Shaking or Vibrating Garbage Disposal: 4 Steps to Fix It

Is your garbage disposal shaking or vibrating like the San Andreas Fault just cracked?

That sucks! An appliance like this should be your best friend when it comes to convenience and kitchen cleanliness.

I can only imagine how annoying having this happen can be. Especially if the unit is brand new or used to work perfectly a couple of days ago.

But don’t worry, you want answers, and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Below, you’ll find a list including 4 simple steps to fix this issue permanently.

When your garbage disposal is shaking or vibrating, try tightening the sink collar, cleaning the blades, or looking for signs of damage on the motor. If that fails, you can also try calling customer support to make your warranty valid in case the unit is unbalanced.

Keep reading to get your garbage disposal reset and smooth again!

#1 Tighten the Sink Collar

Let’s start off by covering one of the most common causes of this situation.

Depending on the installation process of your appliance, there’s a good chance that the collar (or mounting ring) that connects it to your sink has become loose over time. This can happen either due to poor installation or after years of use.

A garbage disposal's mounting ring being tightened
Checking on the mounting ring every couple of months is a good practice

If your garbage disposal is vibrating or shaking like an old lady in an Alaskan winter, you might have to go under the countertop and look closely.

Solution: Locating the sink collar is very easy, as it will be what’s connecting the appliance to the countertop and the bottom of your sink. In most models, it looks like a big metal ring.

Treat the part as you would a screw, or the lid on one of your favorite chocolates – use clockwise rotation for tightening and a counterclockwise motion for loosening. Try using a wrench to secure the collar and test to see if this solves the issue.

#2 Clean the Blades

Assuming your sink collar was ok, the next thing you’ll want to check is that your appliance’s blades are clean and free to move. Garbage disposal machines are not too different from ceiling fans in that any irregular pressure on the blades can cause significant imbalance and excessive strain.

This might be hard to believe, but, as powerful as it looks, there are some foods your garbage disposal can’t handle, and you should never throw them down the sink. These include, but are not limited to celery, pasta, and other stringy foods, as they can get caught on the blades, causing overheating.

Shredding the wrong food could explain why your garbage disposal is shaking and vibrating, why it keeps tripping your circuit breaker, or why it smells like sewage.

Solution: When prevention is an option, great. But when it’s not, there are still some ways in which you can try to get rid of any food residue stuck to your unit’s blades.

One of the most popular methods is throwing a bunch of ice cubes down the drain and turning the appliance on. After a while of shredding them, most of the food should fall right off and restore balance to your machine.

Try doing this in 2-3 minute intervals to avoid overworking the motor.

#3 Look for Signs of Damage

Now that you’re certain that the blades are clean, let’s discuss how a bad motor could be the cause of a shaking or vibrating garbage disposal.

This can happen for many reasons, including food stuck to the blades, overworking, or shredding solids that are too hard. Any of these elements can quickly wear out your unit’s motor, causing a wide range of issues.

Moreover, there’s always the possibility of being the unlucky owner of a defective unit. Modern companies subject their products to high-quality standards. But even then, it’s not impossible for a bad apple to slip through the cracks.

A plumber checking on a garbage disposal unit
The issue might not come from your end

Solution: If you notice that your appliance smells like burning or is not shredding food as it used to, you might have to make a few calls.

Depending on the status of your warranty, you might still be eligible for a replacement at no charge. However, if you don’t want to go through the tedious process of waiting for a technician and getting a replacement, you can always call your own handyman and ask them to have a look first.

#4 Try Calling Customer Support

Lastly, let’s try contacting your manufacturer for help, as even if your product is brand new, there’s still a chance that it’s defective.

This can happen for many reasons, but the most likely culprit in the event that your garbage disposal is shaking or vibrating is unevenly distributed weight. As I mentioned in the previous section, sometimes a bad unit can slip through the cracks of quality control, leaving you stranded with this issue.

Most garbage disposals come equipped with small weighted impellers that help the appliance stay in place and move in a controlled way as it shreds whatever you throw down the drain. When the weight balance is affected in any way, you can experience a lot of movement.

Solution: Honestly, this isn’t something I’d recommend fixing yourself, especially if you’re still under warranty coverage. First, because taking matters into your own hands means spending money, and second, because tampering with your appliance could void said warranty.

Why risk it when you can get a solution for free?

Warranty papers
Your manufacturer is obligated to provide a solution

My recommendation would be to call your manufacturer’s customer support team, explain the situation, and ask them to validate your warranty. Sure, you’ll have to wait a while until they send a professional to your home, and a bit longer to get a replacement unit in some cases.

However, at the end of the day, you’ll be solving your problem without paying a single cent.


That about covers it.

When your garbage disposal is shaking or vibrating, getting rid of food residue in your kitchen can become a big challenge.

I hope this piece has helped you see that, in most cases, addressing the most common causes behind this situation is very easy and quick. More often than not, all you have to do to get things back to normal is tighten the mounting ring and clean out the blades.

Thank you very much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If this article proved interesting and useful, it’ll make you glad to know that there’s much more content to learn from on our site. Why not start with the incredible resources below?

Have a great day!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more