Archive for the 'Mr. FixIt' Category

23 May 2018

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

Hey, Hey it’s the Monkeys!

Well, a more than three weeks have gone by since the basement flooded – both a lot and a little has happened. The carpet has dried out, the fans and dehumidifier are gone, large areas of the ceiling have been opened up, the furniture has all been removed for damage assessment – that’s a lot.

The little is the actual repair – I replaced the outdoor faucet for $30.00. It’s amazing how such a small thing can cause such a large problem. The root cause of the problem goes back to the quality of the plumbing in the house and the obvious fact that the plumber was careless, ignorant or incompetent – maybe all three. Maybe you recall some of the previous examples of shoddy work done by our home builders.

When frost-free faucets are installed, there is a wedge-shaped shim supplied that is used to ensure that the tail of the tap (where the valve seat is located) is above the level of the handle – the slope from handle to tail is about 5° upwards. This allows any water in the body of the faucet to flow downhill to the spout, leaving only air in the faucet body. Air doesn’t freeze (well, not in southern Alberta winters, anyway) and thus frozen water lines are avoided.

When the builder’s plumber installed the tap (including the shim!), the task was completed so poorly that the slope of the faucet body was more than 15° downwards from handle to tail. Last winter came late and it got cold and stayed that way from late October to April. When I put the hoses away for the winter, it was only a few days before winter hit hard – not enough time for the standing water in the faucet to evaporate before it froze and split the body of the tap.

At least the plumbing holds water again and while the ceiling has been open I’ve managed to fix a bunch of other issues that came to light once when I took a look at things that had been hidden.  The sump drain was unsupported, as was the main gas line to the furnace. Wires needed to be properly secured and so did several plumbing runs.

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30 Apr 2018

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

Disaster… and Recovery

Well, not a full recovery – not yet.

Remember, in the previous post, how I was looking forward to spring?  Well, last Thursday (April 26), we finally had an evening warm enough to barbecue some burgers and sit outside on the back deck to enjoy a nice warm spring evening.  All that was needed was to hose the winter’s grime off of the patio table and chairs…

So that’s what I did.  I attached the hose to the rear faucet, hooked up the pressure washer and, with much satisfaction, started cleaning chairs. After a couple of minutes, though, one of kids comes flying out the back door hollering that, “the basement is full of water!” As quick as I can, I shut off the outdoor faucet and head for the basement.

Water is cascading out of the ceiling through the recessed light fixtures and ceiling speakers. The carpet is drenched. The furniture is soaked.  It’s dark since turning the lights on seems like a bad idea.  I shut off the water for the entire house and we gather every garbage can or bucket we can to catch the flood.  It’s been less than 10 minutes since I started cleaning outside and the entire family room is soaked.  

This is  a problem that won’t be solved easily – Brenda calls our insurance company immediately while the kids and I empty buckets and move what hasn’t been drenched out of the way.  I start sucking water out of the carpet with our steam cleaner.

The insurance company responds with amazing speed – within 2 hours (and before the dripping had stopped), there is a restoration crew in the basement pulling up the carpet, removing the underlay and setting up a dehumidifier and blowers.  By midnight, the situation was essentially under control.

All things being equal, it could have been worse.  It seems that the faucet had frozen and split in the winter – but had done so in a way that the leak ran well into the house before coming through the ceiling.  The built-in entertainment cabinetry was splashed, but not soaked and appears undamaged.  The restoration crew mentioned that most people wait hours or days even before the call the insurance company and end up with far more damage. 

… we never did get our burgers.

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08 Jan 2018

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

First MG Repair of 2018

Not a very auspicious start to wrenching season – about 4 months before expected! As we were heading out the last Saturday, when we got into the garage, there was a pretty overwhelming smell of gasoline. A quick look under each car revealed the culprit – the MG had decided to mark it’s territory with a substantial puddle of gas. Not really something that can be ignored…

A quick trip to Canadian Tire yielded a few feet of new gas line and some new clamps. Fortunately it was a fairly warm day with a high of about 9°C, but the concrete floor of the garage was nowhere near that warm. I got the MG jacked up and crawled under – it was pretty obvious where the problem was. There is a short section of hose between the metal gas line that runs along the body and the metal line that is connected to a bracket on the engine and eventually to the carb. The hose is there to absorb the differential vibration between engine and body. Or it would do so if 40 years time hadn’t hardened the rubber to the point were there was no give.

The leak was clearly indicated by frozen hydrate crystals where the hose had cracked. That was kind of interesting to see. I managed to replace the hose fairly quickly and also another section that between the metal line and the carb. It took less than and hour and once I was done I fired up the engine and made sure all was good.

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27 Oct 2017

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Mr. FixIt

End of the Season

I accomplished quite a bit with the MG this summer – it took plenty long enough, but the results were quite good. The rear suspension was refreshed, rear axle repainted, rear brakes replaced and the clutch hydraulics all replaced as well. There was a noticeable improvement in the handling from the suspension work and the cost was fairly reasonable. Parts are easy enough to find, it’s just the US dollar sticker price and the cost of shipping (especially the gouging from the couriers on brokerage fees) that is painful. Fully half of the parts cost is exchange, shipping and handling, duties and brokerage.

The front brakes, cooling system and the front suspension update never quite got to the top of the “to do” list. Since the car didn’t get on the road until August 1st, I wasn’t too keen to lose any more driving time. The level of trust that there was sufficient reliability to go on longer day trips really never was there due to marginal oil pressure and really poor gas mileage. 20W50 motor oil seems to have addressed the worst of the oil pressure situation but the fuel efficiency problem lingered. There was always a smell of unburnt fuel and it wasn’t until the last day of the season that I figured it out.

After topping off the gas tank, I let the car idle after I got home while I added fuel stabilizer to the tank for the winter. After letting the car run long enough to get the treated fuel to the carb, I moved the car to it’s winter parking spot. When I got out of the car I saw a big puddle of fuel where it had been sitting and idling. Unfortunately, the next day it got cold and the fix will have to wait until spring time.

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