Why Is My Garbage Disposal Humming

The mysterious humming sound coming from your garbage disposal? Many homeowners encounter this common issue and seek answers. 

Quick Answer

Your garbage disposal may be humming due to a jammed or faulty impeller, or a loose or worn-out motor.

It’s crucial to troubleshoot and address these issues promptly to restore proper functionality. Fear not, as we delve into the world of kitchen conundrums to uncover the reasons behind this perplexing issue. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the possible causes of this humming phenomenon and provide you with invaluable insights on how to silence it. From simple troubleshooting techniques to expert tips, we have you covered. 

Common Causes of Garbage Disposal Humming

  1. Jammed Grinding Chamber:

This is a common cause of a humming garbage disposal. It occurs when large or hard food particles become stuck in the grinding chamber, preventing the disposal blades from rotating properly. The humming sound is produced by the motor attempting to turn the blades. To fix this issue, you can try using a garbage disposal wrench or an Allen wrench to manually rotate the blades and free the jammed material. Make sure to disconnect the power before attempting any repairs.

  1. Worn Out Bearings: 

Over time, the bearings in the garbage disposal motor can wear out, causing it to emit a humming sound. If the humming noise persists even after the grinding chamber is clear, it could indicate that the bearings are damaged. In this case, it is advisable to contact a professional plumber or an appliance repair technician to assess and replace the worn-out bearings.

  1. Faulty Motor: 

A faulty motor can also be a reason for the humming noise. If the motor is not receiving enough power or if its internal components are damaged, it may struggle to start, resulting in a humming sound. A professional repair technician should be consulted to diagnose and resolve motor-related issues.

  1. Loose Mounting:

Sometimes, a garbage disposal may produce a humming sound due to loose mounting. The mounting hardware, which secures the disposal unit to the sink drain, can become loose over time, causing vibrations and humming. To fix this, you can tighten the mounting screws or bolts with a screwdriver or wrench, ensuring that the disposal unit is firmly secured in place.

  1. Clogged Drain Pipe: 

A clogged drain pipe can also cause a garbage disposal to hum. If the waste material cannot pass through the drain pipe due to blockage, the disposal unit will struggle to function properly and emit a humming noise. Clearing the clog by using a plunger or a drain snake can help alleviate this issue.

How to Troubleshoot a Humming Garbage Disposal

Why Is My Garbage Disposal Humming
  • Unplug and Inspect: Before doing anything, make sure the garbage disposal is unplugged to avoid any accidents. Then, visually inspect the disposal for any visible obstructions, such as large food particles or foreign objects. Remove any debris you find using tongs or pliers, being careful not to put your hand directly into the disposal.
  • Use a Hex Wrench: Many garbage disposals have a small hex-shaped hole underneath the unit. Insert an appropriately sized hex wrench into the hole and turn it back and forth a few times. This manual rotation can help dislodge any jammed or stuck impellers.
  • Reset the Garbage Disposal: Locate the reset button on the bottom or side of the disposal unit. Press and hold the reset button for a few seconds until you feel it engage or until you hear a click. This action can reset the internal circuitry and fix minor electrical issues that may be causing the humming sound.
  • Clear Clogged Drain Pipes: If the humming persists, the issue might be with the drain pipes. Disconnect the drain trap and any connected pipes carefully. Inspect them for any clogs or obstructions. Use a plumber’s snake or a wire brush to clear any debris or buildup from the pipes. Reassemble the drain pipes once they are clean.
  • Test the Disposal: After following the previous steps, plug the garbage disposal back in and turn it on. Run water into the disposal and turn it on again. Listen for any abnormal noises or vibrations. If the disposal is running smoothly without any humming sounds, you have successfully troubleshooted the problem.

