Posts Tagged ‘commodification

Waste Not, Want Naught

I remember being less hot in Florida compared to Montana.  That sounds like crazy talk, I know, but as hot as summers got down south, I could always run inside to the A/C.  I never knew how much I took that for granted until I moved out here and discovered that the miracle of on-demand cold exists in almost no homes or apartments.  As the temperatures rise into the high eighties and low nineties this month, the only thing we can do is try to stave it off with fans.  As I write this, I actually have two fans pointed directly at me in such an endeavor.  Additionally, there is a double-bladed fan in the window to try to pull in as much of cool air as possible before the sun breaks through this cloud cover.

One of the issues that fans develop is dust accumulation, especially over extended use.  This is especially true of tower fans, which my brother and I have a few of.  But as much as I may like them, they’re nearly impossible to clean.

I had a very good Seville Classics oscillating tower fan that I used to rely on quite heavily, but recently, it started making an unbearable squeal and failed to push any air out all.  After leaving it sit for several weeks, I turned it back on to test only to discover that the situation seemed to have worsened, as now only the indicator light came on, but there wasn’t any internal movement.  By any reasonable estimation, this fan was dead.

So I placed it by my front door to remind myself to take it to the dumpster the next morning.  But just as I was pulling it outside that next day, I thought to myself: what if I could clean it out?  Maybe that would correct the problem?  Wasn’t it worth the try?

I put it back in my room and decided to dismantle it next chance I had.  I’ve never done that before, so the task seemed more daunting that it really was.  It took more than 25 screws and repeated viewings of a how-to YouTube video before I finally liberated the cylinder from it, but once I did, I discovered ghastly clumps of dust.  It looked like the inside of a bagless vacuum, no exaggeration.  Given that the cylinder was made of only plastic, I placed the cylinder into my bathtub and hosed it down.  As for the motor and oscillator, I took compressed air to it and found still more dust clumps.  Seriously, if you should ever attempt this, consider wearing a mask.

Even though it seemed like a long shot, I went through all that cleaning and reassembly.  Then I plugged it in and tested it: voila, works just like new.  In resurrecting this fan, I realized something important.  I was about to throw away what was probably a $100 appliance because it stopped working.  That sounds stupid when I say it like that — but isn’t that what we always do now?  We discard things when they’ve seemingly outlived their usefulness.  Everything is a commodity now, so it’s all disposable.  This seems to apply not only to appliances, but more expensive things, like computers and smartphones.  What are we doing?

We need a change in mindset.  Without getting political, I feel like my dollar has less and less spending power all the time.  Don’t you feel the same way?  In the grand scheme of things, $100 isn’t much, I admit, but when you consider how many little things like that add up in just a year, it’s extraordinary.  Indeed, we’re filling landfills with tons of things that could work again with just a modicum of effort.

I used to dismiss this whole idea on the grounds that my time was too valuable to spend on fighting with repairs.  Truth is, when you add up those needlessly large landfills and all the wasted money that would find far better use invested elsewhere, there’s one inescapable truth: none of us can afford to make any such claim again.  Make the time.


Written by Michael

9 July 2015 at 12:07 am

Posted in Musings

Tagged with , ,