The Washing Machine Saga Continues…

10 03 2012

So, as much as I wanted to put off dealing with my leaking washing machine, I decided to go ahead with contacting a repairman. I brought the bronchitis back with me from my trip, and have been steadily feeling worse, instead of better. So I had high hopes that I’d call the repairman, he’d immediately fix the washing machine, and I’d be able to do the loads upon loads of laundry that I brought back from my trip…in advance of the next trip I have. On Tuesday. Ugh.

But anyway.

I have a Maytag stackable washer/dryer. So while I pictured the Maytag man of the commercials (who never has to work because the machines are so well made), it occurred to me that I should go through them to get the machine serviced. And that was the easy part – I logged into their website, found the section I needed, plugged in my model and serial number and scheduled an appointment.

Unfortunately, the appointment wasn’t as rewarding – the repairman was great. He showed up dead on time (12pm in a 12-3pm window I’d been given by phone), and checked out the machine in a few minutes. Of course, just his being there cost me $150 (painful), and then he figured out what the problem was.

I had feared that it was my fault, because I’d washed my comforter in there recently, and maybe caused a clog or imbalance in the machine. But fortunately, it wasn’t me (phew) – the timer on the machine is busted. The timer is what tells the machine that it’s full of water and to stop filling the basin. Since mine wasn’t working, it wasn’t really telling the machine to stop filling with water. Hence, the leaking.

So a new timer is what’s needed. Unfortunately, it’s one of the more expensive parts (though cheaper than replacing the whole thing), and the repairman didn’t have one on his truck. So it has to be ordered, the part shipped directly to me, and then I call him to set up an appointment to replace it. Only then do I get my washer back.

So despite spending most of today in bed or on the couch, I’ll be pulling myself up by my bootstraps tomorrow to head over to my parents’ to wash all my clothes. Good thing I just left them in my suitcase. It could be worse, I know. But it could be better. First world problems, right?


The Downstairs Bathroom, A Before and After

29 01 2012

As I mentioned recently, I was feeling less than thrilled about the color of my downstairs bathroom. Sure, brown is a great neutral, and you can jazz it up with accessories, but it was depressing me.  And since it’s also the room where my laundry gets done, I wanted it to feel a little snazzier.

I saw a color I LOVED on Pinterest, and couldn’t decide where in the house I would paint…it was a dark teal jewel tone (I love jewel tones), and it finally came to me that it would be perfect for the downstairs bathroom!

I wasn’t sure when I’d get around to it though, since I’ve been rather tired lately, which makes me lazy on the weekends.  But this weekend, I grabbed my brushes, picked up the paint, and went to work!

I forgot what a pain it is to paint in a bathroom though – I made short work of the preparations; I took all of the switchplates off, and took all of the accessories out to keep them paint free. I knew I’d have to move the washer/dryer, but I thought the rest of the bathroom would go quickly.  The best laid plans, as they say…

It took me a good solid on and off ten hours to finish the whole thing – exhausting.  Because the color was dark, even though I had a fairly dark brown on the walls already and it was a primer/paint combo, I still had to do three coats.  Plus, I forget how much is fixed in a bathroom – it takes quite the acrobatic act to paint behind the toilet, and to climb over and behind the washer/dryer.

But I finally finished it, and it was worth all of the effort! Unfortunately, I’d already started painting by the time I realized that I should have done a full set of “before” pictures.  So you’ll have to make do with some of the old ones I have (mostly from Christmas decorating shots!):

The Before.

The After!

What a difference, don’t you think?

Here are some other shots:

Another before

I just love the color.

