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Is Your Garbage Disposal Humming? Fix It with These Easy Steps

If your garbage disposal makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, don’t fret. This is a pretty common issue and usually a fairly easy fix. Even if you have zero experience repairing garbage disposals, it’s still pretty easy.

However, this is the best-case scenario. A humming sound could also mean you’re having other serious problems with your unit. Although humming is usually a simple problem, you’ll want to check and make sure there isn’t a bigger issue at hand.

When your garbage disposal is making humming sounds, see if it’s jammed

The first thing you’ll want to do if your garbage disposal just hums is make sure it’s not jammed. To do this, make sure you disconnect the power to it. Once the power has been disconnected, see if anything is jamming it up.

When something jams up your garbage disposal, whether it be food, silverware or another object, it prevents the blades from spinning but the motor continues to try and rotate the blades. This is why it’s important to turn off your garbage disposal right away when you hear a humming sound. Trying to unjam it by simply by running it could damage or even burn out the motor. To successfully remove whatever is jamming your garbage disposal:

  1. If you haven’t already, turn off your garbage disposal.
  2. Examine the drain hole.
  3. Remove whatever if causing the jamming.
  4. Plug your unit back in.
  5. Flip the switch to see if it works right.

What shouldn’t you put down the garbage disposal?

Once you unjam the blades, your garbage disposal should then go back to working right. To prevent your garbage disposal from jamming up, make sure you don’t put the following items down your garbage disposal:

Banana peels: These skins are hard for your garbage disposal to grind up.

Potato peels: The potato peels will eventually transform into a starchy, gluey mess jamming up the blades of your unit.

Any sort of grease: Overtime, the grease will begin to coat the blades of your garbage disposal and slow them down.

Pasta and even rice: Both pasta and rice increase in size the more they sit in water. As a result, they will become large and jam up your blades.

Bones of any kind: Not only will bones reduce the sharpness of your blades, they’re also hard to grind up and will also jam up your garbage disposal.

Coffee grinds: When coffee get ground up, they can begin to cause blockages and slow the blade of your unit down.

Egg shells: Egg shells, just like bone, can slowly dull your blades and cause blockages when they get ground into small pieces.

Celery: Celery has a tough skin like a banana, and as a result, should not be shoved down your garbage disposal.

Is your garbage disposal humming but not jammed?

If you find that there’s nothing jammed or your garbage disposal is still humming after you checked to see if it was jammed, then you might want to try and manually rotated the grinding plate. Overtime, grease and other things can cause the grinding plate to get stuck.

To resolve this issue, equip yourself with an Allen wrench. If you received an Allen wrench with your garbage disposal when you first purchased the unit, you’ll want to use that one. Otherwise, inspect the breaker socket located on the bottom to see what the size is and equip yourself an appropriate sized tool. A 1/4-inch Allen wrench is usually the size that you’ll need. Once you have the right Allen wrench:

  1. Place the wrench on the head of the bolt.
  2. Turn the bold back and forth firmly and steadily. This manually rotates the grinding plate.
  3. Equip yourself with a pair of tongs and pull the loose debris out from the stomach of the garbage disposal.
  4. Give your garbage disposal a test. Turn on the power and try it. If your unit still hums, repeat the procedure.
  5. Once your garbage disposal quits humming, let hot water run down your garbage disposal for a few seconds to help clean it.

It’s important to note that if your garbage disposal doesn’t have a bolt located on the bottom of it, you’ll need to use something else to get the grinding plate to spin. You can use the end of a broom, a long stick, or a slim pole of some sort. To do this, you’ll want to your tool down into the disposer chamber and force it to move.

Reset the disposer if your garbage disposal is humming but not turning

If your garbage disposal is still humming after you’ve unjammed it or manually rotated the grinding plate, there’s a good chance the disposer will need to be reset. To do this, simply find the reset button and push it in. This will reset your garbage disposal.

While doing this, you’ll also want to examine the reset switch to make sure that’s it’s not worn out or faulty in any way. When this switch breaks or become worn, it usually means that it’s time to replace the complete unit. If you are unexperienced with garbage disposal replacement, you’ll want to call a professional.

Other possible reasons your garbage disposal is making humming sounds

There are a few other reasons why your garbage disposal may not be working. One of these reasons includes a fried disposal. If you kept trying to unjam your garbage disposal by running it, you may have overheated your unit or even fried it.

If your garbage disposal has overheated, you may be able to restart it by simply pushing the reset button. On the other hand, if your garbage disposal has been fried, pushing the reset button will not do anything. In this situation, you’ll more than likely have to replace your complete unit. If you are unsure though, have a professional take a look to be sure. You don’t want to replace the whole unit if there’s only a minor issue at hand.

Kevin L. Sharp


Wednesday 20th of December 2023

Thanks a million! Fixed in under a minute


Friday 28th of July 2023

Great article ... followed the steps to check for jam. Didn't find one so then used the allen wrench that came with the unit to rotate the grinding plate. (House is fairly new so the wrench was fastened to the disposal.) Worked great! Thank you


Friday 14th of April 2023

Disposal was not working or humming. Looked for the Allen wrench and did not have the correct size. Felt the bottom of the unit and accidentally hit the reset button. Turned on the switch and it started to hum. Turned it off and used a broom handle to rotate the grinding plate and it is working fine again. Thanks for the help.

Linda Rose

Saturday 11th of March 2023

Thanks for this article. It is easy to understand the steps you outlined and try them.