Garbage Disposal Not Spinning

If the motor of your garbage disposal unit is humming but it’s not turning, then most likely it’s jammed. Maybe you didn’t notice a foreign object fall into the disposer or something fell in accidentally. Either way, one of the easiest ways to see if this truly is the cause of your disposal not spinning is to remove the object.

This post will teach you how to remove an object that is preventing your unit from spinning. But before that, there are some things you need to know.

A Few Important Reminders

Before you do anything related to troubleshooting on your disposer, make sure to put your safety first. The last thing you want is for an injury to occur when it could have been avoided in the first place. That said, here are some safety tips you need to keep in mind:

  • Never forget to turn off the power supply before you start checking on what may be wrong with your disposal unit.
  • In case you need to reset your disposer, always make sure that the power is off.

Doing these helps avoid problems down the road. Yes, you can fix garbage disposal problems on your own but it’s also best that nothing bad happens to you while doing so.

Fixing a Disposal That’s Not Spinning

Usually, your disposal unit comes with an Allen wrench. In case it didn’t come with it, make sure you get a set. Also, fixing your garbage disposal isn’t the only need for an Allen wrench; other fixes around the house might need the tool so it’s helpful to already have one in store just in case you need them.

All that said, here’s how to fix a disposal unit that’s not spinning:

  • Check the circuit breakers or fuses at the main electrical panel to make sure that there is electricity flowing to the garbage disposer. Do this when the problem is related to the disposer not spinning even when there is power.
  • Flip the wall switch of the disposer in case power isn’t restored to the disposer.
  • When you hear the motor of the dispenser humming, turn the switch off immediately then unplug the disposer.
  • Double check to make sure the disposer is really not plugged in. After that, find the recessed hex-shaped hole located at the bottom of the disposal unit. Insert the hex-head Allen wrench that came with the disposer into the hole.
  • Using the wrench, turn the motor of the disposer counterclockwise first. After that, turn it clockwise until you can dislodge the obstruction and the motor shaft can spin freely.
  • Remove the wrench and plug the disposer. Run water into the sink and turn on the disposer. If the object indeed was the cause of the unit not spinning, then your disposer should work fine after removing it.

In case there is no electricity to the disposer…

When there is no electricity to the disposer, reach inside the sink cabinet to press the thermal overload button which is located at the bottom of the disposer. But if doing this doesn’t restore power to your disposer, it’s best to call in a licensed electrician to help sort out the problem.

Try flipping the wall switch again. When you hear a hum from the motor, turn the switch off and unplug the dispenser.

Insert the Allen wrench into the hex-shaped hole then turn the shaft of the motor counterclockwise then clockwise until the object that is causing the obstruction is dislodged.

Remove the wrench then plug the dispenser back in. Run water into the sink then switch on the garbage disposal unit. If everything runs smoothly then the object obstructing was really the cause of the problem.

In case the garbage disposal unit is still jammed…

Here’s what you can do when your garbage disposal unit is still jammed:

  • Use a special garbage disposer wrench to turn the motor of the disposal unit.
  • Push the wrench down into the disposer then rotate it until its jaws lock onto the cutter wheel located inside the disposer.
  • Using force, turn the wrench in a counterclockwise direction then turn it clockwise until you’ve cleared the jam and the motor can spin freely.
  • Remove the wrench, plug the disposer back in and check to see if it’s functioning. If nothing happens, that’s when you will need to call in assistance from a professional. Maybe the problem with your unit is internal and something needs to be fixed or replaced entirely.

Avoiding Problems with Your Garbage Disposer

Yes, you may have bought a high-quality garbage disposal unit but that doesn’t mean it is problem free. Even the best brands suffer from minor setbacks occasionally, either because it wasn’t maintained the right way or something was accidentally thrown into the unit.

But problems other than longevity can easily be avoided if you know how to properly look after your disposal unit. Here are some things to avoid:

Refrain from grinding up potato peelings. These will form a starchy paste that is similar to mashed potatoes when they are ground up. As such, they will most likely clog your drain.

Never put coffee grounds or eggshells into your disposal unit. These items create very small granular waste which will stick to any sludge in the pipe. As a result, a clog will quickly be created.

Avoid throwing the following items into your disposer:

  • bottles and bottle caps
  • china
  • cloth
  • crockery
  • clam or oyster shells
  • feathers
  • glass
  • leather
  • rubber
  • string
  • tin cans

These items are best disposed of in a trash bin or a trash compactor because they are waste materials.

Caring for your garbage disposal unit

Here are some tips on properly caring for your disposer:

  • When you’re not using your disposer, make sure to leave the stopper in the drain. This way, you can minimize the chances of foreign objects falling into your drain and getting stuck there.
  • Always make sure the disposer is empty before using the dishwasher. Doing so ensures that your disposal unit can drain properly.
Skip to content