Daily Archives: February 27, 2012

O Rings Are Bad for the Shuttle Challenger and Mr. Coffee

I guess this could be from the “what-we-learned-over-the-last-week” category. It is one of those lessons I haven’t actually overcome yet, because the battle for a coffee maker is not yet done.

Last Wednesday, I finally realized I had a problem with my Black & Decker coffee maker which I got for my birth day some years ago. The problem: I was only getting half a pot of coffee after preparing a full pot. I know I should have noticed this on Monday when it started, but alas, I hadn’t had my coffee yet.

I realized that the water was draining out of the tank onto the counter before it made it through the coffee grounds. All the water had run down the counter and found a big roll of paper towels that absorbed it all up. Thank goodness for the roll of towels. But something was definitely wrong with my coffee maker.

I tried to open it up to see if I could discover the problem. But given that they use a special screw on the bottom, so we can’t open it up and see what the problem is, I couldn’t do it. I decided to throw the coffee maker away with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was the first coffee maker that I was given that was actually new.

Given that I’m an avid coffee drinker, I borrowed one from work, which was really neat because it made exactly two cups of coffee and you had to have those two cups placed just right, or it spilled every where. This coffee maker would not do. The problem? It made exactly two cups of coffee. Once those were done, you had to make exactly two more cups of coffee, etc. Given that my dream coffee maker makes 12 cups, I could see the writing on the wall for this coffee maker.

On Saturday, I had enough. We managed to make sure we had just the right amount of money and off to Sam’s Club I went. My goal: get an inexpensive coffee maker. One that would last… well, 10 years! I found the Oster DVXG-!@$@#A-43-o-18-12y model that I think can only be found in Sam’s Club… $38. Just what I wanted, inexpensive and it made 12 cups of coffee. I really was satisfied with my purchase. A lot of times I try to buy the very best I can afford, but this time, I was much more frugal, and bought the very best that I could afford.

I decided to take it out of the box on Saturday night and run the pre-requisite water through it so as to prepare it for our evening cup of decaf. Needless to say, I was giddy with the expectation. A NEW coffee maker!!! I pulled the coffee maker straight out of the box and took two steps to set it on the counter. Something dropped off the coffee maker and hit the floor. Given the sound of crackling glass, I knew it could only be one thing: the decanter. “Did that just happen?” I thought to myself. I looked down and saw the decanter still wrapped in its bubble wrap protection, to keep it from breaking. Obviously the bubble wrap was no match for our ceramic-tile floors. The decanter was shattered.

I tried the old decanter from my Black & Decker which I could not part with since it is made from stainless steel. It was too short.

My next step was to go on the internet and see if I could order a decanter. Maybe it could be here by Sunday morning. Remember, I wasn’t thinking straight. I just busted my Oster decanter on our ceramic-tile floors. I began to realize that the decaf cup of coffee I had my hopes for was now over. So was the fresh pot of coffee I was looking forward to before Sunday services. It wasn’t going to happen.

Late Sunday afternoon, I was committed to taking the Oster back to Sam’s Club. The way I figure it, they didn’t secure the decanter well enough to keep it from falling when removing the coffee maker from the box. Therefore, they need to replace it. We will see how that goes.

I loaded up the boys and headed out to Sam’s, all the way talking to one of the members of my church for a pastoral call. I told her what I was doing and she said she had one I could have if it didn’t work out at Sam’s. You never know what they will take for a return. It didn’t work out at Sam’s. They were closing just as I arrived.

I called the member back and asked her if I could borrow the coffee maker. She said that she would actually give it to me and now I had my fourth coffee maker in a week. This one was a Mr. Coffee, much like the one pictured here. I was really excited about this. If it worked out, I would take the Oster back and get my money back and have a great coffee maker to boot.

Since the Mr. Coffee was used, I had to clean him up. I spent the good part of an hour working on getting him to an almost new looking condition. I had scrubbed, wiped, rinsed, cleaned, etc., trying to make it look like a new one and was satisfied with my accomplishments. I decided to add a cup of vinegar to the first pot of water that I planned on running through the maker in order to help clean off the parts I couldn’t reach. Since we live in an area with a lot of minerals in the water, running vinegar in everything is a part of life.

As I went to add the water to fill it all the way up, I noticed something that was very troubling. The vinegar was no longer in the tank. “OK maybe there is a secret reservoir where the vinegar is now working its magic… I will add some water as well.”

You guessed it. The water was leaking out almost as fast as I had poured it into the tank. I called for help and we used several towels cleaning up the water and vinegar. I couldn’t believe it. This was the same thing that my Black & Decker did. How could two coffee makers, made by different companies, end up doing the same thing?

I went back to the internet. This is when I discovered the problem. Apparently the coffee makers have a certain O ring in them that gives out after time. It is made of rubber or plastic. Along with time, heated water and more time, the O ring becomes hard and no longer offers the seal that it was meant to provide. This was the same thing that happened to the Shuttle Challenger, except in that case, it was cold temperatures, not hot temperatures that caused that O ring to give out. The freebie Mr. Coffee was a failure.

I do appreciate the woman that gave me the Mr. Coffee and I’m glad she gave it to me. For half a moment I thought about fixing it, but when I turned it over, I found the same weird screws on it that the Black & Decker had on it. They must use those in order to keep us from fixing their faulty coffee makers, forcing us to go and buy new ones every five or six years.

As I drink my cup of hot tea this morning… (there is just something fundamentally wrong with that) I ponder my next move. Back to Sam’s? Or do I head in an entirely new direction? Do I go to the church and look in the closets loaded with old coffee makers and try to get one of those to work? Do I give up drinking coffee all together? I’m not sure. But who knew that the very thing that doomed the Shuttle Challenger would befall not only my Black & Decker, but also my Mr. Coffee? You would think they would have a solution by now. I don’t know what is next, but I do know I’m not going for another cup of tea.