Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Revenge of the Vacuum Cleaner

OK. So, you might recall that in my last post I made a few, um.... disparaging remarks about my vacuum cleaner. I believe the phrase "wrestling an octopus" may have been used...

Well, it would seem that the vacuum was listening.

Because a few days later I decided that the layer of cat fur was getting a tad bit too thick, so I forced myself to drag the sucker out of the closet and vacuum. Sooooo, I got about midway through room one when the brush roller stopped functioning.

My first thought was that it was jammed, but the light wasn't on either... it was like no power was getting to that part of the apparatus. It has an overload reset button... I pushed it and pushed it, but no avail.


At this point I probably should have stopped and tried to figure out what the problem was. But I fear I was rather pissed off. I mean, if I'm gonna go to all the trouble of dragging the damned thing out and wrestling with it, the least it can do is function, right?

Anyhow, I decided to just take the roller brush head off completely and attempt to complete my task with the bare floor attachment. Oy Vey! Let's just say that one gets very marginal performance using a bare floor attachment on 40 year old avocado green shag carpeting replete with cat fur.

Spurred on by anger, I managed to finish the task... kitty-litter covered basement and all. I frustratedly tossed the evil thing back into the closet and tried to decide what to do next.

I figured the entire brush roll head would need to be replaced, and I just couldn't see putting much money into fixing a 17 year old canister machine that I hated anyhow.

So I figured maybe this was an opportunity to replace the sucker with something less... well, less octopus-like. You know, maybe an upright with fewer hoses to navigate, and maybe I could even find a cordless model. So I hopped on the internet and discovered the Hoover Linx - an actual full power machine that's cordless.

After reading several reviews and watching a few comparison videos, I was sold. I plunked down my $150 and ordered one on the spot.

Problem solved, right? WRONG!

Sooo.... later that evening, I trundle downstairs to hold Princess' paw while she used the litter box (long story) and I step into the furnace room and discover a big puddle of water on the floor. Oh NOOOOOOO! So I'm looking around for a leaking pipe, and then I discover that the water is coming from the condensate pump that was installed with my new furnace/heat pump/AC unit a few years ago.


OK, I think. No problem. The furnace has a 10 year warranty, I'll just call the installer in the morning and they can come out and fix it. Soooo, I call the idiots company and explain the situation. I ask if this will be covered under the warranty.

"Well," the girl responds, "the technician will have to determine that when he arrives. And there's a $79.95 charge for the service call, which will be waived if you decide to have the repairs done."

OK, I think. Surely the technician will be able to see that this is a new furnace, and I'm holding the warranty in my hand, plus, I've got a $50 credit with the company from the last time they fucked up there was a little mishap, so I go ahead and schedule the service call.

So the dude arrives and discovers that the problem is that the nozzle leading to the hose on the cheap plastic pump has broken off...it looks almost like the unit got kicked or bumped somehow.

I remember my wrestling match with the canister vacuum from the day before.


So, I'm thinking, how bad can it be... it's just a plastic nozzle part. "Well, the dude explains," It really can't be fixed, you'll have to replace the entire pump." I'm thinking that it could probably be super glued, but I wasn't sure I could do it in a way that would be water tight... Still... it's under warranty right?

"Well," the dude explains "technically the pump is an auxiliary piece, so it isn't covered under the furnace warranty."


OK. So, the dude quotes me $475 to replace the pump, which includes parts and labor... and he will graciously waive the $79.95 service fee. How nice of him.

Soooo... I'm thinking, I could probably fix this myself, but generally those prices are about 50% parts and 50% labor, so the pump probably costs around $225, plus, I've got the $50 discount card, and I'm already $80 into this little adventure. So when you add that all up it's probably just as well to let the dude go ahead and fix it.

It takes him all of about 15 minutes to replace the pump - we sit down to do the paper work and I hand him my $50 discount card. "Well," he says, "I'll have to call my supervisor on this one." Soooo, it turns out that the $50 can only be applied to the "service call" portion of the bill, which has been waived anyhow, so I can't actually use the credit.


