Posts Tagged ‘repair’

On Tuesday we found out our real estate agent had scheduled an open house for tomorrow (Saturday). We panicked. We wrote up a to do list to prove to her we couldn’t be ready. Our list was 3 pages long & this was after a week of solid work (by ourselves & anyone we could convince to help).

Well, tomorrow morning I have to run back to the house to put a last coat on the bathroom trim & pass a mop over a few of the floors. Everything on the list is done! Ok, I lie, we still need to finish up the deck outside of the kitchen but that was a task we knew we wouldn’t be able to finish in time.

Without the motivation of the deadline I’m not sure we would be at this point right now but I’m pretty damn proud of us.

We bought this house a little more than 5 years ago. At 140 years old it needed a LOT of work. I big task for a couple who could do little more than paint a wall & change a lightbulb, but with (a LOT) of help from friends & family & a can- do attitude we have made changes, some of them major, in every single room of the house.

People keep commenting that we must want to move back in now that everything looks so good & is finally finished (well, with an older house “finished” is kind of a loosely used word) but really we don’t. We are pretty darn proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’ve learned a lot & we’ve grown a lot.

We added a lot of blood, sweat & tears to the memories in those walls but we’ve also added laughter & good times. One of my favourite things about those drafty old walls was the sense of time & memory that breathed through it. Knowing that others were born & died, wept & laughed, cozied up through winter storms & threw windows open to warm breezes made me feel part of something more.

I will post some before & after pics but the after pics have yet to be taken & I’m too tired tonight to wait for them to upload anyway!


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I’ve been negligent of my blog & I apologize. Life has been crazy here lately & I must admit to feeling a little overwelmed almost daily.

And I’m realizing that my 52 project goal is waaaaay behind. To be fair to myself I do have several projects half done & several others with the photos taken ready to be posted – now to get around to posting.

So, my mother-in-law’s house is on the market but as luck would have it her dishwasher died a couple weeks ago. It was old & beyond repair (repair was attempted) & needed to be replaced. Apparently a big gaping space in the cupboards is not a big selling feature.

Last night I went over & read the directions, wrote down the parts I needed & reminded myself to put my plumbing kit in the trunk of the car (yes, I do have my very own plumbing kit – it was a Christmas gift last year!).

This afternoon (after a truly fabulous La Leche League meeting in the morning) I hit the hardware store & then headed over for the installation.

So I now proudly announce that I completed the installation in one neat little session. No runs to the hardware store, no readjusting of plumbing joints that turned out to leak, no fiddling with electrical connections. Everything went smoothly & it is now sitting shiny & new ready for action!

Hmmm….how fabulous would it be if all my projects went so smoothly?!

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Wow was I happily surprised this morning when we woke up & came downstairs to find the thermometer already read 20 degrees! Ok, I’ll admit it wasn’t early in the morning – Diaperbutt & I rarely do early, but still, 20!!!

We spent most of the day outside. I worked hard on the swing seat repair I’m working on (hopefully I’ll finish it this week & be able to post the pics), Diaperbutt played, the dogs barked (you know how threatening people walking by the house can be) & the sun shined merrily upon us with only a slight breeze (it has seemed the wind has often been cold lately).

In the afternoon I got to sit on my swing seat (finally!) & read while Diaperbutt played (or rather hung on me & tried to grab at my book). And then after supper we went for a walk.

I love days that we are able to spend almost exclusively outside!

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Our washing machine broke again a couple weeks ago so we were once again running to the laundromat & using disposable diapers. A friend of mine exclaimed “Again?!” but to be fair our machine is now 10 years old & unfortunately with the planned obsolesce of these things they usually don’t last 10 years.

In fact I count us lucky that we have my Mom around & she knows how to do the repairs & more importantly how to get the parts – ’cause that is often the most challenging part. What you need to do is write down the machine model # & serial # & often there is a number printed on the part itself as well. The model & serials #’s are on a little label on the inside of the door on my machine – it’s not very obvious if you’re not looking for it.When you call the repair place you need to make it clear you want the part & don’t answer a lot of questions about what you’re doing or they will try to convince you every time that it is not worth doing the repair or too hard or even not possible.

