but I do not want that switch to also activate the dishwasher outlet.

In short, how can I wire my new outlets to achieve these goals:

  1. GFCI protection for both outlets.
  2. No GFCI outlet behind the dishwasher (for easy resetting without dishwasher removal).
  3. The switch only toggling the garbage disposal outlet and not the dishwasher outlet.

I've thought about this for several days, and it may be impossible in my current wiring situation. If it is, what other solutions would achieve the same effect as listed above? Should I investigate adding a GFCI breaker for that circuit? Am I going to need to run some more wire through the walls?

Edit: Here is a diagram of the current wiring situation.

Circuit diagram of current wiring schematic

  • Im curious - what tool did you use to create the diagram? Jul 24, 2018 at 16:04
  • It's been a long time since I wrote this question, but I think I just did some basic MS Paint + copy/paste. Aug 6, 2018 at 16:28

4 Answers 4


EDIT Aug 8, 2022: This was asked and answered in 2012 and local and state codes have changed. I did update the link to a newer version.

First things first, here's a link to Leviton's GFSW1 combination switch & GFCI web page. The only reason I give Leviton is because I know the part number. Hubbell, GE or Cooper are just as good and make the same.

GFCI protection for both outlets.

Follow the instructions that come with the GFCI. There are leads for the switch and lugs for the GFCI and also the feedthru-protection of another receptacle.

No GFCI outlet behind the dishwasher (for easy resetting without dishwasher removal).

This is accomplished by feeding the dishwasher receptacle using the GFCI feedthru-protection lugs.

The switch only toggling the garbage disposal outlet and not the dishwasher outlet.

This is accomplished by using the leads on the combo switch & GFCI to feed the garbage disposal.

Am I going to need to run some more wire through the walls?

If there are no wires between the combo switch & GFCI then you will have to pull some romex between the two.

Should I investigate adding a GFCI breaker for that circuit?

The breaker will cost a lot more than the combo switch & GFCI. Also, if the GFCI trips then you have to go to the breaker to reset it. At least with the GFCI receptacle feeding your dishwasher receptacle, you will be closer.

What other solutions would achieve the same effect as listed above?

I think this is the way to go, so you don't have to pull your dishwasher out to reset the GFCI. The nice thing about this site is some of the people either can think out of the box or have faced this problem before.

  • To be clear, you are suggesting I replace the garbage disposal wall switch with the combo switch and wire the garbage disposal and dishwasher outlets in-line with it, but downstream? May 6, 2012 at 2:35
  • 1
    Yes. From how I interpreted your question I thought that to be the best.
    – lqlarry
    May 6, 2012 at 6:22
  • I've added a diagram of the current circuit to my question. I think that I am going to have to pull some wire through the walls to use your solution. Using my diagram above, can you explain exactly what wires to pull between which boxes? Also, can you explain how to go about pulling wire between already installed boxes? May 6, 2012 at 19:44
  • I cannot do that. I had it in my mind that the switch box would have had 120v power in it, not just a switch leg. Now it would take 12/3NM or 14/3NM between the switch and the garbage disposal and 12/2NM or 14/2NM between the switch and the dishwasher to make my way work.
    – lqlarry
    May 7, 2012 at 2:30
  • @DrewSpickes Also, if you did it my way and if you had an 18 cubic inch box you would probably have to change it to a 21 or 23 cubic inch box. This too would have been originally constructed this way.
    – lqlarry
    May 7, 2012 at 2:34

It seems to me that Leviton's switch/GFI combo would be perfect if there's already a toggle switch installed for the dishwasher. A wiring diagram (https://www.do-it-yourself-help.com/gfci-outlet-switch-wiring.html) explains the installation except it uses a disposer in the illustration. It would involve replacing the existing switch with this unit.

Leviton GFSW1-W Self-Test SmartlockPro Slim GFCI Combination Switch.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Dec 3, 2019 at 1:36

The circuit should be wired like this. You need two receptacles to get the benefit of the GFCI for both the dishwasher and garbage disposal. gfci disposal switch issue - Bartle Doo

  • 1
    This diagram seems to be confused regarding how the dishwasher's hot is connected... Jul 24, 2018 at 22:15
  • 2
    This doesn't work. The dishwasher is taking its hot from the unprotected zone and its neutral from the protected zone. That will result in current imbalance and instant trip the moment it's turned on. The correct answer is tap the load side of the GFCI and use a /3 cable in that gray/black/green bundle at lower right. Dec 3, 2019 at 0:01

The right duplex outlet has the brass tab removed and the two brass hot screws are NOT connected together when the tab is removed. Only the bottom outlet 'half' is switched. The top half is a normal outlet that is not switched.

Forget all those three wires to the left of the switch. They are not needed. That red wire supply wire is bogus and is not needed. To be protected when you touch the garbage disposal and/or the dishwasher, you need to forget the gray wire under the word "Dishwasher" where it is connected to the top black hot line. The gray wire should go down to the lower black GFCI load brass terminal hot by the words, "Load side of outlet". The switch is fine, but needs a pigtail to the top dishwasher brass terminal as stated above. That makes the DW always hot, unless the GFCI trips. The switch only interrupts the black wire hot to the disposal unit. Any GFCI trip from either appliance, turns off both appliances.

The dishwasher as shown has no GFCI protection. However, a GFCI trip will open the white neutral wire inside the GFCI. Therefore, the DW will be turned off by a lack of white wire continuity. NOT good.

To permanently power the DW independently of any GFCI activity, you need to split the tab on the duplex outlet white silver terminal side also. The GFCI white feeder is fine for the G.D., but you will need to run a pigtail from the top outlet half white silver terminal to the orange dot shown point on the gray "Incoming 120V Power supply".

My main point is that nobody stated how the pre-scored split tab was broken off, how it worked, and that no left wire bundle or red wire to the DW was needed.

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