Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bow down before her...the Queen of Clumsiness

A week ago today, I had a great idea. I would go rake the leaves in our yard. Usually DBF is in charge of the yard, but he was at work, it was a beautiful fall day, and frankly, I could use the exercise. So I threw on a jacket and went out to rake the yard.

Google Maps view of my street.
As I've mentioned before, my house was built in 1960. For me, one of the joys of these older neighborhoods is the older trees. Big, full trees with lots of character which usually means 2 things:

1. Lots of raking in the fall and
2. Massive root systems.

Massive root systems can be trouble for a few reasons...interfering with underground pipes, breaking up concrete, and my personal favorite, providing lots of things to trip over.

So there I was, trying to clean up DBF's yard (as he has since reminded me), getting some exercise, enjoying the fall day, and I stepped on a tree root, twisted my right ankle, and started to fall.

Here's a tip from me to you. If you start to fall, let yourself. If you try to catch yourself, you're likely to wind up more hurt than if you just let yourself fall.

Case in point: Imagine a really silly gym class relay race where awkward 12-year-old kids going through growth spurts are supposed to run to the middle of the gym and then run back to their relay race lines BACKWARDS. Sounds like a bad idea, doesn't it? Well, it was. But the worse idea was mine. My 12-year-old self lost her balance about halfway back and instead of falling on her ample rump, she tried to catch herself.

And wound up with 2 broken wrists.

So more than 2 decades later, I was raking leaves and I twisted my right ankle and started to fall. Did I remember my 12-year-old self? Of course not. I shifted my weight to my left side and brought my left foot down on (no surprise) more tree roots! But this second patch of tree roots was far more diabolical than the first so I ended up with a hyper-extended knee and 3 broken bones in my left foot. Not to mention the twisted right ankle.

At that point, I didn't know that my bones were broken, I just knew that I'd fallen (into the road, no less) so I jumped up and got back to the sidewalk. And since I had only raked about two-thirds of the front yard, I figured I'd just walk it off and I continued to rake.

Yes, I was in pain. But being me, with an insanely high threshold for pain and a near-pathological aversion to leaving things unfinished, I finished raking the front yard.

And then I swept the driveway that can hold 6 cars.

And then I swept the front porch and the sidewalk.

And then I put the tools away in the shed and picked up some stray branches in the backyard.

And then I went inside, took off my shoe and sock, and sent DBF a text message:
"I think I may have broken my foot."

There it is, my broken foot. The second, third, and fourth metatarsals are all fractured. The fourth was so badly displaced that it required surgery to realign and pin it so it would heal properly.

Now, a week after my "great idea," I sit at my desk with my pinned and splinted foot propped up, sharing my symphony of clumsiness so complex that only I can achieve.

Oh, and the day before surgery, it rained...and brought down so many more leaves that you can't even tell I raked. That, my friends, is the Universe, in its best Nelson Muntz voice, saying, "ha ha!"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My house smells like lighter fluid.

Okay, so sometimes I do some really stupid things. And the really, really stupid things are usually things I try when I think I'm being clever.

Jill being clever = trouble.

Case in point: The day I tried to fix—or "fix"—our dryer. We have a stacked washer/dryer and by "stacked" I mean "temperamental, abused, holy crap how soon can we get rid of this thing, oh wait we have to pay the mortgage, so I guess we keep it since technically it still works". One of the joys of the machine was the hideous squealing noise that came from the dryer. At first it was sporadic and you could only hear it if you were in the vicinity. Then it got louder...and louder...until one day, when DBF came home, he greeted me with, "What in the hell is that noise? You can hear it outside!"

So I decided I needed to eliminate the squeal.

Remember when I said you need to keep WD-40 around? Here's can usually silence squeaks and squeals with it.

These are our dryer innards. My first plan of attack was to lubricate the belt because sometimes they get squeaky. Using the little red straw that's now conveniently attached to the WD-40 can, I applied the lubricant to the belt.

You know, while the dryer was running.

