Waste Disposal Units

posted Feb 15, 2011, 11:20 AM by Jim Sear   [ updated Feb 15, 2011, 12:32 PM ]
Wednesday 28th March 2007
I arrived home today spattered from head to foot with gunge from a WDU (commonly known as a waste disposal unit). The smell was awful. I'd received a 'help' call from a distressed eighty year old lady, who'd been told by two 'experts' that her WDU was dead and in need of replacement. She didn't believe them and called me, and so, changing into my alter ego, I became "Superhandyman". With my underpants pulled up over my Lycra leggings, my stomach(sorry that should read sinews) bulging under my skin tight vest I sprung into action. In a flash I flew down Upperton Road and arrived at the high rise block of flats known as Hamilton House. In my younger years, I would have scaled the side of this building to get to the distressed damsel; but today I am older and wiser; and so I decided to take the lift to the top floor instead. The smell of rotten everything filled the air. The lady was clearly upset. The smell brought tears to my eyes too.
A waste disposal unit is a fine thing when it works, but a nightmare when it goes wrong. This one had been in situ for 30 years. A quick intake of breath and I dived under the sink. But wait! First I had to clear out all the bottles of toxic chemicals that lie buried in the depths of her kitchen sink cupboard. The labels were faded; over the years the liquids had congealed to a glutenous substance of indeterminate use. Here a tin of 'Duraglit', there a tin of 'Vim', at the back, a box of rock hard 'Tide' washing powder.

It's amazing what a trip down memory lane you can find in an old ladies drawers.

Having cleared the cupboard it was time to tackle the problem. Removing a recently fitted WDU is simple enough. Removing a WDU that has sat undisturbed for 30 years is a whole different ball game. Years of expensive technical training in the world's leading academies has given me skills beyond the measure of mere mortals. However, when finesse and clever solutions fail, reach for a big hammer. After ten minutes and a skinned knuckle the WDU was sitting on the worktop. The stench was unrelenting. Superhandyman was covered in sweat.
The real advantage of 'old' equipment is that it can generally be repaired. Taking the WDU apart I quickly discovered the problem. A dish cloth was wrapped around the crushing, cutting, grinding, shredding blades of the WDU, which meant that the blades couldn't crush, cut, grind or shred. The cloth was buried under a mound of broken egg shells, disintegrated tea bags, and fats and gristle of indeterminate age. The stink level was now into the danger zone, and Superhandyman wanted to wretch. With a strong tug on the cloth the blades came free - and so did the gristle, teabags and eggshells. Being a super hero I took the full force of the blast. The sink now looked like an example of modern abstract fit for a Turner Prize exhibition. The artist Tracy Emin would have been proud to have it in her Portfolio. The look of disgust on the lady's face told me I would not be allowed to use her good towels to clean myself up.

The rebuild took only a few minutes; the refitting of the WDU a few minutes more, and then came the moment of truth... The sound of a thirty year old WDU coming back to life was music to Superhandyman's ears. The clean up took another 15 minutes. Super handyman had done it again. Soon he was on his way home to clean up and return to his day job certain in the knowledge that he had left a serene smile of contented satisfaction spread over the old lady's face.

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