Things Break in Threes

I’m just 1 person trying to keep things in my house working. Recently, I had three small things break within a week of each other. First came my garbage disposal, then my electric pencil sharpener, then the ceiling light in my bedroom. 

The Garbage Disposal

I switched on the garbage disposal one night to hear a faint whirring. Oh no! And then, suddenly, I heard nothing at all. Uh, oh! This happened one other time since I moved into my house in 2013, but could I remember what I did to fix it? No, I could not. I jabbed a chopstick at it a few times, which did nothing. I called my mother, who said to jab a broom handle at it instead. This also did not work. My cats tried to add their curiosity to the mix, but that was least affective of all.

The solution came from some video tutorials turned up in a Google search. My gratitude to the people who create home fix-it videos like these. As someone who lives alone and neither wants to spend a lot of money nor risk my safety by having a repairman come in, fix-it videos are definitely my best resources.  In this case, I found: 5 Reasons Why Garbage Disposal Not Working (Tips to Fix) with a helpful video from eHow Home. Luckily, I only had a jammed flywheel.

After cutting the power at the circuit breaker, I discovered that there was a reset button on the bottom of my unit that had been tripped to keep it from burning out, and that’s why it wasn’t making any noise. I reached in with a sock covering my hand and spun the wheel until it moved smoothly. Then I switched it back on at the circuit breaker, ran some water, flipped the switch, and marveled at the fact that it worked again! 

Reaching into my disposal

Electric Pencil Sharpener

I grew up with manual pencil sharpeners—those little hand-held ones that come in pencil packs or that fit in pencil boxes. The ones at school with hand cranks were a big step up. Having a fancy electric one where all you did was stick a pencil in for a few seconds was a dream I did not dare to dream.

When I moved into my house, the nice woman who sold it to me left behind a number of items (mostly furniture) she no longer needed and that helped me fill my first home. Along with a desk and small bookcase in the office, there was an electric pencil sharpener! What a treat! 

I plugged it in to use it recently and heard only a soft whirring. It sounded like it does when it gets overheated, but I hadn’t used it in months. So I emptied out the shavings tray, which was pretty full, but that didn’t do the trick either. With my recently fixed garbage disposal in mind, I unplugged the device, reached in, and turned the wheel a little to make sure it could turn unobstructed. When I tried again, it worked with no problems!

Or, almost no problems. I failed to take into account that the rotating wheel would be sharp on the outside as well as the inside. So I looked down to see a pretty bad cut on my finger. Oops! Luckily, my bathroom with sink, soap, and Band-aids was only a few feet away. So I fixed another thing and learned a valuable lesson. 

Band-aid on finger

Ceiling Light Fixture

My light fixtures have pull chains that turn them on and off. This pull chain decided that it would prefer to be permanently in the out position and did not want to retract. I was disappointed, but I was also glad that it was stuck in the off position rather than the on position. 

Once again, I searched the internet and found How to Fix a Pull Chain for a Light When it is Stuck. That didn’t seem so difficult.  I don’t have a meter to be certain the electricity is off, but I am certain of the circuit the light is on. However, I can’t find the right size chain. I went to a local store a few years ago to get an extension of an identical light chain and ended up buying the wrong size three times. So I’m going to have to take the chain to a hardware store in person to make sure I get the right one. 

On the night before I was going to work up my courage to go to a hardware store, I saw there was a spike of COVID-19 cases. “If you previously felt comfortable going to hardware stores, for example, please reconsider that risk right now,” said a doctor on television. Yes, he actually called out the exact type of store I was planning to walk into the next day. Needless to say, I didn’t. I have a small lamp in my bedroom, and I’ll just continue to use that until it’s safe to fix the light fixture. Sometimes knowing when not to fix something is just as important as how to fix it. 

What’s your biggest fix-it success?

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