It's important to do this while the dryer is running so that you get the WD-40 on the whole belt. At least that's the general rule of thumb when lubricating belts, I had never tried this on a dryer.

Unfortunately this squeak wasn't coming from the belt. Next plan of attack, lubricate the drum.

As you can see, the drum is much bigger than the belt. Instead of trying to apply the WD-40 to the drum with the little red straw which would take a very long time, I folded down the straw and went full on sprayer.

Better coverage faster.

Again...with the dryer running.

Now, the smart(er) way to do this would have been to have the dryer running on fluff heat. The belt and drum still turn, but there's no flame.

Flame?'s a gas dryer so there's going to be a flame.

And lots of lint and dust.

And Jill sprays a flammable liquid into the innards, with the flame going...and sets them on fire.

Well, just a little.

It wasn't a big fire, it was just a little one fueled mostly by the dust and lint that had accumulated over time. Fortunately I was able to blow out the fire pretty easily, so no harm was done.

Interesting thing about WD-40: When you torch it, it smells like lighter fluid.

Interesting thing about torching WD-40 in the room adjacent to your HVAC system: It makes the whole house smell like lighter fluid.

Fortunately the lighter fluid smell dissipated in a couple of days...and I killed the squeal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The hole in our house.

We have a very old-fashioned kitchen exhaust fan. It's a hole...and it usually has a fan mounted in the hole, but in this picture, it's just a hole.  The fan's on/off "switch" is controlled by that dangling metal ball chain which also opens and closes a spring-loaded door.

Like I said, old-fashioned.

This picture with the fan removed and the door open begs the questions: Why did we remove the fan? And what's with the pot o' beans?

I'm so glad you asked.

Just a few nights ago, while making dinner, DBF tried to turn on the fan but the spring-loaded door was stuck. Spinning fan + closed door = bad. So I tried to un-stick the door by gently tapping on it with a long-handled no avail.

"I know how to fix this," came DBF's voice from the next room. He came back with the broom.

I should tell you that he had just gotten home from an 11 hour day, so he wasn't at his best. I should also tell you that while part of me knew this wouldn't end well, a much louder part of me was screaming, "I'm hungry!"

You see where this is going, right?

DBF successfully knocked the door loose with the broom handle. But he also popped the ball chain out of the connector, leaving us with a hole in the house we had no way to close.


Sometime after dinner...obviously neither of us was going to get much done on an empty stomach...we figured we should try to at least close the opening since it was 45 degrees outside. Fortunately once we removed the grate and the fan, it was simple enough to reach through the hole and pull the door shut.

Unfortunately, when we took the whole thing apart, we realized that the fan wasn't actually black metal, it was just black because it had 50 years of kitchen ick on it.

All together now... EEEEWWWWWWW.

Time to break out the big guns.

Krud Kutter. It works. Seriously.

Tools we used to fix this ick:

  1. Krud Kutter. It works. Seriously.
  2. Hammer. If you leave something in one place for 50 years, moving it is going to take some convincing.
  3. Flat head screwdriver. Apparently DBF would rather use a real screwdriver than my pocket knife.
  4. Bent-nosed pliers. Sure I bought these for jewelry-making, but pliers are pliers and when working in small spaces trying to pinch that little ball chain connector shut, these will certainly get the job done.
  5. Pocket knife. I'm totally cool with using my pocket knife's screwdriver when the knife is closer than the toolkit.
  6. Tongue and groove Channellocks. While we had it apart, DBF tried to adjust the switch to make it a little less finicky...he gets points for trying.

As for the pot o' beans, DBF made Boston Baked Beans from SCRATCH.

That's right people, not all baked beans come from a can. Who knew?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Concrete and Cookies

We have amazing neighbors. They're the kind of neighbors that I didn't think existed anymore; when we moved in, they had us over for a cookout. That evening was full of good food and great company and before the evening was over, we felt like we were home. ***warm fuzzy***

That evening, we also learned 2 very exciting things about the husband:
  1. He loves my butterscotch cookies and
  2. He's a general contractor.

