The Humming Garbage Disposal: Troubleshooting and Fixes

The humming (or sometimes buzzing) sound that your garbage disposal makes is an indication that there is power coming into the unit but the blades are not turning. The humming sound can be a sign that the motor is clogged or jammed resulting in its failure to grind.

Humming or buzzing in motors refers to a regular and non-stop sound while the motor is jogging. This is a common occurrence in many types of devices and may be due to a range of things inclusive of layout, factor first-rate, and overall performance.

Understanding the Humming Sound in Garbage Disposal

The underlying cause of a humming garbage disposal is usually a jam. That humming sound isn’t a sign of a healthy, working disposal. Instead, it’s letting you know that power is reaching the machine, but the grinding mechanism can’t turn. Often, this is due to something lodged between the blades or impellers. 

A humming sound within your garbage disposal is the first significant step toward effective troubleshooting. As you turn on your garbage disposal, it should make a low-level humming sound. However, if the humming gets intense and the disposal doesn’t grind, you’ve likely struck an issue.

From a technical point of view, the humming sound indicates that the motor inside your disposal is still working and getting power. However, for some reason, the blades that do the actual food grinding have come to a halt. This could be due to a jam from a solid object, or they are just stuck from food debris. In other words, the motor runs, but the disposal doesn’t grind. 

If the humming persists, it’s an alarm that you need to give your disposal some troubleshooting. At times, neglecting such signs might lead to some severe damage to your garbage disposal, even a complete shutdown.

buzzing sound garbage diposal

Troubleshooting the Humming Garbage Disposal

Unplugging and Inspection

Before you do anything else, safety first! To prevent accidents, ensure that the garbage disposal is unplugged or the circuit breaker is off. Once you’ve made sure you won’t get an electric shock, shine a flashlight into the device to check for any obstructions. These could be anything from food waste to a foreign object such as a spoon. 

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Using Pliers or Tweezers

Found an obstruction? If safe and feasible, use a pair of pliers or tweezers to remove it. Remember, NEVER insert your fingers or hands into the disposal. Safety should always be your top priority. 

Resetting Your Garbage Disposal

After removing any debris or blockage, it’s time to hit the reset button. You’ll usually find this either at the bottom or side of the machine. If the humming persists after doing this, further steps will be necessary. 
Here For a detailed guide on How to Reset a Garbage Disposal: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide.

Fixing a Humming Garbage Disposal

Manual Wrench Method

Most garbage disposals come with a manual wrench meant for freeing jams. Simply insert the tool into the fitting at the bottom of the unit and wiggle it around a bit. This action can free up the impellers and might be all it takes to solve the problem. 

Replacing Your Garbage Disposal

If none of the methods outlined above works, you may be looking at a motor problem. In this case, replacement will likely be the least troublesome solution. 

Using the Flywheel Method 

Your garbage disposal humming may be due to a stuck flywheel, which can’t rotate as it should. 

Here’s how to get that fixed: 

  • Turn off power: Firstly, ensure your garbage disposal is completely switched off before you proceed. Safety first, convenience second.
  • Insert a wrench: Locate the hole at the bottom of the unit. Stick your wrench in this hole; it should fit perfectly if it’s a hex wrench.
  • Twist back and forth: Now, twist your wrench back and forth. You might feel some resistance – this is normal. You’re essentially trying to move the flywheel manually to dislodge anything that’s stuck.
  • Remove the wrench: Once the wrench starts to move freely, remove it. Now, turn on cold water and let it run for a few minutes.
  • Power on: Finally, turn on the garbage disposal. The hum should be gone. If it isn’t, turn off the unit right away to prevent overheating., but it’s less costly than replacing your entire unit due

Employing the Broomstick Method

One of the quick fixes to try is the broomstick method. Turn off the power from your main circuit board to ensure safety. Push the end of a broomstick into the garbage disposal and use it to try to manually turn the blades. If the blades do not turn, it suggests that something is jamming the blade mechanism. If the blades move, turn the power back on and run the disposal to see if it rectifies the problem. 

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Utilizing the Vacuum Technique

An alternative solution is employing a vacuum. Again, ensure the garbage disposal is powered off. If you suspect that a foreign object may have become lodged in the disposal, it may be possible to remove it with a wet-dry vacuum. The vacuum could create enough suction to extract the object and eliminate the blockage, allowing your disposal to function as normal once again. 

While these do-it-yourself solutions can be effective, they are not always suited for every situation. Sometimes, there might be a deeper underlying issue contributing to the humming sound. In such cases, or if the above solutions do not work, it is highly advisable to contact a professional plumber for further assistance.

Preventive Measures

Now that we have discussed the possible solutions to humming garbage disposal, let’s take a moment to consider preventive measures. Doing so could spare you from possible future headaches. 

One key preventive measure is to avoid putting hard items, such as bones, seeds, or metal, into your garbage disposal. Soft food waste is fine but these harder items can easily cause a jam. Also, try running cold water through the unit after each use. This helps to keep the unit clean and operational. 

Remember, taking good care of your garbage disposal unit can go a long way in terms of extending its lifespan and maintaining its efficiency. Treat it well, and it’ll serve you well in return.


That familiar humming sound doesn’t necessarily imply the end of your garbage disposal. Dealing with a damn rubbish disposal can frequently be a DIY undertaking. With a little staying power and our troubleshooting steps, you can just store a carrier name. Of course, if all else fails or you’re now not comfortable taking this step yourself, expert help is just one name away. Remember, you’ll by no means compromise your safety whilst dealing with the trouble of garbage disposal.

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Additionally, persistent or severe humming might very well indicate an electrical issue. If your garbage disposal hum is not solved with other methods, the problem might be a faulty or failing motor. When this is the case, it would always be safer to call a qualified electrician or appliance repair specialist. A professional can confirm the issue and may be crucial in avoiding potential risks to your disposal system or your home’s overall electrical system.

What causes a garbage disposal to make a humming noise?

A humming garbage disposal typically indicates that its blades are jammed or obstructed, preventing movement. This sound occurs when the motor is on but can’t rotate the blades due to blockages like food scraps or foreign objects, causing a humming instead of the normal grinding noise.

Is it safe to fix a humming garbage disposal myself?

Yes, it’s generally safe to fix a humming garbage disposal yourself, but always turn off the power first. Use tools, not your hands, to remove any blockages. If you’re unsure or the problem persists, it’s best to seek help from an adult or a professional.

What should I do if my garbage disposal is humming but not working?

If your garbage disposal hums but doesn’t work, first turn off the power for safety. Then, look inside with a flashlight for any stuck objects. If you find something, use pliers (not your hands) to carefully remove it. If it’s still not working, press the reset button on the disposal.

How can I prevent my garbage disposal from humming in the future?

To prevent your garbage disposal from humming, avoid putting hard items like bones or fruit pits in it. Also, regularly run cold water through it after use to clear any leftover food bits. This helps keep the blades clear and moving smoothly.

Can a humming garbage disposal lead to other problems if not fixed?

Yes, if a humming garbage disposal isn’t fixed, it can lead to more issues. The motor might overheat or break down, and the blades can get damaged. It’s important to clear the jam quickly to avoid bigger problems with the disposal.

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