Now, here are some tips I find make it easier:

  • Don’t tape: Lots of people swear by taping before they paint, but I find that it takes up a TON of time, and it never seals up properly or completely, so it creates more of a mess than it saves. Instead, I’m just super careful when I cut in – and I start with a few brush strokes away from the edge, so I know my hand is steady and I don’t have too much paint on the edge of the brush.
  • Get the bucket and tray liners: I have a bucket for the purpose of cutting in, which has a magnet on one side to hold the brush up. It is amazing and worth every penny. These buckets also have liners, so you can pour the paint in that you need for a project, and just throw the liner out when you’re finished – it makes the clean up SO. MUCH. EASIER.  Same for the roller tray liners.  I still wish I knew how to best clean the rollers and brushes, but the liners make my life much better!
  • Use a small-handled brush: I found these when I first moved out on my own three years ago, and I find that they fit in my hand very nicely and make painting much easier.
  • Use an old scrubber sponge for clean-up: This time, I was lazy and didn’t put any drop cloths down. I was working on tile, so that was part of the reason – if it had been carpet, I definitely would have put down drop cloths. No matter how careful you are, if you’re using a roller, you’ll get splotches of paint pretty much everywhere.  So when I was ready to clean, I used the scrubber side of an old sponge to scrub the paint off of the floor and counters (I say old sponge because you’ll obviously want to throw the sponge away after using it to wipe up your floors!). It worked beautifully!
  • Always, always remove switch plates and outlet covers: It takes so little time, but makes a huge difference. I didn’t remove all of them the first time I painted the house, which has been so noticeable as I have changed out some of the outlets.  It shows that you care about the small details.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you the before and after in the kitchen, which I painted today!

My Downstairs Bathroom

11 01 2012

I may have a painting obsession.

Although, it really only happens when I’m unhappy with the color of something. I love that my bedroom is eggplant, and so I haven’t wanted to repaint it in the three+ years I’ve lived here.

But I’m still unhappy with the hallway…though it would help if I *finished* painting it.

And despite having this unfinished project, I’m feeling itchy to paint the downstairs bathroom again. I like that it’s a dark color, despite being a small bathroom. I just don’t like the color that it is.

Though it's not the focus, you can see the color of the bathroom here.

It’s just not me.

But I couldn’t figure out what color I wanted to paint it. And thinking about moving the washer/dryer to paint in there again gives me a bit of agita. However, I did see a color on Pinterest this week that I LOVE for the bathroom…or really, any room:

Isn't it bee-yoo-ti-ful?

A dark teal green. Just what I want, and I think it will go perfectly! And even better, the brown in there now will serve as a lovely dark primer for the green.  I can’t wait to get started on this project! Though I should probably finish up some of the other million things I have going on in the house before then…

New Bathroom Light

30 12 2010

I hope everyone had a very nice holiday!

As I mentioned in early 2010, there were three projects I wanted to get done this year:

1) Accent wall in the living room.

2) Replacing the light fixture in my downstairs bathroom.

3) Adding a sideboard in my dining room.

And I actually managed to get all of those things done!  Most recently was the bathroom light.  My parents replaced the light in their bathroom with a slightly less modern one, so they gave me theirs.  I was assisting my dad with putting up the light in my bathroom, so I didn’t take any photos of it, but I thought you might like to see what it looks like now.

Definitely an improvement!

Putting up a new light meant there was a hole left from the old fixture – this fixture was a little bit wider, so we had to move it slightly off center so it didn’t hit the wall.  Fortunately, I had some paint leftover from painting the bathroom.  So I put up a patch (found easily at Lowes), covered it with drywall compound, sanded it and painted it.

Now the bathroom looks much better!

Fixing a Sink Stopper

5 05 2010

This is another post without too many pictures, because I was assisting my dad with the project.  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, when I was unclogging my drain, I somehow loosened the connector that attaches my sink stopper to the mechanism, and it fell into the drain. Drat.

I was all ready to run to Lowes and see if I could replace that part of it when my dad mentioned that it might be sitting in the U-pipe underneath my sink. He said to wait for him to give me a hand with it, in case I wasn’t able to tighten it enough back up and ended up with a leak. 

I mentioned it to him while we were working on our washer/dryer project, and he said he’d take a look.  I’ll point out that I didn’t have the proper tools for this project (which my dad pointed out to me), so I highly recommend making sure you do before undertaking it. 

He was able to loosen the U-pipe and take it off – you’ll want to have a bucket handy for this step, to catch any water sitting in the pipe.  Right there in the pipe was the connector – hooray!  That was the end of the easy part.

