Introduction: CatGenie: Unclogging and Cleaning
If you are the proud owner of a CatGenie, eventually you will probably have a clog. Cleaning up a clog can be a disastrous mess or no big deal... benefit from my experience and save yourself a world of grief.
Step 1: Safety, Disclaimer, and Tools
Cat crap is nothing to sneeze at. It can carry many diseases and make you sick. Wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards. If you're going to scrub vigorously you might want to wear a face shield. Although not absolutely required, I highly recommend shutting off the water line and disconnecting the power.
If you screw something up, I am not responsible. You assume all responsibility for your actions. Your mileage may vary. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don't drink and drive. Eat your veggies and above all, be good humans.
You need a drill (don't worry, you won't be damaging your CatGenie or voiding any warranties), a pitcher (for water), and maybe a towel. That's it.
Step 2: Get at the Impeller
The first thing you've got to do is get rid of the nasty mess in the CatGenie. This is easier than it looks with the simple application of a (corded or cordless) drill - no bit required.
To use the drill you have to get to the impeller, which involves removing the "hand" (the scoop) hood and the motor assembly. No tools are required for this - just lift them off.
Step 3: (Try To) Get Rid of the Yuck
We're now trying to empty out the yuck soup. This is where the drill really shines - empties 'er out with no muss, no fuss.
You'll notice that there is nothing in the drill and the chuck is fully open so there's nothing sticking out. Make sure that the drill, if reversible, is set in the forward direction.
Place the drill end-down on the impeller gear, and pull the trigger gently... the impeller will spin up from the friction and, if you're lucky (I wasn't), force the yuck soup out the drain line, allowing you to disassemble further for cleaning. I would caution you against too much speed on the drill - you could have splashage, and we don't want that. We REALLY don't want that.
Should you be unfortunate enough (as I was) to get no drainage, you'll have to purge the line.
Step 4: Clearing a Clog
Sadly, our line has a solid clog. we'll have to blow out the line. Take the end of the drain tube and hold it up to your mouth, and blow really hard.
NO, NOT REALLY!!!
Hold the end of the drain hose up to the sink or bathtub faucet as shown, do your best to make a seal with your hand, and (once again gently) turn on the water. This will blow the clog out of the line so you can drain the yuck.
After you've heard a gurgle or two from the CatGenie, hook the drain line back over the toilet. Repeat the routine with the drill to finally get rid of that nastiness. Try not to look into the toilet... it's kinda gross.
Step 5: Disassemble for Cleaning
Now that it's empty, we need to further disassemble our CatGenie for better cleaning. I'm going to do a complete tear-down on this one for your benefit, but you could just put it back together and run another cycle at this point if you choose.
To take the upper housing off remove the hand by pressing down on the black clip at the back. It'll slip right off. Then, push the arm back as far as it'll go - you'll hear a "clunk" when it's all the way down. This keeps it from hanging up on the housing.
To remove the upper housing, hold down the impeller with your thumb and with your other hand, reach to the back side and pull up on the lip. If you don't hold down on the impeller you'll just lift the whole CatGenie off the ground.
Step 6: Further Disassembly...
Lift out the bowl and set it aside - NOT ON THE FLOOR! Preferably on an old towel or you can sit it on the open toilet. I prefer the toilet method.
Now; underneath the bowl will be a layer of - let's just say "residue". I add some clean water to the bowl, loosen it up with a toilet brush and repeat the drill operated emptying process. Once you've got the base clean(ish), add some more clean water - this will act as our sink for cleaning the rest of it.
Step 7: Cleaning the Impeller and Housing.
Okay, now it gets really nasty, so glove up.
The impeller is in a housing that, like everything else with the CatGenie, lifts right out without tools. Once lifted up, gently tip the top toward you so it will drain completely. There's some nasty water in there.
You'll notice on the water drain that there is a red washer. This washer is important. Your CatGenie WILL NOT FUNCTION without it. I know, it happened to me. Pull it off and set it aside, and don't forget to put it back on when we're done.
