Friday, December 23, 2005

Working at home

I took 2 weeks off for vacation at the end of the year, and decided to use one of them to work on the house. I asked my wife to make a list of all the things she'd like me to do - painting, hauling, electrical, whatever. We'd prioritize, and then I'd spend a full 40 hour week doing it. The second week I planned to relax.

Obviously, part of the goal is to pay off some of the accumulated debt in the house. (Not a financial debt, but a need that I created at some point.) The other part of the goal is to see how it feels. How much of this work can I really expect to do myself? What can I learn to do, and do successfully? Will I be able to stay motivated enough to do this work? Will I always need to pay an expert?

I've been doing that work all this week. It has gone well. The biggest surprise is how each task generates more tasks.

For example, there was "seal the grout around the tile in the downstairs bath". While doing it, I noticed some tiles that were really loose. They came off with 2 fingers. Underneath, I found that the drywall had rotted away some time ago, and someone had filled in the gap with some kind of cement, which also came out with my fingers. The drywall is quite mobile here, so to fix it, I'd want to pull out more & look in to bracing it better. Time to call a professional.

So, this means that the downstairs bath is not available for bathing, so I took a look at the upstairs shower. The water flow was always a bit low, even when we moved in 8 years ago. But both it and the adjacent sink had gotten *really* slow for hot water recently. We have steel intake pipes, which are about 45 years old (they won't last much longer).

I disassembled the shower head and cleaned it out. While it was off, I turned on the shower, and the water flow was high. And brown. Rust was pouring out in the water. Once it turned clear, I jiggled the faucet, and more brown came out. Kept doing this until it stayed clear.

Reassembled the shower head, and now the shower has acceptable flow.

However, with all that water coming out so fast, now the drain doesn't do it's think fast enough, and the shower fills with water.

As I was removing the drain cover, I dropped one of the screws down it. Now I need to go buy the exact right screw to fix it.

Cleaned out the gunk from the drain that I could see, but it still doesn't drain fast enough. Next step is to grab the plunger.

Figured I should clear the downstairs bath drain as well, so I opened it up. Could see gunk, but couldn't really reach it. Regular pliers couldn't, either. I knew I had needle-nose pliers, but couldn't find them.

Pulled all my tools out of my tool area and sorted them. Spent a few hours figuring out how to arrange tools. I don't want duplicates of everything, and I'm not very good at keeping things organized as I use them. In the end, the overflowing shelves of tools became neat & clean, with some shelves empty. It was amazing how much trash I pulled out of there.

The biggest collection in my tools working on electrical stuff. I have face places, 120V receptacles, Ethernet jacks, an insulated staple gun, fish tape, etc. I think electrical (both high & low voltage) is the kind of home work I enjoy the most.

Finally at the end of the day, I had pulled the gunk out with the needle-nose pliers.

However, the drains still don't work. That's for today.

Oh, and the TODO list is bigger today than when I started on Monday.

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