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How To Fix A Garbage Disposal That Only Hums

Plumber scratching his head

A garbage disposal can work for many years without any issue. But it often happens that after a few years, it breaks downs and starts humming.

The good news for you is that you can often fix it by following a few simple steps.

Before we get down to the steps, let’s understand what it means when your garbage disposal starts humming.

It indicates that your garbage disposal is receiving the power, but its blades are unable to rotate.

There are multiple reasons behind the humming noise, like a clogged motor and food particles stuck between the drain hole and the blades which causes the garbage disposal to jam.

Depending on what is causing the disposal to jam, there are several ways in which you can fix it and get it running in no time. Let’s get down to it.

Steps To Fix A Garbage Disposal That Only Hums

Tools Needed:

  • Large Bowl
  • Allen Wrench or Hex key
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose Pliers
  • Flashlight
  • Pair of Gloves

Step 1 – In the first step, we will show you how to reset a garbage disposal that’s humming. Firstly, switch off and unplug the garbage disposal. Now, touch the garbage disposal from beneath to see whether the motor is hot to touch. Whenever the motor gets overheated, the reset button found beneath the garbage disposal gets triggered. In such a case, all you have to do is locate the little reset button found directly underneath the motor and push it back.

Plug your garbage disposal and turn it on check whether the humming noise is fixed or not. If it is not fixed, then move to the second step.

Hand flipping off electrical switch

Step 2 – Turn off the garbage disposal again and turn on a stream of water. Now, put your hand inside the drain to check for any solid or hard objects inside it. (Before reaching inside garbage disposal with your hand, double-check that your garbage disposal is switched off and unplugged.)

If you find anything then remove it and try running the garbage disposal again to see whether the humming noise is fixed or not. If it is not fixed, then move to the next step.

Step 3 – For the third step, you will need an allen wrench or a hex key to manually rotate the garbage disposal motor to dislodge anything that is stopping the motor from spinning.

Get underneath the garbage disposal, there you will find an opening where you can insert the allen wrench. Insert the allen wrench and manually rotate the garbage disposal motor by simply rotating it back and forth. If anything is stuck down there, you will feel something is grinding in there. Keep on rotating the key until full rotation feels easy. Now turn on the garbage disposal and check if the problem is solved or not. If not, then move to the next step.

Step 4 – If none of the above methods work, then the only option left with you is to remove the garbage disposal and check what is causing the problem.

Grab a bowl and place it directly beneath the disposal and the pipes to catch the water. Remove the dishwasher line (if connected) by loosening the clamps with the help of pliers. Now, to remove the P trap and the tailpiece pipe, simply rotate the lock nuts with your hand or with the pliers if it is too tight. Takedown the P trap and pipe and release the water into the bowl.

TIP: There might be some disgusting things in the pipes. So you might want to keep some cleaning supplies ready with you.

Once all the pipes are disassembled, we are ready to remove the garbage disposal. To do that, take a screwdriver and put it into one of the mounting loops, and simply rotate the disposal. The garbage disposal will slide of immediately so be ready to catch it. You might want to use extra pairs of hands as garbage disposal can be heavy. Drain any excess water from the drainpipe and check for blockages.

Woman with wrench fixing pipe under sink

Step 5 – After removing the garbage disposal, take off its rubber cap and metal lock nut. It can be a little slippery so you may need a pair of gloves. Clean the lid with a paper towel and Clorox wipes and take some time to look inside the garbage disposal to see if you could find anything that is causing the problem.

Sometimes you will find silverware, excess food, gnomes, or toys stuck in there. You have to look very carefully because the items could be small and are not easily visible. You can use a flashlight if you want to look inside the garbage disposal. If you find something, use needle-nose pliers to pull it out.

Put on the metal lock nut and slide the rubber seal cap. Now to put back on the garbage disposal, align the metal lock with the mounting ring under the sink. Once in line, rotate the metal lock nut with a screwdriver and it will clamp down tighter the harder you pull and will lock into the place. Put back on the P trap and tailpiece pipe and tighten them with pliers. Turn on the water and make sure there are no leaks.

Plumber holding tool bag ad hoses next to kitchen sink

Now, test the garbage disposal again. Plug the garbage disposal and turn it on. Probably by now, there should be no humming noise. Test it a couple of times and also by running it with the dishwasher. If still, your garbage disposal is making a humming noise, then you will need to call a plumber or an electrician to get the job done.

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