My sink is part of a vanity cabinet that the previous owner put in, and it makes it awkward to get to the back of it.  We first screwed the piece back onto the stopper and after various attempts to try to get it back onto the metal rod in the drain that is attached to the stopper handle, I got under the sink to pull back the rod with both hands while my dad maneuvered the piece back onto it in the sink.  Whew.  Then, he had to adjust (this is the part I couldn’t see) the rod attachment for the stopper under the sink to get it to open and close properly.  He said that in order to do it correctly, you would then tighten the nut that’s attached to the stopper inside the drain to keep it from moving.  We omitted this step, so I’ll have to keep an eye on whether the stopper is becoming unscrewed to keep this from happening again.

He then reattached the U-pipe and tightened it, and so far, no leaks.  I’m glad that the stopper is back in ther again so that I don’t have to worry about dropping things like my toothpaste cap into the sink and causing a clog!

Ah, all better!

Maintaining Your Washer/Dryer

4 05 2010

Since I am a first time homeowner, there are a lot of things I assume I DON’T know – I’m pretty good with the basics, like keeping my house clean, fixing obvious problems.  But then there are things that I either forget about (like replacing air filters) or don’t know to do – kind of like with my car, but there’s no “house-mechanic” I can take my home to.

So instead, I ask questions. And subscribe to This Old House’s newsletter. This week, I got their tips for spring cleaning newsletter, which included an article on how to maintain your washer/dryer.  Since my washer and dryer work fine, I hadn’t thought that I needed to do anything with them. I always clean out my lint trap, I leave the washer lid up so that it dries out properly, etc.  But apparently, there’s more.

Why is it important, you might ask, especially if it might cost you money you weren’t planning to spend right now.  In my case, since I am not the first owner of my washer and dryer and don’t know what kind of maintenance the previous owners did, I want to make sure that it’s all in good working order.  The other reason it’s important is that even if you do clean out the lint trap in your dryer, lint still builds up in the duct work and can cause a fire – yikes! Also, if your hoses aren’t properly installed, or are old and break, you can end up with flooding.  I have enough flooding outside my house, I certainly don’t need any inside.

I mentioned it to my dad last week, and he said he’d help me take a look at it and update anything that needed it. In my case, we replaced the two water hoses and the dryer duct.  My dad had picked up all the materials for me and did most of the work while I assisted.  It was a really intensive project, so I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I have in the past, but I can give you the step by step of what we did and the photos I did take.

The washer/dryer is in my downstairs full bath, so they’re stackable to allow for the shower to be there.  That also means that space is at a premium in that bathroom, so it took some maneuvering to get the washer out of the way to work on the dryer duct first.  To move the washer, we first turned off the water – VERY important.  Before you disconnect the hoses, get a bucket (because there will be some water in them), and as you remove each hose, drain the water into the bucket. You will likely need adjustable pliers for this part to loosen the connetions, and subsequently to tighten them again.  Once the hoses were removed, we disconnected the washer’s power connection to the dryer as well as the waste hose (also drain this into the bucket if necessary) and moved the washer out of the way. Also – as you remove the hoses, if the shut off valves and washer connections are not clearly marked, make sure you identify which is for hot water and which is for cold – otherwise, you’ll have to hook them up to the shut off valves, put the other ends into a bucket and turn them back on to test it. 

The dryer, out as far as we could get it

The back of my washing machine, as it sits in the hallway

My dryer is gas, so we didn’t want to mess with that or remove it – very very important to be careful with gas. As an aside, my next door neighbor, who is remodeling his kitchen, just replaced a gas line. And even though he knows what he’s doing and tested the line to make sure “no bubbles, no troubles,” he still ended up with a leak and had to call the gas company.  It’s dangerous, so be cautious!