OK, so I hand over my credit card and grumble as he leaves. Then I decided to go look online to see how much the pump itself would have cost, you know, just to torture myself further. I kinda wish I hadn't looked. $50!!!! Are you kidding me?!?! So basically they charged me $425 for 15 minutes of labor?!?!?!?


So. After all that I was feeling like a complete idiot. But after a few days "cooling off" period, I decided to drag the old vacuum out of the closet to relocate it to the basement. My plan was that since the basement is mostly hard floors I'd just keep it down there where it would be readily available for cleaning up kitty litter, and use the new vacuum upstairs.

And, since I was a little less angry about the whole situation, I decided I might as well see if I could determine what was wrong with the thing while I was at it. So I got out my screwdrivers and power meter and determined that power was indeed getting to the brush roll unit... and after a bit of fiddling I managed to get the light to come on, though the roller still wouldn't turn.

So I took it apart and discovered that it was totally jammed with long red hair. Apparently it was just stuck to the point that it was tripping the overflow switch instantaneously. So I cleaned it all out and now it works perfectly.

Oy Vey, AARGH and heavy sigh.

So, what have I learned from this little escapade?

Well, first of all... vacuum cleaners are EVIL!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding.... do you hear me vacuum, I WAS KIDDING!!!! I fixed you... you get to stay... further retribution is NOT NECESSARY!!!!

I guess the main lesson for me is that I really suck at problem solving when I'm pissed off. I just get so angry that I'm having to deal with a problem, and I just want it to go away NOW (if not sooner.) But if I had just given myself a few minutes to calm down when the thing first stopped working instead of pressing ahead with my fierce determination, I could have saved myself a whole lot of hassle, not to mention $625!!

So I suppose I'll just have to consider it all a learning experience, a very expensive learning experience!

I thought about returning the new vacuum, but decided against it. It arrived yesterday and it's utterly fabulous. It's lightweight and easy to use, and the charge on the battery only lasts 15 minutes. Most people would probably think of this as a disadvantage, but for me, it's wonderful because it means that the vacuuming chore can't possibly last longer than that!

Anyhow, the old vacuum gets to live in the basement where it is available for instant kitty litter clean up (you know, before the stuff gets tracked throughout the entire house.) And the new one will live upstairs where I can easily grab it and (hopefully) use it a tad bit more frequently.

Plus, when I feel like deep cleaning (I'm sure that will happen SOMEDAY, right?) I can drag the evil beast full power machine upstairs to do behind the sofa and all those other fun, fun chores.

I admit that the idea of owning 2 vacuum cleaners feels utterly and totally bourgeois to me, but if it allows me to stop battling with the beast, I think it will be well worth it. At least that's what I'm telling myself!

I suppose the other lesson learned is that warranties are meaningless, and this furnace company is a bunch of rip-off artists, and I'm never calling them again!!!

So how about you? have you ever created a snowball effect of problems simply because you were too angry to deal with a situation?

Please tell me I'm not the only idiot whose ever done something like this!


  1. My son is the king of this, now that he is an adult I hold my tongue and wait for him to cool off. My biggest mistake (while pissed) was calling on a furnace man. It was the dead of winter, unusually cold temperatures. My furnace died. I fought to start it again, got it started but it kept going out. My youngest had a friend over and the house was getting really cold. So I called for help (1am or so), the furnace guy quotes me this ungodly amount because I live in the southern most part of the county and I have to pay driving time. With winter and bad icy roads his trip takes forever.

    He comes, starts the furnace and leaves. Out it goes. I call right back, and have to pay again for him to return plus work on the furnace. He tells me it's the thermal coupler (something like that) and quotes me a price. I'm up to almost $500 with the part now. He replaces the part, starts the furnace and leaves.

    It goes out and I'm really pissed, call him back he comes back but insists I pay cash for his service call (I guess believing I'd be out of money by now). He now tells me it's another part which is a couple more hundred. I agree, like you feeling stuck. While he's fixing the furnace this time there is a knock at the door.

    It's the propane delivery guy. He tells me I ran out of propane and would I like him to restart the furnace for me (for no charge mind you).

    He helped me with the repair man (who was supposed to be the best in the business btw) I got the money for the last service call returned, but was out everything else.

