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My Garbage Disposal Hums But Doesn’t Work

My Garbage Disposal Hums But Doesn’t Work

If your garbage disposal suddenly stops working and only hums when you flip the switch, you most likely have one of these 2 problems:

  • A jammed disposal
  • A faulty motor

Now, first off, the fact that you hear the disposer humming means that you are still getting power to the device, which rules out any electrical supply problems. But something (either a jam or a bad motor) is preventing the blades from churning.

Note: If your disposal motor is at fault, it’s probably more cost-effective to just replace the garbage disposal altogether instead of repairing it.

We’ll show you how to determine which problem you have and what to do next.

Need a professional to fix your disposal now? Just contact us and we’ll send one right over.

First, check for a jam in the disposal

What you’ll need:

  • Pliers or tongs
  • ¼ inch allen wrench

To determine whether your disposal is jammed, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off power to the disposal. You can simply flip the switch to the OFF position, but we suggest also unplugging the disposal under the sink to make sure nothing accidentally turns on.
  2. Visually check for food or foreign objects in the disposal. If there’s anything inside the disposal, remove it manually and try running the disposal (you can use pliers or tongs if needed). If you don’t see any blockage or if you clear the disposal and it still doesn’t work, move on to step #3.

Note: Always run water while you are testing the disposal. Also, avoid keeping the disposal on for more than a minute at a time to prevent (further) damage to the motor.

  1. Use a wooden spoon to gently push and rotate the blades manually. After a few rotations, check to see if the disposal runs correctly. If not, continue on to the next step.
  2. Use an allen wrench to manually rotate the flywheel. Stick a ¼ inch allen wrench into the hole at the bottom of the disposal (you’ll have to go under the sink).

Garbage disposal allen wrench hole.png

Turn the allen wrench back and forth. Then check to see if the disposal runs normally. If the disposal still only hums and water doesn’t drain well, have a professional check for a clog in the P-trap under your sink.

If you’ve determined that your disposal isn’t jammed, you most likely have a disposal motor that needs to be repaired or replaced.

To help you decide whether you should repair or replace your disposal, we’ve included some cost comparisons between the two options.

Disposal not jammed? Compare cost to repair vs replace

  • $185-$222: Avg cost to repair a garbage disposal motor
  • $210-$255: Avg cost to replace a garbage disposal (includes price of disposal + installation)

Keep in mind that higher-end garbage disposal models will cost more to install. But if you want to replace your disposal for a simple, less expensive model, you’re most likely better off replacing the device rather than repairing it.

Need help from a Florida plumber?

If your disposal still isn’t working and you’re not sure whether to repair or replace, just contact us.

We’ll send over a professional plumber who can diagnose the problem and give you both repair and replace options.

Related reading:

Categories: plumbing tips.