How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That is Humming

A humming sound from your garbage disposal indicates that it’s not grinding the solid food wastes as it is supposed to do. How to Fix a Garbage Disposal That is HummingTherefore, it’s advisable to discontinue its operation and fix the issue first. This can avert possible damage to the garbage disposal and therefore prolong its life.

Fixing your humming garbage disposal also allows the appliance to work optimally thus making foot waste disposal easier.

In this guide, I’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on how to fix a garbage disposal that is humming at home.

Related: How to Unclog a Garbage Disposal with a Plunger

Why Does a Garbage Disposal Hum?

When you turn on the power button and your garbage disposal starts making a humming sound, then know that the motor isn’t rotating. Simply speaking, the motor is receiving the right amount power but it keeps humming instead of rotating.

The main culprit of a garbage disposal humming sound is jamming. It results when hard or fibrous waste food is jammed between the spinning disc and the shredding ring. It’s therefore advisable to dispose such waste into the trash instead of leaving them to the garbage disposal.

Sometimes, the power might trip in case there’s a jam in the garbage disposal. If this does not happen, then there’s risk of losing your motor.

Here is what to do in case your garbage disposal keeps humming whenever you press the power ON button.

Troubleshooting and Fixing a Humming Garbage Disposal – 6 Steps

Step #1

First, put the power button OFF and run a long rod through the sink opening to see if there’re blockages. Ensure that the rod touches the edges of the grinding chamber so that it crush any blockages.

Now remove the probing rod and press the ON button to check whether the humming sound still persists.

If humming persist, then the jam in the garbage disposal hasn’t been resolved yet.

Step #2

You may want to restart the garbage disposal to see whether it’ll resolve the humming.

The restart switch is a red ON/OFF button located underneath the garbage disposal. With power button off, push in the restart the button. If humming doesn’t stop after putting power ON the garbage disposal, then there’s no issue with restart button.

At this point, you should try to troubleshoot the problem from a ‘jamming’ point of view.

Step #3

Now it’s time to manually rotate the flywheel without opening the inside garbage disposal. Most garbage disposal appliances come with maintenance Allen wrench (garbage disposal tool)

  • With the power button OFF, insert the Allen at the hole at the center of the bottom of the garbage disposal.
  • Try to rotate turn the wrench clockwise and anticlockwise to see whether the jam resolves.
  • If it rotates, then the garbage disposal has been unclogged. Continue rotating until the flywheel rotates freely.
  • Now remove the Allen wrench and turn ON the power. The garbage disposal should now run without the humming sound.
  • In case the flywheel didn’t rotate even with the help of the Allen wrench, then you need to open the garbage disposal to check inside.

Step #4

This step is intended to confirm whether some stuff is jammed between the spinning disc and the shredding ring. In this case you’ll need to detach the garbage disposal from underneath the sink to have better view of its interior. Here’s what to do.

  • Unplug the garbage disposal from the socket. You’ll require a basin and rags to avoid spilling the floor with the water retained in the drainage system.
  • First, disconnect the garbage disposal from the sink drain pipe.
  • If the garbage disposal is connected to the dishwasher too, then disconnect this too.
  • Then detach the garbage disposal from the sink. The attachment is a hand-tightened flange which can be removed by turning clockwise. The flange comes with hollow segments into which the garbage disposal tool can be inserted to allow easier turning.
  • Once the garbage disposal tool is out, inspect the interior to see what is making the flywheel to stick. Use a narrow stick to remove substances that may be stuck between the spinning disc and the shredding ring. If there’re fibrous substances, use a pair of tongs to pull them out.
  • Now rotate the flywheel from the bottom of the garbage disposal using the Allen wrench. Slightly hammering the Allen wrench with a mallet can help resolve the jam in case it feels tight for your hands.
  • Once it starts rotating, continue spinning until there’s no jam anymore.

Step #5

Now that you know the jam has been resolved, it’s time to reassemble the drainage system back to its initial position.

  • Return the garbage disposal back to its place underneath the sink.
  • Connect the drainage pipe to the garbage disposal and hand-tighten snugly. Also connect the dishwasher pipe if it is was there.
  • Plug in the garbage disposal to the socket and turn it ON. Your garbage disposal should be now be able to operate smoothly with no humming sound.

Step #6

Check if the system has leakages and tighten the connections accordingly. Then clean your tools and cleanse the floor of any spillages or mess.

Tips for Avoiding Garbage Disposal Blockage

Prevention is better than cure. You can cut maintenance costs for you garbage disposal units by preventing blockages. Below is a summary of stuff that should not end in your garbage disposal.

1. Starchy Food Waste

Starchy food waste such as potato peels and rice isn’t good for your drain and garbage disposal. Over time these waste turn into a thick paste which is likely to cause blockage when it hardens.

Therefore, such waste should be thrown in the trash instead of the grinding it in the garbage disposal.

2. Coffee Grounds and Shells

Though they might seem small, pieces of egg shells and ground coffee tend to attach themselves with grease. With time, such waste builds up into a thick sludge which may end up causing blockage.

3. Fibrous Waste

Fibrous waste tends to get tangled and may end up jamming between the spinning disc and the shredding ring. Therefore avoid flushing onion skins, corn husks, cigarette butts and other fibrous waste down the garbage disposal.

4. Hard Substances

Hard substances like nuts, bones and seeds may end up damaging your garbage disposal.

5. Grease and Cooking Oils

Solid waste can stick on oily or greasy surfaces in the garbage disposal and eventually form a thick substance which might cause blockage. Therefore, it’s advisable to avoid disposing waste cooking oil into the garbage disposal.


As you have seen, the humming sound in a garbage disposal almost always results when the motor stops rotating despite being power. This happens when waste substances get jammed in the grinding chamber.

The good news is that it’s possible to prevent jamming by being selective of the kind of foot waste that gets into the garbage disposal.

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