Dr. Handy

Sep 14 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

A lot of people have fathers who have work shops in the house that they used to fix things. I, on the other hand, do not come from a paternal line of people who fix things. My Dad is like the anti-handyman, so much so that he has paid someone to come to the house, merely to tighten a screw. Not because he wasn't willing to tighten a screw, but just because he didn't realize that was all that was needed to solve the problem. There was a tool box in my family basement, but it was rarely opened and contained only the basics.

By the age of 15, I was the one painting rooms or the outside of the house and doing most of the home repairs. At the time it was work for allowance or a bit of spending money, but I never made the connection that I was doing these chores because I was the most able one in the house to do them. My mom would lend a hand when I couldn't figure something out, as she has a more innate grasp of how things work, but simple mechanics allude my father entirely. I even distinctly remember as a kid, the reflex to back away every time my father opened the hood of anything, be it car or lawnmower. Even without provocation, I could sense a potentially dangerous situation. I don't have those memories of working on a car with my dad or even building a model airplane together. It's probably a good thing because no one looks back to trips to the Emergency Room with nostalgic affection.

Despite my lack of home-cultivated fix-it experience, I have worked several jobs that taught me the utility of power tools and their analog companions, the hammer and screw driver. Never has this experience been more useful (or used) than since owning our house. Already I have made several minor repairs that I would not have done if we were renting and my DIY cred was substantially increased yesterday when I replaced our bedroom light fixture without electrocuting myself or blowing out the neighborhood grid. I haven't torn down any walls or had to hang sheetrock, but for having grown up with a rusty flat-head screwdriver and an adjustable wrench as the only tools in the house, I consider my progress an accomplishment. Next up, plumbing. The Final Frontier.

6 responses so far

  • tideliar says:

    me = your dad 🙁

  • Ink says:

    My husband is handy. Also a big fan of duct tape. He passes along this advice: "If you can't duct it, chuck it."Good luck with your plumbing project!ps: my word verification was "wrinkelf." That sounds like something, doesn't it? "For the love of God, people, stay away from the Wrink Elf!"

  • madscientist says:

    My wife and I did about the stupidest thing possible while building our house - we fired our plumber after the first day he was on the job. He was screwing things up so bad, that we decided that even we (I) could do better.So, with showing how stupid I am, here are some things that I have learned about plumbing:1. Most plumbing jobs are MUCH easier than you would imagine them to be. Especially replacing things like faucets and crap. The only BIG issue is if the faucet screws and stuff under the sink are hard to get to. You need a 10 year old then. Hire one. Trust me. Another issue is rusty bolts. Typically a BIG wrench will handle these. Buy a big wrench. They are even more useful than the 10 year old.2. Turn the water off before you disconnect anything. Duh.3. Plug your drain holes no matter how stupid you think that is or how sure you are that you are not going to drop something. When I was working on my toilet, I disconnected the flusher handle arm thing from the flapper. In about a nanosecond, the little nut that screwed the chain to the arm fell down through the flapper and into the toilet, never to be seen again. I had to use a twist tie. Yeah, that is classy.4. Shit flows down hill. Literally. I know you know it. But still.5. Hot on the left, cold on the right. Check it. Undo everything. Then make it right. Check it again. Swear. Undo everything. Then make it really right. (This is easier when you don't have a 5 year old helper).6. Always put water in the hot water heater BEFORE you turn it on. ALWAYS!7. NEVER pressure test a waste drain and vent system by filling all of the pipes in your house with water. That is technically one way to pass your inspection, but, trust me, it is a stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid way of doing it? Do a quick calculation on how much all of the water in those pipes will weigh.... And then don't do it. Even if you think it may be easier than air. Trust me on this one.8. When you pull up a toilet, there is nothing between you and the sewer. Literally. Plug that hole with something that you don't mind throwing away, because you are going to want to toss that crap.9. When you add in your brand-spanking new, ultra-quiet In Sink Erator garbage disposal, and you have to connect it to your existing sink, make sure you put the T connector in there that has a little do-dad that "encourages" the stuff to go down and not across. There is nothing worse than pouring a bunch of shit down the garbage disposal, turning it on, and having all of the mulched up crap coming up the other drain into your face. And, it if was your wife that did it, holy shit are you in trouble. Holy. Shit.10. Don't be afraid. What is the worst that could happen? A flood? A little shit in the eye?Good luck!

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Wow, that's a lot of info all at once. How about I start with fixing a leak and then get into the replacement of every pipe in the house once I get my feet under me? I'll print this out and keep it next to my big wrench though.

  • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Heh. My husband is a carpenter.Our house needs lots of work.Has any of it been done?Nooooooooo.It's the last thing he wants to do in his time off, especially when he's doing 12 hour days, 6 days a week. So being handy is necessary, but not sufficient.

  • Patchi says:

    Never tackled plumbing, but we did re-wire our previous (built in 1938) house. We decided to do it ourselves after finding wire connections taped with duck tape in our attic insulation - the former owners had quite a "handy" man...

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