Being Persistent to Figure It Out

I replaced my garbage disposal yesterday. It’s that thing sitting under your sink that makes the loud noise to grind up food that you throw down the sink. I’ve lived in my condo for 10 months now and I took “garbage disposaling my food” for granted until I tried throwing a bunch of carrot leafs down the old one I had. I knew I had a problem when it stopped responding to me turning the switch on.

My first thought was to just get it working again. I tried scooping out all the excess water and turning it on again, but no luck. I tried resetting the breaker switch for my condo for the garbage disposal but no luck. I tried pressing a button on the bottom of the garbage disposal to reset it, but no luck. I tried using an Alan wrench to un-jam it from the bottom, but no luck.

Mind you, all of this I learned by researching online. I’m a newbie when it comes to household matters, but I can eventually get something if I listen or read about it enough times and do some trial and error.

I remember my first thought seeing my busted garbage disposal. I just didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to run away from the problem and call someone to fix it. I tried calling someone, but they couldn’t come for two weeks. It took the realization that if it was to be, it was up to me, for me to tackle this problem head on.

I read online more about what I needed to buy, headed to Home Depot, and bought a $150 garbage disposal with 3/4 HP (better than my old one), a power cord, pipe, and un-jamming wrench. All in all, it was about $200. That’s expensive!

For the next 4 hours, it was like Gandalf battling the Balrog in “Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers.” In that movie, Gandalf is falling down below the surface of the earth with the giant demon Balrog and they are continuing to swing at each other. The battle lasts for days with Gandalf finally gathering some lightning into his sword and striking the Balrog down — and dying himself afterward.

I watched multiple YouTube videos on how to replace a garbage disposal and read several online articles. In the end, complete replacement seems to come down to this:

  • Unplug the garbage disposal. It’s probably plugged in under the sink.
  • Turn the power breaker off for the garbage disposal.
  • Undo the tubing from the dishwasher — yes, the dishwasher connects to the garbage disposal under the sink. I never knew this!
  • Unhook the pipe from the garbage disposal to the second sink if necessary (I had to do this). That part was easy.
  • At the top of the garbage disposal, use a screw driver pushed through one of the three hooks and rotate it to the left. Make sure to catch it from falling. This took a few tries to get right.
  • Note: when I did this, there was lots of green water in the garbage disposal and a bunch spilled out of the pipe it was still connected to. It took me and my daughters about 30 minutes to get it all cleaned up.
  • Buy the new garbage disposal.
  • Because the base for the garbage disposal had already been installed, I didn’t have to do it again. Phew. That would have required plumbing calk and extra work.
  • Hook up the electricity — this part took me over an hour to finally feel like I did it right. I had to remove a plate from the bottom of the garbage disposal.
  • I then had to hook up a white cable from the garbage disposal to a “ribbed” cable from a power cord I bought and a black cable from the garbage disposal to a “smooth” cable from the same power cord.
  • After I “paired” the wires from the garbage disposal power cords and the power cord I bought, by twisting them together, I pressed the wires into these orange cone like things and rotated the cones clockwise until the wires were snug.
  • I then used a screw driver to screw in a green grounding circle that also connected to the power cord I bought.
  • I put the plate back on the bottom of the garbage disposal.
  • For the next 30 minutes, I struggled getting the garbage disposal to hook back into the base the old one was on. After what felt like 15 tries, I finally figured it out — press the garbage disposal firmly in so that it is level and rotate clockwise the metal device on the garbage disposal with three hooks until all three sides are snug and you can feel the garbage disposal firmly in place. I used the un-jamming wrench to tighten it more. I still don’t know how the thing is locked in place, but it is.
  • Loosen the pipe on the right hand side so that I can stick the pipe in the garbage disposal in. Rotate it back and tighten all sections of the pipe. This one I just had to figure out on my own.
  • Hook back up the dishwasher hose to the new garbage disposal and make sure it is tight. I had to know that the dishwasher hose attached to the smaller hole on the garbage disposal.
  • Plug the new garbage disposal back in the power under the sink.
  • Turn the breaker switch back on for the garbage disposal.
  • Cross my fingers and turn it on…
  • It worked!
  • After a few tests, all seems to be working well…

Here’s the finished picture:

My new garbage disposal all hooked up! Hopefully some of what I said makes sense now seeing the picture.

This is the finished product. At the top is the base and connected to that, the thing with 3 hooks on the garbage disposal. The white hose is the dishwasher hose, the pipe coming out to the right connects to the water, and at the bottom of the garbage disposal is the black electrical cord which plugs into a power outlet. Phew!

I wanted to give up many times while doing this. In the end, it was $200 and about 4 hours of lots of FAILURE to finally get it right. And on the other side is now knowledge about how home appliances work and greater confidence should I have something else that needs to be figured out and solved for the future!