Oh, Those Annoying Maintenance Items!
So when a maintenance problem pops up in my life. Whether it is in my home, on one of my vehicles, I have two choices. I either take a stab at fixing it myself, saving time and money, or I call out a pro. If you think about it those are really your only two choices. As a homeowner for over 20 years, I am always interested in the first option. If there is even a reasonable chance of success at a low cost- I’m in!
As someone who rents versus owning, you may not be as concerned about saving money. But I would pose this question. What if you could spend 10 or 20 minutes investigating and fixing a problem. Wouldn’t that potentially off-set the time you would spend filing a maintenance request with your property manager. Thus eliminating the time out of your day- leaving work to meet the repairman and stand by while repairs are completed. As I will discuss in a moment, some of these items are simple fixes that take less than one minute. It is quite possible that you will spend more time on the phone arranging for a handyman than you would if you took a shot at releasing your inner mechanical genius.
My 20 something year old son and his friends think they can learn to fix maintenance items by watching Youtube videos, (generally something to do with cars.) I can’t count the number of times I have been able to complete a home repair, that I thought was going to involve a professional and several hundred dollars, by watching a video on Youtube.
This is not a comprehensive article on do-it-yourself home maintenance. But I am going to cover two or three areas that serve as good examples of where just a few minutes of research and effort on your part, will actually save you time and frustration.
Situation #1: The Hair Dryer Doldrums!
Halfway through your morning blowout and your blow dryer quits. Or it worked yesterday, it is plugged into the same outlet, but today it doesn’t turn on. Enter the prankster of the electrical outlet world, the GFI outlet! Yes, Ground Fault Interrupt. This is that funny looking outlet with the two tiny buttons in the center, that is there to save your life if your hair dryer falls in the tub of bath water you are lounging in. They are extremely sensitive! The slightest moisture on the outlet or an electrical cord plugged into the outlet will cause it to trip.
Two more things you should know about these tricksters. First, it is not always easy to tell, just by looking, if a GFI outlet has tripped. The easiest way to check is by pressing the buttons. Without getting too technical, one is the test button, and one is the reset button. Pressing the test button will pop the reset button. Pressing the reset button puts the outlet back into operation. Of course, you are just checking to see if the re-set button is popped. As long as the cause of the trip has been resolved, pressing the re-set button should put you back in business.
The second thing to know about GFI outlets is this. Your hair dryer may not be plugged in to an outlet that looks like a GFI, but it is on the same circuit that is still protected. The GFI could actually be in another room, or a different outlet in the same room. It all has to do with the circuit. The outlet protects you just the same. I am not an electrician, but I know from experience that the GFI is not always in the same room. But you will always find GFI’s where there is a potential for your electricity to mix with water. So, think Kitchen sinks and bathroom sinks. If you don’t immediately see a GFI, keep looking. It is guaranteed to be there somewhere.