When you turn on your garbage disposal unit, and it kicks into gear with an irritating humming sound once the switch is flipped, it’s a bit alarming at first. This isn’t an uncommon issue, and it doesn’t necessarily need a full unit replacement when it happens either, so don’t panic.

A humming sound can mean a variety of possibilities for what is wrong with your garbage disposal. Some of these are major issues, but most are really minor and easily resolved without having to call in a specialist.

Blockage Jamming Up the Garbage Disposal

The first thing to check is whether there is something jammed up inside the disposal itself. Be sure to turn off the unit by unplugging it completely and then wait for any blade action to cease for safety reasons.

With food jamming up the works, it creates an obstruction. It doesn’t matter whether it’s food items, a piece of cutlery that fell into the disposal or something unexpected; a jam causes the blades not to be able to turn properly and generates a humming sound when they hit upon resistance and cannot turn. It’s not a good idea to try to free the jam by running the disposal because it could damage the blades, or the motor could get burned out altogether.

Here’s the process to follow:

1. Switch the power off on the garbage disposal and unplug itgarbage disposal humming but not working
2. Look at the drain for any obvious obstruction sticking out
3. Root around to find the issue and pull it out
4. Plug the unit back into the power outlet once all hands are free
5. Turn it on and check the obstruction is gone and the humming sound is no longer present.

Is the Humming Still Present, But There’s No Jam?

When you cannot discover any jam at all, it’s a good idea to move the grinding plate because it sometimes gets fixated in a specific position and will no longer turn. Items can gum up the works, or a grease build-up is another reason that the plate gets stuck.

Look at the breaker socket to determine the right tool to remove the bolt. When receiving a disposal unit, commonly an Allen wrench is provided in which case this is the tool for the job. Follow this procedure:

1. Turn off the power
2. Use the wrench of the bolt’s center
3. Move the bolt forward and back which acts to get the grinding plate unstuck
4. Use some tongs to extract anything stuck underneath
5. Test your garbage disposal to see if the humming sound has ceased
6. Run hot water through the disposal to clear any remnants

In situations where there isn’t a bolt to move, then you need to find something to force the plate to rotate manually.

Resetting the Disposal Unit

When all else fails, try resetting the garbage disposal unit to see if that fixes the issue. There’s unusually a convenient reset button to press. Follow the instructions in the product manual (available online at the brand’s website if there wasn’t one supplied in the box) to locate the reset button and the proper procedure if you’re unsure.