Garbage Disposal Chaos

Mom has a garbage disposal in her 81 year old kitchen. She does not use the disposal, she did not want a disposal, but hubby and I insisted and said we would pay for it. “OK. Put it in, but don’t expect me to use it.”

This was a simple installation as the wiring was already there from the one and only last garbage disposal. In the 1960s when Mom and Dad had new tile and a new sink put in the kitchen they also splurged on a garbage disposal. Knowing my Dad, the disposal was probably on the lower end of the price range. What a marvel – when it worked. I became the house pro at getting out the hex key, reaching under the sink and twisting the key into the right place to unjam whatever had jammed up the disposal. Some time after I moved out of the house the disposal disappeared. So, for the last few decades, garbage went into the trash.

Side Story. Garbage went into the trash bins except for the few months when the new trash bin system was set up by the city of Los Angeles: blue for recycle; green for yard waste; and black for trash. Because the information pamphlets had not specifically used the word “garbage” some of the people on the block insisted that no one was allowed to put garbage into the trash. The block ends at a large park and there was a daily trek of residents who took their garbage, wrapped in newspaper, and tossed it into the trash bins at the park. After a while things were explained and straightened out and garbage could go into the black bins and the trips to the park stopped.

Life went on until a year or so ago when Mom got to where she couldn’t get around too well and we had a helper in the house a few hours a day. We watched as the helper sometimes forgot that there wasn’t a garbage disposal and came close to washing garbage into the drain. We didn’t ask, we just went out and bought a good quality garbage disposal. The helper loved it. Mom wouldn’t use it at all.

Things went well until a couple of days ago. I was there tidying up the kitchen, checking the refrigerator and freezer, and making an inventory of the pantry. There isn’t an ice maker but there is an ice bin. I took out the bin and the ice cube trays and filled the bin. One tray was discolored so I tossed those cubes into the sink where the disposal is located. Running ice cubes through the disposal is one way to clean out any buildup of “gunk”. I put in the ice cubes and turned on the disposal. Wow, it sure made a lot of noise. Then the cubes stopped going down. Water, oops, forgot to turn on the water. Did that. The sink backed up, reminding me that I had dumped coffee grounds down it earlier. Rats! Turn off power. I thought perhaps the ice was too much and I should run some warm water. I waited a bit, ran water on the other side until it was hot and then turned on the disposal again, flushing with the hot water. It worked. The disposal was running just fine.

Then I looked down – dirty coffee grounds laced water was pouring out from under the sink, around my feet, heading under the refrigerator. I quickly grabbed every kitchen towel I could find and tossed them at the edges of the water, turning off the disposal along the way. My mother is sitting at the kitchen table just looking at me and muttering something about not ever liking garbage disposals. Timidly I looked under the sink after pulling out the various bins and trash cans. The plastic pipe coming out of the disposal had disconnected from the “thingy” that connected it to a pipe going into the sewer line.

Step 1. Clean up the mess. Step 2. Try for some time to reconnect the pipes. Step 3. Call the plumber. The plumber can come out the next morning. Step 4, 5, 6, listen to everyone who knew someone who could come out and help. None of them were available. Luckily the other side of the sink was still working. I went home. I’d done enough damage for the day.

Almost end of story. The plumber came out the next day, fixed the pipes in a couple of minutes and didn’t charge for the call. He said it was such a simple fix it would take him longer to write it up than it did to do the work.

From now on though I’ll just stick with a few lemon peels to clean the disposal, let the ice cubes melt first, and put the coffee grounds into the trash.

Every Day Is A Good Day. VJ

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