I have a jammed garbage disposal that makes the humming noise and trips the breaker if I leave it on too long. However, the manual unsticking method doesn't seem to help.

I've done some research and haven't found much beyond "use the allen wrench and try to unstick whatever is jamming the disposal," however I have done so and it seems to turn somewhat freely.

Every so often I can get it to spin by itself for a second, but then it immediately resumes humming. I can't see anything trapped, and as I mentioned it seems to turn fairly freely when I use the wrench.

What else can I try, short of replacing the unit?

  • You've pushed the little red thermal reset button that some garbage disposals have on their side or bottom? Sep 29, 2014 at 14:37
  • I had the same problem. After using the wrench so that the plate turned smoothly I decided to detach plumbing so that I could get inside the unit. Guess what I found? A popsicle stick! The only problem was getting the plumbing back. Not so easy for a 94 year old. Jan 11, 2019 at 1:00

3 Answers 3


Based on your description, I don't think the problem is a jam. More likely the windings in the motor are bad or there is a bad contact in the motor. Because of the design of most domestic garbage disposals, you can't open the motor housing to fix these problems. Therefore your only option is to replace it.

  • That's kind of what I was afraid of. The fact that it turns by hand without any real resistance or grinding kind of made me think there's not an actual blockage...
    – erik
    Oct 14, 2013 at 13:59

Based on my experience, and to possibly help you out until someone who repairs them comes along, this is what I'd do.

  1. Make sure power is off
  2. Remove black rubber ring thing so I could see better down there.
  3. Get my strongest flashlight
  4. Get a 3/8" dowel stick to turn it the cutter plate
  5. Turn it slowly to find where it makes noise or sticks
  6. Look carefully for something small jammed right at the gap between the revolving cutter and the edge of the unit while moving it back and forth with the dowel stick.
  • 1
    "it seems to turn fairly freely when I use the wrench" Aug 16, 2014 at 17:16

The humming indicates that the motor is still trying to turn, but the grinding mechanism is jammed. You should check if there is any object inside the grinding chamber that must be causing these disposal jam. If all these things are still not working then you should call a plumber. They will either unjam it or you will have to install a new one. My friend suggested plumbers in south jersey when I got this similar problem and they unjammed the disposal.

  • 1
    This answer doesn't address anything that the other answers or the linked question haven't already covered other than "call a plumber," which should be a comment (at best) instead.
    – Doresoom
    Sep 29, 2014 at 13:27

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