Repair is a Radical Act!

by Katy on July 11, 2023 · 23 comments

I read somewhere recently that “Repair is a radical act,” so get ready to read all about my radicalism!

I’ve had the same G.E. vacuum cleaner since 2001. It predates the Dyson craze and certainly came before adorable little robot vacuums. It’s a no frills model and I bought it because it had a HEPA filter when they were normally only available on higher end models.

Like all the appliances I own, My goal is to keep this one running for as long as possible, both for financial and environmental reasons. (The most eco-friendly item is the one that’s already manufactured.) I’ve zero interest in upgrading to a better/newer/sleeker model as it does the job of keeping our rugs decently clean and company ready.

The one and only problem with this vacuum is that the hooks to wind the electric cord have both snapped. The bottom one clean off and the top one in half twice now. Not enough of a problem to consider replacing the vacuum, but still irritating. I glued the top piece back together maybe six months ago, but it broke again a couple days ago.

I wanted a repair to last longer than six measly months, so I set out to find a small hard plastic piece to bolster the repeat repair. I didn’t locate one, but I did come across a piece of wood that would work. Would this be a pretty repair? Nope. But would it be a functional repair? Yup!

I pulled out some epoxy glue, (which I had on hand from a previous project) and generously slathered it on. I did not scrimp whatsoever, as I wanted this to be a terminal repair.

So. Much. Glue!

And then, because I apparently care an eensy bit about the aesthetics of my vacuum I colored over the wood with a permanent marker.

There now, that should last until the end times!

Now ain’t that a dangerous act of radicalism!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen B July 11, 2023 at 11:36 am

Great save! I think it’s sturdier ond safer than my idea. I was thinking of cutting a backing piece out of the lid from canned food with tin snips, but metal edges wouldn’t be a good idea next to an electrical cord. I hadn’t thought of wood.


mary in maryland July 11, 2023 at 12:15 pm

Yesterday I used my sewing machine to repair the 14 places in our bed quilt where the quilting had come undone. I made this quilt in 2004 and repair the loose parts every summer. The only quilting that comes out is/are the straight lines on the bias. This knowledge also informs where and how I quilt new pieces.


Jan July 12, 2023 at 3:48 am

mary, that reminds me, I need to repair several little tears in a couple of quilts I have that I love. One’s store-bought, but the other my dad made and I treasure it. My repairs will be clumsy hand-stitching, but they’ll work.


Liz July 11, 2023 at 12:39 pm

If the repair doesn’t hold, you can probably find a used replacement piece on eBay.


Marie July 11, 2023 at 5:19 pm

Possible, yes. My 9 yr old shark vacuum had plastic piece with a spring that broke. It held the wand on.
Ebay, wanted 19.99. Nope I just put a screw in each side to hold it together.


A. Marie July 11, 2023 at 3:12 pm

Going against the grain of consumerism is always radical. This is why I’m (among other things) determined to keep DH’s 2010 Honda Element running till I have to roll it over a cliff; slip-covering leather furniture that is holey but otherwise perfectly functional; buying 85-90% of my clothing and housewares at thrift stores, etc., and not even doing so much of that any more; and so forth and so on. Regular commenters will provide their own examples, I’m sure.


Ruby July 11, 2023 at 3:16 pm

That was very clever! My late father-in-law believed you could fix anything with the right adhesive. He was famous for his ingenuity and the wall of various glue containers in their laundry room.

I used a brown permanent marker this morning to touch up the worn edges of my sandals, which look good otherwise.


Lindsey July 11, 2023 at 3:53 pm

Our Irish wolfhounds, gone now but remembered with greater love than I have for most humans, ripped the bejesus out of our seats in the back of the van we bought because it was the only way to travel with 300 plus pounds of dog. A few weeks ago I decided it was time and I took some old foam from another project and stuffed it in the bald spots and then duct taped it to death. We had seat covers from several vehicles ago, so about 14 years, and I made them fit. Looks okay, actually, and certainly much cheaper than the $1200 estimate given to us for having someone else fix the two seats. I love duct tape and I live by the old expression: If it moves and it shouldn’t, duct tape it. If it sticks and it shouldn’t, WD-40 it.”


Coral Clarke July 11, 2023 at 6:01 pm

When I travel I carry a small pill bottle wrapped in precut ( 2 or 3 inches) pieces of duct tape, and it has so many applications!


Katy July 11, 2023 at 7:44 pm

Ooh . . . that’s a really good idea!


