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Plumbing FAQ 6: Why Is My Garbage Disposal “Humming”?

Ah, the garbage disposal: one of the great conveniences of the modern kitchen. When it is working well, it makes cleaning up after dinner so easy. But when it is on the fritz, there is nothing more annoying.

One common occurrence is the “humming” garbage disposal. You flip the switch to turn the disposal on, but instead of spinning up and sucking those coffee grounds away, it just makes a humming noise and doesn’t do anything. Definitely frustrating. The good news is that since it is making that humming noise, you may be in OK shape. Read on for an explanation.

There are two basic causes of the humming phenomenon. Let’s discuss the simpler one first.

Stuck Flywheel

Most of the time, the problem is as simple as a stuck flywheel. Usually this problem is identified by the brevity of the humming sound, as the garbage disposal will either reset itself or the circuit breaker will trip and the whole thing will shut down.

A professional San Dimas plumber will perform these steps to fix this problem:

  1. Shut down the power to the garbage disposal by shutting of the circuit breaker or pulling the fuse.
  2. Using an offset wrench, they will turn the flywheel clockwise to dislodge it.

If the problem is just a stuck flywheel, that should take care of it. However, there is another, more sinister explanation for the humming sound.

Seized Motor Bearing

If freeing the flywheel did not get the disposal working again, then you may have a seized motor bearing on your hands. A disposal with a seized motor bearing needs to be replaced. It’s as simple as that.

However, before you go ahead and assume the worst, it would not hurt to have a San Dimas plumbing professional like Ace Pelizon Plumbing take a look at it. It is possible that the flywheel is just quite stuck and needs the touch of a pro. If not, he can go ahead and install a new unit for you.

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