Not just any general contractor, mind you, but the general contractor who has done more work in our house than we have and who knows the history of our house pretty darned well.

Like that super-high kitchen floor, for may be super-high but the tiles are straight because of him. He couldn't talk the previous owner out of laying the tile right over the existing floor, but at least he talked him into laying the tile straight. Yay, neighbor!

Being a general contractor, he immediately came to mind when we needed a concrete guy. When we asked if he had a good concrete guy, he said, "Yeah, actually, and it's the guy who did your sidewalk."

Our sidewalk? You mean the one stretch of concrete on our property that isn't buckled or cracked? Heck yeah!

So we hired the concrete guy to put in our new driveway. As part of that process, we needed to put in area walls to protect the basement windows. You know what area walls just might not know what they're called. Here's a photo...with labels (how helpful am I?).

As it turns out, of all the tools we do have, the one needed to attach the area walls to the house is not among them. But our AwesomeNeighbor does have the right tool...and kindly offered to attach the area walls for us.

The weekend after the area walls were attached and the driveway was poured, I took a fresh batch of butterscotch cookies to AwesomeNeighbors' house to say thank you. Then I smiled and said another thank you, this time to the Universe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A pigeon for your thoughts.

I've been away for too long, but I'm afraid I must stay away a bit longer.

You see, my alter ego must work in order to pay for the house about which I write. And right now, work's pretty busy. A few weeks ago I was in Montreal (QC, not MO) for a conference. Now I'm trying to finish a paper for another conference. Next week my group is hosting a 2-day meeting followed closely by the conference for which I'm trying to finish the paper.

But fear not, loyal reader (hi, Mom!), I have planned topics that I've just not yet had time to write or photograph, including:

  • Good neighbors = Gifts from the Universe
  • My house smells like lighter fluid
  • One of these things is not like the other

And hey, if there's something DIY or home improvement related you'd like to read about in a self-deprecating and hopefully humorous way, lemme know! Chances are I've tried it.

And now, as promised, a pigeon...Canadian, no less.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There's a list for that.

As I've mentioned before, I like lists. Scratch that, I love lists. They help me think things through, remember stuff, and stay on task. So in the earliest days of my relationship with our house, I made a lot of lists.

There were lists for projects, project supplies, small tasks, "someday" wish lists, things for which we needed professional assistance...I even considered making a list of lists so I wouldn't forget any of the lists.

When you come to the point where you're making lists of lists, you either spiral into a recursive hell or you step back and try to find a better way. I stepped back, took a few (thousand) deep breaths, and came up with a better system.


This is my "better system." Each one of those index cards represents a room in our house.  The list on the left side of the card is stuff that needs a-doin' and the list on the right side is stuff that needs a-buyin'.

Over time, we've added to the lists, crossed stuff off when it's done or bought, and once or twice, we've scratched parts of lists out when our plans changed.

Take the workroom, for instance...I know, it's the example for almost everything...but it really has been a microcosm of the house as a whole.

So, please, take the workroom (formerly called "Utility Room"). The list used to be 3 items. Then the plan changed. We decided to gut the room, and redo it. So we added a fourth item:

That scratched-out word is "Gut." I made the mistake of writing "Gut & Re-do" as a list item. Looking back, I probably should have just written "redo," not just because it shouldn't have been hyphenated, but apparently DBF stopped reading at the first word.

So one Saturday in January, I'm sitting in the dining room, figuring out what projects to tackle today, and I hear very loud noises coming from the basement. When I went downstairs, this is what I found (DBF has been grayed out to protect his "innocence").
Does that hammer look familiar?

That's the ceiling on the floor, by the way. Fun!

Yes, I know the demo needed to be done, but I hadn't thought the whole project through. Which meant I hadn't made a list for it. And I had hoped...well...I had hoped to make a list for it.

One of the best things about DBF is that sometimes he saves me from myself. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy birthday to me.

What I really want for my birthday is for Mike Holmes and crew to come take care of some stuff around my house.

