The Market Ticker
Rss Icon RSS available
You are not signed on; if you are a visitor please register for a free account!
Comments on Basic Skills: Without Them, You're Broke(r)
User: Not logged on
Top Forum Top Login FAQ Register Clear Cookie
Showing Page 2 of 4  First1234Last
User Info Basic Skills: Without Them, You're Broke(r) in forum [Market-Ticker]
Schoolboy13
Posts: 8
Incept: 2016-01-03

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Agreed!

You Tube videos have saved me a bundle of cash on home maintenance and car repairs. I just replaced a drive motor switch on a washing machine. A half hour of my time and $60 for the part? Worth it, especially when the replacement cost of that same machine was $600.

I'm frustrated by the cheap design of so called "new" durable household goods. That washing machine I referenced earlier was less than three years old, and the issue I had is a common one, according to reviews. I would think that the components of the machine would last a little longer than that. I think the companies who market this junk are counting on people, when stuff breaks down, to say "screw it" and buy the new machine, rather than make the effort to repair it themselves.

Screw them! I can't afford to give them more money.
Zappafan
Posts: 2869
Incept: 2007-11-30

Atlanta
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
A big part of the problem with modern appliances is that they're designed to be fragile and "planned obsolescence" rules the day.

All those touch-screens and LED display panels tend to crap out after a few years. Usually nothing is designed to be service-able; call the local repair guy and he'll usually recommend replacing the board. Which is nearly as expensive as replacing the whole unit.

As you say, without developing some basic troubleshooting and electrical skills, you're going to get reamed.

And don't even get me started on the "Smart" appliance crap. As soon as you buy one of those, you're basically asking to have your wallet made even thinner in the future.


----------
Ich bin der Tankendau!
Jdough
Posts: 77
Incept: 2012-05-04

The Lone Star State
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
It's only going to get worse as the manufacturers increase the amount of computer circuitry while simultaneously continue to cheap out the build quality to pad the bottom line. I try to do as much as I can and only resort to calling someone if I'm stumped or just really have no idea what I am doing (for me any kind of major plumbing). But I've replaced a water heater ($300 for the new heater vs $600+ for a new one with install), fixed a leaky bath tub with a $20 cartridge, fixed a leaking sink by removing the disposal and putting $5 worth of putty around the collar, replaced and repaired too many broken electrical outlets and switches to count, built my own shed with real cedar for about $400 in materials vs $1500+ for a particle board siding big box store lot version, built my own fence and many other projects. My biggest fails were my AC capacitor, had it all spec'ed out but chickened out in the end and ended up with a $200 service call vs a $20 part - won't do that again; and my refrigerator's water dispenser, tried a couple of things with that but the parts were specialty and expensive and after I bought one that didn't fix it I found a local repair guy (definitely not LG's "certified" r@pe squad) who did it for $100. It took him over an hour and looked like a bear of a job so I was pretty happy how that one worked out.

Snowflakes can't do anything that can't be done via a button push on a smart phone app. Luckily for them there are repairman service apps that will happily send someone over to take their money for replacing light bulbs.

----------
The federal head will possess, without limitation, almost every species of power that can, in its exercise,
tend to change the government, or to endanger liberty; the people will have but the shadow of representation, and but the shadow of security for their rights and liberties
Gallen
Posts: 5
Incept: 2015-09-30

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Karl,

Am with you on all the other items but having replaced heavy duty garage door springs myself, I would be careful to recommend if I had to repeat it. The door itself was wood, very heavy and so are the springs. It takes a fair amount of sobriety and arm strength and caution to set them at proper torque and still risk a good chance of major injury.
Bodhi
Posts: 88
Incept: 2008-02-23

Georgia
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
A big part of the problem with modern appliances is that they're designed to be fragile and "planned obsolescence" rules the day.


