If your garbage disposal makes a humming or whirring noise or just stops, it is probably jammed. No use trying to grind it through, the motor shuts off to prevent it from burning out. You’ll need to try a few simple things to get it working again.
Tools or Supplies You May Need:
- Needlenose pliers or some tongs
- Allen wrench (some brands come with one) or a broomstick
The first thing you should try is your reset button, located on the bottom of the disposal. Turn off the disposal unit and wait a few moments for the motor to cool before pressing the button. If you do not have a reset button, your disposal resets automatically.
If that doesn’t work, turn off the unit and look inside with a flashlight to locate any lodged objects. If any are found remove them with the pliers or tongs. As a safety precaution, you should never put your hands in the disposal.
If you can’t locate the object, try to activate your disposals reversal feature. Some garbage disposals come with this feature that causes the flywheel (the part that grinds the waste) to move in reverse and free itself of obstruction. It is activated each time you turn on the unit. Run some cold water, then turn on the disposal. This may take several tries.
If yours does not have the reversal feature, then you’ll have to do this manually. Turn off the main power to the garbage disposal, and insert an Allen wrench into the hole at the bottom of your disposal. If you are short on Allen wrenches, you can insert a broomstick from above and rest it on the blades. Either way, rotate the blades both clockwise and counterclockwise.
Do this until the flywheel can complete the rotations fully both ways. Remove any dislodged items with the pliers or tongs and turn the power back on. Press the reset button on the bottom and run cold water for a minute. Now try turning on your disposal unit. If it still won’t start, give it 15-20 minutes for the motor to cool down then try again.
If none of the above helps, it is probably more than just a jam. You should contact a repair person. To save yourself from paying for a home service call, take the unit into the repair shop yourself. You will need to separate the unit from the drain elbow and loosen the mounting screws.
To keep your disposal running its best, always remember to avoid putting metal, rubber, glass, plastic, drain cleaner, bones, or grease into it. Also avoid feeding celery, bananas, or other fibrous food wastes into the unit.
You should run cold water before, during, and a moment after disposing of garbage. To clean and sharpen your blades, once a month you should run water while slowly feeding several cups of ice into the disposal. Remembering these simple hints can help solve a common problem and even save you on repair bills.