Category Archives: Adventures in Home Ownership


Today, the ratty gray fence that has enclosed the back yard of Stately Rice Manor since we moved here in 2000 (and, given its obvious superannuation, for quite a while previous to our arrival) is – finally! – coming down.

Three fellas with hammers, power tools & a Bobcat are even now knocking it down & piling it on their trailer.

Work on the new fence – a very pretty (and mind-bogglingly expensive) cedar job – will begin presently.

(Sam is fascinated by all the activity. He’s been glued to the back windows, taking pictures, etc., etc.)

Faucet, again

The kitchen faucet – installed just about six years ago by Grandpa Norm – leaks.

We first discovered the leak last October. After cleaning up the mess, I put a bowl under the sink, to catch the drips. I check the bowl every evening after washing dishes; it stays empty for days at a time, then – with no warning, and for no obvious reason – the bowl fills, spills over, and soaks the cabinet. (There’s a towel under the bowl, and a sheet of vinyl flooring under the towel, so the cabinet itself has so far avoided damage.)

The problem is somewhere inside the faucet itself, not in any of the various pipes / tubing / etc. connected to it, so I doubt that repair is feasible. It’s time for a new faucet.

This is starting to remind me of the infamous garbage-disposal incident of 2002: the old disposal died a few days prior to October 3, 2002; we finally purchased a replacement in October of 2004, but didn’t actually install it until January 9, 2005. (Grandpa Norm installed it. I am quite useless at household repair projects.) For over two years, we stared at increasingly-vile standing water in the right-hand sink.

There’s talk of going faucet-shopping this morning, so – with luck – this latest problem will not fester for quite so long.

Drip. drip. drip.

For the last week or so, we’ve had intermittent water under the sink. (Longer than that, really; but we first noticed it on Mouse Day.)

Tracking it down proved a bit frustrating: everything would stay dry for days, then suddenly a fresh puddle would appear. We couldn’t correlate it with anything: running the dishwasher, washing dishes, running the disposal.

I got in the habit of checking under the sink every day (sometimes two or three times a day); finally, I spotted the culprit: the faucet. I put a bowl under the drips, and contemplated what to do next.

(I’d been hoping it was the dishwasher. I hate the dishwasher & have been looking for an excuse to replace it. Maybe next time.)

After a few days of procrastinating – I wouldn’t mind having a new faucet, but installing one is more than I can handle – I remembered that the spray head on the faucet has a tendency to come loose from the metal hose. One time it actually fell off while somebody was using it to spray something. (And what a mess that made.)

So I checked, and the spray head was indeed working itself loose again.

Perhaps this means that the mystery leak has at last been found and fixed. I think I’ll leave the bowl under the sink a while longer, just to be sure.


One of the garage door cables snapped this morning, here at Stately Rice Manor. Nobody was in the garage at the time, so no injuries. (Also no property damage, aside from the cable itself.) It made quite a noise, when it let go: CLANG.

So, time for another call to the nice people at Overhead Door Co., who were last here in January of 2006. They’ll be coming out again, either this afternoon (unlikely) or tomorrow morning (more likely).

Their last visit ended up costing $90. One hopes this visit will prove less expensive.


The toilet went slightly bonkers this afternoon: the float stopped floating, the water wouldn’t stop flowing, the tank overflowed into the bowl, which threatened to overflow onto the floor.

I was at work at the time, but was summoned home to assist in damage control. By the time I got home, Jennifer & Jacob had used a strip of fabric to tie the float arm to a conveniently-placed towel rack. My only contribution was to loosen the valve handle so it could be turned off.

(If you ignore them for ten years, they tend to stick. Imagine that.)

I went back to work (it was a bit early to knock off for the day, and I’d left a few things unfinished), then stopped at Home Depot on the way home for some replacement parts for the toilet. (The complete kit is $20, which is not so bad. Cheaper than a new disposal, definitely.)

