Sweat Equity – Fail fast, Learn fast, Fix Fast

Just when we thought our summer sweat equity projects were over after we built the sliding barn door, a new problem cropped up.

The toilet in the common bathroom sprung a leak. The leak wasn’t heavy but needed prompt attention as this bathroom is right above the living room.

So our task for this past weekend was pretty much cut out. The leak was at one of the bolts which secures the water tank to the toilet bowl. I already have this on my resume so it was time to move from beginner to intermediate level. Already had the tools in-house and knew what parts to get, so didn’t have to spend time researching. But as they say no 2 projects are the same; had a tough time unscrewing the old bolts. They had rusted to the core, the bolt,washer and the nut had just fused together. Had to be very careful not to apply too much pressure and accidentally crack the porcelain. Finally after doing a lot of “juggad” my wife could actually snip the head off of one of the bolts. The next one took the life of us, and so we decided to douse it in 3-in-1 lubrication oil over-night.

From Home Depot got the parts, instead of just getting 2 new bolts decided to give the tank a complete make over. The old setup used the ball-cock system (which also had started to rust). Lot of improvement has happened over time, so went in for the fluidmaster eco-friendly kit.

Sunday, decided to get on with the next steps but found out that we did not have any power. Nearby transformer failure so no electricity. My wife also mentioned that she felt the A/C wasn’t working. No way to test that anyway. So looked like project #2 was lining up before project #1 was even half way through. Donned on our headlights and tried to yank out the 2nd bolt, but to no avail. A great man has once said when everything fails use a saw. That’s me. So I literally sawed the bolt. Was exhausted as we were working using just head lamps without any A/C. Headed out.

By late afternoon power was restored and yes A/C had stopped working. Out came the multi meter and spent a couple of hours on you tube to understand the nuances. Suspected a bad capacitor on the outdoor compressor unit. Disconnected it and I was back at Home Depot. Interestingly HD or Lowes do not stock these, they have to be ordered online. So frustrated came back home, spent another hour to locate the correct capacitor (model,size,rating) and ordered it on amazon, expected delivery : Wed.


Back to the toilet tank. Cleaned up the area. Used a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (courtesy my wife) to remove oil/water/rust stains. I used baking soda can from her cake essentials and she refused to take it back. My daughter and me (for once my daughter actually agreed with me) tried to convince my wife that powder was still virgin though the can sat next to the toilet for a day or so…. anyway. So installation went fine. $21 for the parts, a call to a contractor would have easily been around $250. Following pictures are rated MA (mature audience) viewer discretion advised. If you are snacking on something while reading this post, now is a good time to catch up on other stuff happening around the world like cricket update.


So now the waiting game. Night 1 slept in the living room as upstairs was just uncomfortable. Night 2 all of us in the basement and it was just awesome. Night 3, got one TV down to the basement and dozed off watching a movie with the girls.

Day 4. So capacitor is in. A few technical details. Connector with 2 prongs is for the fan, 3 – compressor, 4 – common. Capacitance can be +/- 6% so between 37.6 uF and 42.4 uF for the compressor and 4.7 uF and 5.3 uF for the fan. UOM = micro farads.

Capacitor change did not fix the issue, so diagnosis was incorrect. Back to the drawing board and scoured through some more troubleshooting videos. Looks like problem might be a burnt blower motor. This one is inside the house along with the furnace. 2 or 3 things can go bad here, the blower motor, a control board or a run capacitor (yes, another capacitor). I learnt and tried out how to bypass the control board and provide power directly to the blower motor to see if it starts up. It did not, so I was pretty confident now that its the blower motor and not the control board. Run capacitor seemed fine. Night 4 also in the basement. Now basement was the new hang out place.

Day 5. Next evening, swapped out the new capacitor with old one on the outside compressor unit, because by now I was sure that unit is fine. I saw a few more videos on how to remove the blower motor from the furnace housing and replace it and it was some heavy lifting (literally). But my wife said it was not worth the effort and risk as its near the gas line and in a cramped space. So we decided to call a technician to check it out. If at the end of the day it turns out to be the blower motor then at least I will be satisfied that I got it right finally.

Day 6. Technician finds the run capacitor (10 uF) faulty and replaces it to fix the issue. This is located in the bottom right corner, barely visible (black cap which covers the connectors) in the picture below.



So my diagnosis was totally off but now I started doubting my multi meter. I am using a Klein MM500 which is supposedly the easiest one to operate for a home owner. After doing some research on the multi-meter found out that this one does not compute capacitance, bummer! I had purchased this in Dec when I had installed the automatic door light in my daughter’s closet – I could return that today and upgraded my arsenal to MM1000. This can only happen in US. Used it to check out the new capacitor that I had purchased and the one that went bad. Pics below. New run capacitor is around $12 on amazon; contractor charged $180 for labor and parts. Loot!

All in all a very challenging week; signed it off by witnessing an awesome performance by Neena Gupta and crew in Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha.



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