Vacuum Cleaner Applesauce

When I was a kid, growing up on a healthy diet of Yoo-Hoo and Saturday morning cartoons, there used to be this commercial that would come on in which Sally Struthers would tell us about all of the degrees we could earn at home.  This stuck in my memory because it was on every five minutes for several years, and the first thing she said that we could learn was TV/VCR Repair.  This seems silly to me now, because who repairs their TV anymore?  If it breaks, you just buy a new one, right?  Unless it is under warranty, in which case you give it back and get a replacement.  I have had four DVD players over the past 8-10 years, because they are always breaking, but new ones are like $30, so I just buy a new one whenever I need it.

This has somehow become so ingrained in our brains that it almost seems right, doesn’t it?  It almost makes sense to pretend that all of our products are disposable and that we and our planet have unlimited resources.  But actually this is not true, and that commercial is a reminder of the days when you bought something and expected it to last.  If it didn’t last for some reason, you had it repaired.  Remember the Maytag repairman?  He never got to fix anything because of how awesome Maytag products were, but that commercial never would have worked if it wasn’t actually common to have your appliances repaired, rather than replaced.  And so it was with these thoughts running through my head that I decided to repair my vacuum cleaner , rather than just tossing it out and getting a new one.

I had heard commercials on the radio for Vacuum City, which promised to repair vacuum cleaners, so when my own personal vacuum started smoking and then stopped working completely, I gave them a call.  Now, my first concern was that it should make economic sense.  Would it cost me more to repair the thing, or to go to Costco and buy a new one?  Ideally that would not be my first concern (isn’t it better to fix what you have rather than wasting money and resources on a new one, even if it costs more?), but as I am an opera singer, I do not have any money, so price was an issue.  The people at the shop told me to bring it in and we could discuss it in person, so that’s what I did.

I loaded the vacuum cleaner and my children into the car and drove across town to Vacuum City, where they asked for a $15 deposit to begin with.  Apparently this is because many people drop their vacuums off and never come back, or else decide that the repairs were too expensive and walk out and just buy a new one.  With this heartening bit of information, I paid them $15 and left my cleaner in their back room.  They told me that they would call me later in the afternoon.

They did not call me later in the afternoon, so the next day I called them to ask what the deal was, and they said that they were just about to look at it and they would call me later.  When they didn’t call me later, I called them again the following day and was told that they had looked at it, it would cost me $60, and would be ready the next day.  And of course, they would call me.

They did not call the next day.  Or the next.  Or the next.  At the end of the week, I gave them a call to ask if I could pick it up, and they told me that they had needed to order a part and it would be there in another week.  Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but you have my vacuum cleaner, so call me maybe!  I was beginning to understand why people might want to just go buy a new something instead of getting it repaired.  Nevertheless, I was committed now so I said that was fine and waited for their call.

This time I was determined to wait them out, so when they didn’t call a week later I just ignored the carpet, now desperately in need of a good cleaning, and sat back, hoping the phone would ring.  They didn’t call the following week either, and at this point we were going away for the next week, and so obviously they called the day after we left for our vacation and asked me to come pick it up right away or we would be charged per day for them to hold it for us.

Not to worry, good readers!  I called and explained that we had now been without a vacuum for almost a month and we were away and they were supposed to call us weeks ago, and they were fine with that.  They did not charge us any extra, and when we got back the next week, I went down and finally picked up our old vacuum cleaner.  I took it home and started vacuuming almost immediately.  It really needed it.  As the machine was running (and actually picking stuff up for once!), Ruby asked me why the vacuum cleaner smelled like applesauce.  I smelled it, and sure enough there was an interesting smell coming from the vacuum.  It did smell a bit of applesauce, or at least some of the spices that one might associate with applesauce.  I could not explain this, except to think that maybe as a service to us, the repairman had put some potpourri or something into the machine.  It was weird though.

The next time I vacuumed, the smell persisted, and I just ignored it, but the third time I vacuumed the smell got more intense and then started to smell like burnt applesauce.  That was when the belt snapped and the whole thing stopped working again.  Luckily, I had a spare vacuum cleaner belt (don’t ask), so I was able to take the thing apart and fix it myself.  I thought maybe the applesauce smell had been the burning, melting, stretching, and breaking belt the whole time, but when I got the whole system back up and running and tried to finishing vacuuming, the smell was back again, once again sweet and good and weird.

All of this is just to say that I have no idea what is going on with my vacuum cleaner.  I don’t know if it is really fixed or not.  I don’t know why it smells like applesauce.  I don’t know if it will break again.  I do know that it is picking stuff up a lot better than it did before, and I would like to keep it working for as long as I can, mostly for moral reasons.  But if it self-destructs again, I may have to break down myself, and buy a new one.

Posted in Vacuum.


  1. That applesauce smell simply tells you that there is something wrong with your vacuum cleaner. Well, you wouldn’t feel weird about it if it worked just fine in the first place. So how was it? I really hope that you’ve figured out what the problem really was.

  2. That burnt smell is a sure sign that something is wrong with your vacuum cleaner. You should have it checked by a repairman and don’t wait ‘til it gets broken. Anyway, I hope that you did what is right for your vacuum cleaner.

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