Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Today, I was my mother.

Before Hubster and I left on our date the other night, Bugster used our upright vacuum cleaner for a split second. She remarked that she must be really spoiled by her really good vacuum, because she would hate to have mine. It had no suction at the time. I noted that the bag probably just needed changed, and I added it to my mental list of things to do.

I knew it had to have been close to full, because we've used it repeatedly to clean up the sawdust in the basement. We've cut a lot of wood downstairs since the flood last Spring, and a lot of sawed wood equals a large amount of sawdust. I wasn't concerned. After all. It was just a bag change.

So yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a new vacuum cleaner bag, headed to the basement, and opened the vacuum to change it out. I was shocked and horrified when I opened the vacuum cleaner up. There, on top of the HEPA filter was a good 4" of sawdust, carpet fibers and dirt. I'm not sure which of us took the old bag out when it was changed last, but whomever it was forgot to replace it. No wonder my poor vacuum cleaner had no suction!

So, I grabbed the canister vac and cleaned it out the best I could. It then went upstairs by the back door until I could get to it after my appointment this morning. Once I got home, I changed into work clothes, donned a face mask, and fired up the air compressor. It was one messy job!

Even though I'd vacuumed so much of the dirt, dust and sawdust out, there was a solid cloud of brown when I started blowing the thing out with the air hose. I took out all 3 HEPA filters and blew them out to the best of my ability. I used the air compressor on each one for a minimum of 5 minutes each. I waited until there was no visible dust cloud emanating from the filters.

I then took apart every inch of the vacuum that I could get to with the tools I had on hand. I figured it was wise to clean it as thoroughly as possible, because we'd let Bugster use it when she moved into her apartment. For a year it was used to suck up dog hair, dog dander, and hamster, rabbit and gerbil fuzz, none of which is good for my breathing. I wanted to get every single bit of gunk I could out of that vacuum!

Then I washed everything that I could possibly get to, although I'd have been able to have reached more, if I'd had a toothbrush. While it doesn't look new, because it has paint scraped on it where it got a little too close to walls, it looks so much better. And best of all, the suction is back on par, so we won't need to buy a new machine.

I know I could have taken it down to a vacuum shop for them to service, but I also knew I could do it on my own. Mom taught me that. She taught me when I was little not to be intimidated by appliances. That I had the brain to figure out what to do on my own. She taught me that I could rewire lamps or vacuum cleaners or toasters. That I could fix them, too. And that just because I was a girl didn't mean my place was in the kitchen. It could be in the workshop, too.

I can't tell you the number of times we tore the vacuum apart, or the sewing machine, or the fan and got them working again. I watched my mom rewire all sorts of things, and I remember always being so proud of her. I still am.

I'm so very thankful that my vacuum is working again like it should. And thankful beyond words that Mom gave me the confidence to tackle things like this on my own.


  1. Nice to be able to fix a few things ourselves . I have become a master at repairing automatic waterers that freeze up in the winter . and my hubby just laughshe is a plumber and I am better at that task than him!

  2. Now that has given me inspiration to teach us all this summer about jobs about the house and getting on with stuff despite gender roles ... your Mum did a grand job with you and getting on with in-house repairs .... I get the boys to change their own sheets, but maybe the time has come for me to stick their head down the vacuum cleaner too! Many Thanks Judy!!!

  3. Great job on getting that vacuum put back together again! I used to rely on my husband for so much but now that he works crazy long hours I have to suck it up and do stuff on my own.

    You are right, though. It feels great to do something on your own without going for help!


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