Jamming with the Garbage Disposal

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(Note: very little cooperation was forthcoming in the way of picture taking. I did my best)

I’m sure some bloggers are writing about concerts, ruckus parties, or fabulous food served on the patio in Bali. I am not one of those bloggers. It’s Friday night and I’m writing a post about my garbage disposal.

In 16 years, our industrial strength garbage disposal needed to be serviced only once. The service call cost me 163 dollars and 52 cents. It would have cost me $163.53 but I deducted the penny the repairman found jamming my disposal. How a penny fell into the disposal is anyone’s guess.This week our disposal was, for the second time in its long life, refusing to dispose. It hummed but did not spin within its mechanical bowels. Since I was not looking forward to paying another service bill, I asked my handy 17-year-old to watch some YouTube videos and see what he could find out about humming garbage disposals. About an hour later my kid calls me into the into the kitchen, where I find to my surprise my garbage disposal and all its guts spread out on my kitchen floor. Oy vey.

My motto is, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I joined Cole on the kitchen floor and while he sorted through various and sundry tools, I shook the disposal and explored the inside with a flashlight. The enemy this time was a paperclip. It seems our disposal has very expensive taste. I pried the paperclip out, but not before Cole had dashed across the street to borrow yet another tool from our neighbor. Cole brought back the tool and the neighbor who was soon lying on the kitchen floor with his head under my sink while Cole explained the mechanics of our disposal. My father-in-law rigged it up differently from other disposals. I won’t bore you with the details, but my English-speaking son and our Polish-speaking neighbor pondered together for a bit, while I kept pointing to the paper clip in my hand. I felt a little like a Beagle. “Look! Here is the problem! Here it IS! HERE IT IS!!” Eventually, after a great deal of persistence on my part the guys noticed the paper clip between my fingers and acknowledged the culprit. Before leaving the neighbor gave Cole some advice: “Tighten screws tightly, and run ice through disposal when done.” I gave the neighbor a couple of packs of Peeps and a chocolate bunny. It seemed the neighborly thing to do

After the neighbor left, Cole began the process of putting the disposal back together again. This involved lying on his back in a cramped position under the sink while trying to line up and hold in place the very large, very heavy garbage disposal whilst he screwed it in place. It was next to impossible, and there wasn’t room for me to help. After struggling with the problem for a bit he suddenly yelled, “Jamming jeepers garbage disposal,” and sat up, banging his head in the process, and then said another word I chose to ignore. His brainstorm was to use his car jack to hold the disposal in place. And damned if that wasn’t brilliant—it worked like a charm. Before I knew it the screws were tightened and the disposal was back in place, spinning its blades and chomping on ice. Cole sealed the pipe with a little Sugru where the rubber sealing ring had cracked, and so far it is holding pretty well. In the long run I’m sure it will need to be sealed with something a little stronger.

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(Note: My job: Positioning the flashlight, keep track of the screws, make sure the wrench is within reach. In other words I’m the mahout*)

Full disclosure. Jobs of this sort are never accomplished without some Mom angst, and usually the results are a mixture of professionalism and amateurish creativity. Perfection is something I have learned to live without in order to support Cole’s desire to become a “fix it” sort of guy. My teen is more likely to learn how to get rid of moles or fix the lawn mower than to mow the grass. On the other hand it’s a lot cheaper to hire someone to mow the grass than fix the lawn mower.

Saved money from service call: $170.00
Sugru to seal pipe (it worked):  $7.00
Chocolate Bunny and Peeps for neighbor: $5.00
Lucky Brand dress shirt (which I was talked into because of the repair bill savings): $55.00
Glow of satisfaction on Cole’s face for a job well done: Priceless.
Motherly pride: To infinity and beyond.

Odd Loves Company!

*Mahout: The person who follows the elephant and cleans up after him.

Bonus Cole’s Tips:

For lifting heavy objects and holding them in place, consider using a tire jack. Most of have one, and it’s easy to use.

Use a magnet to keep track of screws. Use another pair of hands to pass you tools.

Take a pictures of the project as you go along so you can refer to them if you don’t remember where something goes.

Check to make sure everything is in place before you screw it all together. Including, but not limited to small rubber sealers.

Watch your head. Your not a gnome.


14 thoughts on “Jamming with the Garbage Disposal

  1. My Grandson is such a clever guy! In fact he’s so clever we are going to get him to look at the pump we’re using in the waterfall because it’s sounding strange. We love having him here, and yes, we are feeding him!

    • No, Please do NOT feed him. Or just feed him once in awhile. I take no responsibility for what you and grandson get in too. Keep in mind along with great success comes failure. You have always been better at the first one! ♥

  2. I want my boys to grow up and be clever and able to fix things. What a double standard because I could care a whit if the girls can sew. I just think boys need to work with their hands and have the physical experience of doing. It’s hard to find opportunities tho. It seems like Cole is naturally handy and maybe learned some of what he knows from his dad? My husband calls the repairman and most of the time does not have a clue about how anything works. I understand he works a full week and doesn’t want to spend the weekends working on repairs. In any case, good job Cole, and good Job to you for letting it all happen. The tire jack tip is the best.

    • Thanks Liz. Cole has been fortunate to have lots of opportunities to fix things and a Mom with a real need for a handy kid :-D. It is hard to find opportunities and teachers. I will admit to being impressed with the use of the tire jack

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how creative you and Cole are! Good for you, letting him do the research and the work in getting this project completed. Good for him, figuring out how to do it. Saving money from repairs by doing jobs yourself is excellent advice — and look how handy he’s becoming! They don’t teach that stuff in school any more, after all!

    • Thanks Debbie. Joe was a big influence in this area of Cole’s life, and you know I’m kind of a why not sort of Mom. Fortunately, Cole’s school has included a lot of hands on work and values this kind of work on the same level as book work. The money saved, is very nice!

  4. i’d sure like to be more handy around the house. good for cole to have the mindset, desire & skill to do so! i can only imagine the sense of satisfaction he felt after the successful completion. you are doing cole a great service allowing him to work through these things, too. kudos to you both!

    • It’s a journey. I can picture the end results, he can get us there. Joe stuck around long enough to show him how to do a few things and teach him about tools. Thank you, it doesn’t always work out, but so much is learned each time he goes for it.

  5. I give you extra points for being able to take this apart and put it together and it works! You have a creative kid. I think he’s a keeper.

  6. The best way for a boy to learn repair work is to do it. Trial and error are good teachers. Cole sure isn’t afraid to try things either, and that will really help him out in life. He also has a Mom that will stand by and let him figure things out on his own. Good for you both.

    • Thanks Carol. We win some and we lose some, but if it’s broken already might as well let him take a shot at it.

  7. This is a great example of ingenuity and tenacity pay off! Congrats to your patience KB..I probably would have been at Home Depot buying a new one. 15 years is a good long life for that disposal!

    • Actually the disposal is closer to 20 years old, maybe older. It’s a big industrial one. I love it. If you can love a garbage disposal. New is usually lighter and more efficient, but better is often a crap shoot.
      Thanks. Having a handy kid is…well handy 😀

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