garbage disposal hummingIt happens to the best of us:

One day, that handy little garbage disposal you keep under your sink stops being so handy. While you’re busy trying to clean up after a nice home-cooked dinner, your garbage disposal decides to sit there and hum instead of doing its job.

Generally when a garbage disposal only hums, it means the blades have jammed. Depending on what’s jamming it, there are several ways you can get it running again. Here’s how to do that:

Press the reset button

No, really. Most garbage disposals have a tiny red reset button on the bottom. Your garbage disposal has a small internal circuit that trips if it has been run for too long or if it overheats, and pressing that button will reset it.

While this probably won’t fix your garbage disposal if it’s still making noises, it doesn’t hurt. Plus you could have pressed it 50 times already since you started reading this.

Turn off your garbage disposal

And don’t just turn it off. If you can access its power plug under your sink, unplug it there. If not, shut off the appropriate circuit from your curtuit breaker.

While we do want to get your garbage disposal running again soon, there is such thing as too soon.

Use tongs to remove large blockages

You know what’s the difference between your tongs and your hand?

It’s easier to get new tongs.

Carefully hold back the rubber drain flaps and remove any blockages that are large enough to fish out. Metal, glass, and high-fiber foods like banana peels and artichokes are the ususal suspects.

Rotate the blades

On the bottom of most garbage disposals you’ll find a small hole that can fit a hex wrench. This hole lets you manually rotate the blades from underneith the unit. Since your disposal is only meant to grind in one direction, make sure you rotate it both ways manually to dislodge anything that became wrapped up or stuck from the momentum. You may also want to fish out more debris with the tongs.

Plug it in and give it a shot

At this pont it should be save to plug in your garbage disposal and see if it’s working. Make sure to stay clear of the drain in the rare case that any debris flies out. This is especially important if any metal or glass caused the obstruction.

Break out the shop vac

If your garbage disposal continues to be a problem, you may have smaller debris that is settling and can’t be removed with tongs. This is especially true for brittle glass that can be easily ground up by the disposal’s blades.

When that happens, it’s time to break out the shop vac. Disable power to your disposal again, stick the vacuum down the drain, and start vacuuming. You also don’t want to breathe in anything that gets kicked up during the process.

Call the plumber

If your garbage disposal is still making a humming noise without running, you’ve run into one of the few causes that isn’t a DIY fix. If you’re in need of a garbage disposal repair in Tracy, give us a call and we’ll be happy to take a look.