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What is this component that connects to the garbage disposal?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently moved to a new place and I'm still trying to figure out what things do. There are still a few things that are particularly puzzling, like what this thing next to the sink is.

enter image description here

  • 6
    Wouldn't it be better to ask this as two separate questions? Right now, the best answer about the timer is completely wrong about the dishwasher air vent, so it's hard to know whether to upvote it or downvote it.
    – Martha
    Oct 10, 2012 at 13:53
  • 3
    Agree, should be split into 2 questions. Oct 10, 2012 at 14:58
  • @amh I removed the portion of the question dealing with the timer. If you feel it's a good question and can stand on it's own, please open a new question to deal with that inquiry.
    – Tester101
    Oct 10, 2012 at 17:22

3 Answers 3


If the top item is near your kitchen sink then this probably an air gap for your dish washer drain system. The purpose of the air gap is to prevent back flow siphoning from the sink drain back into the dish washer.

enter image description here

The lower item is definitely a timer unit. The dark colored thing under the timer dial appears to be a switch that has positions of OFF, FULL ON and TIMER MODE. You should be able to use this switch to determine just what things this timer turns on and off. A common use for a timer like this is to turn certain lights in your dwelling on and off according to a fixed schedule. If it connects to internal lights then the purpose it to make it look like people are home whilst you are away on vacation. It may also be tied into exterior lights such as an entry way light, lights on the front of your garage and/or sidewalk lights. In this case the purpose would be to automatically turn these lights on of a few hours in the early evening and then turn them off automatically when you have gone to bed.

More commonly it is used to control heating or other high-load electricity/gas-powered systems as many tariffs offer cheaper power overnight.

  • Thanks a lot, this is really useful. I'm not sure I understand how to configure the timer. Do you know of any manual or how I can search for it? I don't even know what is called. I think it controls the fan inside the closet where the washer/drier are.
    – amh
    Oct 10, 2012 at 21:16
  • @amh - The timer is set to current time simply by using your hand to rotate the dial so that the right hour lines up with some mark on the face. (You took the picture away so I cannot be more specific). The times of when the timer is on or off within a 24 hour time cycle (then the switch is set for timer mode) are set by simply rocking the fins on the dial in one position or the other. Your photo showed one section of the fins in one position and the rest in the other position. The fins each represent some increment of time. If 96 fins then every 15 minutes. If 72 fins then every 20 minutes.
    – Michael Karas
    Oct 10, 2012 at 22:29
  • @anh - Just operate the switch on the lower part of the timer to the center "always on" position to see if the closet fan comes on. If so then you found what the timer operates. If not then you'll have to either look around OR trace the wiring which could be a pain.
    – Michael Karas
    Oct 10, 2012 at 22:31

The top picture is a vent or air gap for your dishwasher.


The one on the bottom is a day timer, it turns something on or off depending on the position of the pins. The switch on the bottom is the override and can be set to timer, always on, or always off. From what I can gather it looks like whatever it is will be off from about 10:30am to 3pm if set to timer mode so I would hazard a guess it's connected to your heating system so it will be off during the warmest part of the day, although it could control anything electrical. If it is connected to your heating system it's most likely a low voltage system, if it turns a light on or off it will be regular household current.

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