Wednesday, August 1, 2007

House Cleaning & Vacuum Cleaner Innards

It's been a while, but I know I've discussed the fact here on the blog that my husband, Lamar is disabled due to cerebral palsy from birth trauma. Because Lamar's permanently disabled we are fortunate enough to live in apartments for the elderly and handicapped. They are government subsidized but they are not part of the Fed*ral Housing Auth*rity.

Because the apartments are in part financed though the government, our landlord is required to submit to an annual inspection of the premises by government inspectors. That includes the grounds and outside of the apartments to make sure everything is maintained and in good repair and also includes inspection of the inside
of the apartments. They usually choose only 2 or 3 units to actually go inside and physically inspect to confirm that all the appliances, lights, plumbing and such are in good repair, etc.

In the almost 22 years that my hubby and I have lived here our apartment has only been inspected one time. Our landlord usually tries to steer the inspectors to a certain few apartments. He has some pets who are Martha Stew*art wannabe's and he does his best to lead the inspectors to their apartments. Which is a good thing, in my opinion, since I've seen a picture of Martha and I know she does some kind of show and has a magazine about, um.....maybe housekeeping and perhaps cooking, but we are not best friends forever.

The point that I'm so subtly trying to make is that I am not fond of cleaning house, and my apartme
nt testifies to that fact. Now my apartment isn't listed with the Environ*mental Protec*tion Agency as a hazardous site as far as I know, but it'll never make the centerfold of Martha Stew*art Living either. If it has a centerfold. I've honestly never seen a copy of the magazine.

Even though we have only been inspected once in 22 years, our landlord wants everyone to have their apartment as clean and orderly as possible just in case they're inspected.

Another point that I've rabbit chased all around without actually stating is that our annual inspection is coming up next week. Say Thursday-ish or Friday-ish, give or take a day.....ish. And so Lamar and I are trying to get some housecleaning projects done that may have been neglected a tad. Between now and next Wednesday I have several things that need to be addressed in addition to my everyday tasks.

Things like:

**Really scrubbing my cookstove and not just giving it a lick and a promise.
**Sweeping, mopping and waxing my kitchen floor and utility room floor.
**Giving the bathroom a good cleaning, mopping and waxing the floor, and scouring the tub.
** Dusting, decluttering, moving furniture out and vacuuming my living room.
**Other things that escape me since I'm trying to organize them for this post.

Lamar is helping me with a lot of these things and I am so thankful for his help. Between us we've been doing some of the projects in stages so we're not overwhelmed and I don't overdo it trying to get it all done at the last minute.

Tuesday evening I pulled my dining table out and moved the chairs so Lamar could give it a good going over with the vacuum. I had moved out of the way and came in here to the computer so he could vacuum without interference (okay, I was reading blogs and commenting, allright? Sheesh!) when I noticed that the vacuum was making a weird shrieking noise. I went to investigate the cause and Lamar pointed out that not only did the vacuum sound like a cat in a blender, it also wasn't picking up anything off the carpet.

Is there anything that sucks worse than a vacuum that won't suck?

Which leads us to the "vacuum cleaner innards" portion of this post.

I don't in any way mean to imply that my man isn't a manly man, but let's just say that Lamar's talents do not lie in the handyman direction and just leave it at that.

I, however, was a tomboy and I like working on cars and do-it-yourself projects and gadgets, oh my. Anything around here that needs minor repairs or involves electricity, appliances, gadgetry or Southern engineering falls in my territory.

That meant that I was the one who would learn more about the guts and innards of my vacuum cleaner than I particularly wanted to know. I have a Dirt*Devil Visions vacuum just like the one in the picture there. Except mine is black if that matters to you and you like to keep the details true to life in your mental picture.

Anyway, bright and earlier this morning than I really want to think about, I got intimately acquainted with the inner workings of my vacuum cleaner. The shrieking part of its symptoms was actually pretty easy to diagnose: a broken belt and a half gallon of hair, fuzz and string wound around the beater brush. A few screws and a plastic plate out of the way, it was relatively easy to remove the brush and reinstall the beater brush. I lost some skin off my knuckles stretching that belt to reinstall it, though.

