Fixing an oven, a faucet, a sprinkler and a phone, sort of


Our oven heating element, partially disassembled.

One of my office colleagues, who grew up on a farm, is very handy. He’s my inspiration. He just tackles stuff, from putting on a roof to installing plumbing fixtures.

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I am nowhere near that level of skill, or bravery. But if he can do those things, I can at least change a toilet flapper or screw in water heater straps.

I am sharing some of my triumphs here, minor though they are, to illustrate my progress, and to have something in writing to help boost my novice-handy-person confidence. I am prepared for ridicule. I think.

Our Rainforest lawn sprinkler stopped rotating. (It’s sold by Victoria-based Contech; it’s a very good sprinkler, especially at low water pressure.) I sprayed lubricant on its moving parts. Nothing. I tapped it on the ground. Still didn’t work. I fiddled with an adjustment screw. Still wouldn’t rotate. I used it in its won’t-rotate state, manually re-aiming, which got tedious pretty fast. I made plans to get a new one. Except, I couldn’t remember the name of the sprinkler and, surprisingly, I couldn’t find a brand name on the device itself. I finally found it after typing “lawn sprinkler” into the search engine and browsing through all the sprinklers. I was on the cusp of buying a new one at a local hardware store, but decided to give repair one more try. I took the top portion apart by unscrewing the top screw all the way. I found specks of soil at the base of the thing that twirls, removed the specks, reassembled, plugged in a hose, turned on the water. The sprinkler rotated, and continues to rotate when I need it to.

A headlight burned out on the car. I’ve got spare bulbs, because I aim to be prepared. I spent five minutes puzzling over how I am supposed to get my hand into that tiny headlight bulb access spot. I’d done it before, but couldn’t remember how. I checked the manual. It all made sense. The headlight bulb is replaced and it hasn’t fallen off the car.

The electric oven heating element burned out. And I mean burned out. There was a loud zap and a burst of light. After some encouraging words from a colleague who said he’d replaced an oven element and it was no big deal, I went on YouTube and looked for a demo of the task and found several good ones. The big thing, the experts kept saying, was don’t touch a thing until you turn off the power to the stove. I turned off the power, then followed the instructions on how to remove the element, taking photos after each step. I wore a headlamp so that I could see what I was doing. One of the screws wouldn’t unscrew, so I sprayed lubricant on it. It came loose when I tried again half an hour later. I took the broken element to an appliance store (there are many kinds of elements), found a match, took it home and installed it, with help from the photos I took. The oven element glowed to life, and it still works. [In the photo above: Our oven heating element, partially disassembled. I used a piece of blue tape to prevent the oven wires from slipping out of reach into the insulation. The power was turned off.]

The kitchen faucet started dripping. I remembered that it has some kind of lifetime warranty. I phoned the toll-free manufacturer’s number and they shipped me a replacement cartridge. The cartridge came with illustrations and a link to an online video. I watched the video several times and couldn’t grasp all the steps. What the heck, I thought, I’ll just take things apart and see what happens. I remembered to turn off the water, which was emphasized in the instructions. I took photos along the way. It did not go as planned. Things did not look the same as in the illustrations and video. I pressed on. With help from the photos, I got things re-assembled, with the new cartridge in place. I turned the water back on. No dripping. But I had reversed the hot and cold. I decided I didn’t want to disassemble again. The faucet still doesn’t drip, and the household, after some grumbling, is accustomed to the hot-and-cold reversal. It makes sense to me — when the lever points left a blue stripe faces out and when it points right a red stripe faces out. Might get a professional to replace the faucet one day.

My iPhone stopped picking up a cellular signal. I remembered the big technique of computer repair — turn it off and turn it on again. In the settings, I found the on/off switch for cellular; turned it off, waited a minute, turned it on. The signal was back. Might have been a coincidence.

Our dryer’s light bulb burned out. I watched YouTube videos on how to replace it. Intimidating stuff has to be removed to get to that bulb. I decided that the dryer is fine without a working light bulb.

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My previous posts are here.


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