Friday, June 12, 2009

Don't trash your trash can, fix it!

We have one of those trash cans with the flip lid that you activate with a foot pedal. Ours failed and I think this is a fairly common problem with these cheap step cans.

The design is pretty poor, like so many things these days, meant to cut costs to the bare minimum (gee, thanks Carnegie), longevity be damned. (Or in some cases I should say, "obsolescence be planned")

First, the lid is heavy and there isn't a lot of mechanical leverage to lift it. A rod is actuated by the foot pedal and always required a lot of force to open the lid. It always annoyed me. The foot pedal is attached to the can body with metal tabs. Over time with all the forces involved, these tabs bend loose and the foot pedal comes loose.

So do we trash the trash can? Well, obviously not, judging by the kind of blog this is. So how did I fix this one? I gained a few months by fixing the bent metal tabs on the foot pedal. After a second failure, I had to come up with something more permanent.

With the main issue being the forces required to open the lid, I decided to try and use a spring to aid in the lifting of the lid. I got a pack of springs from HarborFreight a few years ago and they are always coming in handy.

I did a little guesstimating and playing around with the mechanism and decided on a couple of mounting points on the of the lid hinge. I didn't get it right the first time, but eventually I got the spring to where the lid will lift -- and also stay up -- with a fairly light pedal press. Then I fixed the pedal tabs again, hopefully for the last time (if not, I'll try something sturdier).

A little more creativity could be applied to camoflague the bright chrome spring. Flexible paint? Wrap in a heat shrink tube? Any ideas?


  1. I came across this blog looking for the best way to repair holes in the bottom of the big plastic garbage cans that we drag to the curbside. Even the wheeled cans get holes in the bottom! The easiest fix I can think of is to bolt plywood to the inside and outside.
    As for your spring, I think it looks just fine as it seems to match the handle.

  2. Thanks for the fix it tip and the kinds words!

  3. how did you attach the springs? can i buy them at home depot or somewhere like that?

  4. The springs came from a variety pack I got at Harbor Freight.

  5. I replaced the whole broken plastic piece with an elbow piece from the plumbing dept al lowes. The fit wasn't exact but the plastic is much stronger and it only cost $3.25 for the piece.