Zen and The Art of Home Ownership

We’ve been in the new house for a little over 2 months now and I’ve really taken to my new role as handyman.  In the past I’ve always fixed things in my various apartments if I could, but now it is all on me to keep the place running well.  Big or small, I’ve been having a blast fixing things.  When we first moved in, for some oddball reason the kitchen faucet was on BACKWARDS… the handle was facing the back of the sink.  Then we’ve got these pull out shelves in our under-counter cabinets where we store our dishes, cookware, etc…  They had a habit of falling off the tracks at the rear.  The braces are supposed to snap in tight so the rails stay attached, but they were moving around freely.  That’s where the cable ties came in, I used them to keep the rails from sliding away from each other and has worked well so far.  I’m going to get stronger brackets at some point.  Next up was the icemaker in the fridge.  We had one, but it wasn’t hooked up… another easy fix.  I just picked up the kit at Michaels in Middletown and hooked it up.  It took a bit of tweaking to get the duration that water flows into the ice maker correct, but it works perfect now.  Our kitchen pantry is a small closet under the stairs that lead to the second floor.  It had some massively deep shelves on it that could hold a lot, but made retrieving what we needed a real pain in the ass.  I knocked the shelves out altogether and relocated some utility shelving from the attic into the pantry.  Eventually I’m going to install sliding shelves in there.  The real kicker was that the last owner used telephone wire to connect the furnace to the thermostat in the living room, and routed it loosely through the pantry.  I’ve replaced the manual thermostat with a programmable unit, but still need to run a new line that I can neatly route out of the way.  Some of the outlets in the house are still 2 prongs, I’ve had to swap them out with 3 prongs, not a big deal.  After the hurricane tore through the area, I picked up a 6800 watt generator… coincidentally, as I drove home with the generator in tow the power (which had been out for 2 days) had come back on, so the thing sat in my garage for several weeks before the October storm hit.  Saturday afternoon, the power to my house went out in the middle of the storm, so I ran out to Lowes to get what I thought I needed.  There was already a 60 amp run from the house to the garage, but the problem was that the outlet was a 50 amp 3-prong, and the generator had a 30 amp 4 prong.  I accidentally picked up a 3 prong plug for the generator, as well as a heavy duty cord for the massive 3 prong outlet on the wall.  I wired a connection and managed to get everything on phase A in the house running.  Come Sunday when I finally had a chance to get out again to pick up the correct parts, Lowes was closed at 7pm, and Home Depot was completely sold out of the plugs and recepticals I needed.  Seriously – you’d think these places might consider staying open LATE when the surrounding area gets pimp smacked by mother nature.  First thing Monday I went to Werners in Florida and picked up the plugs, the 10 gauge wire, everything I needed – end result, the entire house had power.  The generator ran for a good 34 hours straight without a single problem, its 6 gallon tank would get me a good 10+ hours depending on the load.  When the power came back on Monday evening, I relocated the plug for our stove’s electronic ignition to its original outlet and immediately smelled gas.  Looking at the stove, the previous owner ran 3/8″ copper pipe directly from the tank in the back, around the side of the house, through the wall, and up to the stove.  The problem is that copper pipe doesn’t like to bend too much and it finally snapped.  I shut off the gas at the tank outside, and then crimped the pipe flat with a pair of channel lock pliers to seal the leak.  See – the building code says that you run the supply line to a shut off valve and then run flex pipe to the stove.  Again I headed out to my home away from home, lowes – picked up a flaring tool, a complete gas stove hookup kit, shutoff valve, flaring adapter, flaring nut, gas line pipe thread tape, and fixed it all up again.

At least now if the power goes out (like it did the other night for about an hour) I can have the house back online in under 5 minutes…  I still have a fairly long list of things to address – but so far I’m having fun with it. :)  One thing is certain, if I ever look to buy another house, I’ll have a list of things to check even before I bring in the home inspector, etc…

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