The Secret Life of Equipment Maintenance

From Running in ZK by

There are several types of jobs at Twin Oaks, some more visible than others. For instance, dairy and gardening are highly visible since the first thing you notice when driving up our driveway is cows and plants. Other things only become visible when they’re broken. Equipment maintenance is like a good soundtrack – you shouldn’t notice it because it goes so smoothly and perfectly with the rest of life. That’s the goal anyway. To this end, there are a lot of maintenance things that happen without much of Twin Oaks knowing it even happens. Two of these things happened this past month: vacuum checks and refrigerator (aka “refer”) servicing.

Vacuum checks happen every 6 months and consist of visually inspecting all 14 or so vacuums that live in our various buildings. If all goes well, the check only takes a few minutes, but often we will replace bags, filters, and/or belts that are looking worn so that we catch possible malfunctions before they actually break. There was one vacuum during the January check that had to be thrown out because the bag was too full, no one noticed, they kept using it, and eventually it overheated and melted the whole roller/belt system on the bottom. Ewwwww. That situation could have been easily prevented by just changing out the bag😦

Vacuum checks are really just a one-person job, but it requires going all over the community and it’s sometimes nice to have company for motivation. This time around, I had help from 3-year-old Sylvia during our weekly hangout. She wasn’t very excited about it at first, but once I started working on the first vacuum she kept asking how she could help. She assisted with various tasks like taking the old bags to the trash bin, unscrewing screws, and shaking out filters. By the time we made it to zk right before dinner to finish the last one, two other kids saw what we were doing and also wanted to help🙂

Refer servicing is a little more intense and actually requires two people to do it effectively. This consists of pulling out the fridges from the wall and blowing compressed air through the bottom while someone vacuums the dust up as it becomes dislodged. Once again, it only takes a few minutes, but saves a lot of hassle since it makes it less likely for the fridge to build up too much gunk and malfunction. We can also catch smaller problems, like a cracked drip pan or an overly frosty freezer section, before they result in water all over the floor and spoiled food.


Of course, there’s only so much prevention you can do and sometimes things happen. At the end of an already long day, the clothes drier in Kaweah was reported as making terrible “old school printer noises” (like a rhythmic scratching). The culprit was a small screw that was probably left in someone’s pocket when they put their clothes in that had gotten stuck along the edge of the drum that tumbles the clothes. However, while I was in there, I noticed a slight rattling sound in one of the drier drum “fins” that pushes the clothes around. Inside, I found not only some very very worn pennies, but also some amazing tumbled lint balls that had probably been building there for awhile. You never quite know what you’ll find inside these machines🙂

Photos of tumbled pennies and lint balls courtesy of Purl

The Secret Life of Equipment Maintenance

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