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Garbage Disposal Not Working

Garbage Disposal Not Working

Is Your Garbage Disposal Not Working? 

A garbage disposal is an essential part of any properly functioning kitchen. Without one, cleaning up after a meal can be more difficult. 

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Because of this, a garbage disposal not working can cause a huge inconvenience. It can leave you with dirty dishes or a clogged sink. 

Luckily, there are steps you can take to fix the problem. Many garbage disposal issues come from common problems and have equally common solutions. So, read on to find out if your issue is like this and if there is an easy solution to try. 

Garbage Disposal Humming but Not Working 

In many cases, a garbage disposal that isn’t working will still do something. It may not spin or properly dispose of garbage, but it will still make a strange humming noise when it is turned on. A garbage disposal humming but not working is a common sign that one of a few specific issues is a play. This could be:

  • A clogged motor
  • A tripped GFCI or disposer
  • A faulty motor

If this is the case with your garbage disposal, you’re one step closer to answering the question, “Why is my garbage disposal not working?”

Clogged Motor

In all garbage disposals, the noise comes from a combination of the motor running and the blades spinning. However, in some cases, the motor runs, but the blades won’t spin. In these instances, a humming noise is produced rather than the typical garbage disposal noise. 

This can happen if the motor is clogged, like when something is physically preventing the blades from spinning. The motor is trying to spin them, but they simply aren’t moving. 

To fix this, the clog will have to be removed. Start by switching off power to the disposal starting at the breaker. Since you’ll be working with the disposal itself, you absolutely don’t want it accidentally turning on and hurting you. Switching it off at the breaker prevents accidents like this from happening. 

With the breaker off, you can work on the unit. Look at the disposal from underneath the sink and find the breaker socket. In most units, you can tell what this is because there will be a spot for a hex Allen wrench on it. Use an Allen wrench in this spot to loosen up the flywheel of the garbage disposal. Doing so will give it enough room to turn and clear out the blockage. 

If your garbage disposal cannot be accessed this way, you can use a broom or brush. With the breaker off, push the broom or brush into the drain until it reaches the disposal’s blades. Then, use it to move the blades back and forth until the blockage is released. 

Once the blockage is gone, you can turn the breaker on again. Then, run the garbage disposal for a moment to make sure it is actually working. If it isn’t, you can try the process again or contact a plumber for professional help. 



In some situations, the humming noise you hear from garbage disposal isn’t from the motor running but is actually the general hum of electricity. Since the garbage disposal can draw large amounts of electricity in certain cases, it always runs the risk of tripping the outlet it is connected to. 

Luckily, this is a very simple issue to fix. All you have to do is hit the reset button on the outlet to get it working like normal again. You can find this on the outlet that the disposal is plugged into. 

In some cases, the reset button is located on the disposal itself. In these cases, you will have to go underneath the sink and look at the disposer. It should have a button on the button that is labeled “reset.” Simply hit this, and you should be good to go. 

If you press the button and the issue still isn’t fixed, you’ll have to look at the problem from another angle. However, you have at least diagnosed the fact that the problem is not electrical.

Faulty Motor

Motors don’t last forever. The combination of spinning parts and their position near the corrosive nature of water puts them in danger of fizzing out over time. Plus, any mechanical system has an expiration date and will simply wear out over time. 

When this happens, the motor will start to die. As it dies, it can start to run poorly, to the point where it just makes a buzzing noise instead of actually working. Unfortunately, when the motor in garbage disposal dies, the only effective solution is to seek out professional plumbing services

A professional will start by taking a look at the garbage disposal. They have more knowledge than the average person in these matters and will be able to tell if the system can be repaired or is past repairs. 

If this system can be repaired, the professional can help with this. They can often repair the problem with the tools they commonly have on hand. In others, they may need to order a few parts first but can still fix the problem. In both situations, they will be able to get the garbage disposal working again in a relatively short period of time.  

Other times, the motor will be so bad that it reaches a point where repairs are just not an option. They are either impossible or costly to the point where just replacing the motor is the better option. In either case, a professional at 4 Service Pros can help with this as well. They can take out the old garbage disposal, help you choose a replacement, and then install that replacement. This leaves you with a nice, new garbage disposal that should last for many years to come. 


Any of these methods can potentially help fix problems with garbage disposal, depending on what is wrong with it. However, properly maintaining a garbage disposal on a regular basis is just as important. Make sure to run plenty of water through the disposal when you use it to flush out any problematic elements. In addition, watching out for backups and clogs is critical. Together, all of these techniques will help you keep your garbage disposal working or help fix it if something goes wrong.