When I bought my house 18 years ago, little did I know that I would become an expert at fixing so many things around the house. My parents never owned a house so I can’t say that I learned from my dad or mom. I learned on my own with help from the Internet and library books.
I don’t like to brag, but I’m going to.
In 18 years, I’ve repaired both my toilets using replacement parts which included having to saw off a corroded part. Picture all 5’8” of me on my stomach sawing off a part that I couldn’t see from my angle on the floor. I didn’t break anything that wasn’t supposed to break and I was successful in repairing leaky, running, and over-flowing toilets. Who needs a plumber?
I wrote a post about this and if you want to read it, just type in “doorway” without the quotes in the search field at the top of the page. I fixed my wood accordion doors that enclose my washer and dryer. A screw had stripped so the door was inoperable. I had to take the door down to see what was going on because I had no clue. I created a new screw hole and the door has worked fine since.
Rain Gutters and Spouts
Who likes to clean out rain gutters, raise your hand! It’s such a messy job and I got tired of it. Over the years, I bought two kinds of cheap gutter covers. One was a foam type cover that didn’t fit, or so I thought. The other was a plastic weave roll that you could cut to size. Neither worked well. I decided to get something more expensive this year that would thwart what my maple tree delivers.
Thanks to my maple tree, my gutters were filled with leaves, twigs, whirligigs, stems, and muck. I also had clogged drain spouts. At first I used a crappy pair of ice tongs to remove the debris. That didn’t work very well. I tried using my garden trowel. That didn’t fit in the gutter. Finally, I got the brilliant idea of using my long barbeque tongs. They worked great and they also worked great helping to clear the drain spouts. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, be prepared to get mucky water splashed on your face and clothes, not to mention leaves, twigs, and whatever in your hair. You will be bitten by mosquitoes too not to mention that it doesn’t smell so great either. But hey, if you’ve changed a diaper in your lifetime you’re ready for anything!
My drain spouts had solidified with debris. No garden hose was going to do the trick. At first I used the long wooden end of my hammer to push the stuff down. That only compacted everything more. I tried using the bathroom shower and sink drain wires as seen advertised on TV that I bought at Meijer years ago. They didn’t work either. I finally decided to use a wire coat hanger that I had straightened out and at one time used in my vegetable garden for who knows what. It was rusted by now but who cares! It loosened up the debris as I shoved it down the drain spout and with the help of my barbeque tongs, was able to remove enough debris so that when I inserted the garden hose at full force, the water cleaned out the rest of the spout. Persistence counts! It was probably clogged for years!
As for the more expensive gutter covers? They were $2.18 each at 4’ a piece at Lowes. I needed a total of 33 of them. I did this over the course of three days. I could have completed it in two days but I ran short and had to buy more. I’ve learned one thing in tackling these jobs myself. Nothing is as easy as they say it is in a book. If everything is going well and you think you’re going to be finished ahead of schedule, don’t count on it. The last thing you do will be the thing that takes the longest!
At first I was buying these gutter covers at Menards. They ran out of them. They said they had a back order and wouldn’t get them in until September. (I started this project August 7.) They told me to go to one of their other stores. (A ½ hours drive for me.) I decided to check out Lowes. They had gobs of them and they were about $.50 a piece cheaper! Hah! Luckily I only bought and installed five from Menards.
These gutter covers are a rubberized plastic with round holes the size of a thumbtack but also have a mesh covering on top of that to prevent little, teeny, tiny things from getting caught like the stems of leaves, etc. That is what I wanted! You slide them under your roof shingles and snap the other end of them onto your gutters. After installing the first one, I got the hang of it and the rest were, well, I wouldn’t say easy, but easier to do than the first one!
While standing on line at Menards with my five gutter covers, the man behind me asked me if I was going to install them myself. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me if I would do his too! He asked if I was going to get up on the roof. I said no. I was able to finish the job mostly on the third rung of my ladder. At the back of my house, in some areas, I had to get on the fourth rung which is a little scary at first but I was very careful and didn’t rush anything. One thing I didn’t do was hold on to the gutters! A couple of times I held on to the shingles while climbing down the ladder! Some of the nails in the gutters were protruding so they got a few whacks with a hammer. And that’s another story but not funny.
My gutter nails were popping out all over so I decided to start my gutter project with new gutter nails. I looked at what they had a Menards and what they had was a slight improvement of what I already had in the gutters. The groves in the new nails were deeper. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a nail that would screw in. With the help of a nice Italian salesman, we looked at the catalog and I special ordered screw-in gutter nails. They arrived about a week later. Guess what? You can’t screw in these gutter nails with a screw driver. The end of the screw had a small square hole in it and the screws came with a special part that you would insert into the square hole along with your electric power drill. Hey, I’m good but I’m not power drill ready yet! If I ever decide to start making my own furniture or what-have-you, I will buy a power drill! I returned the screw nails to Menards. As for this project, I decided a few good whacks with my hammer and the old nails would have to do. If the nails popped out again, I would buy the better version of the nails that I have. Theoretically, and this is where my college education comes in handy, since the gutters are now cleared and so are the downspouts, there won’t be as much weight in the gutters from all the rain filling them up. Less weight, less pulling on the gutters, less strain on the nails. Theoretically.
Leaky Kitchen Faucet
Fixing a leaky or dripping kitchen faucet is an easy job, so say the books. Sure, as long as your water shut-off valves work! I was able to shut off my hot water supply but the cold water wouldn’t budge. No matter how many whacks with a hammer, no matter how much lubricating oil, no matter how much WD-40…..well, actually I don’t know about the WD-40. I didn’t buy it until AFTER I finished the job. My house main water shut-off valve is behind my washer. So, undaunted, I pulled out my washer. That wasn’t easy! It was the second time I pulled out that washer. The first time was about a month ago when I decided to replace the water hoses since it’s recommended you replace them at 5-years. I did and it was uneventful – one of the few uneventful projects I’ve ever done. But back to my kitchen sink. I shut off the main shut-off valve and checked the kitchen sink. I had removed the handles and could see that the cold water had a small amount of water still coming through. Although it took me much longer with the water constantly coming through, I managed to change the handle, cartridge, spring, and seat of the cold water which had been dripping. No more water drips!
Bathroom Sinks and Faucets
This is my latest project and one that I just finished. Last summer my air conditioning man told me he used to do plumbing work. I told him I wanted to get a new bathroom sink and faucet. He said if I would buy the replacement sink and faucet, he would do the work for $200. At the time I thought I would let him do it. But I’ve come so far on my projects and have gained so much confidence that I decided it was time for me to tackle this project too.
I removed the sink and didn’t bother removing the faucet since it was attached to the sink so I saved myself some effort there. I temporarily carefully dropped in the new sink and faucet. I wasn’t able to attach the pipes to the drain pipe of the sink! The trap didn’t meet the drain; there was a half inch gap!
Unfortunately I began this project at 4:00 in the afternoon and gave up at 11:30 in the evening when I started to feel sick.
So, as you might have gathered, I needed to become an expert in pipes – maybe get some new pipe parts. Did I come up with a solution?
More about my bathroom sink and faucet project in an upcoming post!
P.S. What’s good for my pocketbook is good for my health!