Preventive Measures For Garbage Disposal Humming

1. Proper Use and Maintenance:

Follow these guidelines for proper use and maintenance of your garbage disposal:

  • Run water before and after using the disposal to help flush out food particles and prevent clogs.
  • Cut large food items into smaller pieces before putting them into the disposal.
  • Avoid overloading the disposal with too much food at once.
  • Allow the disposal to fully grind the food waste before turning it off.
  • Avoid pouring grease, oil, or fat down the disposal, as they can solidify and clog the pipes.
  • Use cold water when running the disposal, as it helps solidify grease and fat, making it easier to chop and flush away.

2. Regular Cleaning:

Cleaning your garbage disposal helps prevent odors and buildup that can lead to clogs and humming. Here’s how to clean it:

  • Turn off the disposal and unplug it for safety.
  • Use a scrub brush or an old toothbrush to clean the rubber flaps and the inside of the disposal.
  • Pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the disposal. Let it fizz for a few minutes to help break down any residue.
  • Rinse with hot water to flush away the loosened debris.

3. Avoiding Problematic Items:

Certain items can damage the disposal or cause it to malfunction. Avoid putting the following items into your garbage disposal:

  • Hard items like bones, fruit pits, and shells, as they can damage the blades.
  • Fibrous foods like celery, corn husks, and onion skins, as they can tangle around the blades and cause clogs.
  • Starchy foods like pasta and rice, as they can expand in water and cause clogs.
  • Non-food items like glass, metal, plastic, or paper, as they can damage the disposal or cause blockages.

Common Misconceptions about Humming Garbage Disposals

  • Putting ice cubes will sharpen the blades: This is a misconception. While grinding ice cubes in your garbage disposal can help remove some debris and reduce odors, it does not actually sharpen the blades. Garbage disposal blades are typically made of stainless steel and do not require sharpening. The rotating action of the blades against each other helps to keep them relatively sharp over time.
  • Using hot water clears clogs: While hot water can be helpful for breaking down grease and oil in the disposal, it does not effectively clear clogs on its own. Hot water may temporarily liquefy some substances, but it can still lead to clogs further down the drain pipes as the liquid cools and solidifies. It’s best to use cold water when running the disposal, as it helps solidify fats and grease, making it easier for the blades to chop them up and flush them away.
  • DIY repairs are always recommended: While it’s true that some minor issues with garbage disposals can be fixed through DIY repairs, it’s not always recommended, especially if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of the disposal or lack the necessary tools. Attempting complex repairs without proper knowledge can lead to further damage or even personal injury. In some cases, it’s best to seek the help of a professional plumber or an appliance repair technician who has the expertise to diagnose and fix the problem safely.


How long should a garbage disposal last?

The lifespan of a garbage disposal can vary depending on factors such as usage, maintenance, and quality of the unit. On average, a well-maintained garbage disposal can last between 10 to 15 years.

How do you restart a stuck garbage disposal?

To restart a stuck garbage disposal, follow these steps:

Make sure the disposal is unplugged.
Insert an appropriately sized hex wrench into the hole at the bottom of the disposal.
Rotate the wrench back and forth to manually free any jammed impellers.
Once the impellers are freed, plug in the disposal and press the reset button (usually located on the bottom or side of the unit).
Test the disposal by running water and turning it on.

Where is the garbage disposal reset button?

The reset button is typically located on the bottom or side of the garbage disposal unit. It is a small red or black button. If the disposal has tripped or is stuck, pressing the reset button can help restore power or reset the unit.

Can a humming garbage disposal be dangerous?

A humming garbage disposal itself is not typically dangerous. However, it can indicate an issue with the disposal that should be addressed. If there is a jam or clog causing the humming sound and you try to forcefully turn the disposal on, it can lead to damage or injury. It’s important to follow proper troubleshooting steps and exercise caution when working with a garbage disposal to ensure safety.


A humming garbage disposal can be caused by a jammed grinding chamber, worn-out bearings, a faulty motor, loose mounting, or a clogged drain pipe. Troubleshoot by manually rotating the blades, resetting the disposal, and clearing clogs. Prevent humming by using and maintaining the disposal properly, regular cleaning, and avoiding problematic items. Be cautious with DIY repairs and consider professional help for complex issues. Following these guidelines will help resolve the humming sound and restore functionality.

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