Blogging > As I Live and Breathe

As I Live and Breathe

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: January 11, 2013

I was shocked, stunned actually at what I held in my hand. What I think is an old Irish expression "As I live and breathe..." flashed through my head as the astonishment of the moment coursed over me. A vision of Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York, who after killing his mortal enemy, shouts "Look what I have done!" It was that exactly that kind of moment.

I kid you not. That was the raw emotional power I felt coursing through me from my fingertips to my brain as the weighty object dropped from above and was cradled in my hand. Me? Really? I just did this?

Yes, in fact I did. I just removed a garbage disposal from under my sink. With little more than my bare hands and a bike repair tool, I might add. The key element here is not the tool or the disposal of course. The key element is me. The fact that I can remove a garbage disposal unit validates the theorem that had been expressed to me by numerous veterans. "This is the 'cut and paste' of home repair jobs."

It must be, because if can do it, anyone this side of dementia and arthritis is a shoo in. So there is the scoop.

Started as per usual with water running across my kitchen floor. The dishwasher is piped into the garbage disposal and when the dishwasher ran, water gushed out of the bottom of the disposal. I attributed this to something I'm referring to as a blown seal. I have no idea if this is correct, it just sounded both cool and violent.

My immediate thought was "$250 for the unit, $350 for the labor...I'll call the plumber tomorrow." But tomorrow I think, I can turn this into a plumber joke for my class. So I comment that "you know I don't want to have some unattractive plumber bending over in my kitchen and inquire if any of the female students have hidden plumbing skills..." I get the expected laughs, but I get one more thing. Two of the guys pop up and start explaining that this a very easy home repair job. I email my brother. He agrees, even knowing my legendary mechanical disabilities.

Ok, I figure worst case I try this, fail and call in the pros to pick up after, install the disposal and then a quick trip to medicine cabinet or ER depending on the severity of the wounds and this will be over with.

Step one, but the disposal. I have a 1/2 horse power badger. I run out to home depot and see this is almost the bottom of the line. In fact I could get a top end disposal for $350. This is only $100. I think about the upgrade, but realize that would require re-piping the under-sink piping. Already being in over my head, I get the exact same model.

I bring it home, pull it out and notice there are instructions. I don't read them. Oh, btw, my brother sent me a link to a youtube video on how to do this. That was my back up, you know, for when it all blew up. I still had the video to fall back on when this failed.

Ok, to be clear, what I'm saying is not only do I have no skills, I did no preparations either.

I unscrew the clamp on the hose from the dishwasher so that is loose. I yank on the hose, it doesn't budge. Ok, I unscrew the screws to the exit from the disposal. This I get off! Then when I pull off the pipe, I see there is a sheet of something shredded in the exit pipeline. This, whether it is or not, will go done in the oral history of this proud family as the "blown seal". Trust me, I have pretold my granddaughter this story a few hundred times in my head and it is now up there with fixing the Hubble telescope in terms of complexity and significance.

Now I have the unit semi detached. I loosen the hose and that comes free. Ah, now comes the hard part. as described by my brother "you have to twist it". But which direction. I look at the new and figure it out. I twist, once, twice, thrice...nothing. I'm thinking I just don't have the throw weight to get the job done. But on twist four....as I live and breathe.

It's out. Since this is a how to article, I suggest that you stop here a moment and pause in reverence for the dead soldier you have extracted. Ok, moving on. I now take a closer look at the new disposal and notice...it doesn't have a power cord. Great, I have to pull the cord off the old unit. There is a cord clamp that I need to unscrew. Then there is a cover that gives me access to the guts, where I see two wire screws spicing the power cord to the motor. And a ground wire to the chassis. Nice. I remove all this stuff. Then I unscrew the cord clamp.

In the new I put the hose clamp over the wire and screw it into the chassis. Then I screw the ground wire in and then use the wire nuts to connect the power supply. I put the screws into the clamp and tighten that down then replace the access cover that gives access to the ground screw. All that done, I plug it in to see if I have juice. I have juice! At least it spins. Now to install it and make it water tight.

I do the dishwasher hose first as that is the easiest. But I don't tighten down the clamp as well, it may need adjusting. I then connect the exit and notice that the exit pipe is loose. I look at a rubber gasket and think, that might be important. Turns out it is. Unscrew the exit flange, insert gasket, rescrew. Hey the pipe is solid now!

Dare I? I dare. I turn it on and run some water. No leaks. Stunned I start to pat myself on my back for a job well done. Now the only advantage of old age is that I know whenever I'm applauding myself, I just missed something. That the dishwasher clamp. I crawl under the sink one more time, tighten that and now declare thiis project an almost certain success. I'll know for sure when I run the dishwasher next.

Why not run it now? Because now, as far as I know, this project is a success. And it will remain that way at least until that next load of dishes.

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