A *NOTE* here: To Whom It May Concern: If you have long hair, it's a good idea to check the beater brush on your vacuum now and then. Between Jessica and me both living here and having long hair for a long time, the brush on my vacuum was hairier than Cousin It. It took me a good 30 minutes to pull all the hair, fuzz and string out of the brushes and I removed enough of the stuff to almost fill a half gallon pitcher. No wonder it wouldn't pick up anything!

(Why a half gallon pitcher you ask? Because for some reason it was behind my dining table up against the wall when I moved the table and chairs to vacuum. I have no idea when or how it got there, but it made a handy receptacle for the hairy mess, okay?)

I put all the innards and guts back in order and cranked up the vacuum to try 'er out. it seemed to be picking up the dirt, but then it was blowing back out from under the vacuum instead of being, you know, sucked into the container as it should have been.

Dang. I just got all the innards put back and now I had to open up the patient again. I removed a few more screws and another plastic plate and tried to run a straightened metal coat hanger through the dirt path into the dust container but it was obstructed. A few more hearty pokes at it and I dislodged the obstruction. All manner of dirt, dead grass, fuzz, hair and assorted nastiness came fogging out of there, along with a larger item which at first was unrecognizable. I poked at it with the coat hanger until I could finally make out that it was a furry mouse cat toy. It had lodged in the dirt path and everything backed up behind it.

Can anyone please tell me, how can you miss a life-size furry mouse cat toy when it's right in front of you? I don't even want to think about what else Lamar and Jessica may have sucked into my poor vacuum cleaner over the last few years.

After replacing all the innards and closing up the patient once more, I fired up the vacuum one more time and now it's sucking like a brand new model.

It's amazing what replacing a broken belt and removing a half gallon of hair and a life-size furry mouse cat toy from a vacuum will do for its operating abilities.

I'm proud to say that once again we're at full sucking capacity here at Diane's Place.

Hope y'all are having a good week. :-)


Dawn said...

That is just hilarious! I'm so glad it was you finding all that gunk in your vacuum cleaner, not me! But I'm sure ours is just as bad, but fortunately, I can get DC to do the honors.

I remember when you were going through this a year ago, when we were first "acquainted." Where has the time gone????

Lyndy said...

Oh my you are a much braver girl than I am. Glad you got it figured out.

Don't work too hard. I am glad you at least have time to prepare. Besides don't these inspectors know that you have a baby to love on and kiss all day now, instead of all that cleaning? Shesh.

Love and Hugs, Lyndy

Susie said...

This was hilarious. I can visualize you taking that thing apart (twice). I've done it myself, even with a handy hubby!
So glad you're not sucking at full potential :)
That making ready for the inspectors sounds very time consuming. Maybe they'll want to see the Martha Stewarts anyway!

T*mmy said... are a hoot!!
We did some "summer cleaning" here this week inspections though!!
I'm glad to find another gal that is not a "Martha wannabe"!!

Big Mama said...

I'm so glad that your vacuum sucks. What a relief.

Barb said...

Full sucking capacity. LOL You know, I remember when you were getting ready for this annual inspection last year. Honestly, I'm surprised you have to do so much cleaning in case they decide to check your apartment. I'd think they'd be checking for safety issues, not housekeeping issues.

Good job on the vacuum. I've taken a few apart myself. And I truly hate replacing those belts.

Sister said...


I love the way you tell a story!

And I don't care what you say, Martha would be so proud of you.



Gran - (Angela) said...

It is always such a pleasure and uplifting to read your posts. Thanks for bringing a HUGE smile to my face.

I've taken them apart before ... it is a time consuming job. It does really make a difference in it's power after the cleaning.

Have a good week!

Greeneyes said...