I do a fair amount of board level repairs on business telephone systems. I have come to refer to many of the caps and diodes used on the main boards and power supplies as long term fuses. The junk is good enough quality to outlast the warranty, but not much more. I've lost count of the number of PC motherboards I've brought back to life by replacing all the cheap electrolytic caps. I even fixed my cousin's Kindle that quit charging the "unreplaceable" battery thanks to one of those helpful YouTube videos.
Sharps
Posts: 64
Incept: 2008-12-15

SW Montana
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
@jpg "I heard recently from an engineering college professor who has seen engineering students who have never used a screwdriver."

I am an engineering professor at a small college and this is quite true. I have students that are excellent mechanic, welders, carpenters etc. but far to many have never used any sort of tools.
Aquapura
Posts: 602
Incept: 2012-04-19

South of Canada
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
The other weekend the neighbor stops by seeing me tinkering in the garage. He was amazed to see me doing a tune up on a lawnmower. His response "the hardware store down the block will do that for $100." My response was the oil, air filter and spark plug cost me $10. Labor, including sharpening the blades is maybe 30 min. Now I've got the rest of my weekend to enjoy and $90 in my pocket. You've still got to go pick up your lawnmower.

Couple years ago the dishwasher pump crapped out. Whirlpool didn't make it easy, basically having to buy the entire bottom drain pan new, but total parts was only $35 or so. Googled it and found a "repair man" saying this was not a DIY job because it'll leak. Rhetorically told him to pound sand, fixed the thing in a matter of an hour. Didn't replace the kickplate to watch for leaks. After about the 12th cycle I was confident my repair was done correctly.

Chimney sweeping is another one. Love my wood stove in the winter and my roof/chimney isn't a steep pitch or all that dangerous to navigate. Brush and extension rods were less than $50 and can be reused every year. Already have a shop vac. What takes me an hour a "pro" would charge anywhere from $100-300. I get the neighborhood looks doing that one.

I could keep going on and on but I've got too much saved money that I need to spend on enjoying life.
Mannfm11
Posts: 5336
Incept: 2009-02-28

DFW, Tx
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Running 20 houses, I can do the pros and cons on this one. I have an advantage, in that I'm in Lowe's and Home Depot constantly and can nab good deals on dishwashers and ranges.

I will start with the cons. Renters are hard in appliances. I can buy a range for around $500 or less, depending on how fancy I want one. Elements are easy. When the wiring gets messed up or the brain goes out, time for a new one. Parts are ridiculous, especially thermostats and control units. Biting the bullet for a new one is the better option, in my business. Apartments put new appliances in all the time, because consumers pay for them.

YouTube has some great instructions. Unless you have a top of the line appliance, calling a repair guy is out of the question. Hookers are cheaper at your door. If a new one is under $500 and you can't solve the problem through YouTube instructions, go shopping. That is unless the unit is going to last several years. You probably don't get the problem fixed for less than $200, if you have to call a repairman.

I'm not as capable as Karl, but I have learned I can fix a lot of stuff. For one, air conditioning is usually a capacitor, contactor or cooling fan. The problem is, if the capacitor is going out constantly, your equipment is probably long of tooth. Start shopping for a new unit.

Getting your AC serviced has its pros and cons. Putting freon in a unit is a big money maker for AC companies. If you find they do it every year, they are likely trying to destroy your unit or you have a leak. If they are doing it and not fixing a leak, get another tech out there from a different company. Pressure gets higher with temperature, so if it is 70 degrees, pressure will be much higher, when it is 90 or 100. Also, if you have a real leak, there won't be a need for a pound of freon, but a whole load. AC companies double the price of everything and the business is rigged to where the consumer has trouble buying their own equipment at a competitive price.

I know these things from experience of having 20 houses and knowing a tech. I never service a unit. The majority of the units I replace are 20 years old. The main service is to keep the coils clean. If they quit working, check the capacitor and label the wires. They are under $20, less if you have an account. It takes under 2 hours to do the trick, including the trip to the supply house. Be sure the electricity is off and use a screwdriver to discharge the capacitor, unless you like a little shock. Be very cautious, as there is danger. Use your head.