So this time it was the shocks on the machine. It was making a horrendous knocking machine & moving around when spinning. The shocks are located under the tub of the machine & support it so they are very important. One of them had snapped right off.

In this photo from our pump repair you can see one of the shocks in the background - it is the white tube. We noticed at that time that this particular one was leaking a little bit of fluid so this repair was not altogether a surprise.

But when we do repairs Diaperbutt likes to get right into the middle of things & “help”. Although cute as sin he’s usually more of a hindrance so my Mom requested that for this repair she would prefer if we were not in the house. Apparently she needed to stand on her head to get at the shocks from the right angle!

See - cute but with his own screwdriver poking around while you're working the cuteness rubs thin.

So while Diaperbutt & I went to the Early Years Centre to hang out she fixed my machine this morning. It’s awfully nice to come home to find something fixed!

Let’s hope that this is the last repair our aging machine needs for a little while longer anyway.

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Our stove came with our house & was in rough condition then. As a result I have always disliked it. It’s pretty rough looking & a bit battered but I just could not justify replacing it when really all it’s faults were cosmetic – the darn thing works perfectly.

This stove top has seen better days - unfortunately they were before I owned it.

Ok – yeah, part of the problem was just built up grime – oh how I hate to clean the oven!

OY! I swear we have cleaned it before! To be fair a good chunk of this was from our renters who did not clean the oven before they moved out. Oh how oven cleaner makes me lungs burn - next time I am definitely going to try something different.

But the rings around/under the burners were beyond cleaning – I did try, several times, to wash them by hand & in the dishwasher but the finish on them was just destroyed. Plain & simple they needed to replaced – unfortunately it took about 4 different stores before I found one that carried four of the same variety – everywhere seemed to only have 2 or 3 in stock.

I don't know that wrapping the ruined metal in tinfoil helped the overall appearance or functionality.

Oh - shiny! Unfortunately I haven't been able to find new buttons for the center of the burner - the old ones were so blackened I figured it looked better without them at all.

I gambled when standing in Canadian Tire & bought the one piece ring/bowl but they don't sit flush with the stove like the old two piece ones did. As I didn't realize this until after I had destroyed the packaging removing it we will now live with this slight imperfection.

Then there were all the little repairs that needed to be done that had been bothering me for so long. Replacing the light bulb in the oven, levelling the darn thing (the levelling foot is missing so I used a folded up piece of cardboard under the back foot), reattaching the drawer slide to the drawer front (ok – I actually did some damage to the finish in doing this repair but the drawer is finally functional again!) & putting a dial thermometer inside so I could verify the temperature is correct (shockingly it seems to be right on every time). Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about the tear on the control panel cover (how the heck did that even happen?!) & one day this summer I am going to take the drawer outside & spray paint the inside of it as the metal is rusting some so despite my thorough cleaning it looks rather dingy.

After all the scrubbing involved to get this so clean I vowed not only to be more careful with messy dishes in the future I also put in place a disposable oven tray in the bottom to hopefully catch the worst of future messes.

Best things I discovered while cleaning the stove - the oven racks fit in the dishwasher & the whole top of the stove lifts up making cleaning underneath much easier.

So, just like the toilet refurbishment, with a little bit of money (I spent under $40), some elbow grease & a chunk of time (about 2 hours in total – that oven was DIRTY) we have a stove that is pretty much like new. Makes it much easier to tolerate the scratches in the finish when it’s all shiny & working perfectly!

Shiny & (almost like) new!

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Ok, so after spending 4.5 hours refurbishing the toilet we have been unhappy with the results. At some point in time “someone” before us must have done their own toilet repair. We think it might be whomever tiled the floor in the bathroom as the tile was a large part of the problem.

Whomever tiled the floor did not complete the tile all the way to the flange, but also did not fill in the whole area between the flange & the tile with cement leaving an area where the floor was a full 1/2" lower than the tile & 3/4" lower than the flange.

