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Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:06 am
by Alphaville
some mechanics will lift with the jack and get underneath in a hurry, but you're not supposed to use the thing to hold the car up--just to lift, then place the stands, per every instruction manual.

manuals often don't explain why, which is in part why overconfident people break the rules, but cocky people will break the rules even with a thousand explanations... anyway one reason is that the jack uses hydraulic valves, which can fail (same as bottle jacks btw). also the jack provides a single spot to lift/hold so things could go literally sideways easily with an unbalanced load, uneven terrain, slippery floor, etc.--this happens with any kind of jack, but particularly with those that fit on the side of the vehicle. also floor jacks have wheels... and aren't meant to lock in place. plus you can simply release a floor jack with half a turn of the handle (bottle jack with a twist of the valve) and the load drops. bottle and floor jacks are basically the same, only floor jack is enhanced by wheels, large levers, etc.

hence, use good stands, always.

and you're supposed to use parking brakes, wheel chocks, etc. but people like to cut corners. this is why it's good to have nice gear actually: to keep you from cutting corners.

if i had kept working on trucks, plus have all the family's trucks around, i would have wanted to get a lift eventually. but those are $$$$ and i was a moneyless peasant. eg see:

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:16 pm
by ellarose24
This may not be big for some of you, but this specific thread convinced me to try my hand at fixing my toilet. and I DID! I did have to use a hacksaw, which is why I was originally against it, but I did it anyways and it was no big deal. It cost $30 in parts and saved at least $200 for new toilet and $200 for installation.

Before (this is actually our other toilet, I didn' grab a before--but it looked just about the same) : Image

After Image

I'm thinking of doing the other toilet as well--as the rust leaves what looks like a shit stain every time you flush, no matter how much I clean. Plus, the flush on this new toilet is so much better. M is impressed with me and I'm walking around with my chest puffed.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 2:17 pm
by Alphaville

that's some damn nice work!

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:17 pm
by Sclass
Beautiful. Hey it is a big deal when you save $400. Just think of how much that is to earn before taxes too. Now you can divert that to your investment engine. Toilets are a big deal.

I love fixing my toilets. I learned how to change a wax gasket when my wife tried to flush a cosmetics bottle down that she didn’t want to reach in and fish out. :x Plumber quoted me $500 to lift the toilet out if he couldn’t snake it. . I knew he couldn’t snake it because I already tried.

So I told the guy to get lost and I unbolted the toilet, flipped it over, and spotted the plastic bottle way up inside it around the crook. I had to use an inspection mirror to see it. It was really jammed in there. I fashioned a sharpened hook from a piece of welding wire and gaffed it out.

Later a home improvement savvy buddy told me a great trick to deal with it. He had a rental where little kids were often flushing plastic toys down. When he realized the only way to get a toy out of the toilet was to crack it he came up with this one. He pointed a propane torch up the bottom of the toilet and melted it out. Saved a new toilet.

Another toilet horror story was at my in-laws. A bad toilet fill hose broke and did $20000 of water damage to the house. I remember coming home to the house and seeing a waterfall off the second floor balcony. I just sat down on by the pool and calmly lit up while my wife frantically called her dad. I remember looking up and seeing the waterfall and thinking “that ain’t good”. My wife opened the door and the water flooded out over her feet.

All this because a plumber didn’t properly install the toilet a month earlier.

Toilets are a big deal.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:28 pm
by Toska2
Oooo! Nice!

I have a muted horror story about toilets. The 18" hose from the line to the toilet had plastic ends. Mine cracked and gave away, all open full line pressure spraying the walls and cabinet. Some how the sound of water woke me up in 10 seconds. Threw down a couple towels, wiped everything down, put the towels in the tub and went back to sleep.

Went to the hardware store for a new hose. The price difference between a hose with plastic or steel fiitings? $1. I am irked that a plastic one can even be building code.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:41 pm
by ellarose24
Oh---interesting. I also learned that the specific toilet I used (crane) is notorious for originally including steel instead of brass bolts. I found this thread when I first tried to clean the toilet which is why I gave up on doing it myself originally--just rusted all the way through and having to hacksaw as the bolts has rusted too (wish I had pictures).

