DH fixes things

  • Even though DH is only getting paid 50%, he’s still working 80% or more.  I caught him working on Friday this week.  He really likes programming.
  • Still, it seems like our house heard that he was going to be at part-time and then completely laid off and decided that now was a good time to have things break.
  • Our bedroom light started flickering annoyingly (strobe is a migraine trigger for me).  DH diagnosed that it was the dimmer and got a replacement dimmer switch and then swapped it out without electrocuting himself or shorting our house electricity and now it works just fine.  Cost ~$8.
  • A couple lightbulbs decided to go out.  He replaced them.
  • An A key on our electronic piano decided to just stop working.   He took apart the keyboard, cleaned the contacts on the circuit board, and put it back together. Cost:  Free, just lots and lots of time and screws that had to be unscrewed and rescrewed.
  • The magnetic catches on the bathroom window shutters all died of plastic fatigue and stopped working at all.  After I complained about the painters tape he was using to keep the shutters closed, he replaced them with metal catches that won’t die in the Southern sun.  (This one actually broke a long time ago and I didn’t mind until he put tape on things– apparently I have less problem with shutters to the bathroom that are a little open, not enough so anyone can see through, but cannot stand a bunch of blue tape advertising the fact they won’t stay shut without it.)  Cost:  $10
  • Wasp nest in the BBQ.  DH killed them dead, then killed them again when the survivors decided to start a new nest near the garage.  Then he bought a new cover for the bbq so this wouldn’t happen again.  Cost:  $4 for spray and $80 for a new cover
  • There will be a separate post on the modem router that was killed by lightening because I need to find the email DH sent me explaining everything.

Have you fixed up anything lately? Or had anything fixed? Or have things been breaking?

Our stand mixer broke!!!

Wailey Wailey woe.  Tragedy struck while making pumpernickel.

AND not only are kitchenaids scarce knee deep into a pandemic (just like sewing machines!), they no longer come in the color that just magically matches the blue we already had in our backsplash and that we chose for our knobs.  (Cobalt blue, how I miss you.)  That mixer really tied everything together in a way that I normally wouldn’t care about but now that I’ve seen it, I’m having a hard time giving up.

So….

We bought a new stand mixer.  Specifically, a KitchenAid 6-Quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer.  In Nickel Pearl because that was $190 cheaper than any other color, though now it looks like their other colors are on various sales, and from a random website called Everything Kitchens.  (If all prices were the same, I would have gotten a plum one from another website, but those really were at sticker price.)  It came, new in box, and works just fine.  The dough hook is a little different.  Everything has interchangable parts, so it fits with the older 6 Qt blue mixer.

But… it still isn’t cobalt blue.  And DH’s forays into painting things have not gone … as expected, and I didn’t want him to do what he did to his microphone to something in our kitchen.

So DH said, well, let me see if I can fix it.  So he opened it up and found where a gear had been ground down.  He bought a replacement part for that gear, which fortunately still fits with the motor (if we’d had an even older model stand mixer we would have had to buy a new motor as well).  He ordered the motor and some food-grade grease (after a discussion with his brother who works on engines for a living) because the motor area is literally and liberally coated in grease.

While cleaning the old grease out in order to put in the new gear, he found two seemingly random ball bearings.  That was traced to another part where two washers holding some ball bearings had come apart, letting the little balls go free.  We do not know the whereabouts of the remaining 6 or 7 bearings– we’re hoping they fell out with the grease.

So DH ordered those parts and a couple of additional washers.

And put them in.

And added grease.

And now we have TWO working stand mixers.

We put the cobalt blue one back in its place of honor in the kitchen.

We decided to put the new one in the dining room on the granite counter bureau where DH makes pasta and pie dough.  We will probably give this one to DC1 when zie has hir own kitchen in however many years.  Maybe cobalt blue kitchenaids will be manufactured again!

Recessed lighting and energy efficiency

We had an energy audit done on our house (free from the utilities company!)

We thought he’d go around the house with a fancy heat gun checking for drafts or something, but he didn’t.  But no, first order problems don’t require any fancy equipment.

What were his main suggestions?

1.  Put a tent over the stairs to the attic on the attic-side in the air conditioned access part.  He was shocked that we have attic access from inside the house and not just from the garage.  This has turned out to be difficult because there’s an inconveniently placed pipe up near this access point in the attic.

2.  Do something about the old-fashioned recessed (bucket) lights.

3.  Get black screens for our sun-facing windows.  (These look pretty creepy from the outside, like the windows are painted black, but our HOA must allow them because all sorts of folks in our neighborhood now have them.)

The recessed lighting has a light in a can, basically.  The cans (from before 2004) have holes in them because if they don’t, then the lights get so hot that it’s a fire hazard.  Because of the holes, the hot attic air comes down into the house because of some sort of pressure convection thing.  When the air conditioner is on, it pressurizes the house which means it blows cold air up into the attic.  Not only that, but these lights are supposed to have no insulation within three inches so that things don’t get so hot that they catch on fire. When people do temperature readings, you can see where the recessed lights are.

Since then, they’ve made new models that don’t have holes that you can put insulation up against.  Also compact fluorescent lights and LED lights are not as hot as regular lights.

He said, we’d really like to seal off those holes.  Our choices:

A.  Switch out with the new cans.  They may not be air tight but it’s better than just the holes.  Just like any fixture, they have a light shape and maximum wattage.  Their maximum wattage is lower than the old-style cans, but that’s clear on the can.  With this option, you can also do B because the cans themselves are metal and still transfer heat into the house.

B.  Buy covers that are insulation tents that you can just drop over the cans.  These can be used with the old-fashioned hot bulbs, but you have to be sure to open vents within the covers for safety reasons.  But then there’s a hole again.  With the modern lights you don’t need to open the vent.

C.  Tape off the holes in the current cans.  You can only do this with the low-wattage bulbs.  The internet is full of horror stories about what a bad dangerous idea this is.  We have opted not to do this one.

We have 9 of these recessed lights.  DH switched out 7 for LED and 2 for compact fluorescent (we’d already swapped those out when the previous bulbs burned out).  Finding them in the attic was difficult– one of them was buried in insulation underneath the air conditioner and took 20 min to find.

DH is concerned that if we just do option B that at some point in time someone will put in a bulk that the fixture says is ok, keep the vents closed, and it will start a fire.  Who?  Maybe a tenant or someone who buys the house after us… something small probability but a scary one.  We could remove the tents prior to someone else living in our house, but we’d have to remember to do that.

So most likely we’ll go with option A and option B combined and have an electrician do it.  DH has been banned from home wiring projects after a mishap wiring a fan.  (This ban is ironic given his educational background and the other types of home improvement projects he has not been banned from.  But an alive husband is the most important thing.)

How much will that cost?  Well, the new LED lightbulbs cost ~$30 each, so ~$210 for that.  The new cans are ~$10/each, so ~$90.  The tents are ~$15/each on the direct webpage (the amazon link above is more pricey), so ~135.  We’re not sure how much an electrician will cost– that’s something we need to find out.  But this little project will most likely cost more than $500 total.  How long will that take to pay for itself in lower utility bills?  No idea!  But our summer energy bills are pretty awful, so it might be less time than we think.  If only we could also do something about the water bill.

Have you done an energy audit?  What do you do to keep your energy costs down?