The elements are easy. Again, use caution with electricity. The problem with ranges is the parts are usually ridiculously priced. A $200 part is a no-brainer in my situation. What breaks next is a possibility and a new one is not only a write off, but a long term solution.

I will relate to a recent experience with a refrigerator. The tenants usually provide them, but in 1 case, a prior tenant left theirs. I got a call it wasn't working correctly. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention because I forgot it was left. My first solution was to get the one out of a recently vacated townhouse, as we do have a permanent one due to the unit. But, the prospect of the solution didn't appeal to me, as moving one is a pain in the ass. I decided, since the freezer was working, it was a fan problem. YouTube had a video making it little pain to disassemble. The prop had come off the motor and in less than an hour, it was fixed.

I'm not an electrical genius, like Karl. But, I'm faced with these type decisions several times a year. I know what repairmen cost, especially plumbers. Doing plumbing is a pain in the ass, when I'm wider than the cabinet. Plumbers are going to cost you a minimum of $150, by the time they do anything. No problem, if you are rich. In fact, if you have a kid and he isn't Einstein, point him toward plumbing, HVAC or electrical. Pay for the education necessary and push him to get the master license. If he has business sense, he will make more than most lawyers and doctors. But, if he has a gift of bull****, point him toward. Wall Street. You don't have to know anything but how to stay out of jail.

----------
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.---John Kenneth Galbraith
Mannfm11
Posts: 5336
Incept: 2009-02-28

DFW, Tx
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Reading the other entries jogged my mind. One reason I can fix things is my father was a do it yourself guy. If you have kids, be sure they watch. No problem with little kids, as they are nosey to start. A lot of the problem is the snowflakes parents. Bet most of the parents could not change a doorknob. Or wouldn't.

Another comment is the digitalization of everything. What an ass ****ing that had employed against the consumer. Things like automobiles and appliances, it has created a mess. Half the repairs on my car involves the computers. There is no need for a circuit board in the typical stove. One of these days we are going to see a company come back to basics and sell items on reliability instead of gadgets. There is 100 years of testing on the old way. There is a world market, especially in the emerging world, where replacing an appliance is not an option.

Another thing. Where I buy my AC parts, they have American made capacitors and foreign. I pay a little extra and buy the US product. Maybe and maybe not better. I have heard too much about Chinese junk.

----------
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.---John Kenneth Galbraith
Gauntlet33
Posts: 20
Incept: 2009-03-30

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Hey Karl, your story is almost too funny...if I was a conspiracy theorist, I would say the GOP and Dems were after you.

Also reminds me of the Tom Hanks movie "The Money Pit".

Good for you that you're handy and knowledgeable about fixing these sorts of things! :)
Tsherry
Posts: 781
Incept: 2008-12-09

Spokane WA
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Great post, and great follow up comments.

I had shop class, and mechanical drawing, but didn't take auto shop in HS. By then I was already fixing stuff beyond what they were teaching. At that point in time, it was money related--these days though, it's mostly not. I could 'afford' to buy new stuff, but new stuff is crap and it's easy to see multiple points of failure within a few years. I greatly enjoy tearing into stuff, from replacing windows, wiring, roofing, to sheetrock, plumbing or anything on wheels. I have multi-meters in every tool box, in the house, barn and shop. I have rebuilt automatic transmissions, but would rather not. They're a PITA.

I'm sure I've 'saved' some money over the years...however, this ability or desire to do all kinds of stuff has resulted in significant expenditures on some really cool tools that let me do even more stuff.

I have tried to pass these skills onto my kids, with partial success. A few years back (10 already?!), kids were still in high school, I had a mini-gathering of their friends in my driveway, to explain to them how to do basic car maintenance. Oil changes, checking and topping off fluids, air pressure, changing wiper blades....basic stuff that any moron could do. One kid drove her Subaru from Montana to Spokane without any water in her battery, 15 PSI in one nearly bald tire, with one failing headlight. I fixed all of that stuff in fifteen minutes. WTF are her parents thinking?

