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Dispose of Your Fears

9 Jul

Disposers and toilets are my most frequent service calls. It’s not because they are particularly difficult things to fix, they just trigger too much fear and loathing.  The hero has to conquer fear to defeat the beast. If you want to be a knight in shining armor you have to slay a few dragons. Your armor is a little bit of knowledge and your sword is a few ordinary tools and fearless determination.

As I have said before, disposals are very durable machines. At the factory they actually test them by grinding batches of bones and wood blocks-two things I wouldn’t put down my disposer. One of the more perplexing problems of disposer repair is when the rotor is spinning but not grinding. This is usually caused by a stuck blade. What gets stuck can often be unstuck. It can be difficult to do from the top but not impossible. Often it is necessary to pull the unit down, remove the splash guard (the black rubber thingy) grab the blade with a pliers and twist. I don’t know how many disposers I disposed of before I realized that this problem is often fixable. But to repeat my fist mantra: a handyman is just someone who has screwed up enough times that he finally gets it right.

Blind Ambition

3 Jul

The more handyman work I do the more Zen like the experience becomes. Now I haven’t shaved my head or started wearing robes and if you see me in the lotus position call the chiropractor. But I do have mantras that I repeat often. I needed two for this job.

As a handyman for hire I face the repair/ replace dilemma almost every day. With blinds it is usually ‘replace’ as they are generally inexpensive and easy to install. But every paradigm get sand in the gears at some time. Here I had a situation with a custom colored blind. The center blind really needed replacing. The gear mechanism controlling the blinds had become so difficult to operate that the connection point for the wand had completely sheared off. I was able to operate the blind using my pliers so I knew the mechanism stilled worked but no standard wand would be strong enough to withstand the torque necessary to operate it. Furthermore all that was left was a little spindle. Whatever I tried would have to clamp on to the spindle. I was completely stumped. I recommended to the property management company that they replace the blind. But to retain the match with the other windows this would mean replacing two perfectly good blinds. They asked me to try to find a way to fix it. And here in calls for the chanting of one of my mantras: THE ART OF THE HANDYMAN BEGINS WHEN CONVENTIONAL SOLUTIONS FAIL.

When I focus my obsessive compulsive tendencies on a very concrete problem good things often result. When it gets focused on people or relationships its torture. I have learned that I am good at fixing things but not people. (There are many years of misery compressed into that sentence!)  However I was beginning to lose hope of finding a solution . But on trip down the electrical isle of the big box store for a different job I finally had the “aha!” moment. I found a thing called a TERMINAL LUG  and realized I could attach it to the end of a wooden dowel. It had a strong clamp on the end that I was sure would hold to the spindle. As you will see in the video, it worked.

Let’s be clear. This is not a permanent solution. The gear mechanism inside the blind will eventually strip from the torque but that’s another job for another day. For the moment I had a fix that satisfied both the tenant and the owner. Another mantra: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT, IT JUST HAS TO BE GOOD ENOUGH.

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