Grab the impeller housing firmly with both hands, hinged side away from you, and open it like you would a book. This exposes the impeller and all-important water sensor. The impeller is held in place by a plastic clip. DO NOT over extend this clip when releasing it. It looks fragile to me, and I think it wouldn't be difficult to break it off. Move it just enough to the right to release the retaining clip.
Now remove the water sensor. Grab the top of the left end and move it towards you and to the left. It should pop free. Pull the other side to the right - it'll pop free in your hand. Clean it off and put it aside somewhere. REMEMBER where you put it, because it's damn near invisible when you're looking for it.
Step 8: Scrub-a-dub Dub
Using your toilet brush that you've specifically dedicated for this purpose, scrub the impeller housing clean in your improvised CatGenie sink. Scrub gently rather than vigorously as you don't want to have it flinging all over the place.
Snap the impeller and the water level sensor back in place, then close your freshly cleaned poopinart (sorry - impeller assembly), snapping it shut securely.
Check the hole the poopinart goes into for granules - a few is okay, but too many in the bottom and it won't seat properly. Lots of granules? Add water and dump them into the toilet.
Reinstall the ever-important red washer, and slide the whole assembly back into the lower housing. Spin the impeller with the drill again to empty out your wash water, rinse and repeat.
Place the bowl back on the center spindle; it should spin freely. Put the upper housing back in place. Now, you're probably thinking you should put the hand back on the arm, but that's a baaaaaad idea. Since all the granules are wet, when you run a cycle (to clean those nasty pellets) they'll stick together in a mass and you'll lose a couple of handfuls down the impeller. Granules are expensive. Losing them is bad.
Step 9: Inspect and Reinstall Motor Assembly
The motor assembly houses all the electronics, motors, sensors and whatnot to make the CatGenie work it's magic. If it doesn't work, nothing works.
Okay, pick up your motor and look at the bottom. The little red nipple is also a critical component - it directs the cleaning solution into the water during the wash cycle. A spare of these is also included from the factory. They thought of everything didn't they? Anyhoo, pull this nipple off and rinse it with fresh water, hold it up and look through it to be sure its clean, then reinstall. I've had one get clogged and solution flooded (okay, not "flooded" - how about "ended up in") the area where the base sits. Thanks to thoughtful design, however, none of it went on the floor.
Before you put the motor back in it's place, inspect the base area for granules. ONE granule in this area can keep your CatGenie from seating properly and it won't power up, so check very carefully. Put the motor back where it goes, and put the hood back over the hand area.
Step 10: Run and Reinstall Hand - the Home Stretch.
Yes, I know the hand is still not installed. Trust in me, young padawan.
Push the start button to start a cycle. Pick up the hand, stand there and watch as the arm extends and the bowl goes around. Its not fun, but its strangely fascinating in a weird way. Its really an amazing machine.
Don't install the hand until the water starts to run. This signals the end of the poop-scooping cycle, so you won't lose any granules after this. Once the water starts, hold the hand down there and let the arm extend itself into it's hole in the hand. It'll click nicely when it's seated. Let go and go on about your day - your work here is done! The CatGenie will complete the cycle normally and resume normal operation.
Now, if you didn't manage to get the hand reattached before the arm extends too far, do as the Guide says on the cover and Don't Panic. The hand must be installed for the CatGenie to successfully clean and dry the granules, so take off the hood and motor. It will power off, but that's okay. Taking the motor off disengages the drive mechanism for the arm, and you can just lift it up manually and attach the hand.
Once the hand is attached, leave it extended and replace the motor and hood. The cycle will resume where it left off, blissfully unaware you interrupted it.
I hope this Instructable helps you get more joy (or at least less hassle) out of your CatGenie - please feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think! For more of my CatGenie (and other) observations you can visit my blog at maddeningscientist.blogspot.com.
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I just got my catgenie yesterday and its clogged today. There are granules in the hopper... alot. Can i still unclog it with them in it?