Removing the ancient & decayed machinery was messy, but not particularly difficult. Installing the new machinery wasn’t so hard, either. Tightening up the nine-and-ninety bolts enough to prevent leaks, but not so much as to crack the tank, was a bit more difficult.

I think it’s all watertight now, but just to be safe there’s a towel underneath the water intake. If it’s still dry in the morning, I will declare victory.

(Victory – over a toilet? Am I really so diminished that that is where I look for self-esteem?)

Cold shower, declined

Woke up this morning to a conspicuous absence of hot water: the pilot light in the water heater was off.

It’s fairly easy to re-light the pilot light, so I did. (It involves crawling around on the floor, which is not so easy.) Now we just have to wait a while for the tank to warm up, and then – showers for everyone.

Yesterday the air-conditioner maintenance fella stopped by to give our air conditioner a tune-up. (“Looks good to me,” he said.) If memory serves, the last time the water heater’s pilot light went out was immediately after a visit from the air-conditioner fella.



The tubing between the dryer and the hole in the floor (from which a long duct runs across the crawlspace & ultimately out the back wall of the house) fell off the other day, which meant that all the moisture & lint that normally ends up in the back yard was instead pumped into the (small, marginally-ventilated) laundry room.

It made quite a mess.

Fortunately, repairs were easy: buy a roll of foil tape from the hardware store, use most of it to reassemble (& armor-plate) the (rather fragile) tubing, then reattach it to the dryer. That last step was a bit tricky, but I managed it.

Also: replaced the hot water hose on the washing machine. Sears says to replace them every five years, which means we’re only about five years late. (Oops.) One of these days we’ll get around to buying a second hose, and replace the cold water hose.


I woke up at 6:07am, after some seriously weird dreams (which faded from memory almost immediately, hence can’t be described here) to an unusually chilly house: 60°, according to the thermostat.

The furnace was running, and air was coming out of the registers; but it was cold air.

I dug out the furnace owner’s manual – closer in size to a large pamphlet than a manual – and worked through the restart checklist. The furnace came right back up – blowing cold air.

I called the local furnace-repair people, who paged their emergency-repair fella, who showed up bright & early (around 8:00am). He poked around a bit, then announced that the igniter had failed.

Half an hour – and $356.20 – later, we had a working furnace again.

Twelve hours later, the house is still reasonably warm. One minor mystery: two circuit breakers tripped this morning. One was for the furnace. Coincidence? Another symptom of the original problem?

Microwave angst

The microwave oven at Stately Rice Manor died a week or two ago: it looked & sounded normal enough, but food placed therein remained stubbornly at its original temperature.

We discovered this by trying to melt some chocolate, for an Christmas edible-craft project (the penguins). Clearly, baking chocolate contains some chemical that is fatal to microwave ovens.

Jennifer called Sears the next day & scheduled a service call; Mr. Repair Guy showed up this afternoon. He poked around a bit, then announced, “You need a new magnetron, capacitor & diode. It’ll probably cost $318.”

He also said that buying & installing an entirely new microwave oven would cost about $30 less, so that’s what we’ll probably do. (Apparently, microwave ovens these days are optimized for energy efficiency instead of reliability.)

The newly-deceased microwave cost $365, and lasted less than three years. Its predecessor was fifteen years old when we replaced it – because the handle had broken off. The oven part still worked fine. (I have the gloomy suspicion that if we’d kept the old microwave, it would still be working just fine. But the missing handle was really annoying, and we had no reason to suspect that a new microwave would conk out in three years. Hindsight, 20/20, etc.)


Slapped another board on the (ancient, dilapidated) shed in the back yard, then added a pair of bolts to keep the doors closed (since the fancy spring-loaded latch installed by the previous owners had long since failed in that duty).

Still to be done: stain the new board, so it matches the rest of the shed. (I suppose I should have done that before nailing it up, but it’s treated lumber: the stain is purely cosmetic. It seemed more important to get the doors secured. Staining can wait. [Preferably until Sam is not home.])