I am thinking of replacing the hose and parts next--mine is plastic too and warns about not tightening too tight. But the kit I said stated if the hose and connector are over 5 years you should replace. That one makes me a little more nervous.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:27 am
by Sclass
Toska2 wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 6:28 pm
The 18" hose from the line to the toilet had plastic ends. Mine cracked and gave away, all open full line pressure spraying the walls and cabinet.
This is exactly what happened to us. The only problem was we were at an all day wedding party and it had 16 hours to flood the house. It trashed the place. There was a good inch of water all over the house and the carpets were saturated. Serious water damage.

All from a cheap little hose mounted under the toilet.

Just saying, knowing how to fix toilets and plumbing is a big deal.

I wish I had a cheap way to fix root intrusion. I have a 100 yo drain pipe getting strangled by a pomegranate bush my mom planted forty years ago. Poor lady had no idea what she had done. She actually left it in a giant oak barrel at the spot but after a couple of decades it split the barrel and rooted into the soil. Now, fast forward forty years, it’s a tree with two rusty barrel rings at the base. Roots five feet down into the pipe...under hand laid mortar less bricking. I’ve tried to kill the bush but it keeps coming back. It’s a yearly snaking job. I bought a power snake that paid for itself in two Cleanout’s. Still a lingering issue.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sat Apr 24, 2021 10:42 am
by ducknald_don
One of my neighbours had a similar problem with the hose on their oil fuel tank. Unfortunately it leaked under the foundations of their house. They are going to need extensive work to get it all restored.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:21 am
by jacob
Sclass wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:27 am
I wish I had a cheap way to fix root intrusion.
We had this problem to a moderate degree when we moved in here(*). Fortunately, the former tree on top was dead. Otherwise, some places/states will dig down to the roots and pour something toxic in the hole to kill further growth. Then a cutting head removing the roots in the line will fix the problem permanently. Poison is probably a no-go in CA? Otherwise, another method we looked at would be to push an ABS liner inside the old sewage main line. However, main lines used to have a smaller diameter (6"?) and with a liner it will be even smaller. This can be a problem with modern low-flow toilets which given the line grade or lack thereof might not have enough water to push the shit/paper through the smaller diameter. Modern main lines are substantially wider for that [low flow] reason.

(*) We also had looong roots from the kitchen sink to the main stack which took an hour to "grind" out. Never put seeds down the drain!

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:51 am
by Sclass
I don’t want to pour poison down the drain. I have a septic tank.

I poured a little diesel fuel on the stump. Diesel is deadly on plants. But I think my pipe is trashed down there. My alternative is digging. It’s a small line like 3” for a sink drain in the kitchen and wash room.

I’ve already fixed two other lines on the property. Basically hired people to dig and then laid new line. The mass of roots surrounding the line after decades of root intrusion was frightening. It was like a cage of roots surrounding the pipe. This has been going on for many years. Mom just hired a rotorooter guy every year but she kept watering the bushes and trees. By the time I got there and killed the bushes and trees it was too late. So I hired some guys to dig.

The dig was in the crawl space. Pure hell dig in your hands and knees down 4’ of dirt. They used short spades and a battery powered reciprocating saw to cut the roots. Took two guys two days. Was the best $2800 I’d spent.

I am facing the same issue on two additional lines. At least they aren’t under the house. I want to choke my parents for planting trees all along the house and drain lines. When I started to cut them down my step mother showed up and tried to stop me. “You’re cutting down all your daddy’s fruit trees!” Yeah I am. I can buy a lifetime supply of fruit for the money it costs to excavate the line and repair the mason work above it.

