Why Is My Garbage Disposal Humming but Not Turning?

If you have a garbage disposal, you’re used to some noise during operation, especially if you have an older model. However, when noise isn’t accompanied by the blades spinning, something is wrong with the unit. In our most recent blog, the plumbers at B&W discuss why you may have a garbage disposal that’s humming but not turning and what needs to be done to correct this issue.

Clogged Motor

If your garbage disposal hums but doesn’t turn, you know that the appliance is receiving power – it’s just not operating correctly. Often, a clog or jam in the motor is the cause when you experience such symptoms. Freeing the flywheel usually alleviates this issue, so follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the unit, and turn off power to the disposal at the breaker – you can never be too careful when it comes to garbage disposal repairs.
  2. Go under the sink, and position the hex Allen wrench into the breaker socket at the bottom of the unit. The lower-end models do not have this option.
  3. Turn the wrench back and forth to free the flywheel and cause it to turn, which should release whatever is jammed within the impeller blades.
  4. If you don’t have an Allen wrench or can’t find the socket on your unit, use a short broom. Insert it down the drain into the garbage disposal, forcing it against an impeller blade. Manually, move the blade forward and backward with the broom handle. Once the foreign object is free, remove the broom.
  5. Restore power, and turn the disposal on to see if it’s working.

If these steps don’t cause the unit to work properly, it’s time to call your plumber. 

Tripped GFCI or Disposer

A garbage disposal that’s humming but not turning can also be caused when a GFCI outlet is tripped or the unit disposer has tripped. When this occurs, no electricity reaches the motor and the lack of electricity can cause a humming noise. If you suspect this issue, press the reset button on your GFCI switch and/or on the garbage disposal unit, then test its operation. The garbage disposal’s reset button is located to the bottom of the appliance. If there is no power, you are not going to hear anything.

Faulty Motor

When your garbage disposal makes a humming sound but isn’t turning, it may be that the unit’s motor has gone bad. The motor may be repairable, though at this point many homeowners consider replacing the appliance entirely. Only InSinkErator will repair a motor, and it must be under warranty. Most disposals last about 10 years, so if you are close to that point, upgrading to a new model may be your best move. 

New garbage disposals are very quiet – so quiet you can easily have a conversation while using it! If you find yourself shopping for a new garbage disposal due to a dead motor, put your money into a unit with better grinding capabilities rather than one that cannot grind matter as finely, as this power will keep your drains cleaner and save you money on drain cleaning services!

Caring for Your Garbage Disposal

The best way to avoid a garbage disposal that’s humming but not turning and other issues is to maintain the appliance. Even if it’s not needed for waste removal, run the garbage disposal on a daily basis. The motor needs to run regularly or else it could develop issues. Make sure it receives enough water when in use – always leave the water running an extra minute than you think you should!

Garbage Disposal Repair and Replacement

If your garbage disposal is humming but not turning and you can’t figure out why, stop using the unit and call your plumber for repairs. B&W Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains offers garbage disposal repair as well as replacement when it’s time for a new unit. Call us today to schedule service.