The mystery pipe.
This is the shutoff valve for a hose bib. On the bottom left, you can see that there are 2 90° branches. One of those branches goes to the hose bib. The other one? We're not sure. There's no extra water flowing anywhere (we've checked and rechecked), so we're hoping it's capped off. But again, we're not entirely sure.

The sagging ceiling.
There's nothing quite like a powder room with a ceiling that screams "cave-in imminent!"

The exposed power cable.
During the workroom demo, DBF discovered that the built-in shelves were hiding the power cable feeding the laundry room electrical outlets. Awesome, no?

No, not really.

The wall of shame.
Not my shame, but the same of whoever decided to put a carpeted bedroom along the wall with the main water shutoff, the front hose bib shutoff, and the master drain for the house. As I've mentioned before, being able to access your pipes is a really, really good thing. 

During the home inspection, Inspector Bill had to break out an angled mirror and a flashlight to find the front hose bib shutoff. The main water shutoff had an access panel, but the hose bib did not. So I had to install one. The wall now has 2 access panels so we can get to the shutoff valves, but the master drain is still behind drywall.

Moment of bragging (it is my birthday, after all), that's my very first drywall patch. You can see a pencil mark (we've not yet painted that room), but no seams. Go me.

The super-high kitchen floor.
Our kitchen floor is noticeably higher than it should be...we question what they actually put down before laying the tile. Our back door is in the kitchen, so that door had to get trimmed in order to clear the super-high floor.

Hey, is that daylight under that door? Yep, sure is.

Since I don't think the Canadian crew is going to make it down to the US to grant my birthday wish, I'll make do with a subscription to Mike's magazine and the company of DBF as we relax in our very own project-filled home.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Strippers in aisle six.

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than by tackling the oiliest, most annoying, and painfully tedious jobs around the house?

Okay, I can think of a few, but that's not the route we went.

...starts out with me oversleeping and DBF sending me off to work with the question, "You know you're leaking oil, right?"

Why no, in fact, I did not know that for the past six days my car was dripping oil onto our 3-week old, several thousand dollar concrete driveway. But I'm so glad I know now.

Fortunately for the car and my wallet the oil drip was a result of a messy mechanic. Unfortunately for the porous concrete, the oil sat for a few days before someone decided to share the news.

So Friday ends with Jill scrubbing her brand new concrete driveway. Know how to get oil out of concrete? Dish soap and a nylon scrub brush. If you act quickly (preferably in fewer than six days), the soap should be enough to emulsify the oil and a few rounds of scrubbing should get rid of the spots.

Sadly my concrete isn't quite as good as new, but it's certainly better than it was. I'm pretty sure that the day of the leak can be deciphered by how dark the spot still is. So, please, if you drip or spill or leak oil, clean it up ASAP. And if you notice that your significant other is dripping or spilling or leaking oil, please speak up immediately.

...DBF is off at work and that means I can paint without him telling me I'm doing it wrong.

Has this ever happened to you? You get done painting your door frame but when you remove the tape, you find (dun dun duuunnn...) PAINT BLEED!

(I'm living out a FrogTape® commercial here, bear with me a sec...)

That's what my painting looks like with generic blue painter's tape (see why I do this when DBF is away?). Last time I was at the MegaHardware Store, I threw caution to the wind and spent way more than I thought reasonable on 2 rolls of FrogTape®. Supposedly it has this patented stuff that coats the thing and magically stops the messy schmutz from ruining your life...or paint job...depends on how seriously you take your paint.

Guess what? It works.

That's a pretty, clean paint line that does not need touch-up. Ribbit.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
...DBF titles this entry.

Sunday we started on the workroom floor. The whole workroom is an entry in and of itself, but the floor was the Sunday project. Or it was supposed to be. We have old vinyl may or may not contain the tile stays. But we need to seal and paint it, which requires scuffing the surface.

I know, I know...sanding VAT is a heinously bad idea...airborne particles...can't do it. My idea was to wet scuff the floor to prevent airborne particles. Unfortunately the floor has about as much paint on it as the walls in the room.

Enter the strippers.