I'm Laughing still !!!! and about your inspections what a pain in the rump !! bad enough we have to clean house but be poked and proaded(SPELL?) and not know when this person arriving and if they will come GRRRRRRR!!!. well I guess the outcome is something you can have pleasure in anyway and tell lamar to stop feeding the dust bunnies , like the one he sucked up !!!LOL
I now have visions of you tinkering under a light fixture with the guts of your vacuum , MAGIVER wannabe !!!
And by the way couldnt you fit in a pic of Emmy? along side the vacuum even , I came for my fix of sugar and ,,,,,LOL,,,,, hope you dont work to hard .
Kisses for Emmy and YOU ,Ok,ok, sneak one to Lamar but dont tell him who its from LMBO

Sister friend

Diane said...

Full Sucking Capacity is a good place to be in. Being inspected every year means you won't ever become one of those batty old people who have to call public workers to help clean the mess.

Since I am the one who usually does the housekeeping, I got no one to blame but myself when the appliance is not maintained.

When I was the headwaitress in a restaurant, I was also the only one there who kept the vacuum cleaner in working order. Even the owner seemed oblivious for the need to change the bag and clean the brush. One time, when a waiter complained about the non-sucking ability, I pulled out a pencil.

Sometimes it seems the capable people of the planet are outnumbered. I'm glad to see a kindred spirit here. ;)

Diane said...

Oops, Blogger and I are still having issues. So I logged in with my Google account, then forgot to sign my handle.

The previous comment, and this one, is written by


Anonymous said...

Ok - too many people at work are staring my way since I busted out laughing - I've got to stop reading while at work! (I guess I should be -working- what are they thinking!)

Nashe* said...

LOL! I do n0t wanna think about my hair getting all balled up in the vacuum! HAha... good to know it's in good sucking capacity now.

In the meantime, my washing machine broke down and I gotta hand-wash all my clothes till the new one arrives. SIGH.

*Emmy's adorable!

Gran - (Angela) said...

Thank you my sweet Angel for your encouraging words. God has blessed me with a dear friend like you, Diane. Thanks for being there for me in my time of hurt.
May God bless you with a wonderful day and give you a big burst of energy to get through your day.

Thankfulness and Love,

Jada said...

LOL - you are funn-ny! I don't like to clean either (I have to be in the mood and that doesn't happen often!), so I'm glad there are no inspectors (and that includes Mom!) coming to my house anytime soon! I actually vacuumed my scrapbooking room this morning. I have a Dyson Animal because I have two cats. That thing really sucks up the dirt and other stuff. It's kind of gross to think that "stuff" was on or in my carpet!

Happy Cleaning!


Linda said...

Diane, you are so much fun!!! I must admit that I'm no Martha Stewart either - so I sympathize.
I admire your mechanical ability. My usual m.o. (after a feeble attempt at trying to fix the problem) is to give whatever it is a good whack. It acutally works sometimes - but not often.
Fortunately my husband is like you - very handy at fixing things. My theory is that as long as one of us is handy life is good!
Have a great day - and don't overdo!!

Tammy said...

You wrote this so well...Loved it! LOL

We're expecting our order of new carpet to arrive tomorrow and we'll be pulling out the old living room carpet...and with my two girls who have done their share of snacking on the sofas, I shudder to think of all the stuff underneath the furniture...probably long lost tiny toys are keeping company with kernels of popcorn from last year...I don't think it will be pretty. ;)

Mountain Mama said...

Funny you should mention the long hair problem. Yesterday morning I spent cleaning the five wheels on my computer chair which were clogged with the same sort of gunk you mentioned. It seems the long hairs wrapped around and around all the dust dinosaurs, strings and what-not and made it pretty hard to remove. I used tweezers, a paring knife and sharp nosed scissors and still disn't get it all, but the chair is rolling again!
I loved your story Diane. You kept me in suspence right up to the toy mouse. Thank heaven it wasn't a real one! LOL

mer said...

You are much braver than I am...if I'd seen the furry mouse toy, I'd have vacated the premises immediately, while screaming at the top of my lungs. Mice and snakes are NOT my friends...even the toy variety.

And goodness, Diane...I've NEVER waxed my floors. You are ambitious, aren't you?

MightyMom said...

Is it safe to say that you suck?