Now we had seen this when we did the repair back in January but we were hoping it was going to be okay the way we had it. The big problem with the state of the floor was that the weight of the toilet (& therefore anyone sitting on the toilet) was resting primarily on the flange, instead of on the floor like it should be.

Ever since we did the refurb (& before really but at that point we didn’t know why) the toilet would shift a little every time someone sat on it, but we couldn’t seem to get it to tighten down enough to stop that. To make matters worse “someone” along the way had also put some sort of plastic flange repair kit on top of the flange that had an unusual arrangement for the bolts allowing them to slide out of place really easily even when you thought they were tightened down.

So we finally decided we needed to take the toilet off again & revisit our repair. With the toilet off & in the hall, my Mom, Grumpy Bear, Diaperbutt & I spent sometime evaluating our options. I will admit I cried with frustration – some projects you just do not want to have to repeatedly revisit. The floorboards are slightly soft, the flange was not very well supported & with the state of the tile there was no way to secure the toilet properly to the floor.

The first steps for the repair were to install a proper a flange repair piece (that's the brass ring you see) so that we would be able to more adequately be able to bolt down the toilet. And then we used two applications of quick set cement to fill in the gap made by the tiles & to give the flange more support.

The problem with the first steps of our repair is they made the flange even higher above the tile & really the flange (& our ancient pipe beneath it) should not be supporting any weight.

After some scrounging in the garage we found a scrap piece of plywood that was the right thickness to bring the floor level with the flange.

Because there is some wiggle room when you install a toilet we cut the plywood just slightly larger than the toilet base so there was no chance of it not lining up perfectly (going for perfect is a high order in an old house!). It is most definitely due to Grumpy Bear’s attention to detail that this is cut so nicely.

Diaperbutt was pretty sure his help was needed. It was pretty cute to see him climb over Mom's leg & get himself settled right between her legs with his screwdriver already for action.

It’s not the prettiest fix ever but it is now really solid & we no longer worry we are slowly rotting the floor with a slow, invisible leak or risking breaking off the flange (an expensive repair outside of our abilities).

One day I will paint the plywood with a high gloss white & I think that will make it a lot less obvious. I suppose ideally we would have painted it before we replaced the toilet but as we have only one toilet in our house having it out of commission for 3.5 hours was pretty much our limit.

Now if I could just get the chain on the new flap valve adjusted properly so it stops catching after the occasional flush making me have to run back up the stairs to wiggle the handle. Hmmmm… then again running stairs is good exercise.

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Some nights after a good workout I seize up some in the middle of the night making that 1:00am bathroom run painful & slow. On one such night a few weeks ago I placed my hand on the toilet tank to give myself a little extra support as I coaxed my hamstrings to allow me to sit.

The extra weight on the tank was the last straw for the bolts holding the tank to the bowl & the tank tipped right over – I caught it just in time.

So first thing in the morning I called Mom to ask her if she could bring me to the hardware store to get a toilet (no way a whole toilet is going to fit nicely in my little car). She instead stopped at the hardware store & picked up all the things we needed to refurbish the old one. She walked me through it & I did all the work while Diaperbutt “helped”.

The offending bolt that 'caused all the problems. You can see that the head had rusted completely off so that when I leaned on the tank it simply popped right through the hole. The matching bolt on the other side was almost at the same point of disintegration.

The first step was to shut off the water & empty the remaining water from the toilet.By turning off the water supply & then flushing the toilet you are left with just a small amount of water in the bowl which we simply scooped out with a cup.

The inside of the tank is stained thanks to the rusty bolts - somehow the water flowing into the bowl never looked discoloured.

Then I removed the tank from the bowl (simply done as the bolts were already gone) & placed it out of the way.

Next was the hardest part of the job, but doesn’t necessarily need to be. I had to unbolt the bowl from the floor but the bolts were hopelessly seized & had to be cut off. Not an easy task with the tight space of our bathroom & the angles. In fact we needed to make a hardware store run to get a better little saw for the job.

