Sunday, July 31, 2011

Do it right the first time.

I understand that there are times when you just have to take shortcuts. I have no issue with this if you go back at some point in the near future to make sure whatever you have rigged is done properly.

I built out a restaurant- my own. With the experience gained from years of working in food I made sure to spend a little extra up front so that I wouldn't have issues years down the road. When I put in the cooler, I put in two cooling units instead of just one. This had a dual effect: the units didn't have to work as hard to keep the cooler at temp, and when one of them went down (as will happen with refrigeration) the other was perfectly capable of holding temp while the other was being repaired. When the AC units were installed, I made sure that the drain lines had cleanouts on them that were easy to access since the slime and muck builds up quickly here in the south. All of the water supplies inside had ball valves instead of the little cheap kind they put on everything now so I wouldn't ever have to worry about replacing a leaky on/off valve. The electric lines were run to the breaker panel and hooked up in specific order so that quadrants of the panels controlled quadrants of the store. (Electricians usually just run all of the wires to the panel, hook them up, and then figure out what each breaker controls.) The bottom 18" of every wall in the store was 1/2" pressure treated plywood instead of sheetrock so that I would never have to worry about water damage. I used expanding foam insulation on the bottom 18", and standard fiberglass in the rest of the wall space to negate the possibility of mold if water did get in. There were many other small things that I did while I was building it out to insure that I wouldn't have to spend money on repairs in the future.

Which brings me to the house I'm currently in.

When I got here, there was a non-working wireless doorbell system decorating the walls. So when I did some repair work on the front of the house I ran wire for a proper doorbell. When I went to install the doorbell, I discovered live wires in a hole in the hallway where a doorbell should go. I asked the wife why her ex hadn't installed a proper doorbell, and she said that he told her that there weren't enough wires to make it work. (There were two wires, all you need is two wires.) So I traced the wires to the source and found the transformer which was fully functional, put in the new doorbell, and everything works as it should. Cost? $12.00 for the doorbell and button, as opposed to the $19-$24 someone spent on a useless wireless system. Do it right the first time.

Last weekend I decided that I should check to see if the dryer vent and element needed cleaning. I asked the wife when they were cleaned last, to which she responded "It was installed 12 years ago, and since it was new I'm pretty sure it was clean then." I was astounded when I opened the unit. There was an 8" layer of lint in the bottom of the dryer, and a 2" heat blackened layer on top of the heating element. A fire waiting to happen. Clean your dryer annually! It's very easy to do and doesn't take that long.

This weekend the wife told me that she was worried that someone would break into the dungeon (computer room) through the window where the AC unit is housed. I tried to tell her that any burglar with a modicum of intelligence would simply tap out a window pane and open any other window rather than move the air conditioner unit but she would not be swayed. So after replacing the rotted support structure with pressure treated wood (which will likely outlast the AC unit) I removed the rotted plywood that was duct taped on each side of the unit and custom cut two pieces of 1/4" steel to fit the spaces. Sanded, primed, painted and drilled the steel. Screwed the panels in place making it a 30 minute job to remove everything when the AC dies and has to be replaced, but the wife is happy since a burglar definitely won't break into this window. I also put in a vapor barrier to keep the steel from rusting due to condensation, and then I insulated and put in custom plexiglass panels on top of the insulation to make it all air tight and aesthetically pleasing on the inside. Do it right the first time.

So many other little things that would alleviate issues as a home ages.... like using proper lags and screws on the thresholds instead of just trying to glue them down. Buying drain pipes that are long enough instead of forcing what you had into place when the garbage disposal was installed (improperly, at that.) Leaving enough line for the dishwasher to be pulled out without having to unhook it first. Label the breaker panel, put drip loops in the cable lines that were run. Do it right the first time.

Oh well, at least I have things to work on, and I like the feeling of satisfaction I get when I make things right. But I'd really rather that everyone would do it right the first time ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Le Sigh and a Solenoid

Ok, so the posting isn't a continuous stream. Not that I am lacking things to post about... it's just that a few factors prevent most posts from ever reaching my blog.

1: I usually think of something great to post about while I'm working, then promptly forget about it by the time I get home.

2: Many of the posts would be work related and I'm hesitant to put anything like that in a public medium considering the depth to which many companies now dig. One never knows how any particular statement will be taken by a prospective ( or current ) employer.

3: Some parts of my life would be really, really funny but I refuse to post about them on this blog since it's listed on my Facebook account and there are things that I don't care to have casual acquaintances knowing about me.

If it weren't for those three things, I'd have a new post or two every day!

On other fronts....

When I moved in with my wife, the ice maker/dispenser was broken. That was back in 2009 and judging from the condition it was in when I first checked it out it had been that way for quite some time. (The wife says '08, possibly '07 that it quit working.) So I looked at it on and off for a couple of years while my brain tried to figure out how the thing was put together. At first, I thought that the door had to be dismantled from the inside. But while I was cleaning the coils on the fridge I ran across the water solenoid in a panel on the back of the unit. This made me realize that it probably came apart from the outside rather than the inside.

Lo and behold, upon further study I found how to dismantle the control panel to trouble shoot the damned thing. I got the ice maker working with a few tweaks, and moved on to the dispenser portion of the unit. Behind several layers of plastic and screws was a solenoid that opened the dispenser flap for the ice to flow through the door. It was solid rust. I pulled it out, took a wire wheel to it until I could read the part numbers again, and ordered another one.

The part was at the front door when I got home. Fifteen minutes to install it and it was once again working as it should. That made for a very happy wife. And Choreboys around the world know.... a happy wife is a happy life :)

Now why, you ask, didn't I simply call a repairman and have ice for the last 2 years? I'll tell you why: There have been many times in my life that I have called someone out to fix something only to realize how damned simple it would have been to do it myself. And I kick myself mentally every time I pay someone for things like that because it makes me feel lazy! I respect the people who do repair work, I just respect myself less if I spend my hard-earned money paying them to to something I'm perfectly capable of doing.

With all of that being said, I realize that there are people in the world that wouldn't know which end of a screwdriver to use (or the difference between a phillips and a standard) much less be able to repair something on their own. Those are the people that need repairmen.

Me? I'm grateful for the knack I have for fixing things.