None of their parents did any of their own car maintenance...and didn't expect their kids to do so, either. I showed them the $20 in purchases for an oil change that translated into $120 at the dealership, or maybe $75 at the oil change stand. Some--deaf ears. Most though, took it to heart. A couple get it--and are willing to change an alternator or a timing belt with hand tools and You Tube, one is fearless and will dive right into a problem for the sheer satisfaction of successful troubleshooting and repair.

That kid is now a KC-135 mechanic.

Let those little kids have the tools and hang out with Dad and Grampa. You'll be doing civilization a favor.
Ckaminski
Posts: 4000
Incept: 2011-04-08

Mass-Hole!
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
I hope to make money as a fix it guy if my job ever goes away.


As a good example of this, Jeep shifters are plagued with a bad interlock, apparently - a problem so common and simple it can be fixed by replacing a small strip of what seriously looks like plastic anal beads in the shifter with a chopstick.

My friend had to show the mechanic how to fix it, because his wife wouldn't let him fix it or drive the Jeep unless the mechanic fixed it. WTF?!! The dude found the problem googling around Jeep forums for a replacement part because it was believed to be electronic.

A **** $.20 chopstick.
Themortgagedude
Posts: 10231
Incept: 2007-12-17

saint louis
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Some things I fix myself. I couldn't do the boards and electrical work without some training. But my wife is a throw it away person. So I generally fix easy big ticket items. Sometimes it's easier for me to make more money than to fix something.

----------
I think its time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that our founding fathers intended for us. Ronald Reagan 1964
Ckaminski
Posts: 4000
Incept: 2011-04-08

Mass-Hole!
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
It's only going to get worse as the manufacturers increase the amount of computer circuitry while simultaneously continue to cheap out the build quality to pad the bottom line.


I foresee a lot of possible homebrew board replacements in these expensive fridges in the future. Thermocouples, fan motors, etc - all relatively static in terms of control.

And Pi (W) will be an almost drop-in replacement for someone with skills and time.

I'm replacing an early 90's era intercom and irrigation system with a Pi and Amazon Fire tablet, and toying with replacing the ADT system with a homebrew. If only I could still get the insurance deduction because now it'll call my cellphone with any issues...

Nobody wants to play nice with those old security systems anymore, and ADT refuses to do an in-place upgrade without kicking us off the grandfathered (el-cheapo) plan. Of course they don't make replacement parts anymore.
Unknownsailor
Posts: 380
Incept: 2009-04-06

Bremerton, WA
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
I was that kid who took things apart to see how they worked, and how to get them back together. I was also the kid with a big box of legos. In adulthood I was that guy who drove an aircooled VW for 20 years, and knows them front to back. I am the guy who wanted to do some electrical upgrades to my newly bought house, so I did the research and went out and did it. I also installed Cat6 networking where I wanted drops, as well.

The only reason I would ever call someone is if I needed something done I couldn't do alone, or something that needs interfacing with the local city government/utility (example: replacing the main service panel, which would require disconnecting the power from the pole).
Gable
Posts: 705
Incept: 2009-07-04

Retired in NC Mountains
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Great thread. I am like most here. 63 years old, raised in the 60s/70s when everyone fixed there own stuff (cars, mowers, appliances...even TVs with tubes) and I have done so all my life.

Like many I look at today's youth and think they could not fix a damn thing, much less understand how it works. They will spend 10s of thousands of dollars paying folks to fix the most basic things or have to buy a replacement.

I do think when we get the crash/reset some will respond and start thinking about how to fix things themselves, but most will be screwed.

As everyday passes I am think I was lucky to be born when I was...I consider it America's golden age.

----------
In all of history, no government became more honest, less corrupt, or respected its citizens' rights more as it grew in size. E.L. 2016
Als
Posts: 502
Incept: 2010-03-12

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Me last night, bearing went bad on the idler roller (rear roller) on my treadmill. Under warranty called Sears on Friday for the part and Tuesday night I found it had been delivered sitting on my porch.

