Apr 072012
appliance repair

Dare to Repair Your Washer

This post should be very helpful for the ten other DIYers besides me who are fools enough to try to fix the bearings on their front loader washing machine.
The ten minute video below shows the main steps in the process that took ten hours. I left out the whimpering and screaming and declarations that “this is NOT humanly possible!”
The main help I got in taking apart my Kenmore front loader came from this document: essential manual: How to remove and replace the drum gasket on the Frigidaire/Kenmore Front Load Washer with notes on tub bearing replacement and inner tub replacement. It saved me a lifetime of trying to figure it out myself. Continue reading »

Aug 242011

irrigation system repair

DIY irrigation system repair

It’s ironic that the year I chose to start a blog about DIY house and yard projects, I’ve had more irrigation repair issues than in any other of the eleven years we’ve lived on this property. I take it as confirmation that this site was meant to be.
One of the repairs I had to make this year was to an above-ground irrigation pipe inside the pump house. Continue reading »

Jul 272011
volkswagen passat oil change

Oil and Filter Change on Passat

Yesterday I decided to change the oil in my 2003 1.8 Turbo Passat (even though I’ve never changed the oil in a vehicle before), and went looking for pictures or videos about oil/filter changing in online VW forums, but found NOTHING with much detail. Very frustrating. Even my Passat manual didn’t have pictures of an oil or filter change! There were a few forum written posts about oil change, but I had no idea what an oil pan looked like, let alone a filter, etc, etc.
So. I resolved to take what little info I got from the forums and make a video so others could see how it’s done.
How I changed the oil and filter in my Wolkswagen Passat

1. Remove the skirt from under the front of the Passat.
2. The one helpful piece of information I got for changing oil on a 2003 Passat was that you have to use a 19mm socket wrench to loosen the oil pan plug. Since I didn’t know where said pan was (there was nothing under the car that looked like a frying pan), I just took a 19mm wrench down there to find a bolt that fit it. I figured if the wrench fit, it was probably the plug for the oil pan. I was right. I loosed the bolt, placed a catcher under the oil pan, and drained it. The video doesn’t show this because I only thought to make this helpful video after I drained the oil. 🙂
3. Another helpful hint from a Passat forum was to move the coolant reserve tank out of the way to get to the filter more easily. Did that.
4. And the best suggestion from the Passat forums was to use a ziplock bag to put around the oil filter as you remove it so the oil doesn’t spill all over the inner parts of your motor. Did that too. Unfortunately, the old oil filter was so tight, I had to use a plumber’s wrench to remove it, and in doing that I poked a couple holes in the plastic bag. For future reference, loosen the oil filter first, then put a plastic bag around it and unscrew it.
5. Replace the filter.
6. Put the plug back on the oil pan.
7. Refill your oil tank.
8. Replace the skirt (or whatever it’s called) under the front of the Passat. This was by far the most difficult part of the whole oil change! It would have been helpful if I’d written down where everything fit while I was taking it off!
By the way, I did get the letter from VW about the oil sludge problem in the 2003 Passat, so the oil I used was 5/30 synthetic as per directions. Hopefully I’ll avoid the sludge buildup! My total cost was $38 including 4 quarts and an oil filter.


Jun 072011

home repair products

5th Element for Hope Repair

This week I accidentally discovered the Fifth Elemental product for use in home repair. It’s a miraculous product that doesn’t even have a name. But, oh, the possibilities…

We all know the four standard Elements used in home maintenance and repair:

1st Home Repair Product: Duct Tape

Duct tape is the Number One product used in home repair. Whether you’re a carpenter, a mechanic, a plumber or housewife, duct tape is your friend. You can use it to wrap leaky plumbing or a water hose in a pinch; use it to cover a tear in a bag; make it into a wallet; hold your car bumper together with it; tape a broken windshield in an emergency—you name it. From the extremely practical to the ridiculous, duct tape is a Must-Have Element for any home repair kit.

2nd Home Repair Product: Wire

Wire is another Must Have Product for your home repair kit. Bend the end into a hook and use it to fish hair (or other semi-solid gunk) out of pipes in plumbing jobs; use it to hang a curtain or laundry. In places that you can’t use duct tape, use it to hold car parts together. Fashion a gate latch out of wire. Again, just a very useful, multi-function product.

3rd Repair Product: Contact Cement

The Third Product is contact cement. This is my favorite adhesive for home repair and craft projects. Glue shoes back together with it. Glue weather-stripping that’s lost its stickiness. Use it to add non-skid tape to the edge of your steps. It’s good for plastic, fabric, leather. In the craft department, this adhesive worked great for making a muppet out of foam. I don’t know if plumbers use this, but if I ever use it on plumbing project, I’ll post about it.

4th Product: Plumbers’ Epoxy

The Fourth Product, and my favorite until this week, is plumbers’ epoxy. I first saw this product in use in Brazil in my mother’s kitchen. I don’t think Mom knew this was supposed to be used for plumbing. She repaired things with plumbers’ epoxy. If a stainless steel sauce pan losts its handle, Mom would rather make a new one with plumber’s epoxy than buy an aluminum replacement pan. Broken cup handle? Mom would mold a new one in five minutes and stick it right onto the porcelain. Easiest repair product ever.
Taking my mother as an example, I once made a car part out of plumbers’ epoxy. Saved me a bundle. And this week I fixed a tiny hole in an irrigation pipe with this product.

The 5th Element in Home Repair: __________ (?)

Like I was saying, this week I discovered a product that could supersede plumbers’ epoxy as the best stuff to use in home, auto, and human repair. I was about to throw the stuff away because it didn’t serve its original purpose, but then lemonade happened.
See, I’ve been wanting to find some way of giving my mother (who has advanced Alzheimer’s) a nice smile, and my kid sister in Texas suggested getting Flippers.
Flippers are dental veneers that little beauty pageant girls use when they’re missing their front teeth. They attach to the teeth with a curious molding substance that softens in hot water, gets shaped to the person’s mouth, then hardens as it cools. Same stuff they make DIY mouth guards out of that you can buy at most pharmacies.
Long story short, I bought the veneers, tried them on Mom, and she about choked trying to eat them.
I had in mind to throw them away when I noticed the rubber plugs at the end of each leg of my tripod were gone. The metal often slid out of place when I tried to set it up.
You know where I’m going with this, right?
I heated a cup of water and threw the magic repair beads inside. After a minute, the beads were a soft, clear blob.
I removed the blob and pinched it in three pieces, molding each piece around the tip of the tripod legs. Ran the new plugs under cold water, and voilá, I had me a new tripod.

  • plumber's dream productideal for plumbing fixesplastic moulding productmoulding plastic for repair
  • Now I keep thinking of ways this stuff could be used to repair or build things. It certainly could be used in plumbing jobs, but it could also be used to make a splint for a broken finger. Unlike plumbers’ epoxy, this Element does not get brittle and crack, and it can be softened again with hot water! Thinking back on the part I made for my car out of plumbers’ epoxy–this stuff would have worked better for the repair.

    My challenge to you: find a new way to use mouldable mouth guard plastic in a repair job, and come back and tell me.