Garbage Disposal Humming But Not Working? Try This First

by Joanna Stewart

Fri, Oct 12, 2018

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If you can hear your garbage disposal humming but not working, there are a few things you can do to get it going again.

Unfortunately, garbage disposal problems seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Whether that’s right in the middle of making Thanksgiving dinner or just before guests arrive when you still have a sink full of day-old dirty dishes to wash.

The good news is that these suggestions below could fix your disposal within a few minutes.

However, before you get going please follow these simple rules to stay safe:

Okay, now that we are clear on the rules, here are a couple quick ways fix the problem without replacing the entire unit:

Clear Objects From Below

insinkerator garbage disposal wrench

One of the easiest and safest ways to fix a garbage disposal that is humming but not working is to manually turn the disposal drive shaft using a ΒΌ inch hex or Allen wrench.

Climb under your sink and look at the bottom of your garbage disposal. You should see a small hex nut in the center of the disposal housing. This nut will allow you to manually turn the disposal motor drive shaft.

Editor’s Note: It does not matter which way you turn the nut on the bottom of the disposal.

Don’t have the right tools? Try the Insinkerator Jambuster Wrenchette

If the nut is difficult to turn, there may be a large object jammed in the disposal. Turn the nut clockwise and counterclockwise until the object is cleared and the blades begin to spin freely.

In the event your disposal does not have a drive shaft nut on the bottom or the blades will still not turn, it is time to try another approach.

Check Drain for Clogs

Is your sink full of water and the disposal is humming but not draining? The disposal may be working correctly but the drain may be clogged.

Place a bucket under the garbage disposal and remove the drainage pipe. Be actively ready to catch the water as it drains out of the disposal. When the water has drained from the disposal or pipe, check the pipe for potential blockages.

You may find that the pipe is blocked and needs to be cleaned.

Clear Objects From Above

ezflo garbage disposal wrench

If there is a large, non-food item stuck in the disposal you may need to remove it from above.

Try sticking the handle of a wooden spoon into the disposal to feel if there is an object in the disposal. If so, use tongs or other utensils to safely remove it.

However, if the blades are still stuck, you may need to turn the blades using a wooden utensil or broom handle. It is important to use a wooden object so you will not dent or damage the metal garbage disposal blades.

Don’t want to mess up your broom handle? Try the EZ-FLO Garbage Disposer Wrench

With the garbage disposal unplugged, stick a broom handle into the garbage disposal opening. Turn the broom handle in clockwise and counterclockwise directions until you can feel the blades turning freely.

If the blades begin to spin freely, the object may have broken free. Plug the disposal back in and turn on the switch. Is the disposal working as it should? Congrats, you fixed the problem!

On the other hand if you hear the garbage disposal humming but not working, you may need to replace the unit. See our top picks for the best garbage disposal.


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