What Should I Do if My Garbage Disposal Isn’t Working Properly?

March 20, 2023

One of the many small appliances we take for granted is our in-sink garbage disposal – until that garbage disposal isn’t working. Whether you hear a humming, an unnatural grinding, or is simply not turning on, this article will help you troubleshoot the issue.

Humming Noise

If your garbage disposal is humming, there is a good chance that the blades are malfunctioning.

The blades could be overheating or wearing out, or there may be clogs in the grinder mechanism. Try pressing the reset button. You may need to call reinforcements if that doesn’t fix the issue.

Unnatural Grinding

The purpose and design of your garbage disposal are to grind up food, and you can expect to hear the blades doing their job. But if the garbage disposal isn’t working and the sounds you hear resemble a high-pitched clunking, immediately flip the switch to turn off the unit. Likely, you have inadvertently dropped a spoon or other utensil, bottle cap, or other foreign objects down the drain that you must remove before continuing to use the appliance.

A word of caution: The blades in your garbage disposal are sharp and move incredibly fast. The last thing you should do is reach your hand into a disposer that still has power. Unplug first, then look for the object.

Won’t Turn On

If your garbage disposal isn’t working, and you hear nothing when you flip the switch, the cause could be an electrical issue or a dead motor.

Ensure your disposal is plugged in (stranger things have happened), and check to see if you haven’t blown a fuse. If the electrical systems seem to be working, contact a garbage disposal repair technician to take a look and replace the unit if necessary.

Related: Discover the Ideal Refrigerator Temperature to Keep Your Food Fresh

Your Garbage Disposal Isn’t Designed To Grind Everything Food Related

Remember the joke that everything is better when wrapped in bacon? This does not apply to the blades in your garbage disposal. Grease and fat, especially if they solidify, should never be put down your garbage disposal.

Those tasty Colombian coffee grounds may be another reason your garbage disposal isn’t working. Rather than getting ground up and sent on their merry way through your pipes, they actually get stuck to the sides of the disposal, and eventually, the build-up will sludge off and block the pipes and cause a significant plumbing issue. Toss them in the garbage, or better yet, repurpose them by using them in your lawn or garden.

Additionally, ground-up nuts mixed with various discarded liquids form a thick, peanut butter-like paste. That paste is difficult for your disposal to process and will also result in coating your pipes with a substance that insects and other creepy-crawlies love to feast on.

For more information on what does, and does not belong in your garbage disposal, refer to this helpful article from Consumer Reports.


Troubleshooting your in-sink garbage disposal doesn’t have to be a challenge. The problems listed are common and are ones you’re most likely to encounter as a homeowner or property manager. The repairs for these issues are often simple, needing minimal tools.

But if your garbage disposal isn’t working and you don’t feel comfortable repairing it yourself, call the experienced garbage disposal repair technicians at Reliable Appliance. We have been servicing and repairing home appliances in Southern Colorado for over 20 years and take pride in our outstanding customer service.

Schedule your service call today. We are your Reliable choice for appliance repair!