DBF went to the MegaHardware Store (I refuse to go on weekend afternoons), walked up to an associate, and said "I'm looking to strip a floor."

"Strippers in aisle six."

Happy Independence Day, ya'll!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Everything was fine 'til the grill caught fire.

It's been a rough week here at the ol' homestead. A few days ago, DBF was grilling up some Italian sausages to add to his homemade spaghetti sauce (did I mention he cooks?!?) and he came into the house, moving quickly, and said, "We need baking soda."

"Are we on fire?"

"Yes, we're on fire."

So DBF set the grill on fire. It wasn't one of those small flare-ups that'll go out if you leave it alone—the grill was on fire.  Baking soda extinguished the fire and DBF somehow managed to save the sausages from both the flames and the baking soda—they actually added a nice, smokey flavor to the sauce.

Fortunately the grill is still fully-functional. Yay. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday cleaning up the mess  and when I was done, my hands and arms were covered in black greasy ick. As I washed up in the kitchen, I used the last of the soap from the in-counter soap dispenser, so I went to refill it.

As is the case with so many things in our house, the existing soap dispenser was old and less than fully operational. I couldn't refill it from above the counter (design flaw or years of abuse, it's hard to say), so I had to unscrew the reservoir whenever it needed refilling.

Notice the past tense?

The soap dispenser was in the very back of the tiny space under my sink—behind the garbage disposal, the pipes, and the sink basin. It also wasn't very well-secured, so I needed to hold the top part steady while I unscrewed the reservoir. That required an additional few inches on my reach—a very good job for channel locks. This had worked in the past...really.

Unfortunately, yesterday, I forgot something very important. Righty tighty, lefty loosey, right? Well, it depends.

If you're unscrewing a lid from a jar, you turn the lid to the left. If you're holding that jar the same way but unscrewing the jar from the turn the jar to the right. That's the part I forgot.

Here's the damage I inflicted and my chosen tools of destruction. (The vise grips actually came out later when I recruited DBF to help take apart the remains of the dispenser.)

Below is a closeup of the part I turned the wrong way until I killed it. Go me.

Like I's been a rough week. But not to worry, I ran out to the local MegaHardware Store first thing this morning and procured a replacement...this time with the ever-so-handy "fill from above" feature.

And I installed it properly.

And I'm done for the day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Get friendly with caulk.

And find a good caulk remover tool. This is a bad caulk remover tool. You see the metal part on the right side? It's attached to the handle with a glued-on piece of plastic. That glue has less strength than the caulk, I pretty much guarantee it. So unless you're ripping out soft, still-pliable caulk—and why would you be doing that—this tool will break.

Fortunately...albeit rather embarrassingly...I'm a sucker for infomercials. So while DBF picked out the *ahem* soon-to-break tool, I was drawn to the DAP Pro Caulk tool kit which looks remarkably like something I once saw on an I had to have it.

It only cost about $5, so it wasn't a big deal. DBF rolled his eyes a bit, but I said a little prayer for Billy Mays, tossed it into the cart, and we moved on.

About two inches into the caulk removal, the more expensive tool broke. I let fly a ridiculously long string of curses (there's little I find more annoying than gearing up for a project and being thwarted almost immediately), regained my composure, and then pulled out the cheaper tool and a razor blade. Voilà! Caulk be gone.

That flat black thing in the background is the better caulk removal tool. I say "better" and not "good" because it, too, has its drawbacks. It's really, really thin, so if you're digging out caulk that you believe to be older than you, it will dig into your hands a bit. But it will also get the job done.

Compared to removal, application is the easy part...especially when DBF takes over. So in one long, dirty afternoon, we had a freshly-caulked, sealed, virtually ick-free tub.

After the tub, I felt rather empowered to conquer the world of caulk. So the next day I decided to tackle the gap between the kitchen counter and backsplash. I say gap, but in some places it was practically a crevasse. But hey, caulk'll fix it!

And it did...but I learned yet another valuable lesson.

Be absolutely, positively sure that you've thoroughly cleaned the area you're caulking...especially if you're using clear caulk.

