Garbage Disposal Humming but Not Turning: Troubleshooting and Solutions

Are you aggravated because your garbage disposal is humming but won’t turn over to start? Well, the good news is that you can more than likely come up with your own solution to fixing the problem right at home. This common occurrence is surely a pain, but you can easily troubleshoot with a little trial and error.

The most frequent cause for your garbage disposal humming and not turning is that you have a clog or jam. This can contribute to other problems such as overheating or a faulty motor so it’s important to assess any clogging right away.

If your garbage disposal isn’t turning over and all you hear is humming, you’ll want to find the source of the problem so you can continue using as you normally would. These are some of the more recurring issues that consumers encounter and how to repair them. 

Why Is The Garbage Disposal Humming But Not Working

Let’s start off by reminding you that it’s never a good idea to stick your hand down the disposal. Even if you suspect that something is stuck between the blades, there is a huge safety risk if you use your hand in any attempt to retrieve foreign objects. 

Now that you’re ready to troubleshoot, these are the most popular reasons why your disposal is humming and.not turning. 

It might only take a simple reset of the machine or could be as serious as a faulty motor, which might require the help of a professional. Whatever the case, you can find the source of the problem right at home by safely approaching the issue using these tips. 

Your Garbage Disposal Needs a Reset

This one is the simplest issue to fix. If you’re certain you don’t have a jam, you can reset the garbage disposal by finding the reset button and pushing it in. This will reset the whole machine back to its manufacturer settings-sometimes that’s all it takes just like with any other electrical appliances!

If you find that the reset button is not functioning or worn out, this is an indicator that the whole unit may need to be replaced. Note the condition of the button, ensuring that it works. If you have trouble using the reset button, you can always call a technician for help.

Your Garbage Disposal Is Overheated

If you think your garbage disposal is overheated, it’s likely due to a jam or from overfilling it. You can prevent this by following the manufacturer’s manual to ensure you’re putting the proper amount of food into your unit at a time. 

If you’ve already removed any jammed food or objects inside the disposal, you can follow these steps to fix your overheated garbage disposal. Similar to resetting the unit, this should allow it to function normally after you’ve followed the process:

  • Turn off your garbage disposal, allowing it to cool down for a few minutes. 
  • Turn it back on to see if the humming has dissipated.
  • If not, turn off and reset, using the reset button found at the bottom of your unit. 
  • Once reset, turn it back on and run some cold water to see if it runs normally again.
  • Repeat as necessary. If it still continues to hum, you could still have a jam or other issue.

If you’ve attempted to reset after overheating has occurred and it doesn’t help, you may want to ask a professional to assess the unit. 

Your Garbage Disposal Is Jammed or Clogged

The most common occurrence and the one most responsible for additional problems such as overheating, is a jam or clog in the garbage disposal. This is a direct reaction of overfilling it with food particles. It’s likely to happen a time or two but pay close attention to the manual so you know the ideal amount of food it can handle at one time. 

To fix a jam or clog, you can approach the garbage disposal by following these steps:

  • Unplug the unit and cut the electrical circuit for safety purposes. It will also prevent the garbage disposal from short circuiting. This is key.
  • Use a Hex Head Allen wrench and insert in the breaker socket at the bottom of the unit.
  • Turn your wrench back and forth, ensuring the flywheel turns to set the jammed particles free from the impeller blades.
  • If you don’t have the proper tools you can also use a long object such as a tong to remove any food that is visible inside the unit.
  • Once you’ve removed the clogged particles, you can turn the power back on to your unit and plug it back in. 
  • Turn it on to see if it functions normally and the humming has dissipated.

If you complete this process and still hear a humming noise, please call a local professional to further evaluate your garbage disposal unit. 

Your Garbage Disposal Has a Tripped Component

If your garbage disposal is humming and not turning and you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s possible that your GFCI outlet has been tripped, or the unit itself has tripped. There is a lack of electricity to the unit, causing that humming noise coming from the motor. It could also be a circuit breaker shortage. All of these electrical issues can be solved easily by resetting a few things. 

If you’ve already tried resetting the disposal, you can test the GFCI outlet breaker which is located on the electrical plate your disposal is plugged into. The reset button is typically red. You can press this button to see if that is the source of your problem. 

If not, you can resort to your circuit breaker switch. If you’ve blown a circuit, you can head straight to your breaker to reset the power to your garbage disposal. If you’ve reset your circuit breaker and there is still no change, you may need to contact a professional to further asses the problem at hand. 

WIthout the proper electrical currents, your motor can’t turn and your garbage disposal will not function. If you’ve reset all three electrical options and had no results, it’s time to get help. You could have a hardwiring problem, or the garbage disposal may be faulty in general. 

Your Garbage Disposal Has a Faulty Motor

A faulty motor can sometimes result when you have a jam, but you continuously run the motor in an attempt to free the clogged particles. This makes the motor burn out and not function properly anymore. If the motor is faulty, the entire unit will not work right, causing that humming noise to arise. 

If you suspect a faulty motor, after removing any jams or clogs, you may need to replace the entire unit. 

There may be hope for replacing the motor, however, you will want to take the unit’s age into account as you don’t want to put a bunch of money into an older garbage disposal. This will require a professional’s assistance and advice-they know which options will be most beneficial to the consumer. 

Keep in mind that if you ever have a future clog, you don’t want to keep running the unit without assessing the problem. Prevent clogs by following some tips listed below.

Your Garbage Disposal Is Old

Unfortunately, age can play a part in this problem just like with any other appliance. While most garbage disposals are designed to last a good ten to fifteen years, they certainly don’t last forever. If it’s been a few years since you’ve replaced it, it’s a possibility that normal wear and tear has affected the regular function of your unit.

If you’ve realized it’s been quite awhile since your last replacement, it may be time to purchase a new unit altogether. 

A professional technician can confirm whether or not the garbage disposal is fixable if you’re unsure. They can also assist in helping you decide which model is the right fit for your plumbing and electrical setup.

Garbage Disposal Care and Problem Prevention

Be proactive about the care of your garbage disposal. If you aren’t filling it correctly, revert back to the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to gain an understanding of the appropriate use of your unit.  Here are some tips to ensure that your garbage disposal is being properly maintained and to prevent any future complications: 

  • Maintain your garbage disposal function by regularly grinding lemon peel and ice cubes.
  • Use a baking soda and vinegar mixture once per month to help avoid odors that attract bugs. 
  • Don’t grind potato peelings as their starchy consistency is known to clog the disposal. 
  • Coffee grounds and egg shells are known culprits to clog or jam a disposal as well. 
  • Always use cold water when running the garbage disposal.
  • Don’t let food sit in the disposal without running. Always run the unit as soon as food enters the drain.


While the most common occurrence for humming in a garbage disposal is a jam or clog, it can also be or lead to a number of other issues. These include overheating, needing a simple reset, a faulty motor or an old unit in general. Thankfully, you can address all of the main problems at home and some can even be a quick fix. However, if you are unsure after going through these tips and tricks, it’s important to consult with a professional technician about your garbage disposal unit.