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Why is My Garbage Disposal Humming? Tips for Repair

By HeyHome August 11, 2023

Why is My Garbage Disposal Humming? Tips for Repair

Have you ever wondered why your garbage disposal is humming? The kitchen sink is an underappreciated workhorse in many households. It handles your food waste, keeps your kitchen clean, and when functioning correctly, the garbage disposal makes your life easier.

However, just like any other home appliance, your garbage disposal may start acting up. It might stop grinding food, or even worse, it may start making an unsettling humming sound. This garbage disposal humming is a common issue faced by many homeowners, and understanding its significance is essential.

Normally, garbage disposals emit a low, grinding sound when they're functioning correctly. But when you hear a different sound - a humming noise - it might indicate a problem. Sometimes the disposal humming is a mere hiccup that can be fixed with a quick reset. Other times, it can hint at more serious issues that need professional attention.

Understanding the signs and sounds of your disposal unit can save you from the hassle of dealing with a complete breakdown, expensive garbage disposal repair, or a dreaded garbage disposal replacement. In this guide, we'll decipher the mystery of a humming garbage disposal and provide tips to get it running smoothly again. Stay tuned!

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What Makes Garbage Disposals Tick?

Before diving into why your garbage disposal is humming, it’s crucial to understand how these handy devices work. A garbage disposal unit is more than just a convenient tool to manage kitchen waste. When you start seeing it as an intricate piece of machinery with many important components, you'll be better prepared to handle issues when they arise.

At its core, a garbage disposal is a motorized device that grinds up food waste into small pieces. It's typically installed under your kitchen sink and works by flushing the ground-up food down the drain, keeping your kitchen clean and odor-free.

The motor is the heart of the disposal, powering the garbage disposal blades that cut up the food. The motor is connected to the impeller blade and the turntable, spinning them at high speeds. As the impeller blades spin, they fling the food particles against a grinder ring, breaking them down into tiny bits that can be safely washed down the drain.

However, it's not just about grinding food. A garbage disposal must also deal with a flow of water, have safety switches in place, and be wired to your home's power supply correctly. Each component plays a critical role in making your garbage disposal buzzing work smoothly and safely. But, if any part starts to malfunction, you may experience problems, including a garbage disposal humming sound.

What Makes Garbage Disposals Tick?

The Heart of the Matter: Why is Your Garbage Disposal Humming?

Now that we know what makes a garbage disposal tick, let's address the question at hand: why is your garbage disposal humming? This unusual noise can be caused by several reasons, each indicating a different kind of problem.

One of the most common reasons is the presence of a foreign object or debris caught in the disposal. Items like egg shells, food scraps, or even a piece of silverware can get stuck between the impeller blades and the drain hole, preventing the blades from spinning. As a result, the motor garbage disposal hums but the disposal doesn't grind.

Electrical issues can also cause your disposal to hum. If there's a problem with the disposal's motor or the electrical supply to the unit, the motor might not have enough power to run properly. This situation can cause a humming sound as the motor struggles to function.

Lastly, your disposal might hum if it's jammed. If the turntable can't rotate, the motor will continue to run, leading to a humming noise. Over time, this can burn out the motor, creating a more serious problem.

Understanding the root cause of your disposal's humming can help you figure out the best course of action for repair.

DIY Troubleshooting: Your Guide to a Quiet Garbage Disposal

Before you decide to call a professional plumber or opt for a new garbage disposal, there are several troubleshooting steps you can try at home to stop the humming and get your unit running smoothly again.

First, if your garbage disposal is humming but not working, you may need to reset the unit. This is a quick process. Look for the reset button, usually located at the bottom of the disposal unit. Push the button and then check if your disposal is working properly.

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Next, you can check the circuit breaker. Sometimes, a disposal might hum if there's not enough electrical power reaching the unit. Ensure the circuit breaker hasn't tripped and power is being properly supplied.

Another common DIY fix involves an Allen wrench. There's often a manual hex hole at the bottom of most garbage disposals. You can insert an Allen wrench into this hole and wiggle it back and forth. This action can often free up any parts that are jammed and causing the humming sound. Be sure to unplug your disposal before trying this method to avoid injury.

If your garbage disposal still hums after trying these fixes, the problem might be debris buildup. Turn off and unplug your disposal, then carefully remove any visible debris from the drain hole. It's helpful to use a flashlight and a pair of pliers.

Finally, run cold water through the unit while it's operating to help flush away any remaining debris. This can also help cool the motor and prevent overheating.

These DIY fixes often resolve many common causes of a humming garbage disposal. However, if you still hear the humming noise, it might be time to consider calling a professional or even replacing the unit.

Getting Down to Business: Repairing a Humming Garbage Disposal

If your garbage disposal continues to hum after you've gone through the DIY fixes, it might be time to call a professional plumber.

Before making the call, there are a few additional steps you can attempt to fix the problem. First, if there's a persistent humming noise but no movement from the disposal, the unit's motor could be jammed. A simple tool like a short broom handle or Allen wrench can often resolve the issue. Turn off and unplug the unit, then insert the broom handle or Allen wrench into the drain hole. Gently wiggle it to dislodge any food or debris that could be jamming the impeller blades.

Getting Down to Business: Repairing a Humming Garbage Disposal

If this step does not solve the problem, you might have an issue with the unit's power. Check that your disposal is plugged into a working GFCI switch. If the power source is not the issue, you may need to restore power by resetting the unit or flipping the circuit breaker.

Should these steps still not resolve the issue, it's likely best to call a professional for garbage disposal repair. A professional plumber can identify if the problem is a bad motor, jammed impeller blade, or another issue that requires more intensive repair or replacement.

Remember, working with a garbage disposal unit involves both electrical and plumbing systems, which can be dangerous if not handled correctly. Always prioritize safety and don't hesitate to call a professional when in doubt.

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