Hello folks, this is Bob Whitten, coming to you from just a few miles south of beautiful, sunny Thomson, Illinois. Growing up, my father taught me many things. He taught me to be a man of my word. He taught me to never give up until the job is done. Everything that made him the man he was, he wanted us to emulate. His morals and standards were high, and he expected us to have those same morals. Among his lessons were carpentry and remodeling skills. In his words, “You need these skills to get by, because there will come a time when you will have to fix your own stuff.“ Over the years, I have done many home remodel projects. In that time, I have learned many things, mostly through my own mistakes. Boy, have I made mistakes. So, in an attempt to help others, I have put together a list of things not to do when working around the house. Believe me, these things really can happen.
1. When cutting a hole in your wall, never assume there are no “hot” wires in the wall. When we first moved into our home, my wife wanted a specific hutch in our bedroom, but it just wouldn’t fit. After some contemplation, we decided I could recess the wall going into the laundry room, and make room for the hutch in our adjoining bedroom. I flipped the breaker off for that room, tested the only outlet on that wall, and we were ready to go. As I sawed through the wall, the lights dimmed, then the power went out. To make things worse, my reciprocating saw blade was stuck in the wall. I poked a hole with my hammer, only to find out I had welded the blade to the wiring going to my back porch. Lesson learned.
2. Never use a chain saw to cut a hole through your roof. My wife wanted a skylight in our bathroom, and I told her I could do that. Upon reflection, I may have overestimated my talents. I marked the hole, then went onto the roof and transferred those marks, making sure I was between rafters. At least I thought I did. My skill saw was having a difficult time cutting through the roof, and the chainsaw was right there, and my wife was gone, so I fired up that chainsaw and went to cutting. Everything seemed to be going great until the final cut. As the piece fell into the bathroom, I felt the roof sink about two inches. Much to my surprise, I had not measured the hole right, and I was four inches off with my marks. I had cut right through a rafter. That was not an easy fix.
3. When buying a fireplace, never pass on the $500 installation fee. That is a meager price compared to the alternative. We had just purchased a real nice gas fireplace, and I got sticker shock as we paid the bill, so I told them I would be installing it myself. I won’t go into details, but I now have a vent pipe right next to my electrical meter, and the basement gas pipes turned into something resembling an indoor playground.
4. Never rent a backhoe without proper instruction on how to operate said backhoe. We have several underground springs flowing around our house, and I thought I could harness these springs and make a nice water pond in the low end of the back yard by putting in tiles. My wife was onboard, as she would love to have a water pond. Somehow, I talked both her and the rental shop into believing I had the skills to operate a backhoe. After 3 days, 40 gallons of gas, and a back yard full of holes and ruts, I can safely say I do not have the skills to operate a backhoe. Enough said.
5. When the power goes out, never hook your generator up directly to your breaker box yourself. We live out in the boondocks, and the power goes out from time to time, so we bought a gas powered generator. After two days of tripping over drop chords, I decided to hook the generator directly to the main breaker. I called my dad, a certified electrician, and he reluctantly went over the wiring procedures involved with this project, finally pleading with me to wait for him to assist me, which I did not. I hooked everything up, checked it over and flipped the switch. To my surprise, lights came on all over the house. I flipped the switch back off, then on again, and we heard a noise each time, resembling elephants running through the living room. I had my wife go upstairs and investigate as I flipped the switch back on. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but her voice inflection led me to believe I should flip the switch back off. As I came up the stairs, my wife appeared from a cloud of smoke, hollering something about her treadmill burning up. Apparently, I had hooked all 220 volts into one leg of my breakers, feeding way too much power to a few selected appliances, one of which was her treadmill. Each time I flipped the switch, the treadmill let out a puff of smoke and resumed full speed. I tried to smooth things over with a comment about her being so shapely that she didn’t need that old treadmill anyway, but that didn’t work. Now we are looking into solar powered generators, and I’m pretty sure we will be calling in a professional for this job.
Have a great week, and we’ll see you next Saturday, same time, same place!