One Philips screw driver and Hex wrench required to replace and install new roller. Start to finish 15 minutes total time needed for the repair last night.

While on Youtube I found that this part idler roller is relatively easy to repair. Looked the cost of new bearings $20 (Quality units). Time involved to rebuild the roller is probably less than 20 minutes with new bearings. So in a month or so I'll get another set of bearings off Amazon and repair the original idler roller as a spare.

Yep Youtube is a life saver when it comes to saving you money. $200-$250 in tools I'm going to end up saving over $1,000 in future required maintenance on my Prius between 100K-120K miles.

The only two items I leave to the experts is major plumbing and almost all electrical work in my house and business. When I bought my house I found out the old owners son was the maintenance guy for his mother. I had some electrical issues when I moved in and hired an electrician to do the work. It was scary what this man found with Mickey Moused electrical connections. His famous last words to me was this, "The old woman that lived here must have been very close to God, because this house should have burned to ground years ago."
Toddmeister
Posts: 96
Incept: 2009-08-10

Bay City, MI
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Wow great post...similar situation for me

1. Last year dryer failed, throwing a motor error code. Researched on the net, was probably the control board. So I removed the control board, found the solder joint for one of the motor leads was blown out. Soldered it back in with an ample amount of solder and back in business. Cost $0.

2. Last year freezer drain on fridge plugged up, causing massive ice accumulation and water to run on the floor when freezer went into defrost. Found an update kit from Whirlpool with an improved drain design. Cost $13 and a couple hours of my time. Had to take the freezer apart to defrost the coil and install the new drain tube.

3. Last year 11 year old dishwasher detergent door would not open during a wash cycle. Troubleshooting and research led to buying a replacement detergent door kit for about $15. Took about an hour to fix. Works great

4. Last October water heater had a catastrophic tank failure, massive tank leak. Replaced myself the next day for about $500. Needed a couple di-electric unions and a few copper fittings since the new unit was slightly different height (higher) than the old one. Luckily the natural gas connection was the same position.

5. The other day the brake line on my old work truck rotted out and now I need to fix that. Have to hit the auto parts store to get some bulk brake line and fittings, should cost less than $50 to fix and a few hours of my time.

So I have saved several thousand in repairs of the past year...:)

Als
Posts: 502
Incept: 2010-03-12

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
I forgot in my last post to add if you have a automatic condensation pump on your A/C, Furnace they need to be cleaned every once and while. They get a lot of scum/mold inside the collection box and eventually that can screw up the float system that turns the pump on and off as well as the pump if it gets sucked into the impeller. If it sticks on, you can quickly burn up the motor and say hello to spending $80-$100 for another one at Lowes or Home Depot.

The top part with the pump and float assembly simply snaps onto the bottom reservoir where the water collects. Probably a less and 10 minute job start to finish that you can do once a year.

Edit: A big thank you to Karl for a post year or so ago on the quirk with front loader washers not turning on. Grounding the prongs of the plug against a copper water pipe fixes the problem. For some reason it happens two or three times a year and I've never had to call anyone because of Karl alerting us to the problem and its easy zero cost fix.

Topgun
Posts: 39
Incept: 2016-09-10

Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Mannfm11 said:
Quote:
AC companies double the price of everything and the business is rigged...


Quote:
In fact, if you have a kid and he isn't Einstein, point him toward plumbing, HVAC or electrical. Pay for the education necessary and push him to get the master license. If he has business sense, he will make more than most lawyers and doctors.


First you insinuate that trades businesses (HVAC, Electrical, Plumbers) dont have a right to markup their parts/equipment, so they can cover overhead, and pay a professional wage to their technicians and office people, and hopefully make 10% NET after all is said and done.

Then you recommend people to push their kids towards these very trades so they can make a killing.

Question: How will they make more than doctors and lawyers when the public does not feel a business has a right to cover overhead and pay professional wages in the trades?

