Mr. Fix-It

Home Improvement (Parts I & II) chronicled the adventure John and I undertook when we replaced our garbage disposal last summer. That project left no doubt that neither one of us deserves the title of “handy” when it comes to home repair. That is an unfortunate fact because it is almost impossible to find a handyman these days, especially in rural Kansas. With that in mind, the most recent domicile malfunction left me at the mercy of Mr. Fix-It.

The first indication of trouble came in the form of an unusually warm vinyl floor in the west bathroom. That bathroom is generally so cold that I keep a small space heater in there all winter. I almost always use the bathroom that adjoins our bedroom so I have no idea how long the hot water had been leaking under the floor before I happened to walk in there barefoot one day and noticed the change. Our house sits on a slab foundation so the floor temperature was the only indication at that point that we had a problem.  I’m not sure how long it took me to remember to tell John about my discovery, but it was at least a week so I was happy to see him spring into action two weeks later and finally call a repairman who evaluated the situation and then disappeared.

After three weeks of waiting for the repairman to return, we received an electric bill that was $150 higher than normal so John decided to take action himself.  He started turning off the switch in the breaker box that controlled the hot water heater whenever it wasn’t in use.  Okay, that solved one problem but created another.  I had to wait 15 minutes every morning for the water to heat before I could take a shower.  Not a crisis to be sure but certainly inconvenient.

This past weekend I consulted with some of John’s family members who are “handy” to see if they could think of a solution that didn’t involve a jackhammer in my living room breaking up concrete.  They suggested a short term solution that seemed to provide a workable option until we could get a new line run above ground.  Armed with their instructions, John cut the hot water line between the two bathrooms and capped the end.  This action should have cut off the hot water in the east bathroom and stopped the leak under the concrete.  It did both of those things, but it also eliminated the availability of hot water everywhere in the house except the shower in the west bathroom.

I truly appreciate John’s efforts, and I no longer have to wait for water to heat before I shower, but I don’t think I will be completely at ease until hot water comes out of all the faucets marked for that function.  I’m considering enrolling in our local community college for some courses in basic carpentry, plumbing, and heating/air conditioning.  The only reliable, long term solution is for me to become Mrs. Fix-It.

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