Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal Humming Issue


Troubleshooting Garbage Disposal Humming Issue

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Garbage disposals are handy appliances, conveniently disposing of kitchen waste. But, a garbage disposal humming instead of grinding raise concerns about the appliance’s health. Understanding the reasons for your garbage disposal's humming sound and learning how to handle these problems can be essential for maintaining the efficiency of your disposal unit.

The Mechanics Behind the Humming Sound

To comprehend why your garbage disposal is humming, it's helpful to recognize its working mechanics. Generally, when the device is not making the regular grinding noise and humming instead, it implies that power is reaching the device, but it's jammed. The humming sound is typically the motor working, attempting to spin the flywheel, but something prevents it.

The Culprit Behind a Jammed Flywheel

The most common reason causing a garbage disposal to hum rather than grind is a jammed flywheel. This occurs when something stuck between the shredder ring and the impellers, preventing the flywheel from rotating freely. Over time, the jammed item can lead to wear and tear of the motor, causing the incessant humming of the disposal unit.

Food Items Causing a Jam

Certain food items are notorious for jamming garbage disposals. These include:

  • Fibrous foods (celery, corn husks, onion skins, etc.).
  • Grease, fat, and oil congeal within the unit.
  • Large or hard food items like bones or fruit pits.
  • Potato peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells form a thick paste, hindering movement.

Avoiding these can prevent your garbage disposal from jamming and humming.

Identifying Issues Behind Garbage Disposal Humming

If your garbage disposal is humming but not working, it's crucial to identify the specific issues causing this situation. While a jammed flywheel is a common culprit, there are other potential causes behind the humming sound.

Overheated Motor

Sometimes the motor overheats due to its strenuous efforts to move a jammed flywheel, leading it to cut out and hum. If that's the case, rest the unit by switching it off and waiting for 10-15 minutes. Once cooled down, try resetting it using the reset button located underneath the disposal.

Worn Out Bearings

In some cases, worn out bearings can also cause the garbage disposal to hum. Over time, due to continuous usage, the bearings of the disposal unit become worn out, causing the unit to hum instead of grind.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal that's Humming

There are a few steps you can take if your garbage disposal is humming but not working properly. But remember, safety is paramount, and it is advisable to engage a professional if you're uncomfortable attempting these instructions.

Unjamming your Garbage Disposal

You can unjam your garbage disposal by inserting a wrench into the hole at the bottom of the unit and manually turning the wrench clockwise to free the flywheel. Once that's done, press the reset button before testing the unit.

Replacing Worn Out Parts

If worn-out parts are causing the humming sound, replacing them can restore your garbage disposal back to its optimal performance. Depending on your unit, you may need to replace the entire unit or specific elements inside the unit.

Preventing Future Humming Issues

Finally, taking some preventative measures can go a long way in avoiding future humming issues in your garbage disposal.

  • Regularly clean your garbage disposal.
  • Avoid putting fibrous and hard food items into the garbage disposal.
  • Regularly check the unit for any wear and tear.

So, if you notice your garbage disposal humming instead of grinding, remember that this is not an uncommon issue, and with the right approach - whether it's unjamming the unit yourself or reaching out to a professional - you can swiftly bring your disposal unit back to its best condition.

FAQs on Garbage Disposal Humming

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

If your garbage disposal is humming but not spinning or grinding, the unit is likely jammed. It is crucial to turn off the garbage disposal and unplug it. Then, you can try to locate and remove any noticeable obstruction. You may use an Allen wrench to adjust the flywheel at the bottom of the disposal if you cannot find any visible clogs. However, if the issue persists, it might be best to consult a professional plumber.

How to reset a humming garbage disposal?

To reset a humming garbage disposal, first, turn it off and unplug it to prevent any injuries while working on it. If the garbage disposal has a reset button, typically located at the bottom of the unit, press it. Once done, try to turn on the disposal again to check if it starts working. If it continues to hum, there might be a jam that needs to be cleared.

Can a humming garbage disposal damage the unit?