There is nothing wrong with people repairing their own items, but dont belittle a trades business for running a legit business with legit overhead to meet, so they can pay a professional wage to their skilled technicians.

There is a whole lot more overhead involved in running a trades business than the public has a clue of. It is not just a truck and $100 worth of hand tools running down the road.

Just a little friendly information for you and others.
Gable
Posts: 705
Incept: 2009-07-04

Retired in NC Mountains
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
I forgot in my last post to add if you have a automatic condensation pump on your A/C, Furnace they need to be cleaned every once and while. They get a lot of scum/mold inside the collection box and eventually that can screw up the float system that turns the pump on and off as well as the pump if it gets sucked into the impeller.


AC friend gave me a tip to pour in a cap full of bleach each time you change the air filters...should keep the scum to a minimum. Still do a good cleaning once a year.

----------
In all of history, no government became more honest, less corrupt, or respected its citizens' rights more as it grew in size. E.L. 2016
Dilbs
Posts: 66
Incept: 2011-04-19

Maryland
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Excellent Ticker. In these modern times, I pretty much grab the voltmeter along with a screw driver when something is not working correctly. I thank God that I grew up in a family that didn't laugh at being frugal and taught me the value of trying to fix something before replacing it. The sense of accomplishment and knowing that all is not lost when something goes wrong is incredibly important. I would love to see a study that correlates mental issues (maybe depression) with mechanical/problem solving ability. My guess is that there is a strong inverse relationship.

Anyway, the one point I would like to put out is to make sure you pay it forward. Teach others how the tools work, show them the sites or manuals, enable them to have that feeling of accomplishment. This especially goes for kids. They love to learn, they just need the tools to learn. This past weekend my 9 year old replaced the screen in his laptop. Not really a hard job, but multiple lessons learned and hopefully a lifetime of enablement.
Darcane
Posts: 56
Incept: 2008-12-16

Washington
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
The last few months I've been swapping in a replacement engine in a cheap pickup. The old engine had a nasty knock when we bought it and didn't survive the trip home. Whoops!

I could have spent more money and bought one that was running well, but we saved money and this was a good experience for its future driver: my 15 year old daughter. She helped with a bunch of it and is getting a little better feel for turning wrenches and other basic skills regarding cars.

Like Mannfm11, I feel its important to pass these skills on to my kids. My 8yo son jumps in eagerly, he's easy. My daughter has very little affinity for it though, so there is more urging required. But, when we started the truck for the first time I think she "got it" and had a big smile and now seems to have a sense of pride about the truck.
Ckaminski
Posts: 4000
Incept: 2011-04-08

Mass-Hole!
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
I had some electrical issues when I moved in and hired an electrician to do the work.


For older homes, the biggest no-no is never mix Aluminum and Copper without appropriately rated connectors.

Magic smoke.

There's not much magic about wiring - be careful of the 120V and 240V pixies in them tubes. zzzzzzzzorch.
Aerius
Posts: 879
Incept: 2008-03-19

GTA
Report This As A Bad Post Add To Your Ignored User List
Quote:
Reading the other entries jogged my mind. One reason I can fix things is my father was a do it yourself guy. If you have kids, be sure they watch. No problem with little kids, as they are nosey to start. A lot of the problem is the snowflakes parents. Bet most of the parents could not change a doorknob. Or wouldn't.


Heh, that was me when I was young, I annoyed the heck out of my dad whenever he had to fix something. Every time he picked up a tool I'd follow him around to see what he was doing and pester him with all sorts of questions. By the time I was 10 I knew how do fix faucets, clear drain pipes, change spark plugs, fluids, and set distributors on the family car, wire light fixtures & switches, cut & lay bathroom tiles, and various other household fixes.

Now that I'm a parent I'm passing those same skills on to my kids. Watching things get fixed is like an adventure for them, it's fun & cool because it's different every time and doesn't happen every day.
Login Register Top Blog Top Blog Topics FAQ
Showing Page 2 of 4  First1234Last