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Garbage Disposal Whirring


So, you’ve found yourself in a jam! The disposal unit below your kitchen sink has stopped. On top of that, it’s making loud, annoying noises. This can be quite a burden especially if you need it to spin and chop to clear the drain.

Let’s check out some reasons why this is happening. We’ll show you how to resolve the problem too.

You Have a Blocked Blade

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Most likely, an object is blocking one of the blades. This can happen if something too large or hard falls into the drain.

Could a huge piece of food have fallen? Maybe, you dropped some plastic or metal down there by accident.

How to Tell and Unjam It

What You’ll Need: 1/4″ Allen Wrench or Unjamming Wrench + Flashlight

  1. First thing first, turn off the garbage disposal. Your safety is top priority. After flipping the switch into the off position, unplug the disposal.
  2. Look underneath your unit. You should see a hole in the middle of it. Insert the Allen wrench into this hole.
  3. Now that it is in place, turn the wrench clockwise and counterclockwise. Do this until you are able to rotate the shredding plate 360 degrees.
  4. If this doesn’t work, there is another option. Use a garbage disposal unjamming wrench to grip and turn the blades through the sink.
  5. The only thing left to do is check for any remaining objects. Use a flashlight to look inside of the disposal. Do you see any object that could cause another jam? If so, grab a pair of metal tongs to remove it.

If either of these fixes work, mission complete!


A Clogged Drain

That annoying humming sound may be the result of a clog. Thick liquids, such as cooking oils, can build up over time. The same goes for hair and soap scum.

When they prevent your unit’s shredding plate from turning, it makes a whirring sound.

Simple Steps to Unclog the Drain

What You’ll Need: Baking Soda & Vinegar, Boiling Water, Plunger

  1. Try plunging the sink with a cup plunger. Make sure that it has a wider flange to create a better seal. Plunge vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
  2. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Boil a pot of water and carefully pour it down the drain.

Hopefully, this has cleared the way for a better day. Are you still hearing a buzzing sound? Let’s move to the next step.

You Need to Reset the Disposal

Garbage disposals have internal safety mechanisms. In short, their internal circuit breaker trips to prevent the unit from burning out.

The breaker trips when something blocks the unit or it overheats. So, this is a great step to take after making sure that you have cleared any clogs or blockages.

How to Reset a Garbage Disposal

What You’ll Need: Nothing, Besides The Instruction Below

  1. Many disposals have a reset button on the underside. Look underneath your disposal unit and find a red button.
  2. Press it and wait a few minutes. The unit will make a “click” sound.
  3. Run water and turn on the garbage disposal.

Ta-Da! Just like that you have fixed the issue. If the solutions above haven’t worked, let’s move to the next one.


The GFCI or Circuit Breaker Has Tripped

Ground fault circuit interrupters and circuit breakers protect us from electricity. They shut off power to outlets when an electrical load is too high or abnormal.

Essentially, they help prevent electrical fires and shocks. How may this relate to you though?

Has there been a storm in your area recently? Do you have one too many appliances plugged in?

How to Reset the Breaker

What You’ll Need: No Tools. Just 5 simple steps.

  1. Check to see if you have plugged in any additional devices. If so, unplug them. They may be overloading the circuit.
  2. Make sure nothing on the circuit is getting wet. This could be causing a short circuit.
  3. Find the GFCI and circuit breaker. Oftentimes, the GFCI is on a nearby outlet. Your home should have a breaker box in the garage, basement or utility closet. You will find the circuit breaker here.
  4. Reset the GFCI by pressing the red button on the outlet.
  5. Reset the circuit breaker by flipping the switch into the “OFF” position first. Wait for several seconds. Then, flip the switch into the “ON” position.

We hope this tip has empowered you! Have you gotten rid of that humming? We have another tip just in case this didn’t help.

The Motor Stopped Working

Garbage disposals may hum if there is an issue with the motor. It could have been running for too long causing it to overheat.

Usually, a unit lasts anywhere between 10 to 15 years. It may be time for a replacement. Either way, let’s walk through the steps.

How to determine if the motor has burned out

What You’ll Need: 15 minutes

  1. Turn off the Garbage Disposal
  2. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes
  3. Run a stream of water from the faucet
  4. Try turning it back on

When Should You Call a Plumber?

  • You have tried the solutions above without success
  • You don’t have time
  • To Get Quick Solutions
  • If you think any of the tips above are risky
  • To ensure that the job is done correctly.

Safety Precautions

  • Remember, never put your hand directly into the blades!
  • Disconnect the power source when necessary
  • Avoid harsh chemicals
  • Listen for abnormal sounds. Stop the disposal right away if you hear them.
  • Always use appropriate tools
  • When in doubt, Call a Plumber

If these methods fail, it’s best to call a plumber to avoid damaging the disposal further.

Common Questions

Why is My Garbage Disposal Humming?

Your unit is either jammed, not receiving power or worn-out. Jamming can result from objects that are too large, thick or hard. A Tripped breaker may have shut off electricity to it. Finally, someone or something may have overworked the motor.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal that Hums?

Unjamming the blades, resetting breakers and allowing the motor to cool down are steps to fixing a disposal that hums.

What Can You Put Down the Garbage Disposal?

Safely, you can pour things down your drain that won’t clog it or block the unit as long as they don’t harm the environment. Some examples include: water, baking soda and vinegar.

Do Garbage Disposals Need GFCI?

A gfci is a protective feature for outlets near garbage disposals because of their proximity to water. A GFCI could be life-saving by stopping an electrical shock.

Summing Things Up

Remember, a humming garbage disposal doesn’t have to ruin your day. By following these steps and safety precautions, you can may diagnose and fix the issue yourself.

But if you’re ever unsure or the problem persists, don’t hesitate to call a qualified plumber. Consider us at Superior Plumbing. We would be glad to help!

Our professional intervention can save you time, money and a whole lot of unnecessary stress in the long run. Now get out there and conquer that whirring disposal – your kitchen sink awaits!