Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leverage, Baby

Two days ago, the garbage disposal in my sink made a terrible noise and stopped working. It did the humming thing but nothing was moving. I figured something was stuck in it, so I did the thing they tell you not to do: I flipped off the switch, put on a rubber glove, and put my hand down in there. I did this quickly, before two things could happen: 1) Matt could come into the room and yell at me for doing it--I mean, he is really, really against putting your hand in the garbage disposal, I've seen homeboy turn it off at the circuit box; 2) Poltergeists could possess the electrical wires in our house and turn on the disposal with my hand in it like they did in that movie Amityville Horror 4: The Evil Escapes.

So neither of those things happened and I got my hand down there and fished up some glass beads, big ones, like the size of mini marshmallows. They were the remains of a little glass Santa bracelet Laura had. How they got down the drain, I don't know, except that I do know because we keep so much crap on the counter above the sink, naturally stuff gets knocked in. I try to tidy that area, but everything that comes into the house lands there. It is a very bad system.

So some of the beads were whole and some were broken, and I was not holding enough beads to reconstitute the bracelet, yet I couldn't feel any more down where the impellers are. I withdrew to think and study.

During this time of contemplation, I half-heartedly stuck a broom handle down there for some reason. And I complained to Matt a lot. He said that he would look at it later.

I decided to see what the internets knew. I found this beautifully simple and helpful walkthrough. With its help, I realized that the flywheel wasn't turning, though the motor was getting power, which must mean that it was still obstructed by a bead stuck somewhere. The guide instructed me to manually turn the flywheel to dislodge the obstruction, which can be done from above (the broom handle method) or by sticking a wrench in the little wrench hole on the bottom of the unit. What stopped me from carrying out this plan was that the guide says, "Use the wrench that came with your disposal." I was like, huh? We don't got that wrench. And I'm not wise enough in the ways of wrenches to know an alternative.

Some time later, I said to Matt, "Do you have an offset wrench? We need to, like, stick a wrench in this little hole down here." (By now I'm having flashbacks to our ball cock conversation. Why does this stuff always happen in the kitchen?) Matt's like, "Wrench?" And I'm like, uh huh, and he's like, figure out what kind of tool I need and I'll take care of it.

That had me stumped. I mean, I had just very clearly with my mouth formed the word "wrench." I don't really know where to go from there. He went downstairs to work and I continued to live with the nonfunctioning sink with the tiny puddle of muck in it. This went on for another full 24 hours.

But Reader, just like the young sapling in winter, during this period of latency, I was gathering strength and summoning my internal resources for the surge of power--the new world that was to be born.

Also during that time, I drank a cup of coffee with Kahlua in it at 11pm and slept like CRAP last night. Smart women, foolish choices. That threw off my whole morning and made me feel like butt and I didn't work out with my neighbor today, and it rained a bunch and I made two separate trips over to the pool/dojo, arriving home at 8pm to a sink with a tiny puddle of muck in it. Somehow that damn thing was not fixing itself.

Oh my God, there has never been a longer story of small appliance repair! I am proud.

While Matt was up starting the kid-bedtime process, I stood in the kitchen and made a small keening noise. I groped the disposal with the rubber glove some more and pulled out another half bead. Then my eyes alit on a plastic bag of odds and ends Matt had used to take apart a bed in Chattanooga. 'Nother story. I looked into the bag and there was a little pouch of something called "hex keys." Reader, here was something familiar! They looked like the little wrenches that come with Ikea products, ie, the only wrenches I've ever used. I wiggled my fingers into the pouch and picked out the chunkiest wrench.

Sitting on the floor in front of the sink, I tried the wrench in the little hole. It seemed to fit. The guide had said that the flywheel will be hard to turn but then, when the blockage is moved, it will turn freely. And that's what happened. First the thing wouldn't turn, and then it made a terrible noise, like two pieces of metal with bits of broken glass between them. I got it turning easily.

Then, checking to see that the little red reset button was pushed in, I stood up and turned on the switch. But I didn't just flip it on and leave it! No, you gotta pulse it like a blender. On and off, on and off, while water runs. At first the disposal was making the awful grinding noise, but it was turning. So I kept pulsing until I was brave enough to leave it running. And it cleared the junk away and sounded normal.

