Why Is My Garbage Disposal Humming and Not Working?

A garbage disposal is one of those appliances that we just expect to work, and we don’t think much about it until it stops working.

Often, this dawns on us when we hit the switch expecting to hear the productive clamor of discarded food getting shredded and processed. Instead, we only hear the weak, pathetic hum of a tired, worn-out motor.

So, what do you do when your garbage disposal is – quite literally – fed up and no longer working?

What’s Wrong with My Garbage Disposal?

If you’re hearing your garbage disposal’s motor running but it’s not actually working, it’s a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is that it’s probably not an electricity or wiring problem.

The bad news is that there’s some other issue going on. If you’re lucky, it’s just a simple jam that you can fix manually. However, it’s more likely that you have a bad motor on your hands. This means it’s time to repair or replace it.

Is It a Jam?

To assess your garbage disposal, follow these steps:

  • First, you’ll want to turn off the power.
    • Clear your work area by moving items out from under the sink.
    • Locate the disposal and switch it to “off”.
    • Just to be safe, it’s wise to also unplug the disposal in case it accidentally gets switched back on. (You don’t want to add “ER visit” to your to-do list on top of everything else!)
  • Look inside to see if anything is blocking the disposal.
    • Often a spoon or other kitchen tool goes down without being noticed (although this typically results in a much more aggressive sound if the motor is in fact working properly).
    • If you detect something, pull it out for inspection. Tongs or other grabbing tools are recommended to avoid being cut by the blades or other sharp objects inside the disposal.
  • Push the blades manually using a wooden spoon.
  • If the rotation area seems to be clear, try plugging in the appliance again and running the motor to see if you’ve fixed the issue.
    • Make sure to run water while you’re testing the motor.
    • Don’t let it run longer than a minute because that will only cause further damage to the device.
  • If you still hear only the humming sound, go underneath the sink, and use an Allen wrench to rotate the flywheel manually.
  • Test the motor again (don’t forget to run the water).

Is the Motor Broken?

If you’ve gone through the troubleshooting steps above and your garbage disposal is still not working, it’s likely that your motor is broken and should either be repaired or replaced.

Consider the type of garbage disposal you currently have. If it’s an older model, or on the cheaper end of the spectrum, it’s probably more cost-effective to just replace it. However, if it’s a fancier model or perhaps still under warranty, the repairing route might be better suited for you.

Call Abbey Appliance for Same-Day Service

Still not sure what to do? No problem, Abbey Appliance in Kansas City is ready to help you with all your appliance needs. Connect with us today and get your garbage disposal up and running faster than you can blend an ice cube (with a working disposal of course)!