A humming garbage disposal indicates a possible jam in the unit. If not resolved promptly, it can cause the garbage disposal motor to overheat, potentially leading to permanent damage. Therefore, it's essential not to ignore this issue and deal with it as soon as possible.

Why does my garbage disposal hum after I cleared the jam?

If your garbage disposal continues to hum even after clearing a jam, then it might mean two things. First, there may still be some unseen obstructions in the disposal that you missed. Second, it could indicate that your garbage disposal system is worn out or faulty. It is suggested to seek professional help in this instance.

Why does my new garbage disposal hum?

If your new garbage disposal hums but doesn't work, it might mean that there's a problem with the installation or an obstruction in the disposal. The problem could also lie with the motor, in which case you should contact the manufacturer or have a professional check it outright.

How can I keep my garbage disposal from humming?

Regular maintenance can help keep your garbage disposal humming-free. Ensure that you’re only putting appropriate food waste into your garbage disposal and always running water when your garbage disposal is in operation. Periodically clean the unit and avoid dumping hard items into the garbage disposal that might cause jamming.

Why is my garbage disposal humming without power?

Garbage disposal humming without power can be due to a mechanical obstruction that makes a humming sound as it reverberates through the unit. It can also be due to a faulty motor. In either case, you should unplug the unit and consult a professional to prevent the problem from worsening.

Can oiling reduce garbage disposal humming?

Oiling does not typically resolve the humming sound from your garbage disposal. The humming noise is often due to a jam or a problem with the motor, both of which won’t be solved by oiling. Instead, try to identify and remove the jam or consult with a professional if you're facing repeated issues.

Why is my Badger 5 garbage disposal humming?

Badger 5 garbage disposals, like any other garbage disposals, can experience a humming noise if there is a jam or an issue with the motor. Clear any visible obstruction and push the reset button. If the problem persists, you may need to consult with a professional or contact Badger customer service for further assistance.

Cons of a Humming Garbage Disposal

Can Indicate a Jam

On the downside, a humming garbage disposal often indicates that the unit is jammed. The humming noise is essentially a protest from your disposal because something is preventing it from doing its job.

  • It can result in inefficiencies in the function of the garbage disposal.
  • The disposal unit can be damaged if the jam is not cleared in time.
  • A jam in the disposal often requires manual intervention, which can be a messy and unpleasant process.

Possible Motor Overheating

A humming noise could mean the motor is struggling, so it may be overheating. Over time, this can cause severe damage to the appliance and could lead to a complete breakdown.

  • Motor overheating shortens the lifespan of the garbage disposal unit.
  • Can lead to complete unit replacement, which can be costly.

Indicates Waste Mismanagement

If your garbage disposal is continuously humming, it may be an indication that inappropriate items are being put into the disposal. These could be hard or fibrous foods that the disposal unit is not designed to handle.

  • This can result in frequent jams, requiring you to regularly unjam it manually.
  • It may be necessary to educate households on what can and cannot be put into the disposal.

In summary, while a garbage disposal humming noise can signify that the unit is receiving sufficient power, it often acts as a warning sign. It can indicate jams, motor troubles, or mismanagement of waste, all of which can lead to bigger problems if not addressed promptly.


When your garbage disposal is humming, it's a pretty clear sign that something's not quite right. Although a humming sound isn't as alarming as grinding metal, it does indicate a jam or clog. Regular maintenance and proper use can prevent a garbage disposal humming situation, thereby preserving the longevity of the unit.

On a positive note, a humming sound from your garbage disposal indicates that the motor is still in working condition. So, before considering replacement, try some simple DIY fixes. By conducting a little troubleshooting, you can potentially solve the root cause of the garbage disposal humming and have it functioning efficiently again.

Adequate care and attention can ensure a longer and problem-free lifespan for your garbage disposal. If your garbage disposal is humming, don’t treat it lightly. Quick action will not only resolve the noise problem but also prevent further damage. So, next time you hear that distinctive hum, don't ignore it and take the necessary steps to rectify it.

About West Coast Hydronics & Plumbing

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