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Home repair stories.

Discussion in 'Home Improvement' started by BrooklynBay, February 28, 2019.

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    1. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      November 11, 2005
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      Everybody in the repair business has stories about things which were odd, funny, obvious to the repairman but not to the customer, etc. Share your stories here. They could be things which happened on a job or in your own home. I'll start with a few.

      I went to somebody's house today to repair an old, heavy, built in microwave oven which is above the oven, and built into a kitchen cabinet. This was built when things were made out of metal with a minimal amount of plastic. Some of the buttons on the touchpad were already compressed but still functioning. A new one like this cost a few hundred so the customer wanted to repair it before buying a new one.

      It was able to power up, and all of the functions worked correctly. They told me that it had an intermittent issue where it would only heat when it wanted to, and not when they wanted it to work. I put a container of water into it, and ran it through a few tests on various settings but it never heated the water. I pulled this heavy thing out, opened it up, and tested various things such as the relay control board, capacitor, magnetron, high voltage coil, door switches, etc. The high voltage diode is usually hard to test. These things don't always register on a meter like regular low voltage diodes. I took a chance, and replaced the diode, and it didn't make a difference. I started to check the wiring with a continuity tester, and it led me to the built in ceramic fuse. This fuse had a little bit of corrosion. My continuity tester worked intermittently just like the way the microwave oven worked as described by the customer. I cleaned it with steel wool, reinstalled it, and the oven worked again! The moral of the story is that you shouldn't overlook the obvious. Always pay attention to what the customer describes even though they aren't a mechanic since they use it everyday. I originally assumed that there was a greater issue since it was so old but it was only a bad connection.

      The next thing was something which happened a while back. A customer was complaining about things not working in his front room near his desk such as a lamp. I took a look. He has power strips & tangled extension cords all over the place. The main plug got pulled out of the wall. Maybe he stepped on it or pulled on it accidentally. I plugged it back in then everything started to work again. I have no idea why he didn't check to see if it's plugged in before calling me.

      Last night somebody called, and said that they had no heat. Another repairman was unable to diagnose what was wrong, and told them that they need a boiler electrician. They said that they need to rewire the boiler, install new controls, replace the thermostat, etc. I told them that all of these things couldn't break simultaneously. We went through a check list while I was on the phone. The battery in the thermostat was good. The main boiler switch was on. The pilot was lit. Then we got to the chimney safety switch. The button was out. I told them to push it in, and the boiler started! I told them that they didn't need any parts but if it trips again they have to clean their chimney.

      The landlord from that building once called me a few years ago with a similar issue. We went down the list until we got to the main gas valve control. Somebody turned it to pilot instead of on. The boiler started.

      In the past I've had people call me because their boiler wouldn't start. We went down the list until we figured out that somebody accidentally shut off the main boiler switch in the hallway going into the basement. Always use a switch plate which says boiler shut off, and put a switch protector over it to prevent accidental shut offs.

      One time a customer called me to install an A/C unit in a sleeve. His old unit didn't look so bad. He said that it didn't work, and bought a new one. I didn't question him because he wanted to install a new one. After installing a new one it appeared that it wouldn't turn on either. I asked him if he checked the circuit breaker, and the reply was no. His old A/C was still good. Always check the circuit breaker.

      This next story was something which happened to a neighbor which is an exterminator. Somebody called him because they saw a mouse under their bed. He came down, and saw the mouse but it wasn't moving. He said that it might be a dead mouse. He put glue traps around the bed, and sat there for a while but there wasn't any noise or movement. He hit the bed a few times but nothing happened. He flipped the mattress over, and found a toy mouse! He told them that he caught the toy mouse, and they still had to pay for his service call.
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    3. gmanpaint

      gmanpaint Back in 5 minutes Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

      August 1, 2008
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      Not exactly on topic, but a story in the trades.

      Years back, I did a remodel in a 150 year old 1 story multiple office building. The office walls were made of deco plaster covered red brick.

      One office was used as a barber shop for decades, up until this point. The barber was in his 90's when he closed up. He had a few people that he still took care of, so the new owners let him setup a small area in the back, with a single chair to use, rent free a couple days a week.

      We was giving this old barber shop a chipped stucco Faux job. As I was chipping away at the stucco, to expose the brick, a few bricks fell into the wall. I reached in to remove them, and found an old bag, filled with old Wartime black & white photos. Looking through the dozens & dozens pictures, I seen the same person in full Navel uniform, all over Paris, France. This young man was quite the stud. He was posing with dozens of different women, and some in provocative situations.

      I thought, hmmm... These belong to someone, and might want them. I asked the building owner about the history of this space, and that's when I found out about the old barber. I went to the back, and just by chance, the old guy was there working on a customer of equal age. I showed him the pictures, and asked if he knew whom they might belong too. He grabbed me by the arm, and pulled me away from his client.

      The old guy proceeded to angrily tell me... "Put those back!" I was shocked at his response, and asked why. He said, "I hid those so my wife never see's them!" I asked why he didn't just burn them, and he explained he thought he would out live her, and one day he would recover them, but she is still kicking.

      I put them back.
      Last edited: February 28, 2019
    4. Rick

      Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

      February 8, 1999
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      Wayoutin, Aridzona
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      '93 XL Pumpkin Edition
      Not home repair, but "professionally built".

      After living in our home for a couple weeks I got a knock on the door. A woman asks me if she can take pictures of our baseboards. She said she viewed our house when it was under constructions and noted that we had baseboards. She bought the same model about 5 miles down the road, but no baseboards in her house. She went on to tell me that her next door neighbor had all of the windows on their home installed upside down with the weep holes at the top!

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