Wonder why your garbage disposal just hums? Here are the most common problems and how to solve them.
Frustrated homeowners call plumbers when the garbage disposal just hums instead of chopping food. You don’t realize how much you rely on this handy little device until it stops working. And there’s nothing worse than a kitchen sink full of smelly food waste.
The good news is that troubleshooting a garbage disposal is usually quite easy—even for a novice. And if something bigger is lurking beneath your kitchen sink, a plumber is only a phone call away. The next time your disposal tries to serenade you with a humming song, here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
There’s Something Stuck Inside
What were you doing before the garbage disposal started to hum? Were you trying to chop up leftovers from dinner? Humming indicates that there is still power running through the disposal, but something is jamming the motor. All it takes is one large piece of food to clog both the blades and the motor completely.
Grab a flashlight and peek down the sink. Can you see anything inside? If so, then you need to retrieve it. But don’t stick your hand down the drain so quickly. You’re dealing with water, electricity, and sharp blades—a dangerous and deadly combination. Unless you want to risk electrocution or stitches, you need to take the proper precautions.
Turn off the disposal and unplug it, if possible. If you can’t locate the plug, you need to shut off the circuit breaker. Once there is no power to the unit, you can slowly put your hand into the drain. Grab what’s blocking the motor and remove it.
Sometimes, however, the blockage is too deep or too small to remove without help. When this happens, you should hire a plumber to unjam the disposal for you. After you remove the object, the disposal should work like new.
You Overworked the Disposal
What happens if you shove too much food down the garbage disposal? It stops working. You may still hear the unit try to turn on, but until it cools down, the motor will just hum. Garbage disposals are small, and they overheat easily. The only way to resolve this problem is with time.
Let the motor take a breather. Turn it off and walk away for a few minutes. When you return, it should start working again. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to push the red reset button located on the underside of the disposal cylinder. Look under the sink to find it.
You can prevent overheating by limiting how much food you put down the sink at once. Only do small batches at a time. Yes, it will take you longer to clean up your mess, but you won’t have to worry about a broken disposal. You can also run cold water when using the unit to keep the motor cool.
You Have a Tripped Breaker
Every home has a circuit breaker panel to help prevent electrical fires. Each breaker can only handle a specific power load at a time. If you try using the garbage disposal while running other appliances in the kitchen, for example, you may overload the breaker. When this happens, the disposal and all other devices assigned to that breaker will shut off.
Even with a tripped breaker, you may hear a slighting humming coming from your disposal. If the switch didn’t full trip, some electricity might still make it to the unit. However, this negligible amount won’t be enough to operate the motor.
In most cases, it’s easy to fix a tripped breaker. Find the switch inside the breaker panel that controls the kitchen appliances. If it’s in the “NEUTRAL” or “OFF” position, you know the breaker is the culprit. Always move the switch to “OFF” before flipping it back to the “ON” position.
You can prevent a tripped breaker by limiting how much stress you put on the system. However, if the kitchen breaker continues to trip, you may need an electrician to rewire or update the circuit panel.
Your Disposal Is on Its Last Leg
Sometimes the reason for humming is a worn-out garbage disposal. Although this appliance should provide you with several years of reliable chopping, there will come a time when you need to replace it. If it doesn’t seem to have any more energy to do its job, it may be best to retire your disposal and install a new model.
A plumber can help you select the best garbage disposal for your family. You may not know this, but disposals come in a variety of sizes. If you live alone, a small 1/3-1/2 horsepower model may be the right size. However, a family of four should consider upgrading to a model that has a 3/4-1 horsepower motor.
Tips to Prevent a Situation Where Your Garbage Disposal Just Hums
Once you solve your disposal dilemma, you probably want to know how to avoid another situation in the future. The number one way you can keep your garbage disposal happy is by watching what you put down the drain. Remember to keep these items out:
- Fat and grease: Remember that fat and water don’t mix. Any oil you put down the drain enters the sewer system. Not only can it clog your disposal, but grease can also cause sewer pipe blockages.
- Celery: Have you ever noticed how stringy a celery stalk is? When you put celery into your disposal, those fibrous stings can jam the blades and overheat the motor. Celery is also a pain to clean out of the drain.
- Pasta and Noodles: Just like celery, pasta can tangle in the blades and stop the motor. Even worse, pasta swells when it absorbs water. Putting pasta into the kitchen sink may lead to a huge clog.
- Bones and Fruit Pits: These items are too hard for your disposal to handle. And if you do put them down the sink, they may shoot back out and strike you in the face. It’s not worth the risk.
- Household Trash: Paper and plastic trash have no place in your kitchen sink. It’s better to recycle this waste, if possible.
Let a Plumber Repair Your Garbage Disposal
While you may be able to remedy a small problem with your garbage disposal, you need to leave the bigger issues to the pros. The plumbers at Morningside Plumbing know how to install, repair, and maintain all types of garbage disposals. If your disposal hums, smells, or just stops working, we can help. There’s no reason to try to unclog your kitchen sink alone.
Here at Morningside Plumbing, we understand the importance of excellent customer service. When you schedule a plumbing repair, we’ll arrive on time and ready to get to work. No matter if your problem is big or small, we’ll go above and beyond to fix it promptly. Click or call 404-445-6139 if your garbage disposal just hums, and you need us to figure out why.