I don’t want to change up the drain system too much because I’m grandfathered in on my old septic system. Los Angeles county has all these new rules and taxes fir sewer line hookups. I would like to just replace pipes. I think I’m looking at guys with shovels.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:48 pm
by SavingWithBabies
@Sclass They sell sewer line insurance here in the midwest due to the prevalence of Orangeburg pipe for sewer lines. It seems to last surprisingly long for being basically tar piper pipe but then it goes and... My brother's neighbor had her sewer line just go out and found out it was Orangeburg. So my brother added on a ~$30/year option to his house insurance to insure against this potential issue.

I tend to shy away from random insurance products and I suspect others here do so too but this one might make sense some of the time. Looks like it's a general thing so should be in all markets.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:56 am
by Ego
Sclass wrote:
Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:51 am
I think I’m looking at guys with shovels.
Anything more than hand tools may cause enough commotion to reach the attention of an inspector. Are you planning to keep it long enough to justify going beyond the roto-rooter solution that has worked for years? It seems like a can-o-worms problem.

For situations like this my grandparents and parents used to say, "Don't open the closet". It comes from Fibber McGee and Molly

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:00 am
by Sclass
Ahh wisdom. I recently snaked the drains (myself) and everything works. You’re right. Doing this every year isn’t a problem now that I own a collection of snake tools. I know exactly where the root intrusion is (5’from the Cleanout) on the washroom drain so I actually made a custom 5’ snake with a sharpened hook on the end. I power it with an electric drill. I left it right on the shelf near the drain for next time.

One of the 4” pipes is tar paper. I cleared a big tangle of roots with a snake last spring. I guess I was looking at ten years of growth. So I might have bought myself a lot of time. I trenched between the tree and pipe and found the source of the offending roots and cut them with a reciprocating saw.

On the main line we dug out the pipe had a 6” section made of wood. On closer inspection it was roots that had been wrapped around the pipe and periodically bored out with a snake. The cutter blades actually cored out the roots and left a pipe made of wood! I’ll try to dig up my photos. It is amazing. That was my mom calling rotorooter annually for a decade.

I think I should let lying dogs lie. The county contacted me a year ago and said since I had an old septic system I needed to pay an environmental impact fee to county of Los Angeles or hook up to the sewer system. I opted for the $5 fee.

If I eventually renovate that house I’ll do it quietly DIY no inspection no fees. One nail at a time. The place has good bones. It has already lasted a hundred years. It’s one of those things that you have to totally immerse yourself into to make progress. I figure living there would be a necessary first step. Then let the repairs become a hobby and photo how tos for the Fixit log.

Recently edited - photos for your viewing pleasure.


Root mass "wood tube"


DIY snaking with Harbor Freight Tools (junk BTW do not buy) snake.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 12:41 am
by davtheram12
I've been driving a lot more lately, since I started working again, and noticed my car fan stopped working. With four different fan settings I noticed 1-3 didn't work but as soon as I set the fan speed to 4 the fan suddenly kicked on. I figured it was the blower motor resistor and after very light research, it was confirmed. Bought the part off for $19 and after a few days it arrived. Removed the glove box, unclipped the harness, unscrewed the blower motor resistor, replaced it with the new one and got it all back together within a few minutes. Kicked right on after I tested it.

I mentioned the whole situation to my coworker and she said she would have gladly paid the fee to get it replaced by a mechanic. Would have likely cost her an average of $125 :shock:
No thanks, I'll gladly do it myself each and every time.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:50 am
by Sclass
I had the same problem twenty years ago on a Toyota my wife owned.

I had an interesting diagnostic technique back then. Pre internet.

I went to the Toyota parts department at the local dealership and said I had a 1988 Celica with a fan that only runs at one speed. The parts guy didn’t even look up and said “blower motor resistor”. You sure? Yeah. Of course he knew because he ordered tons of them for the dealership.

I got to know the guy and for the next year I came in saying things like “heater only runs on high heat” or “car makes a loud thump when I turn right” and this guy was like magic. He’d tell me what part to change and sell it to me. The only drawback was I overpaid for dealership OEM parts.

I did the same at Saturn a few years later. The guy at the desk knew everything that broke on my Saturn. I almost bought a second Saturn for $300 that had a “head gasket leak” and he warned me, “no Sclass, that model has a cracked block. Don’t buy it unless you want to sell it for steel.” You sure? Yep, they ALL crack.