To cut the bolt I had to hang over the toilet seat holding the bolt with pliers in one hand (to keep it from wobbling) & saw with the other. The rusty bolt was surprisingly resistant to my efforts.

Once the bowl was unbolted from the floor the bowl should have simply lifted up but someone along the line had caulked all around the bowl (something you really shouldn’t do) & so I first had to remove the caulking.

The toilet finally removed!!! (No worries - the ick on the bottom of the toilet is a combination of rust & the old wax seal)

What the floor looked like after I removed the bowl. You can see where the bolt that failed had been dripping rust onto the floor behind the toilet. It's a little hard to tell in this picture but the old wax seal was actually sliding into the flange - not where it should be - usually the seal will come up with the toilet, not be left on the floor. This was a job that needed to be done. I do wonder why they don't make the wax seal bright purple or blue - it really would make the job less icky (& more reassuring) if it was not poopy looking.

The next part of the job was to clean everything up. With the toilet completely apart it is really easy to get it really nice & clean. I also had to remove all the remaining bits of caulking around the bottom of the toilet & on the floor & scrape away all the old wax from the floor. I used a baking soda & borax mixture to give the floor tiles a really good scrub while I was at it & am really happy with how clean they came up.

All clean & ready for the reinstall. The yellow in the flange is a rag - you need to do this while you are working 'cause the gases from the pipes can be dangerous (& stinky!).

Before the toilet could be reinstalled I needed to prepare the wax seal.

Place in the seal onto the bottom of the toilet. See what I mean about the colour? Wouldn't purple be better?!

To make sure the seal stays where it's supposed to be I had to mush the seal down onto the porcelain all the way around. The wax is super sticky so it is best to use a glove or a little piece of spare plastic to do this so it's not permanently stuck under your fingernails.

With the seal in place it was time to¬† put the toilet back in place which should have been a pretty straight forward process but those darn bolts gave me issues again. The way they fit into the flange is to slide in from the side & then you give them a halfway turn to “lock” them in place. But they kept unlocking as I was tightening them down & sliding out of place. To make matters worse after we got it all bolted down we realized I had forgotten to remove the yellow rag & had to remove the toilet again & start over. It took several tries before I got it properly tighten down (ok – I should say we here ’cause my Mom & Grumpy Bear both had a go at it as well).

The bowl finally tightened down. The toilet does settle after a couple days & will need to be tightened a little more at that time. It is SUPER IMPORTANT not to overtighten as it is very easy to crack the porcelain - I learned that the hard way a few years ago.

Next I prepared the tank to be reinstalled by replacing all the innards.

Out with the old parts.

And in with the new. We replaced the old ball float with this newer design. The black end goes through the hole at the bottom of the tank & then the white ring is twisted onto the black end to hold it all together. The instructions are on the package.

Diaperbutt checks my work.You can see where the innards are attached to the bottom of the tank.

We also replaced the gasket that goes on the bottom of the tank.

Once the tank was all prepped I lifted it into place & reattached it to the bowl. It took a little bit of coordination to get the bolts lined up but not too much as I managed to do it all alone!

Lining up the tank with the bowl. You can see the shiny news bolts & new gasket & their corresponding holes on the bowl.

Once the tank was on I simply needed to hook up the water & let the toilet refill.

To make sure we didn't have any leaks we layed some papertowel around the toilet, flushed a couple times & let it sit for a little while. We had no problems though & after 4.5 hours we were all relieved the toilet was back up & running!

It cost us less than $30 in parts to refurbish the toilet & it really is as good as new. I did have to go back in & replace the flapper valve (blue/green in the 2nd picture) a couple weeks later as it was leaking some (again the instructions are on the packaging – very simple). I had already replaced the seat when we moved back in last summer.

I must admit that this project has had me thinking a lot more about our disposable culture. How many things have we thrown out in the past that we could have very easily & cheaply refurbished & had working great? I think there may be a few more of these projects in my future…

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