One of the most common garbage disposal issues encountered is when the switch is flipped and the disposal simply begins making a humming sound. The good news is that generally speaking this is an easy fix. In fact, in most cases it only takes a matter of seconds to rectify the issue.
WHY IS MY GARBAGE DISPOSAL HUMMING?
The dreaded humming of the garbage disposal is usually followed up with a clogged drain - but don't worry! A humming garbage disposal is likely just jammed - meaning the rotating blades inside can't spin because of an object that is stuck in the disposal. Keep in mind that when the disposal is humming this means that it is getting power, but is not functioning properly - usually because of a jam.
Several things have the potential to jam up your unit’s blades and cause a humming sound. Pieces of food that have collected in the unit may clog it up, or kitchen debris like bones that shouldn’t be in garbage disposals at all. a foreign object, such as a kitchen utensil, are common culprits that cause a jammed garbage disposal.
The hum or buzz you are hearing is from the motor trying to spin the blades inside but it can't because something is jamming the blades inside. This problem is very common and can be easily fixed. Follow our 5 easy steps to unjam your garbage disposal below:
How to fix a jammed garbage disposal
STEP 1: Turn off your garbage disposal - we can't stress this enough - a jammed garbage disposal should be turned off as quickly as possible as if you leave the garbage disposal on with the jam in place, the motor is on but cannot spin. This can easily cause overheating and burn out the motor causing damage to your disposal. If you hear your disposal make a humming or buzzing noise, turn it off immediately.
STEP 2: Determine what is causing the garbage disposal to hum or buzz. In most cases, the humming noise is because the blades in the garbage disposal are stuck as something has fallen into the disposal and jammed the blades.
With the disposal off (unplug the unit if you can or ensure the power switch is off), remove the rubber splashguard and shine a flashlight down the kitchen sink into the inside of the garbage disposal. Take a look and see if there is anything obvious jamming the disposal. Remove any objects you see with some long nose pliers, tongs or even a fork can do. If you found something and removed it, you can now reset and restart your garbage disposal and it should be operating normally. Make sure you turn on the cold water as you restart the disposal unit to flush away any debris remaining on the blades.
STEP 3. If you could not find anything obvious jamming the blades in the grinding chamber of the garbage disposal, you will need to find the allen key or wrench that came with the disposal. This will be the only tool you will need to unjam your disposal - it should look like the image below. If you have lost your allen key, a 1⁄4 in (6.4 mm) key will fit or you can easily order a replacement:
STEP 4: After you have found the allen key, open the sink cabinet doors and insert the allen wrench into the allen wrench hole / hex socket. This is usually located on the base or bottom of the garbage disposal - see image below for where to find the allen wrench socket and how to turn it:
STEP 5: With the allen key inserted, turn the wrench clockwise and counter-clockwise. You may need to use a bit of force to free the flywheel and the rotating blades inside. One the wrench can turn freely in a full circle you have dislodged whatever was causing the jam. After confirming the allen key can rotate in a full circle in both directions, press the red reset switch on the garbage disposal. You can now plug the disposal back in and test - it should spin normally. Make sure you turn on the cold water in the kitchen sink before running to disposal again. This will make sure any remaining debris is washed away from the disposal. Keep the water on and disposal running for 30 seconds to confirm normal operation.
garbage disposal not jammed but still humming
If your garbage disposal wont start and you have followed the method above to check the internal flywheel and blades are not jammed, double check you have pressed the reset switch in step 5 above. The red button will stay popped out if the garbage disposal is overheating. Wait 15 minutes for the disposal motor to cool down, then press the button again. If you are sure you have pressed the reset switch and your garbage disposal is still humming but the blades are not turning, then you may have a defective motor or other mechanical fault. Unfortunately, this usually means you will have to replace your disposal as any repair would cost more than getting a new garbage disposal.
If none of the above methods have worked when it comes to fixing the humming of a garbage disposal, then chances are that the disposal is no longer operational and has reached the end of its life. In this case you will have no other option than to completely replace the disposal. Here are some our our recommended brands and models below:
- RELIABLE & EASY INSTALL: Badger Series disposers are a reliable & functional choice when affordability is the prime...
- DURABLE COMPONENTS: This garbage disposal features our exclusive 1/2 hp Dura-Drive Induction Motor and long lasting...
- AMERICA'S #1 DISPOSER BRAND: There are more American-built InSinkErator garbage disposals in US homes than all other...