ROFL. Girl you never fail to brighten my day. Reminds me of my childhood. My mom had an ANCIENT Hoover (self propelling) That spent more time upside down than upright. Can't tell you how many belts and panels (metal on that geezer) I've replaced. The one time my soon to be husband ran the thing he accused it of being kin to the vacuum in Mr. Mom, you remember the one that terrorizes the house??

Warning, don't complain too loudly or they might just let YOU do all the vacuuming from now on.

PEA said...

Well...I'm sure glad you are all sucking well now! LOL Oh Diane, only you could make a post about a vacuum cleaner so much fun! hehe I have long hair so I'm very familiar with my vacuum beater brush getting pretty full of hair...can't say I've ever vacuumed a toy mouse though! lol Sounds like you and Lamar have everything under control where the cleaning is concerned!! Kind of gives the words "life sucks" a whole new meaning! LOL xoxo

Morning Glory said...

Oh my!! I'm all but falling on the floor laughing. Thanks for the best laugh of the day, Diane. I hope you unplugged the vacuum first before you started poking around with the hanger. This is hilarious!

Linda aka yellowroseli said...

Your to much Diane. I love coming here. You made me laugh tonight and I sure needed that. Have a great weekend.

Cecil said...

Joe...Congratulations on your "sucky" vacuum cleaner!! lol You know that I am "mechanically challenged"....and I prefer to stay that way...if it's simple, okey dokey..if not, someone else has to deal with it... sad but true...I refuse to deal with difficult machinery... Speaking of things that "suck"... Hubby and I went out to was sucky..R*yan's..:( ...the heat was sucky today..and I still have a slight sucky headache... Hmm.... Things that suck...let me count the Talk to you later... Love ya More... Cecil

Meow (aka Connie) said...

Oh Diane, I can so relate to the hair in the vacuum cleaner thing. I have managed to blow up 2 vacuum cleaners due to this. These days, before I turn the thing on, I turn it upside down and de-hair the rollers ... otherwise, it chews out the bearings and ... ka-boom !!
Hope your week has been going well.
Take care, hugs, meow

Jen said...

bless Lamar for helping you

good on you Diane

Anonymous said...

There are so many other fun things to do when you wake up in the morning...Who wants to clean???
I work much better under pressure so I wait till we are having company or a home improvement person till I get crazy and clean.
Wish I had you around my house to help fix things.

Take care,

Andre said...


This post was insanely hilarious. On the one hand, I shouldn't find humor in people's cleaning agonies; having a fair share of housekeeping mishaps and wacky adventures myself. All the same, the thought of watching you with latex gloves, scrub pads, dust vacuum filters, tools, and mop buckets is too funny! Thanks for having such a bad time. You made my day better for it.

Uh...that came out wrong.

Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

I once took my vacuum to the repair shop because it was "dead," only to find that there were about 20 Lincoln Logs sucked up inside the hose.

A handy girl, I am not.

With a golden retriever living here, I sure could use some of your skills, though!

Dick said...

It sounds like you got that sucker fixed real good. When we start up the vacuum cleaner we quickly end up with three very excited cats. None of them seem to appreciate having cleaner floors to play on, especially when that thing sucks up all the extra cat nip!

RennyBA said...

Hey you clever girl - your just like a tornado in cleaning and so talkative LoL and you know I just love to read your stories - thanks for sharing!

Wishing you a lovely end to your week!

Love and hugs,

Renny & Diane

Btw: I need you to vote for me - Please :-)

Lucy Stern said...

Diane, I've had my share of cleaning the hair out of the beater brush. A good steak knife will but it away quickly. Put the knife under the hair, cut, and pull it away. It works like a charm. Im still trying to envision how that mouse toy got sucked up in there. Maybe someone was vaccumning under the couch and didn't see it. It is a wonder it didn't blow a gasket... Funny story. Hope you pass the inspection.

Andrea said...

You are so funny! Glad things are all back in working order. :)

Val said...

Hi Diane, I haven't visited you for a while, and am so glad I did just now and read about your hilarious encounter with your vacuum cleaner. What persistence you had in getting it shipshape again.

I too have the same attitude towards housekeeping - it does nothing for me - and would HATE to have an inspection looming over me. Although maybe that would force me to do it on a more regular basis.