I whooped. Then I hollered, "Who just fixed the garbage disposal?  ME. WITH A WRENCH. I am TAKING BACK THE NIGHT!" And I wasn't sure Matt had heard me, so I went upstairs and found him to tell him face to face. Then I tweeted it and then I put it on facebook. I almost texted my parents. And now I have blogged it. Hear me roar.

But it's funny, seriously, I studied the little diagram of the parts of a garbage disposal, and now it is in my head and it is mine. What was an opaque black box to me is now part of the mapped territory, and it will not trouble me again. Knowledge TRULY IS POWER, they were not kidding. Imagine if you could come to grok the workings of your car that way! Or something else hard! And there is information out there to help us learn! We have only to seize it!

Seize it!

(Jiggle it.)

Teach a man to fish!

Peace out,


Elizabeth said...

Frankly, I'm speechless. And you still have one more day to blog. I can't imagine what's in store.

AlGalMom said...

Disposal P0WND! All its base are belong to you!

nancyblackett said...

Hallelujah, I am totally going up the ladder to see what is making my gutters overflow now.

Becky said...

Totally p0wnd! LOLZ infinity +1.

Nancy, do it! Put on a raincoat and grab those wet leaves by the handful. Do not also pull out the cable that goes to your TV where it comes into the house. (Ask me how I know.)

Elizabeth, we will see. This was literally the only thing that happened to me today, I don't know that tomorrow will be so lucky. Heh.

M said...

College son called dad early in the semester with the same disturbing question: plastic bag caught in disposal, how to remove? Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving: you are now equipped to walk Hank and Laura through this dilemma over the phone! The culprit wasn't jewelry in this case or even the plastic bag, but, rather, a tab from a beverage can of unknown origin.

Thanks for the flashback--that movie scene was a big part of why I can no longer watch horror films. :/

Michele R said...

Very impressive!
We once had a dish rag all twisted in there and pulling it out felt like I was helping a calf birth like in the City Slickers movie.
Before our current house we lived in a house that had no disposal. So I am still in the habit of not using mine much.

Camp Papa said...

Emily Rebecca Woomer, PhD, Master Appliance Specialist. I am impressed with your skills! But mostly with your determination to Get The Job Done. Isn't that what life is? A girl does what a girl has to do. Now, what's next on your to-do list! Cold fusion? Elimination of dust bunnies? When you're home at Christmas time, we have a leaking gutter. Don't you just love it that everything is on the internets? It's an age of wonder.

Jenni said...

You totally pwned that garbage disposal!

Shannon said...

It's the 2011 equivalent of bra burning!
Right on!

Beth said...

First things first: AlGalMom, you made my DAY. Way to kick it with old school l33t speak.

Pretty soon you will be writing an e-book on small appliance repair.

Lisa Lilienthal said...

you go girl!

Camp Papa said...

Can you tell that the comment above was written by your mother.

Elle said...

Yes to all. I can especially relate to the scrimmaging WTF of Did I not just say wrench? Were you distracted again by my caboose while I was talking? I'm up here! Stop, you, thinking about the fries that come with this shake! Yeah, totally.

Plus the endless, endless calls to recognize that I fixed something! Using schematics, or math, or whatever. Me! Yes! And you, too! Brava!

A Day That is Dessert said...

I get more resourceful/self sufficient, the older I get. I haven't yet tackled plumbing...you are my hero. Wish you lived next door.

Cassi Renee said...

:-) and I especially liked how the broom handle showed up early as a non sequitur.

Aimee said...

Woot! Roar, woman, roar!!

I am oh, so impressed. As mechanically minded as I am, I leave all that stuff to Jason, cuz he actually likes it. Well, it's more like he likes the responsibility of it. Makes him feel like the Man o' the House, I think. Like he has some authority, when we all really know with whom the authority truly lies. ;)

Nina said...

Boyfriend and I connected up our new washing machine ourselves, despite my mother's concerns. We even went to the plumbing shop to get the correct thingimajig for the whatsit. So, not to rain on what I know is a pretty exciting parade or anything, but garbage disposals? So last century! You should get a compost bin and learn all about worms. Seriously, my parents had a plumber come and remove the garbage disposal from their new house because frankly it scared them, and the guy said he spent the last 20 years installing those things and now every day he's removing them. Compost is more eco-friendly and as a bonus it can't macerate your hands. Also any glass santa bracelets dropped in remain intact.