How to Fix Garbage Disposal Humming

Garbage disposal is one of the most-priced assets in your kitchen – of course, for its functionalities. It is a vital appliance that brings ease to maintaining proper kitchen hygiene. However, they can become a liability when they break. Hence, the need to understand how they work, what breaks them, and the recommended fixes.

Understanding the causes of garbage disposal humming is the first step to fixing it. This post will teach you about garbage disposal humming, its causes, and fixes. Let’s get the dice rolling!

Causes And Fixes Of A Humming Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposal humming is a common issue, and fixing it depends on the cause. Sometimes, you can fix it by yourself, but other times, you need the help of a professional. Here are the common reasons your garbage disposal hums.

Garbage Disposal is Jammed 

garbage disposal humming

One of the common causes of humming in garbage disposals is a jammed object. Having your garbage disposal Jammed with an object is almost inevitable, especially if you have children at home.

Jammed garbage disposal is usually a result of a stuck object between an impeller blade and the drain hole. You will know your garbage disposal is jammed if it does not grind, makes too much noise, or stops running by itself after you turn it on. 

Some objects that can jam your garbage disposal are a piece of bone, fruit, spoons, or other kitchen utensils. Do not continue running jammed garbage disposal to avoid burning it out.

Instead, take the steps below to fix it.

Step 1: Disconnect The Disposal

Unplug the appliance from the power source, or turn off the circuit breaker. It is dangerous to try unjamming the appliance while it is on. Therefore, you should check and ensure that the disposal cannot turn on by accident before taking steps to fix it.

Step 2: Inspect The Disposal

Check the disposal for the objects jamming the impeller. Use a reliable source of light to enhance visibility in the inner part of the disposal. Try removing the object with a needle-nose plier. You may also use your hand, but you should be double-sure the disposal is totally off and will not turn on by itself.

Step 3: Use A Wrench

Most garbage disposals come with a 1/4 inch Allen (hex) wrench you can use to displace and remove objects between the impeller and the wall of the disposal.

Use hex wrench to stop garbage disposal buzzing

Locate the hex socket in the center of the bottom of the garbage disposal. It connects directly to the impeller hub, and it gives room for the wrench to displace items that jams the impeller.

Insert the wrench in the hex socket and move it back and forth till it displaces the object. The wrench socket is at the bottom of your garbage disposal. You can buy a wrench from a hardware store if your disposal does not come with one.

Step 4: Pick Out The Item

Once the impeller is free, pick out the item as in step 2 above. Use either a needle-nose plier or your hand. But, you must be sure the disposal is totally off.

Step 5: Reconnect the Disposal

The next step after taking out the item is to restore power to the disposal. Reconnect the circuit breaker or simply turn it on.

Step 6: Reset The Disposal

Reset Garbage Disposal

The disposal has a reset button (usually red in color) on its bottom part. Press the button to reset the disposal unit.

Step 7: Run A Test

This is an important step you should not overlook in fixing a jammed disposal unit. Run cold water into the kitchen sink and turn on the disposal to test it. If it spins freely, then you have fixed it successfully. However, if it still hums, turn it off and repeat the process.

Excess Heat

Excess heat is a factor that causes humming in garbage disposals, and it is usually a result of overusing the disposal unit.

But, you can fix it before it damages the disposal unit. First, turn it off and leave it for about 15 minutes. Turn it on after the break to test it. If it does not come up, press the reset button to reset it.

Clogged Grinder

Your disposal unit will not spin if the grinder is clogged. Instead, you will hear it hum. Like the case of a jammed propeller, items in the disposal unit can clog the disposal and cause it to hum. Also, the grinder can clog if you load the disposal unit too much. You can free a clogged grinder with the steps of freeing a jammed propeller.

  • Start by unplugging the disposal unit from the power source.
  • Inspect the unit for signs of an item that clogs the grinder.
  • Insert an Allen hex in the hex socket, and wiggle it softly till the clog is loose.
  • Pick out the item with a needle-nose plier.
  • Reconnect the disposal unit to the power source and turn it on.
  • Reset the disposal unit and test it by running cold water into the sink and spinning it.

Electric Failure

Another reason your garbage disposal hums is an electric failure which is sometimes a result of overloading and overheating. When the disposal unit overheats, it may cause the circuit breaker of your kitchen to trip off. You can fix this issue as follows:

  • Go to the load center in your house.
  • Locate the switch that controls the kitchen electricity.
  • Push the breaker to the off mark and switch it back to on.

However, you may need to call a professional electrician if the problem persists.

Disposal Unit Needs a Hard Reset

Sometimes, your garbage disposal unit hums without a jam, clog, overheating, or an electrical issue. At such times, we can still trace the cause of the problem to heavy usage. The reset button usually cuts off the electric flow in the disposal unit when you overload it. This break-in electric flow will cause it to hum and stop working.

You need to perform a hard reset by pressing the reset button to fix this. Resetting the disposal unit will reboot it and give it a fresh start.

Here are the steps to reset your garbage disposal unit:

  • Disconnect the disposal unit from the power source.
  • Locate the reset button. It is the red button in the bottom part of the disposal unit.
  • Press the reset button. If it jumps back, give it time before pressing it again.
  • Reconnect the disposal unit and restart it.
  • The disposal should no longer hum; test it with running cold water.

Garbage Disposal Is Old

Like every other appliance, the garbage disposal wears out as you use it, which may be why it hums. Generally, the average lifespan of a disposal unit lies between 8 and 15 years. Therefore, if you have reset your garbage disposal but it still hums, you may need to replace it.

You may also call a technician to examine it before you decide.

Also see: Dumpster sizes and dimensions

Tips To Maintain Your Garbage Disposal And Keep It From Humming

Proper garbage disposal maintenance can help reduce malfunctions and keep it from humming. The following tips will help you to maintain your disposal unit properly:

  • Do not use it for too long.
  • Avoid overloading your disposal unit.
  • Do not dispose of items like banana peels or potato peels in them.
  • Put hard pieces of food like bones in small quantities.
  • Do not let garbage sit in the disposal unit. Run it as soon as you put food items in it.
  • Do not put items like spoons and other kitchen utensils in the disposal unit.
  • Run cold water into the sink while the disposal unit is running.
  • Do not put cooking oil in your garbage disposal. Dispose of oil properly instead.
  • Clean the disposal unit by filling it with ice.


A garbage disposal that hums needs an immediate fix to avoid further damage. The tips in this post will help you to fix the most common causes of humming garbage disposal. However, if you cannot get your garbage disposal working with these tips, it is best to consult a professional technician.

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