We’ve made our home for the last 11+ years in a house that can best be described as a *&^#ing Money Pit, so it should surprise anyone that our master bathroom toilet has had the wobbles. A few years back we replaced the fixtures in the bathroom, including the toilet, and when I installed the new one I used the existing flange to attach it to the floor. That was a mistake because, as with most things in our house, the previous owners hadn’t really installed it right.
Last week my wife noticed that there was a little water around the base of the toilet so I figured maybe the wax seal needed replacing. Yesterday we were running errands and we stopped into the hardware store to buy a wax seal kit with the assumption that if it wasn’t the seal then I’d probably need to try to replace the flange myself or get a plumber out to do it. Wax seal in hand, we were heading down the aisle towards the checkout when we spied the Danco HydroSeat Toilet Flange Repair Kit. I’d never heard of it, but after reading the product description on the box I figured I might as well grab it in case the wax seal wasn’t the culprit.
When we got home I removed the toilet (I know this is bass ackwards, but I’m a ready-shoot-aim kinda guy) and found a perfectly good wax seal. So I took out the kit, followed the instructions, reassembled the toilet and it worked like a charm. Basically, the way it works is it gives you a way to keep the existing flange and put a new flange on top with a wax seal in between. The new flange is secured to the floor with four screws and provides great stability. According to the box you can use this if you’ve installed new flooring and need to seat the toilet without pulling out the old flange as long as the new flooring isn’t more than 3/8 of an inch.
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Those who know me well will be shocked by this story, which is why I’m providing the picture to the left. For those who don’t know me well let me just say that I’m the opposite of a DIM (do-it-myselfer). In fact my idea of the ideal home project involves me doing nothing more strenuous than dialing several numbers to get quotes from the local contractors or handymen. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of this.
Last week I arose early and stumbled into the kitchen to make coffee and when I got there I found our three year old Whirlpool refrigerator making a kind of whining noise that was loud enough to wake the dead. Usually my first move in these situations is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. When that doesn’t work I generally try to beat the crap out of the offending machinery to see if I can knock some sense into it. If that doesn’t work I usually just give up, wait for it to annoy Celeste and then let her try to fix it or figure out who to call to fix it. This time I surprised even myself and got online to see if I could figure out what the problem might be. As a result I found a message board for DIYers (DIY being “do-it-yourself”) that had a posting that covered my exact problem. One of the DIY dudes was even nice enough to provide a link to the RepairClinic website where I could find replacement parts for any number of home appliances.
With the information I gleaned online I went back to our fridge and found the small motor for our ice maker. I removed the motor, fiddled with it a bit and then put it back in the hopes that I might have “re-set” it so that it would stop making the whining noise. For about one hour after I put the motor back in it returned to functioning quietly, but as soon as it dropped a new load of ice in the bin it started whining even louder than it had before, which meant we needed to order a new motor. I went back to the site, ordered the new motor and waited for delivery.
Some time yesterday the motor was delivered and this morning I replaced the old motor with our newly arrived gem. Miraculously it took only a couple of minutes (99% of the time I can take any “simple” home project and turn it into an week-long marathon) and so far it is functioning perfectly. Best of all I didn’t even come close to electrocuting myself.
I was flying high for about five minutes until I realized that the other part of our ice maker that needed replacing, a blade that snapped almost two years ago, would not be replaced today because I’d ordered the wrong part. Now that’s more like it.
The sentence that will forever define our experience in our first house in North Carolina is “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” That’s the sentence used by every service technician that enters our home. Today it is being used by the good folks at Duct Doctor who are here cleaning out our air ducts.
The reason the good people at Duct Doctor used “the sentence” is that they’ve discovered radiant water heating coils in the ductwork of our basement. As I may (or may not) have documented in the past the previous owner of this house had a large chimenia built in the back of our house (picture above), had water pipes run through it and then attached those pipes to some radiant heating coils throughout the basement. Until now we had no idea that they also put radiant coils inside the ductwork.
Apparently the theory was that the coils would aid in heating the house by allowing the air handler to blow air around the warm coils, but unfortunately the coils are just resting on the bottom part of the ductwork so the air can’t really circulate around it. Furthermore, it makes no damn sense when you consider that you have to worry about heat around here maybe 3 months out of the year. And the fact that this was all hooked up to an outdoor, wood burning operation kind of totally defeats the purpose too by causing you to spend your entire day out in the cold stoking a fire.
Unfortunately for us the result of all this is that we have a higher propensity for mold in our HVAC system. We already had the water source detached from the coil system when we had the plumber (John’s Plumbing, Heating & AC, whom I highly recommend) in to fix our water pressure after our new water heater started leaking, so that part of the equation is taken care of. But, we still need to get those metal coils out of there since condensation can build up on them when we run the AC. Oh, and by-the-by, we run our AC a LOT more than we run the heat. Guess what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks?
So now we’ve had a general contractor, a plumber, an HVAC tech and a duct cleaner all walk in our house and say “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” I suspect we’re becoming infamous among the service people in Winston-Salem.