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Why Is My Garbage Disposal Humming But Not Grinding?

Garbage disposals are truly modern-day wonders when it comes to kitchen clean-up and home hygiene. But they also can be more finicky than we realize. And considering they're small motors running fast-moving blades, they're not something you want to do any poking around into. One common problem homeowners report with their garbage disposal is the sound of it humming but not actually turning on to grind up food debris.

This can be a frustrating problem as the appliance seems so close to working, and there's not exactly an error message you can look up. While you can take a look at the manufacturer's user manual, it's almost always better to call a professional to tackle the problem. You can take on some research yourself, but at the end of the day, you don't want to be putting your hands or tools too close to a faulty garbage disposal.

Check for trips

The first thing you want to do is take a look at the electricity running to the appliance and make sure it's getting what it needs. Check to see if the reset button on the appliance, usually located at the bottom, has been triggered for one reason or another. Next, check the circuit breaker responsible for the outlet to which the garbage disposal is plugged in and make sure it's getting power. A garbage disposal in this half-powered state could be a long-term problem as the motor burns out from trying to turn itself on. If neither of these issues is obvious, it's time to call for help.

Check for food debris

More likely what's happened is your garbage disposal has been jammed by something, and, most often, it's food particles. Much of what causes garbage disposals to struggle is the result of user error and not following the manufacturer's guidelines. If you can see into the grinding chamber safely, take a look to see if you spot any large particles of food such as bones, large pieces of meat or fruit peels. None of these should ever go down your garbage disposal, as a rule, for this very reason. A professional can help you safely clean it out if you do spot a problem.

Motor burn out

A less common, but still possible issue — especially if you can't find any evidence of a jam — is a motor that is beginning to fail. What you're hearing is the sounds of it trying to work but not quite getting there. That doesn't mean the hum is benign, though. Your motor will burn itself out if you continue to try and use it in this state. Call a professional to take a look at the inner workings of your garbage disposal motor to get the best and safest repair results.

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