Garbage disposals can chew up a lot, but they can jam very quickly if the wrong item falls into the drain, or if bits of food are left to dry instead of being ground up immediately. This can stop the disposal blades from spinning and cutting up food. Sometimes it’s just a matter of clearing out a clog, but the circuitry can act up as well. If you turn on your disposal and hear humming but no grinding, something is either jamming the blades, or the disposal may have overloaded and automatically shut down. If you hear nothing, the wall or disposal interior circuits could be at fault.
Motor Is Humming but Not Spinning
Step 1 – Ensure the disposal’s power switch is off.
Step 2 – Move back the rubber flanges of the disposal opening with long chopsticks. Shine the flashlight inside and look for objects such as fruit pits, bottle caps or other chunky items that may have jammed the disposal. If you find anything, remove it with the chopsticks. Turn on the cold water and test the disposal.
Step 3 – Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the disposal if it still isn’t working or you saw nothing in there. If you have a dual sink, plug up the non-disposal side. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the baking soda in the drain on the disposal side and plug quickly. The vinegar and baking soda will foam up viciously. Leave this to sit for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Step 4 – Boil at least 6 cups of water. Let cool a little, but not too much — it should still be hot. Unplug the disposal side and pour the water down into the drain. Start gradually to ensure the water is actually draining out, as what stopped your disposal from spinning could be clogging the sink. When you’ve finished pouring in that water, run hot water from the tap into the disposal.
Step 5 – Test the disposal again; if it still doesn’t spin, repeat the baking soda and vinegar procedure one or two more times.
Step 6 – Look underneath the disposal body under the sink for a reset button. This will most likely be red. Press the reset button in if it looks like it’s popped out; this indicates the disposal shut down as a result of an overload.
Step 7 – Unplug the disposal unit from the wall outlet. Place an Allen wrench, or hex wrench, in the center hole at the bottom of the disposal. Rotate the wrench back and forth. Your disposal may have an Allen wrench nearby, or you may have to test out various sizes to find the right fit. Plug the disposal back in, press the reset button if it popped out again, turn on the water and test. Older models may not have the Allen wrench option. In these cases, place the broader end of a chopstick or a small broom handle in through the disposal drain and try to move the blades back and forth. Plug the disposal in, press the reset button and test.
Motor Not Humming
Step 1 – Check the circuit breaker box in your home to see if the breaker was tripped. If you find the breaker that leads to the disposal’s electrical outlet pointing in a different direction than the other breaker switches, reset the breaker — move the switch back to the position matching the other breakers that are still on.
Step 2 – Unplug the disposal and insert a circuit tester into the outlet if you found nothing wrong with the breaker. Follow the tester’s instructions to determine if the outlet is fully operational. If it is, plug the disposal back in. Check the reset button.
Step 3 – Turn on the water and test the disposal. If it still doesn’t hum or run, you’ll need to have the wall power switch and the circuitry in the disposal evaluated by an electrician. Unplug the disposal.