Do it ‘ourself’ repairs #742

#742 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Sometimes, when working to make a house ready, something needs attention and we are able to fix it ourselves.

There was the time, for example, when our seller told us her kitchen sink hot water had slowed to a dribble. The general inspector looked at it, said something was in the line, and recommended a plumber to flush it out. As getting a plumber would cost at least $100, Anet decided to try herself. She took the aerator on the faucet off, turned on the hot as far as it would go, and with a small upholstery hammer, tapped the hot water valve under the sink. It didn’t take but a minute or two before gunk that had been stuck shot out of the faucet. Full hot water ensued.

We had a listing that was set back from the street with paths and nice trees in between. It was dark, too dark we thought for people to easily traverse. We shopped for landscaping lights but then found that we could buy battery operated motion sensor lights. We mounted them on the front and side of the house and they worked great!

Last year we listed a house that had several old style sliding doors opening to a patio. The doors didn’t slide easily, which we found very annoying and figured a buyer would too. Replace? First we meticulously cleaned the tracks. Then Anet sprayed tracks and hardware with Teflon spray (similar to WD40 but our lock company introduced us to Teflon, and we much prefer it). Smooth sliding!

One morning we got to our listing and the seller told us that her TV wouldn’t turn on. With a lamp in hand that she knew was good, Anet went around the living room trying it in all the plugs. Turned out all electricity on one side of the room was off. After checking that the circuit breaker was working, Anet wondered if maybe the old, push-button wall switch was bad. She changed out the switch to new and switched it on. Problem solved!

At a lovely old building from the 1930s, the speakeasy doors had metal grilles that were worn and looking sad. We used a product named Rub’nBuff to quickly go over the metal and even it out. Same for inside stair railing. Beautiful.

Once we needed kitchen cabinet handles, 34 of them, matching. We find silver-colored, brushed metal pulls, the right size (that can be a trick) at Target. Perfect, but only 9 available at the first store. We get into it, go to 5 Targets in a row, manage to buy 30. Our trusty stager goes to a sixth Target and finds 4 more.

Extensive old grass cloth wallpaper in one house was in exceptional condition except for a dozen places where it was pulling away from the wall. Using a chopstick and non-drippy glue, we made them tight again.

Many houses with unpainted wood doors and paneling show dings. Many a time we have gone over every ding with the right color Howard’s Restor-a-finish. Amazing stuff.

Drifting French doors that stand half-way open, are an annoyance at another house. Anet removes the top hinge pin, hits it with a hammer, not hard, just enough to dent and bend it ever so slightly. All fixed.

Each and every single time we go to our listings, I see something new that needs attention. Sometimes it’s just another paint splatter or grime that can easily be washed away. Other times, we encounter something more dire.

The second refrigerator in the kitchen was recycled through the state program. We arrive not long after it’s been carted away. Apparently the movers thought they’d turned off the ice maker water. They’ve left the water tubing end in a vegetable bin. But whoops, water is now overflowing onto the floor and spreading fast.

Anet locates the water line tie-in under the house and turns the spigot. But water continues to run. We dump out the bin, position tubing in a larger container, and go to the hardware store. Anet explains the situation and purchases some sort of screw-on fitting.

Back at the house, she puts on the fitting, but water continues to flow freely. We call our repair person but he can’t get there until the next morning, so we use electrical tape around the fitting, kink the tubing and tape it, then secure it inside a 32-gallon garbage can we find in the garden.

Another electrical story: Wood floors upstairs are being refinished, can’t walk on them. But that’s OK because we can still get into the kitchen by the back door, then use the garage door opener we’ve left there to enter the lower floor through the garage.

But on this day, in late afternoon when Anet and I look for the opener, it isn’t there. We call the painters and are told that the opener isn’t working. In fact, the last guy had to leave via a freshly painted window.

We’re tired and want to go home. But we have to solve this problem. We use the front door. Fortunately, floors haven’t been coated yet. We gingerly walk across them, find the opener near the window used by the exiting painter and check to see what’s going on. The little red light on the opener was working so the problem wasn’t the battery. But the garage door unit on the ceiling of the garage had no power.

“Electrical problem,” Anet says, and she goes to find it. Blown fuse, a particular type: 20 amp, small base. Oh miracle of miracles, in Anet’s car trunk, in a plastic baggy of assorted fuses, she finds exactly the right one.

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