Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Joys of Homeownership

I would be the first to say that the joys of home ownership are greatly exaggerated. There is always something in need of attention, and if there isn't, I worry about what might need attention next. Sometimes I even have disaster dreams, where the house is on fire and/or the roof is caving in and/or the crawl space is flooded and/or a tornado is right outside the door.

But most tasks are mundane. Last Thursday it was carpet cleaning. After months of bootie-clad subcontractors trying not to track stuff throughout the house, I decided it was time to call the carpet cleaners. My timing was a little off, though. I try to wait until after the ground freezes to minimize the amount of fresh dirt the dog brings in. I thought I was in the clear until I woke up this morning to rain. The straw is helping but not quite enough.

I'm still putting the house back together after Thursday's upheaval, and am about 95% there. I rearranged a few things as well, relocating the love seat and rabbit cage to the room formerly used for dining, moving the dining room furniture to the family room to see if I can convince myself that next year I can combine the kitchen and family room into one big hearth room.

Other mundane tasks involve plumbing. The sink in my bathroom periodically plugs up. Recently, I resorted to pouring Drano down the drain a few times, but it didn't help much. Plunger time. A plumber once showed me the trick of plunging up; instead of trying to force the clog down through the plumbing, you use the plunger to suck up (so to speak). I tried this the other day and was rewarded with what looked like a black turd, presumably made of congealed Noxema and hair. I grabbed that sucker before it could slide back down the drain and now that drain drains beautifully.

The toilets are an ongoing battle. Mine in the so-called master bath occasionally won't flush, but I have learned over the years that if I just let it rest for a while, whatever is making it recalcitrant melts enough that the toilet will flush again without resorting to the plunger. And then there is the flapper and chain thing. A while back, the flapper and its attached chain became unattached, a situation I resolved with a safety pin. But I didn't shorten the chain enough and the extra would get caught under the flapper, which resulted in the toilet running unless I jiggled the handle. Everytime I flushed the toilet, I would think, I should fix that. Well, the other day, the safety pin rusted through. I replaced it with another, and in the process inadvertently shortened the chain. Voila! No more handle jiggling required.

I'll leave you with one more handy household repair hint, also involving plumbing. If a pipe springs a leak, it can be sealed with plastic electrician's tape. Just wrap it around the leaky area. This is not only cheap and effective, it may be indefinite. I'll let you know if the trap under the kitchen sink ever resumes leaking.

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