Monday, October 15, 2007

Regarding Home Improvement

We've been in our new home for three months now (though in some ways, it feels like it's been much longer) and I've begun to learn some basic skills I imagine are common to all homeowners. While our home is relatively new (10-15 years), some minor repairs and improvements have already been necessary.

When I stumbled downstairs a few Sunday's ago, looking for my first cup of coffee, JP informed me that the kitchen sink was backed up. Now, I was nervous when she asked me to fix it, as I had no idea what to do. My previous experience with anything even remotely related to plumbing (beyond using a plunger) was as a small child, when my father was the one who did routine maintenance. As I recall, it involved a large pipe wrench, a threading machine, some rather messy (and smelly) paste, and a lot of cursing from my father. With that background, you can imagine that I wasn't looking forward to attempting to fix the sink…especially since I don't even own a pipe wrench, let alone a threading machine.

JP was under the impression that we would need to replace the disposal. She'd already done some research and, based on the links she'd found, it looked do-able. I really didn't want to have to replace the disposal if I could avoid it, so I dug around the Internet for some more information.

I came across a site that suggested checking the trap. After turning off the water to the faucet, I was surprised to discover that I could unscrew the pipes with my bare hands and was able to remove the trap without any tools whatsoever. As soon as I did so, I discovered the problem; the trap was full of eggshells. I dumped those into the trash, rinsed the trap, and then reinstalled it. The sink drained perfectly and, no, there were no leaks afterward.

All told, it took about twenty minutes, much less time than I'd anticipated.

Once, we discovered a leak under the sink. Although I had no idea when I started trying to solve the problem, I quickly traced it to the faucet, which has become slightly unscrewed. After rinsing the rubber washer and tightening the faucet, the leak disappeared.

Another time, JP bought a new light fixture for her office. Now, my electrical experience is about as extensive as my plumbing experience. Still, I knew enough to turn the breaker off and managed to install the new fixture relatively quickly. Since then, we've also replaced the fixture in the kitchen.

A few days after the weather turned, JP mentioned neither her office nor DD's bedroom were getting any heat. I remembered that the home inspection we got prior to buying the house had determined that a heating duct was disconnected under the house. I went into the crawlspace to take a look for myself and traced the loose duct to the vent leading to JP's office. I also noticed that the other ducts were attached using heavy-duty nylon ties. After a quick trip to the local hardware store, I reattached the duct and secured it with a new nylon tie. I'll admit that I wasn't entirely sure this would solve the problem, but it did.

When we started looking for houses, JP expressed a hope that I would be an "active partner" in helping to keep the place up. I wasn't offended; I know I'm not the sort of person you normally think of as being handy. You might ask me to take a look at your website or to troubleshoot your network, but you probably wouldn't confuse me with Tim Taylor. During my previous stint as a homeowner (my first marriage), I was involved in a total of zero improvement projects. I knew JP knew this as well, so I understood her concern.

I also knew that JP's prior experience as a homeowner (in her previous marriage) was less than satisfying because it was, um, difficult to get some projects finished.

As it's turned out, though, I think I'm proving to be a quick learner. Oh, sure, there are days when I would rather be doing anything but working on the house, unpacking, or reorganizing. Nevertheless, I do think I've been an active partner. I hope so, at least.

Photo credit: NASA

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Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

You're my toolman! xx, JP/deb

7:52 PM  
Blogger Shaz said...

I had to laugh at Debs comment. In oz a tool is a dick head like a looser. Now dont mis understand ya know I love ya but I did have to smile as I call Ben a tool all the time ;)

2:00 AM  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Well who knew you were so handy with the tools? Isn't it nice you've discovered you have all these hidden talents??!! Nice that you're back writing again.

1:53 PM  
Blogger giggles said...

I'm chuckling because I too have had to learn many of those things. Except you won't find me in the crawlspace doing the heat duct thing.... The more you do the more confident you become doing it. If I can't do it, then I ask someone. Good for you taking the risk to dive in! I have a dimmer switch I need to install as well as a new hanging light. I've done both once before. It's not exactly pleasant work, but it can be rewarding!

Peace Sherrie

3:05 AM  

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