Repairing Things Around The House
A Lot of Things Broke
January was a very busy month because things fell apart. A lot. Before we could get our new oven installed, our microwave emitted it’s last electromagnetic rays and then died a sudden and painless death. After a quick google, all the advice said “don’t bother trying to fix microwaves, it’s cheaper to buy a new one”. Figuring this advice suspect, I proceeded to tear apart the microwave and test all kinds of things with my trusty voltmeter. Sure enough, the magnetron was shorted out. I found a few replacement magnetrons (that’s a cool word, isn’t it?) on eBay for $50-60, which was about the price of a similar but brand new microwave from Walmart (the cheapest place we found new microwaves). Now I know why the initial advice was “don’t bother fixing it”. No sense in trying to repair a 13 year old microwave when a brand new one is the same price.
We ordered a new microwave and it unfortunately arrived within a couple of days. I say “unfortunately” because we ended up permanently “borrowing” an unused (and slightly more powerful!) microwave from our family. When the new microwave arrived, it sat in our second living room for a few weeks before I made the trek to Walmart to return it.
I wish that were the end of January’s “fixing broken stuff” saga. But it isn’t. Mr. RoG Jr. apparently put the laptop mouse inside the laptop between the keyboard and the screen and then proceeded to jump on the cover over and over until he bludgeoned the LCD panel into an artistically interesting but mostly useless mess. The screen looked pretty when illuminated, however (in a modern art kind of way). That’s why I buy low-end electronics, or, as I tell the kids “that’s why we can’t have anything nice”. Mrs. RoG wanted to buy a new laptop because she hates the Windows 8 operating system on our current laptop (which is what all computers come with these days). I knew you could buy replacement LCD panels for laptops so I set off to eBay to find a compatible screen. After ordering one for $45, I didn’t feel so bad about having a laptop screen smashed by the little guy.
Not long after the laptop screen incident, I hear a crashing sound upstairs. The two girls managed to pull the closet rod down. Apparently 162 shirts isn’t an excessive load, but 162 shirts plus an 8 year old amateur trapezist is just enough to rip the closet rod’s mounting bracket in half. It’s never boring around here. And lest anyone thinks the Root of Good family lives a deprived life of barren frugality, I’ll allow the 162 shirts adorning the newly reinforced closet rod to speak for themselves.
Other than a few other minor issues like replacing the missing shingle on the roof and tightening a loose door handle, I didn’t have any more broken things to fix at my house. Luckily I have in-laws that know how to put the hurt on clothes dryers. I managed to fix their broken dryer after some sleuthing with my trusty voltmeter. $15 for a replacement heater coil (thanks again, eBay!) and the dryer is like new.
Then they managed to break the other dryer they were using as a temporary replacement while they were waiting on their first dryer’s replacement part to arrive. So I busted out my invaluable voltmeter again (I got a basic voltmeter for $6 from Harbor Freight if you are interested). After a few minutes of diagnostic testing, I released my verdict. The thermal cutoff sensor is busted. I inform my in-laws that they are in luck since the replacement part is only about $5. The underlying problem was a huge clump of lint the size of a large burly man’s clenched fist blocking the hot air exhaust duct inside the dryer. The hot air can’t get out and the thermal cutoff acts as a fuse. It breaks the circuit to the heater coil so the dryer doesn’t get hotter and hotter, catch fire, and burn the house down. I cleaned out the excessive lint, and once I receive the thermal cutoff kit in the mail, they will have a nicely refurbished clothes dryer.
I’m getting to be quite the expert dryer repairman. I have learned that the guts of most clothes dryers are very similar. And there are youtube videos to guide you through troubleshooting and repair. The most common parts that fail are relatively inexpensive to test and replace and you don’t need any fancy tools (unless you consider my $6 voltmeter fancy). Next time your dryer stops working, google the symptoms and see if you can avoid blowing a couple hundred bucks on a service call and the subsequent repair.
Back at my own house, we just installed brand new cabinet hardware in the kitchen. Our old cabinet handles weren’t very pretty. That’s not why we replaced them though. They were dangerous. The old handles have little prongs protruding from each side and frequently catch on our clothing. When Mr. RoG Jr. fell in the kitchen and almost impaled his eyeball on the part of the handle that juts out (he still got an ugly black eye), I knew it was time to make the upgrade. We looked at the usual places – Lowe’s, Amazon, eBay. Those places wanted $50 or so to replace the 33 cabinet handles. Then we checked Walmart.com. They had the lowest prices by far. All 33 handles delivered for $25. They were the exact same model of handle offered at Lowe’s but at a third of the price! Moral of the story – shop around a bit. I don’t like to spend money on merely cosmetic upgrades, but I think it was time to let our antique cabinet handles go since they were a little dangerous. And the new handles are all shiny and make the kitchen look slightly more like something from the 21st century (and they make Mrs. Root of Good happy).
Next up – the dishwasher. It’s not draining completely after each cycle and it makes a weird noise during part of each cycle. Hopefully I can fix it and avoid replacing it since it’s only 4-5 years old. But I’ll leave that repair job for another day.
Are you a fixer upper or do you have the repairman on speed dial? Or maybe nothing ever breaks at your house?