During the worst parts of our response to Covid-19, when most of us were terrified of one another, people got more resourceful. Homeschooling increased dramatically, people started making homemade bread, and homeowners started doing more repairs themselves.
This didn’t happen in my house, which welcomed a rotating group of contractors at the end of March 2020 to partially remodel the bathroom, as there was a leak in the shower drain. Since plumbing is not my specialty and water leaking into the floor is not great, it made much more financial sense to leave the project to the professionals from the start, rather than bringing them in to fix my attempt at fixing the problem.
That isn’t to say I eschew tackling any and all home repairs, including plumbing projects. Being a decent American man, I enjoy spending a few hours yelling profanities as I attempt tasks that YouTube makes look quick and easy, sometimes to great success. When that passion intersected with a leaking garbage disposal and some newfound free time, courtesy of a change in my employment status, I decided to tackle the problem myself.
Off I headed to Lowe’s, where I purchased a mid-tier model capable of crushing a peach pit. It’s not that I often find myself in need of grinding up peach pits, or any substances of comparable strength, but I do have kids and things tend to end up in the disposal. More important to this purchase, though, was the promise on the box that it was the easiest disposal to install.
Upon returning home, I completed a few other minor projects, including sealing the plate for a shower handle in the kids’ bathroom. It had separated from the wall and was allowing water to seep behind, in case you’re noticing a pattern. Then I began work on the main task.
The first thing I did was admire the box it came in. Since nothing is just a product anymore and must somehow contribute to the common good, the Insinkerator packaging informed me that “Food waste is roughly 80 percent water. By using your disposal regularly, you can divert food waste from landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Make sustainability a family affair by using your disposal. After all, the smallest changes can make the biggest impact.”
I really took this to heart and turned using the disposal into a family affair, as the box told me to. It’s become such an important part of life that we gather around the Insinkerator at least once a week to grind stuff up together. We get so much joy from this that we sometimes sneak into other people’s yards and abscond with their compost piles so we have stuff to insinkerate, for the environment.
As you might have surmised at this point, that means I was successful in my quest to install the garbage disposal myself. Technically, that is accurate. After multiple hours of screaming profanities and watching YouTube videos, I did in fact get it installed.
There were a few minor setbacks along the way, particularly with regard to removing the old one, plus one additional trip to Lowe’s to get the putty I didn’t initially realize I needed, but everything was holding steady.
The amount of putty that protruded from the plate in the sink the disposal attached to was mildly concerning, but I assumed I’d just put too much on. The Insinkerator was in, grinding stuff up, not falling, and not leaking.
I checked it constantly over the next few weeks, expecting to discover I’d made a mistake. Every time I looked it over, though, I was greeted with relief and the satisfaction of a job well done. Naturally, about the time I became comfortable with the quality of my work was when I should have become the most nervous. For after a few months, the Insinkerator fell from its perch.
I didn’t bother with YouTube videos at that point, although I did use some profanity, and instead called my plumber. One of his first questions was if any putty had been used in the initial, failed, installation. Then he pointed out it had been leaking for some time and that we needed to let the cabinets under the sink dry out. After that discussion, about 45 minutes, and $60, the Insinkerator was back in business.
For a few brief shining months, though, I got the satisfaction of having done the job myself. I enjoyed the pride of home maintenance and saving money. Now, all that is gone, though at least I don’t have to worry about the Insinkerator anymore, plus I learned a valuable lesson.
That lesson is that next time such a project arises, I’ll just call the plumber from the outset rather than writing an article after the fact in a desperate bid to recover some of the lost time and money. But if anyone needs to hire someone to yell profanities or grind up really tough objects, no questions asked, I know a guy.