Just reminded me of the parts guy trick. The internet searches have kind of obsoleted this trick.

Good save on the $125. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. It adds up over the lifetime of a car. Also you have to make more than $125 to pay a mechanic $125 because of income taxes. Just keep fixing and saving and investing. I’ve been doing that for thirty years now and with compounding it has made a huge impact to my net worth.

I know because I just compare myself to my old peers who didn’t want to fuss with fixing things themselves. $3000 on plumbing is a big deal when you only have $10,000 in the bank.

Edit - you know this $125 thing and taxes got me thinking. I see the problem differently now that I’m ancient and retired. Many coworkers in my younger days would say “hey I don’t have the time to install that resistor, my free time is worth money.” Really? It took half an hour to install the blower resistor. (Less on my car because it was on the firewall not under the glove box). How many hours does it take for me to make $125 after taxes?

I know we’d argue “my time is worth more to me than that!” but when I think about it now as an old retired guy I realize I can never buy back my youth. And, if I didn’t save and invest that $125 I’d not have the compounded assets to say bye bye to that crappy job I had back then. My friends are still on that effing treadmill in their 50s and they’re still saying “sclass my free time is my recharge time it’s priceless.”

Exactly. I think it has to do with time value of money ultimately. A dollar back then was the equivalent to 1000s now.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 8:22 am
by basuragomi
@Sclass, that root tube is wild! Thanks for sharing. We still have some 80+ year old wood water mains here, some of them probably look pretty similar to your image at this point.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:56 am
by davtheram12

That was a very clever way to get the answers you needed! Although the internet has drastically changed how people approach any repair, some of those people still exist. My old manager was just that type of guy. When I was first learning to properly diagnose and repair my cars I would occasionally hit a snag. One quick call to my manager and he always knew how to get me out of any car predicament.

I appreciate the recognition. I've had the same frustrating conversations with my peers. In fact, it's pretty obvious my DW and I are starting to financially pull away from them. They spout the same things about time/money value. Yet they wonder how I was able to stay unemployed for 8 months and maintain the same exact lifestyle. I doubt many of them could do the same thing without having to drastically change many aspects of their daily lives. No matter. I'll just keep doing my thing and share along the way :)

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:13 pm
by Sclass
davtheram12 wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:56 am
In fact, it's pretty obvious my DW and I are starting to financially pull away from them.
Yeah it’s funny how this happens. If you notice that means you’re making fast progress. Once you start riding the exponential then you go into what Jacob calls runaway mode. Then it gets really obvious.

You will lose your friends if you stay on this course. :|

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sat May 01, 2021 5:15 pm
by Green Pimble
Sclass wrote:
Wed Apr 28, 2021 7:50 am
I know we’d argue “my time is worth more to me than that!” but when I think about it now as an old retired guy I realize I can never buy back my youth.
As a young professional I used to say this kind of thing, but since reading about FIRE and ERE my thoughts have changed. Even without the monetary appeal of pre-tax spending (i.e. using your own time) vs. after-tax spending (paying someone else), there is a lot of joy to be found in mastering your own environment.

Interestingly, I do still say "my time is worth more to me than that!" but only when it comes to working for more money. I'm offered shifts all the time, and I almost always turn them down because I would prefer to be at home doing my own thing. I'm not yet sure if this is a good idea, or if I should go hard and accumulate more wealth. On the other hand I could drop dead tomorrow. Then I'd be cursing all the time I spent at work :lol: . It feels hard to balance.

Re: Fixit Log

Posted: Sun May 02, 2021 8:36 pm
by davtheram12
Sclass wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:13 pm
You will lose your friends if you stay on this course. :|
I'm lucky to have a few very close friends that have known I'm a bit of a miser. I give in many ways but spending money frivolously is something they know I don't partake in. I actually have a very close friend who is far more extreme than me. He has a different end goal but he shares the same habits. As long as I have a few very close friends, I'll be happy :)