- Size: 10.HIGH-SPEED MOTOR: The 1/2 HP, 2600 RPM (115v) permanent magnet motor jams less. Has dishwasher hookup
- EASY INSTALLATION AND CLEANING: EZ Mount for a quick and easy kitchen sink installation, removable splashguard for easy...
- 2 YEAR PROTECTION: 2-year Limited. Corrosion resistant grinding components
Remember - safety first!
Always remember to make sure the disposal is not plugged in when attempting any of these quick fixes. Additionally, if possible, avoid placing your hands directly near the blades in the disposal - it is better to use a tool to wedge out items or to check the blades for blockage.
If you must use your hand to check, double triple check that the power has been disonnected and the disposal is off and not recieving any power. If you are not sure if the disposal has power, turn off the fuses in the fusebox before putting your hand into the garbage disposal.
Not sure which disposal is best in 2023? Check out our comparison table below:
Last update on 2023-05-31 at 17:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Thanks Justin, we were able to get our garbage disposal working with your instructions. This disposal is in our condo in Florida, so we only use it in the winter. Is there anything we can do before we leave to keep it from locking up?
Not that I’ve ever done…
I did all the things that you said. I finallyt called the home warrenty company. They said that there was a penny stuck and I had to get a new disposal. He took a pciture so I could see. I asked him why he didnt try to get the penny out and he said that he would just replace After he left, I put my hand in to see if I could get the penny lose. I could not see it so I put my hand in again and got all the food out and there was the penny. I then tried to get it to run and it is still humming. What should i do? Do I really need a new disposal?
The disposal turns freely, but all I get is a humming sound. What next?
Mr. Garbage Disposal
This means that there is something mechanically faulty with your garbage disposal – you will have to replace it with a new one.
My garbage disposal will not work I can’t unplug it because I don’t see a plug for it,it will make a humming sound I want to try to fix it myself it a Whirlpool disposal also my dishwasher is backing up into my sink every time I turn it on to wash dishes I need help
DISPOSAL HAS A HUMMING SOUND.CHECKED THE BLADES THEY DO TURN. DID THE RESET RED BUTTON BUT STILL NOTHING BUT HUMMING
Sounds like it’s time to buy a new one…sorry.
Thanks Justin! I was afraid my insinkerater was a goner! I followed your advice and now it’s functioning properly.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I fixed it tried clearing it. Resetting it. Nothing. The Allen wrench turning on the bottom worked. I didn’t know that is why that wrench is in the flip down drawer in the front of the sink . So thankful for people like you on the internet that help
The Allen wrench fix just worked for me too! Thank you so much!!
Thank you! Rotating the breaker back and forth with the allen wrench did the trick.
I had a glass jar that was stuck in my sink. I have to break it and took some glass out but left most of it in. I did this because on some site it was stated that the disposal can handle glass and it helps to sharpen the blades. That may be true for just a small amount of glass, but I left in too much.
Needless to say it jammed, was a hummer…..but I used the socket on the bottom and rotated back and forth for 20 min. and was able to get it turning smooth again…..then the garbage disposal worked again.
Thanks as I did not even know there was a place on the bottom to rotate with a tool.
My almost new GrindSmart 1/2 hp disposer is humming. Can’t see anything jamming it. With my old Insikerator I would use the allen wrench in the hole at the bottom and rotate it a few times. Cannot find such a hole in this unit. There is, however, a metal cover over the center spot on the bottom. Should I take that off and see if there’s an Allen wrench hole there that I can rotate?
Great tips, thanks. The allen key fixed it, saved many $$$.
Thank you Allen wrench worked!
This was great advice. Luckily I had a large hex wrench in my toolbox to work the screw until it came loose. I’m sure that saved a lot of money; thanks!
I turned it and it turns on. Once I turn it off and attempt to turn it back on it continues to hum. I once again turned it and it worked but once I turn it off then back on it hums not sure why?
Awesome blog! I was going to use the broom handle method to free the blades, but your tips did the trick. My 1978 garbage disposal is back on line…for how long no man knows. Thank you so much!
Thanks very much. Turning the allen wrench underneath unstuck a screw that fell in. You just saved me about $150.
The Allen key trick worked for me. Thanks for the tip!
Thank you soooo much for these suggestions! The allen wrench tip did it for me!
Thanks for the helpful tips on garbage disposal upkeep!
Awesome article! A very detailed tips to reduce waste