    If only I thought to go out and check the tank, but I had never run out before and that never crossed my mind. Needless to say, I am very good about destroying the reputation of companies who rip me off. :-)

    1. OK... I feel better now. I can't believe the service guy couldn't figure out that the propane was the problem! Oy Vey!

  2. I call situations like this "learning opportunities". I learn how to fix something myself or what to check on before calling a repairman or who not to call if I ever have a problem again.

    1. Totally agree... and had it not been for the "warranty" I never would have called them. I wonder how many times I'm gonna have to learn this particular lesson? Anyhow, I watched the guy replace the pump so I now know how easy it is if I ever have to do it again!

  3. I've had mixed experience with warranties. 2 appliances, in recent years, needed work and I couldn't get the manufacturer to do it under the warranty (one a dishwasher, with so many problems I wound up getting rid of it altogether, even though it was only a couple of years old, and replacing it with a different brand). But last month I needed to use the warranty on a service, and I'm happy to say that there are companies out there who will honor their warranties -- and happily, too.

    As a result, I don't really put any stock in warranties. If the warranty winds up covering a problem then I look at it as a bonus. All the more reason for me to do my homework, when making a purchase, and really research an item.

    Your vacuum situation is a lot like one we had a few years ago. Only the lack of suction and the funny noises came from a second filter never being cleaned (because we didn't realize this machine had two filters). But fortunately cleaning the filter was all it needed. I was ready to chuck the thing, though. And we get the brush full of long red hairs too! :) My two daughters shed like cats.

    1. I like that way of looking at it... go into it assuming the warranty won't be honored they you'll be pleasantly surprised if it is!

  4. I do get upset when stuff like vacuum cleaner and furnace troubles happen (and tend to lose sleep over them), but, being on the poor end of middle class, I usually try to see the situation as an opportunity to learn something (i.e. try to fix it myself or at least figure out what is wrong).

    For instance, when my sump pump died after making it through several occurrences of heavy, heavy rains, I kinda freaked because I did NOT want to be without a sump pump. I was unemployed at the time (and not receiving unemployment so I had absolutely NO income) and felt I had nothing to lose by trying to replace it myself.

    I shopped around, found a good deal on a more powerful sump pump of the same brand I had, bought necessary supplies and proceeded to remove and replace my old sump pump. While the old cover didn't fit the new configuration (I fooched something out of the lid from an old plastic bin), the new pump worked fine!

    Successes like that are very empowering and great confidence builders, so I then tackled replacing my leaky ancient kitchen faucet and rusted out garbage disposal (with a little help). I've also fixed my own oven (with help from the Internet to help figure out what was wrong).

    I would have tried to fix my furnace when it was not always firing (gas furnace), but I couldn't find anything on the Internet to point me in the right direction, so I ended up calling a service guy.

    1. Sounds like great work with the sump pump! I totally agree that it's really empowering when you can fix something yourself. I ended up fixing my heat pump by finding someone on a fixit forum who was an expert and told me how to get into the double secret setup menu - otherwise I'd have been sunk!

      The thing that gets me is that I'm usually so good about this sort of thing... I guess it's that old vacuum cleaner curse! Oh well... apparently I just needed a reminder that calling the service guy isn't necessarily the "easy way out."

  5. Yikes! I don't think I would have handled it any better than you. I am famous for poor decision making skills when upset. (Although I don't tend to wrestle things, so maybe I end up doing less damage? Who knows.) This is one of those occasions in which I think being married to someone who DOES behave well under duress is a good thing, much as my independent, misanthropic side hates to admit it.

    On the other hand, our 2 year old fridge has been making funny noises lately. Watch me wait until the thing actually breaks down, then freak out. :-)

    1. Oh... this is definitely one of those times that it would be advantageous if CatMan and I actually lived together, because he is cool as a cucumber in these situations. In fact, if I'd called him instead of pushing forward in my little anger-fueled frenzy, the entire problem could have been avoided. Oh well...

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  7. Nope, you're not the only one. Not the only one with two vacuum cleaners either. I sure have missed you while I've been away. You crack me up even when you're mad :)


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