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Garbage Disposal Humming but Not Spinning

a garbage disposal

Garbage disposals are mighty pieces of equipment in the kitchen, able to grind up food scraps to prevent drain blockages. But just because they are sturdy doesn’t mean they will last forever. Like any appliance, they can develop issues over time and cause stress levels to rise.

One common problem homeowners experience is when the garbage disposal is humming but not spinning. With some troubleshooting knowledge, it’s possible to get your garbage disposal up and running again. But your DIY skills can only take you so far. Sometimes, you need the help of a professional plumber.

What To Do if Your Garbage Disposal Is Humming but Not Spinning

Garbage disposals aren’t silent workers. They hum as they run, and that’s normal. What’s not is if it’s making noise but not spinning. It’s still receiving power, so it’s not an electrical supply problem. Something else is causing the issue, and it could be any of the following.

Check for Jammed Blades

Jammed blades are the top culprit if your garbage disposal is humming but not spinning. You can confirm this by following these steps:

  • Unplug the garbage disposal from the outlet so you can inspect the blades safely. Remember to never put your hand down the garbage disposal, even if it is unplugged.
  • Look down into the garbage disposal and see if there’s a visible blockage. Use tongs to remove it, and try running the garbage disposal.
  • If the blades are still unmoving, it’s time to call in a professional. They will use an Allen wrench to move the flywheel manually. There’s a hole at the bottom of the garbage disposal where the wrench should go.
  • Then, they will rotate the Allen wrench left and right to see if that will free up the blades.

For your final step, have the faucet on to help wash down any remaining food particles. Also, never have the garbage disposal on for over a minute when you’re testing it to avoid straining the motor.

Replace the Motor

It’s likely a motor issue if there’s nothing blocking the blades. Garbage disposals run at their best for 10 to 12 years. If yours is older than that, the motor is probably malfunctioning and ready to call it quits. You can repair or replace the motor, but replacing the garbage disposal might be more cost-effective.

Consult a professional plumber if you’re not sure what to do. They’ll assess your garbage disposal and recommend the best plan of action. They’ll perform the necessary repairs or replacements or install a new garbage disposal if the old one is beyond fixing. They can also perform regular maintenance checks to ensure your new unit runs smoothly for as long as possible.

a garbage disposal

How To Restart the Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a convenient home appliance, so it can be frustrating if yours breaks down before you can get the most out of it.

Fortunately, most garbage disposals have a reset button that protects them from premature damage. This safety feature trips the garbage disposal’s internal circuit breaker if the unit is jammed or overheating. When that happens, the reset button will pop out. You have to push it back in to restore the power to the unit and get it to run again.

Here are some signs you need to reset your garbage disposal:

  • The garbage disposal is humming but not spinning.
  • The unit won’t turn on.
  • The reset button underneath the unit has popped out a quarter of an inch.
  • The unit is overheating.
  • There’s a blockage that’s jamming the unit’s blades.
  • The circuit breaker has tripped, is hot to the touch or has a burnt smell.

The most common reason why your garbage disposal might overheat and need to be reset is if there is an obstruction. Here’s a guide on how to reset your garbage disposal and remove any blockages inside the unit.

Before you do anything, turn off the power to the garbage disposal. Either unplug it from the outlet or switch off the breaker. This will prevent any electrical currents from flowing through the wires or motor while you’re working.

Clearing an Obstruction

Obstructions are the most common reason for overheating, causing the reset button to trip. Use a flashlight to look into the garbage disposal. If you see a foreign object, like a spoon, large chicken bone or ring, remove it with a pair of long tongs. Never put your hands inside the garbage disposal.

Next, push the reset button. If it pops back out or nothing happens, the garbage disposal might still be overheating. Give it 10 minutes to cool down before pushing the button again.

If the button stays down, it’s time to test if your garbage disposal is working. Start by switching the breaker back on and plugging in the unit.

Let cold water run from the tap for a few seconds, then turn on the garbage disposal. If it’s working, the blades should rotate immediately, and the humming should sound normal.

If the garbage disposal makes a loud noise, turn it off immediately. Something is still jammed in the garbage disposal, and more work is needed.

At this point, it’s best to let a professional step in. They will cut the power to the garbage disposal again by turning off the breaker. Then, they will locate the offset wrench that came with your unit, or get an Allen wrench if they can’t find it.

Next. they will insert the wrench into the flywheel and rotate it clockwise. That should dislodge whatever’s jamming the blades or flywheel.

They’ll finish up by flipping the breaker switch back on and letting cold water run down the garbage disposal. They will turn the unit on and off quickly to get the flywheel to turn rapidly. That will help clear any remaining obstructions.

Restarting your garbage disposal is easy, but it doesn’t always solve the problem. If you’re still experiencing issues after hitting the reset button, it’s time to let a professional plumber take over. The plumber will get to the root of the problem and perform the necessary repairs or replacements.

a sink with a garbage disposal

Where Is the Reset Button on a Garbage Disposal?

If you have a garbage disposal, you’re bound to experience problems down the line. That’s why homeowners should know where the reset button is. It offers a quick solution to common garbage disposal issues.

If your unit is humming loudly or making other unusual noises, it’s likely jammed or experiencing motor failure. You can use the reset button to restart the unit and hopefully fix the issue. Of course, hitting the reset button doesn’t fix everything. More complex problems require the skills and expertise of a professional plumber.

To find your garbage disposal’s reset button, grab a flashlight and look underneath the unit. That’s usually where the reset button is for older models. If you have a newer one, it might be on the side toward the bottom of the unit. You can always pull out the manufacturer’s manual if you can’t locate it.

While the reset button can get you out of tricky situations, it’s not a good sign if you have to keep pressing it. That means there’s a more complicated problem that requires immediate attention.

Contact a professional plumber before it snowballs into a more expensive issue. Plumbers have the necessary tools and expertise to get your garbage disposal running smoothly again. If it’s beyond repair, they can install a new unit for you and perform regular maintenance checks to keep it in tip-top shape.

Let a Professional Help With Your Garbage Disposal Problems

Garbage disposals are of great help in the kitchen. But they can also cause problems if you don’t know how to use them properly. Always turn off the power to the unit when inspecting it, and never insert your hands inside.

If your garbage disposal is acting up, it’s better to leave it in the capable hands of professionals. Licensed plumbers can resolve the issue safely and get it up and running again as soon as possible.

ABC Can Get Your Garbage Disposal Working Again

A garbage disposal that isn’t working can cause huge disruptions in your life. Instead of prolonging the issue by trying to fix it yourself, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our appliance repair pros will efficiently locate the issue and then get to work on making all garbage disposal repairs. They can even help you learn how to clean your garbage disposal.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

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