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Fixing Things Around The House - Shop Talk

Sep 10, 2010
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Just Stay Focused I've been living in the same home going on six years now. In that short amount of time, I've only experienced a couple of minor inconveniences, having to replace certain necessities. Considering this place is 25 years old, it should only be expected.

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The worst of these was a 3.5-ton air-conditioning system during one of worst summers I've ever experienced. I mean that literally, and the cost was way over my head and required me to sit it out until the funds were available (the dead of winter). You may recall my editorial discussing electrical wiring-yeah, that made for an interesting situation, too. Then there was the water heater, the washer and dryer, the constantly running shower heads, and the leaky kitchen faucets.

Several months ago it was a water leak in the downstairs bathroom that ultimately ruined the carpet. Then again, why anyone placed carpet in the bathroom was beyond me. Turns out, the old spiral-style feed line that leads into the water tank gave up the ghost. The quick fix was to turn the water valve off, but then how could I replace the feed line? The spiral feed was integrated into the valve, requiring it to be replaced as a single unit.

Considering my lack of plumbing knowledge and proper tools, I deferred to the talents of local hot rodder, CHP reader, and certified plumber Kris Shields, who'd helped me in the past. No joke, for every problem I've run into, Kris has been able to handle each plumbing situation with ease. A quick call and I luckily slid into his schedule. Over the next few hours, he showed up, assessed the situation, grabbed the components out of his truck, and replaced the valve. Pretty awesome.

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As luck would have it, I had the same situation arise during the Fourth of July weekend, only this time it was upstairs, in the master bathroom. No way was I going to Kris call on a holiday weekend. Instead, I made a mental note of the parts and tools I needed, desperately wishing I paid better attention to how it all went together.

After a quick trip to Home Depot, I shut the water off and got to work. Unlike Kris, who handled it quickly, it took me all day! The compression fitting went on easily and so did the new stainless-braided feed line, but for some reason it had a tiny drip that would not seal. For the next seven-yes, I said seven-hours I snugged the fitting every so often, questioning if I used enough Teflon tape. I'm notorious for stripping out bolts, so was I not tightening it enough?

Finally, enough was enough. I took everything back apart, applied a bit more Teflon and tried it again ... nope, still leaking. Just as I was about to call it quits, I wondered whether the fitting on the water valve side was tightened down from the factory. Sure enough, a half turn later and it was fixed. What did I learn? Don't assume anything, and when given the opportunity to be around the experts, stay focused and pay better attention. Of course, this includes everything automotive related. Got a similar story? I want to read it.



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