In the early 90s, as a new homeowner, I took great pride in trying to fix every problem that popped up. This was way before Google or YouTube! I depended on books! Books about plumbing, electrical wiring, appliances etc. So, any problem that we ran into, I’d open these books and go through the troubleshooting charts. Over the years I fixed the garage door opener, dryer, Microwave, toilet leaks etc.
They don’t give these type of T-shirts to just anybody, on Father’s Day, right?
Who are you gonna call : Electrician? Plumber? or a Cop?
This was in the first year of us moving into our new house. I was home with my daughter who was under 2 years old. Suddenly, there was a loud continuous beep that scared the heck out of me!! I panicked and ran around with the baby trying to figure out the source. First I checked out the obvious ones – the smoke detector and Carbon Monoxide alarms. They were all quiet. Yet, the screeching continued. While carrying my daughter with one hand, I started sticking my ear to every appliance in the house. And, they were all fine. In my panic, I ran over to my neighbor and had him come over to help me figure this one out. Jim has been a home owner for lot longer that us and he was a pretty handy guy. I figured he would get to the bottom of this right away. Unfortunately, NO! Even he gave up after checking for the usual suspects throughout house. We even stood in the backyard and could hear the entire house shrieking. He suggested the security system. Ah.. that’s an obvious possibility! How did I overlook that one? I ran back in and entered the passcode to try and shut it off. No!! .. no luck! That did not stop it. In desperation, convinced that it was the security system that was causing this racket, I snipped the wires going into the keypad and, still the ear piercing decibels continued. On top of that, I accidentally let go of the wires, which slipped back into the drywall, never to be seen again! Oops! Then in a move that makes absolutely no sense, in complete desperation, I decided to call the police! How or why is a beeping/screeching house a police problem? I don’t know. Unlike now, I was not very bright back then. The policeman showed up. I have to say, he was very sincere in his attempt to get to the source of the problem. Unfortunately it was exactly the things we already tried. Yes, up and down all floors, the smoke alarm, the appliances and even the security system. He then expressed his helplessness, and said we should call the utility company or the security system company.
After everyone left, I was outside with my daughter, when Uma came home. I explained the drama behind the screeching house. We were convinced that something bad was going to happen. Like the house was going to explode! Why did I think that? Because I’ve always had a vivid and dramatic imagination!
Uma and I started going through room after room and checking all detectors etc. again. I was in the kitchen when she shouted from upstairs that it stopped beeping up there. Hmm.. that’s great.. but it was still beeping in the kitchen. I went upstairs to check, while Uma wanted to poke around the stove. Wait! what is she talking about? It is still screeching upstairs! Meanwhile Uma said it also stopped in the kitchen. What?? Wait! Hold on! At that same instance it occurred to both of us that it was beeping wherever I was! Whhat? Yes, the sound seems to be coming from me! Holy Moly! Yes indeed! It was coming from my Casio digital watch. Goodness! Looks like it got stuck in some kind of a faulty alarm mode. And of course, whoever was with me heard it as well – the neighbor and the policeman. As soon as I powered it down the screeching racket ended!
If this ever got out to the neighbors or the police, we would be the laughing stock of the whole neighborhood (not to mention the police station). So, we hushed it up. No one ever brought this up. It’s almost like it never happened!
My handy work over the years!
The Kitchen Sink Conundrum
There was this other time when the kitchen sink was not draining. After examining it closely, I declared that all the leftover rice that gets dumped in the sink would clog up the pipes, just like cholesterol that clogs up the arteries. I loved medical analogies and used them every chance I got.
The very first attempt to clear the clog was using a snake, which is a “long flexible metal tube” that is pushed into pipes to clear clogs. I shoved the snake into the sink pipes and gave it a good twist to clear whatever was stopping the water from draining. Unfortunately, this did not clear the clog! That meant I had to go with a longer snake or to the more invasive “surgical” option. I opted for the latter, because that seemed like a more probable solution (and sounded more thrilling too). So, I traced the pipes under the sink and followed them down into the finished basement. I then took off the ceiling tiles, to locate the correct pipe (among the multitude of PVC pipes there). By strategically knocking on the pipe and confirming a dull thud, I determined which section was clogged. I explained what I was planning to do, to Uma – just as any surgeon would, to his 1st year residents before making the first incision. After placing a bucket on the floor to collect the dirty water, I started to cut. The bucket did catch some of the dirty water but most of it drained on me and the floor. Uma was not a happy camper! She complained about the mess and kept repeating that I “should call someone who knows what they are doing”. I tried to explain to Uma that – yes, it is messy, but this is equivalent to a heart surgeon operating for a bypass surgery. There is bound to be a bloody mess. Finally, I managed to cut off the 5 foot section of the pipe and carefully carry it out and looked through the hole – expecting to see a clog that blocked the pipe. But, shockingly, it was completely clean! No clog at all! Damn! How did my theory about the rice-clog fail so badly?
Now the pressure to call a professional increased dramatically! I was getting discouraged. First step was to put the PVC pipe back in place using the standard purple cleaner and glue. Once that was done, I was theorizing that maybe the clog was further down and maybe I should start cutting the pipe at a different place. This was the last straw for Uma! She started screaming at me and asked me to make the call. I finally reluctantly relented and was about to call “Roto Rooter”, all the while mumbling that I was a good handyman. Just then Uma realized that the stopper/strainer was turned 90 degrees in the sink thereby stopping the water from draining. She turned it around and it drained completely! So, there was really nothing wrong with the pipes and I had performed an unnecessary surgery on the poor pipe! Oops!! Oh Well..
After Uma got done laughing uncontrollably, I made her agree to a deal that we will never ever mention this to another soul! We will put this incident away in our time capsule for 30 years, at which time the story will be unearthed and shared on Blogs and Social media posts in exchange for cheap laughs and “likes”!
By the way, these were the only two times that I ever made a fool of myself while fixing things around the house. After these, all other household handyman/DIY fixes were all handled perfectly by me! No issues at all. I can say that confidently here, because the fact-checker isn’t on Facebook and doesn’t read my blogs, to dispute this..🤪