Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Repair a Flip Top Garbage Can - Simple Human

Last week, the $100 stainless steel flip top kitchen garbage can we bought 6 years ago broke. By "broke" I mean the pedal no longer made the lid go up. I'd foolishly located the garbage can Just Below an over-hanging counter top, and every time it opened, it slapped the lower edge of the counter. If you stepped on the pedal harder, it slapped harder. Well, injection molded polyethylene is not immune to LCF (low cycle fatigue), and over time, I found the weakest link, as the underside of the actuator failed in torsion.

Using the ubiquitous Gorilla tape and some Loctite cyanoacrylate applied with toothpicks, I attempted a repair without disassembling the garbage can's actuator (see photo above). Dabbing super-glue on the cracked plastic, letting it dry, and then wrapping it in Gorilla tape the best I could. I let it dry over-night, much longer than needed in the low humidity AZ ambient. (see photo below, to the left).

After a day and night of drying, I righted the garbage can in a new location that allowed un-hindered lid movement, and prematurely declared victory! Properly applied adhesives to the rescue!

Then, 2 days later, the lid raised in an impotent fashion, and then, refused to lift at all, no matter how firmly the pedal was depressed. A more thorough solution was needed.

So, disassembly began. Simple Human has straightforward phillips head screw construction. Removal of the pedal actuator, connecting rod, and lid bracket were not difficult. Removal of the 1/2 applied tape was sort of a pain, but I was the dolt who applied it.

Then, the over-kill began. After reading the directions on the liquid Gorilla glue bottle completely, I clamped and glued the cracked plastic. Over a 2 day period, I repeatedly applied thin films of glue until it caked over the joint. [warning, Gorilla glue slowly "bubbles up" in low humidity environments.]






After building up a firm foundation of durable duct tape OVER the hardened Gorilla glue, I reassembled, in reverse order.

It's been reinstalled for 2 days, and functioning very well. I do not think it is premature this time, to declare victory. The new assembly is now strong enough to lift a brick on the lid.
















The tensile, compressive, and LCF properties of the Gorilla tape and glue are close to that of the virgin injection molded polyethylene, and better in impact resistance. I'll be dead and decomposed (or cremated, per will) long before the assembly will fail in HCF (millions of cycles).

If the pedal actuator DOES fail again, I have some left over handles from bath room cabinets that match the kitchen - ugly bronze colored things that Dr Desert Flower could not stand having in the bath room. I can easily install one of those on the lid for lifting if necessary. Il faut voir.

23 comments:

  1. fixed 2 of mine, weak link is the little plastic hinge that connects the 2 rods together,get a soft piece tubing the is the same size of the rods, about 1 1/2 inch long, slide them on the rods to connect them together, and your done

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wayne, it's not that simple when the actuator has split in two. The tubing fix you've suggested is akin to the "tape only" fix I originally applied, without any rigidity in the actuator, there's no way for the tubing to remain solidly in-place. The glued and taped fix is superior, and it will not break again, in the same way.
    Simplehman did contact me here on this blog, and offered to send me a replacement actuator free-of-charge. It's set to arrive this next week. I think it's pretty responsive, responsible, and proactive for them to stand behind their product.
    In the long term, the best way to keep the lid from breaking is NOT to put the can UNDERNEATH a countertop. The lid's impact into a solid countertop surface, or wall, or other immovable object, is not something the Simplehuman designers accounted for, and as a thinking consumer, they should not have to.
    The small plastic connector just underneath the lid, has not broken, and is not showing signs of stress on my garbage can. If it does fail, I'll keep your tubing suggestion in mind.
    Thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting comments. As luck would have it I stumbled upon this blog. Not sure what possessed me to look for a fix for my two trash cans. I have trouble parting with things that need simple repairs...however the little plastic that connects the two metal rods is a terrible design. I have tried everything and nothing has worked for very long. I did take the time to contact the mfg. Hopefully they will reply. Sitting with crossed fingers.
    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting comments. As luck would have it I stumbled upon this blog. Not sure what possessed me to look for a fix for my two trash cans. I have trouble parting with things that need simple repairs...however the little plastic that connects the two metal rods is a terrible design. I have tried everything and nothing has worked for very long. I did take the time to contact the mfg. Hopefully they will reply. Sitting with crossed fingers.
    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
  5. how did you clamp the plastic? I have the same problem, a $99 bin with a broken mechanism to open the lid. The little plastic hinge where the two rods connect is broken! I called customer service of "Home Zone" but they said sorry you have to buy a new one!

    ReplyDelete
  6. modernpsych - on the Simple Human 40 Liter model, if you look at the top (very first) photo, the main piece of vertical tape, is where mine sheared off. I simply applied good duct tape to the flat side, where the plastic USED TO be connected, and then added the cyano-acrylate glue in the pocket on the opposite side to build up thickness.