Let my caulked sesame seed be your reminder: Clean before you caulk.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The mostly-true story of how quarter round almost ended our relationship.

The Players:
PERCOCET JILL (PJ): Having lifted a 5-gallon bucket of primer out of her car and wrenched her back, this Jill is on heavy painkillers.
IBUPROFEN JILL (IJ): Well into her recovery, this Jill is taking only ibuprofen but is still in pain and is highly irritable.
DBF: Incredibly patient and level-headed love of Jill's life.
VOICE OF REASON (VoR): Jill's magnificent mother.

Scene 1: In which Percocet Jill starts trouble.
DBF: We need to paint the baseboards. We should pull up the shoe molding.
PJ: Can we reuse it? It'll cost a lot to replace it all, won't it?
Baseboard and quarter-round.
DBF: It's really not that expensive to replace.
PJ (in "my word is final" voice): We need to reuse it.

***  2 weeks pass, DBF has painstakingly removed and labeled 7/8 of the existing quarter round. ***

Scene 2: In which Ibuprofen Jill has no memory of Percocet Jill's decision.
[sound of wood splintering]
IJ: What was that?
DBF (seething): I broke it.
IJ (soothingly): It's okay, it's not like we're reusing this.
[DBF turns to look at IJ, daggers shooting from his eyes.]
DBF: What?
IJ (hesitantly): We're not reusing this. We're replacing it, aren't we?
[DBF exits house.]

*** 1 week passes, DBF has begun the new quarter round installation. ***

Scene 3: In which a hammer is not the right tool for the job and the miter box is under utilized.
Miter box
DBF: Where's the Dremel?
IJ: Why do you need the Dremel?
[DBF points to the half dozen bent nails in the brand new quarter round.]
IJ: Oh. [looks around] Did you miter the ends?
DBF: [points to corner, rolls eyes] Yes.
IJ: No, I mean where they overlap. Look, right here. [points to where bookcase will reside and no one will ever see the molding] Why didn't you miter the overlap? It hides the seam better and this, well, it doesn't look very good. Didn't you know to miter the overlap?
DBF: I do now.
IJ (quietly): Should we redo it?
DBF: No. Now where's the Dremel?

*** 2 weeks pass. IJ's criticism combined with DBF's frustration of bent nails and dented quarter round has brought the project to a screeching halt. ***

Scene 4: In which Ibuprofen Jill vents to Voice of Reason.
Mitered overlap
[phone conversation]
IJ: I don't understand why it's taking so long, it's just a little bit of quarter round blah blah complain blah blah...
VoR (trying to interject): Jill...
IJ: blah blah complain blah complain complain blah...
VoR (yelling): JILL!
IJ: Yeah?
VoR: This has gone on long enough. I'm sending you your father this weekend.

A few days later, Jill's dad shows up, nail gun in hand. Somewhat miraculously, and with a little refereeing from Jill's dad, in one afternoon DBF and Jill complete the project that had lingered for weeks. Their relationship manages to survive and they have learned the following:

  1. Do not reuse floor molding.
  2. Miter, miter, miter.
  3. A nail gun, not a hammer, is the right tool for the job.
  4. It's really not worth fighting about.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why you need the little door.

Remember the little door?

This is why you need the little door.

If the designers of the office building in which I work had read my blog (granted, the building preceded the blog), they'd know that being able to access your pipes is very important.

If they knew that being able to access your pipes is very important, they would have made sure to have a little door in this wall that would have prevented this drywall casualty.

Alas, the blog came too late and there was no little door.

So the plumbing job has just turned into plumbing + drywall job.

A tragedy that could have been prevented.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= UPDATE=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
It looks like someone's been reading my blog!

Newly-installed little door. Yay.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There's more to life than just power tools.

For weeks before and after settlement, I scoured the Internet for a list of tools every homeowner must have. I couldn't find it, and I'm pretty good at finding things on the 'net. Without that list, I felt unprepared.