Ecoteri July 11, 2023 at 9:34 pm

@Coral Clarke, gonna try to remember to add this to the travel bag. got lots of pill bottles, and actually a reasonably new roll of Duct tape (due to a lost-in-the-garden-except-it-actually-was-put-back-in-the-workshop-but-I-didn’t-know-that event, leading to me buying another roll. DOH) so a travel supply will likely be good for several years…


Vickey August 15, 2023 at 3:16 pm

I do the same, but with it wrapped around an old gift card or similar. That way it takes up even less room. (Tho’ if you’re also using the inside of the pill bottle for something, it wouldn’t matter?)


A. Marie July 12, 2023 at 5:58 am

Lindsey, DH always used to say that he could repair about 80% of the stuff he had to repair as a landlord with duct tape, WD-40, and his Swiss Army knife.


Valee July 11, 2023 at 4:53 pm

Good Job, Katy, on keeping your vacuum usable and in working order with some thinking-outside-the box creativity!


Amy July 11, 2023 at 5:45 pm

Great work keeping your vacuum working!


Jan July 12, 2023 at 3:56 am

Neither my wife nor I have any mechanical skills, but I do what I can. One of our little yard flags ripped along the top, and I sewed it & hung it out again. (Yeah, we have yard flags. I try to buy ’em on sale.) And I repair jewelry with picture wire and pliers.


K D July 12, 2023 at 5:25 am

You are a great inspiration Katy. That was a smart fix on your vacuum.

Last week was a great opportunity at our house to practice repair-ism.

Monday morning I discovered that the plug on our portable A/C blew and made a large wet spot on the rug. I dried the rug over a few days with a lot of towels and fans. DH found a rubber stopper to use to replace the blown plug. We will also put a tray underneath it, and keep an eye on it, going forward.

Wednesday morning my garage door would only rise half way. It turned out a tension spring attached to the door broke. The door is thirty years old so it was not a surprise. We were able to buy a replacement spring “locally”. It was more expensive than ordering one but we didn’t want to wait five days for one to be delivered and we supported a local business and know that the replacement spring was the correct one. The door was fixed that evening.

Friday the shower in the basement bathroom didn’t drain. DH bought some drain cleaners and after a lot of effort was able to get it to drain.

We also had been having trouble this summer with the battery powered lawnmower we purchased last year. It would just quit running. After many attempts at fixing it using advice on Google and a call to Ryobi it seemed the best course of action was to open it up (voiding the limited warranty). There was a lot of mowing debris inside the casing. After a major cleaning it is working again. It would have been a couple of months before it could be worked on by an authorized repair shop and we have no dea how much we would have been charged.


Q July 12, 2023 at 6:12 am

I do love hearing of a good lawnmower repair, especially the electric ones! You had a wonderful week of repair. My mother’s friend repaired a small leak in my mom’s AC this week and it is working great: I think they used duct tape and Bondo.


Q July 12, 2023 at 6:09 am

love the repair and that you Sharpied it! I am working towards my 2001 Honda CRV tri-centennial: up to 287,700 miles so far…
This week some of our 23 year old outdoor lights finally bit the dust, after having been sanded and repainted a number of times. They just sort of…dissolved into rust heaps. I am painting the new ones several times before I assemble and install them, so they won’t need repainting quite so quickly. The paint seemed very thin on them.
I can’t think of any recent appliance repair, but today I am going to paint a cute hammock that was left out with a neighbor’s trash, while I am painting some other patio furniture.


Kristen | The Frugal Girl July 12, 2023 at 8:01 am

It’s so nice when a repair doesn’t need to be visually-pleasing. That opens up a lot of possibilities!


Katy July 12, 2023 at 8:06 am

It really does.


texasilver July 12, 2023 at 7:20 pm

I bought a Eureka cannister vacuum 40 yrs ago as my 1st vacuum. That thing was mostly metal & bright orange. I kept it for 20 years. I am sorry I got rid of it. The new models are mostly plastic & they crack or break. My little tank never did that. I had a new motor put in at one point & kept on going. The newer one I have has had pieces snap off & is not sturdy. Cheaply made but not cheap in price.
Consumer Reports used to have their readers write in about their cars with high mileage that were still going strong. There were 10 or 12 vehicles with 1 million miles on them. I was in awe.


Smore July 15, 2023 at 7:22 am

My teenage son just made a radical act that I’m so proud of. He was in search of a pair of dressy shorts and his father’s and brother’s didn’t fit him. He took a pair of his casual tan shorts, removed a label on the front leg, and voila – dressy looking khakis he could wear with a collared shirt.


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