    The plastic connector that failed, was labeled "Rev A" on the injection molded part. The replacement that Simple Human sent me, is labeled "Rev B". The newer model has reinforcing ribs in the precise location where Rev A had previously sheared. It appears the Simple Human product designers learned their lesson years earlier.

    The solution "wayne" suggests in the comments, might be closer to how your plastic connector failed. Unfortunately, 'wayne' has no profile with which to contact him for clarification.

    ReplyDelete
  7. On connecting the rods back together, might have to take one of the rods out and take it to a lawn mower shop to find a supple hose with a snug fit, about 2" piece, that should do it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Okay, pedal repaired, actuating rod reattached to pedal, but now I can't reattach it to the lid bracket. I've removed the two screws that attach the lid bracket, but the thing won't even budge. Any tips?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Kevin, Found this website stuck at the exact same point you were: i had unscrewed the lid bracket and managed to detach the metal rod, but then after reattaching the pedal, couldn't find a way to reattach the metal rod to the lid bracket.

    Turns out: all I needed to do was yank the lid bracket piece harder--it won't bust, and it'll come out to make it possible to reattach the metal rod.

    Best, JOnathan

    ReplyDelete
  10. When you have a 2" piece of tubing that fits snugly,attach one side of the tube to one of the metal rods, then put both rods back in their slots, then slide the other end of the tubing on to the other metal rod, 2 years and still working.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I tried the tubing, didn't work. The plastic injection molded thingy need replacing...tubing would not allow the lid to open. Guess I have two can's that will be minus lids. That sucks as I contacted simple humen...and the gal on the other end was clueless.

    Jerry

    ReplyDelete
  12. The new plastic injection lever that Simple Human Sent me has a design change (rev 2) that puts gussets directly where the thin web fractured previously. The Customer Service people at Simple Human were very helpful and proactive, sending me a replacement part cost free after reading this original post. Jerry, try contacting Ms Jimenez at Simple Human:
    Olivia Jimenez
    Customer Service Manager
    t: 310-436-2257
    f: 310-538-9196
    ojimenez@simplehuman.com

    Hopefully she is still there, and has not moved on to another position or company.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like a stand-up company with first-rate customer service, which is increasingly rare in these times of cutting corners. I can't believe there's an article covering my exact issue. I've spent two days trying to epoxy my broken trash can pedal, with little success. Thank you so much for posting the contact information above. I'm going to give it a try and see what happens, and I'll post back when I find out. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. By the way, her phone number is active, so it seems Ms Jimenez is still there. I've emailed her--wish me luck.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Olivia has sent me a replacement pedal, no charge. That is impressive.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Simplehuman continues to impress me. I am glad Olivia was able to help you Todd. I think S.H. was smart enough and responsible enough to recognize a design flaw and (unlike most large corporations) wanted to "make it right".

    I bought one of Simplehuman's shower caddies last year (link here ), as it said it was guaranteed not to rust. A year later, it still has not rusted, while the 2 previous non-Simplehuman caddies (cheap made in China)rusted at each welded joint within just a few months in the highly ionic Arizona softened water.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Simplehuman guarantees their products for ten years. You don't even need a receipt. Just go to their website and fill in the form and they will send you a new part.

    ReplyDelete
  18. a very simple solution is to cut a strong, flexible plastic strap (similar to those securing carton/box of 5 A4 paper ream) -- this will take the place of the broken joint. Secure this with duct/electric/gorilla tape and reassemble it.

    3 minute job -- but this could last longer than a new one.

    ReplyDelete
  19. plastic strap that ties/wraps a cartonbox of A4 ream of paper is a good replacement to repair the joint. Wrap this on the two metal rods ends (where the old one used to be -- don't need to remove them) with duct/electric/gorilla tape securely and you're done.

    Just be gentle with the bin and it will last forever (almost) !

    My 5 cent worth of comment !

    Kabesang Tasio of Makati

    ReplyDelete
  20. Even simpler, is to call Simple Human, and they send you a free replacement.

    http://justjoep.blogspot.com/2009/12/effective-feedback.html

    There's really not enough clearance to do the external strap technique Kabesang, and believe me, I tried all sorts of expedient solutions.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My wonderful garbage can broke five years ago and I fixed it with tons of tape also! I feel like I could have written my own article now that I read the original! It just broke through that crazy mound of tape I applied , yesterday (finally). I can not believe I found so many others that have the same dilemma! I just want to tell you all that as ticked off as I was yesterday and today as I keep forgetting that the thing is broken; the original article made me laugh and feel me and my dilemma are not alone!! I just wanted a fancy functioning sleak designed garbage can. Is that too much to ask from a 100$ garbage can!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kensey:
    I called simple human and they sent me the new and improved part. Not free but reasonable.
    Jeri

    ReplyDelete