I don't like being unprepared. This is something for which I both blame and credit my father—a real-life version of Hank Hill, who, to quote Wikipedia "will always advocate doing the right thing in the right way."

So, without list in hand, I went to my local MegaHardware Store and bought a bunch of tools that I a) was convinced I needed and b) thought were pretty bad-ass.

Behold! The DeWalt 18 volt cordless XRP Li-Ion 4-tool combo kit with the following:
  1. Reciprocating saw
  2. Circular saw
  3. Hammerdrill
(The 4th piece is a floodlight, which, while nice to have, wasn't a motivating factor in the purchase.)
    Admittedly, I have a serious weakness for power tools. That weakness, combined with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something I'll spend the next three decades paying for, made the thought of spending a few hundred dollars on a set of power tools seem completely and totally reasonable.

    It wasn't.

    Anxious to share the joy that was my newly-acquired power tools, I called Dear Ol' Dad. After spewing the specs and eagerly awaiting the tool envy that I naïvely thought would be directed my way, Dad's steady voice asked, "Did you get any hand tools?"

    Hand tools? Really? Do I need hand tools if I have a bitchin' set of power tools?

    Yep. Sure do.

    Fortunately my birthday was coming up, so for my birthday that year, I received some of the most useful hand tools I could have wished into existence.
    1. Hand saw
    2. Hacksaw
    3. Level
    4. Square
    5. Vise grips
    6. Channel lock pliers
    As it turns out, I didn't actually need to scour the 'net for that list of tools...I just needed to ask Dad.

    And now, after a year in the house, I've compiled my own list.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Water, water, every where...oh crap, where's the shutoff valve?

    Lesson #2: If something is wet and you don't know why, find out immediately.

    Sounds obvious, I know, but you might be surprised.

    Cabinets under bathroom sinks hold lots of things--TP, reading material, cleaning supplies, and most importantly, pipes.

    These are our pipes ("our" referring to myself and Dear BoyFriend who has entered into this adventure with me). These pipes, despite being the path for much water, should be dry. The area around these pipes should also be dry. So if something near these pipes, say the plastic TP packaging or the reading material, isn't dry, you need to find out why.

    Don't assume it's because something got splashed or it's humid or your cat who likes to play in the water you leave for her in the sink got a little rambunctious one morning. Find out for sure.

    We didn't. We waited, both of us assuming it was something small. Until one day, too long after noticing the first moisture, I noticed a puddle.

    When inside, puddles are bad. You need to avoid them if you can, and I'm not talking about getting DBF to lay his coat over it so you can step down off the curb without sullying your stilettos. I'm talking about paying attention to water and finding out where it's coming from...pronto.

    So let's take a look at those pipes again, this time with visual aids. That big red arrow is pointing to something you should be familiar with...the shutoff valve.

    This, my friends (humor me, I like to think more than 1 person reads this), is your friend. If water is dripping, leaking, or gushing, turn this off. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

    Once the water is off and the dripping, leaking, or gushing has ceased, cleaning the mess and assessing the problem are the next steps...but we'll get to those later.

    First things first, the many shutoff valves and where you may find them.

    You've seen the one under the sink for the faucet. Remember, there are 2 of for the hot and one for the cold. The sinks are all pretty similar, 2 water pipes, 2 shutoff valves.

    Let's take a quick tour of the rest our house and its shutoff valves.

    We have 2 hose bibs and their shutoff
    valves both look like this:

    Our shutoff for the whole house and 
    both pipes for the washer look like this, too, 
    though the washer pipes run vertically.

    The water heater's is the red knob on the right-hand pipe
    which is the pipe that brings the water into the heater.

    Last stop on our tour is actually a minor detour. This isn't a shutoff valve, but it is a very important thing to be aware of...the little door. The little door is on the opposite side of the wall from our shower. Behind that little door are the shower pipes, and that's a good thing to know.

    (Ours aren't actually that crooked, that was me, leaning over to get the picture.)

    One last note on shutoff valves, they don't like halfway. They should be all the way open or all the way closed. They'll be happier and longer lived for it...and you, by extension, will be happier, too.