We unplugged the dryer and my dad pointed out that the duct for the dryer was so old, it was starting to unravel.  This turned out to be an issue for us because the duct runs under the house and through my crawl space to the outside vent, so although we didn’t replace that part today, I will have to in the near future.  This was also when the project got more complicated – as with most things, when you start something, another issue always crops up giving you a bunch of extra steps.  In my case, it was that whoever installed the duct work had been very lazy and just cut a quick and dirty hole in the floor that they snaked it through.  My dad had seen this when he was here on Friday, and had picked up a plastic sleeve that fit in the hole and connected to the duct underneath the house, and also sealed up the hole more cleanly.  This was matched to another sleeve on the new duct attached to the dryer, and they just click together neatly.

How it looked when we started - big old hole in the floor, not sealed up at all! Also, check out the lint lining the duct.

And after, a lovely new duct with a sleeve sealing up the hole. No tiny animals are going to crawl into MY house!

But because the duct was so old and falling apart, I had to climb down into my crawl space, adjust the sloppy duct work under there and shimmy along the dirty sand all the way to underneath the bathroom floor so that I could feed up more of the duct to my dad, so that he wasn’t dealing with the part that was unraveling.  We finally managed to get it done, and he noted that he’d gotten a bunch of lint out of the duct, so it was a smart thing to replace.  I’ll keep telling myself that when I have to get back under there again when we replace that duct work!

Next, he attached it to the dryer using a screw-type hose clamp big enough to fit around the duct.  MUCH better! 

Then, he plugged in the dryer again and it was time to reconnect the hoses. He’d gotten hoses that can detect if there’s a leak and automatically shut off – that’s great, because it gives me added peace of mind, since I don’t turn off my water every time I’m done using the washing machine. It’s snuggled in next to the machine tight, so it’s difficult for me to do, though it is recommended to avoid flooding.  We identified which valve connected to which washer connection and my dad screwed them on, using pliers to tighten the valve connections.  We screwed them on by hand to the washing machine before moving it back to test whether there was any water leaking from the valves. When there wasn’t, we plugged the drain hose back in – it’s hand done, with no attachment to the wall, which was a little bit weird, but it felt like it was in there good and tight.

They're both blue, so unless we noted which was which, there's no way to know!

New hoses - connected to the shutoff valves!

And new hoses connected to the washing machine!

Then, we unscrewed the hoses from the washing machine and my dad got out from behind it before screwing them back and tightening them again with the pliers.  We moved the machine back, turned on the water, and I tested it with my first load of laundry – it worked great, and no leaks!  Another unexpected job well-done. I’ll keep reading This Old House’s newsletter for tips and advice, and keep learning about what I should be doing to maintain my house’s safety and good working order!

Bathroom Shelving Units

30 04 2010

Okay, what lady out there doesn’t want a lot of storage in the bathroom?

Anyone? Anyone?

Right. Me too.  I do happen to have a lot of storage in my current bathroom, and don’t even use all the drawers and cabinet space.  But I wanted a little shelving unit for my guests, because I’ve had a couple of incidents with people using my (already used) bath towels in the bathroom, instead of bringing in the ones from the guest room. 

Guests who did this – now you know, you used dirty towels. You’re welcome 🙂

But I understand how that can happen, and how it’s easier to have extra towels right in the bathroom.  I’m all about making guests feel comfortable here, after all. And once I realized that the former owner of my house had had a shelf in the corner of the bathroom, I realized there was enough room for me to have one too.

I thought I wanted a teak knockoff one (since who can afford a shelf for a million dollars for the BATHROOM?), but they don’t seem to make those anywhere.  So I’ve been on the lookout for a while, and finally found one at, you guessed it, Target.  It’s a metal one, with bamboo shelves, which would tie in the bamboo sink accessories that  have nicely.

Whoop, there it is

SoI picked it up with some additional accessories – I can’t help it – and set it up.  My only issue with it is that due to the molding on the floor, I can’t bring it flush with the wall, and therefore, can’t install the hook to keep it from being unsturdy. Any recommendations? The molding is plastic, so I can’t easily cut it.  Otherwise, I’m super happy with it!

I officially love these jars. And I can accommodate soaps & shampoos for my guests now too!

I put some bath crystals in a sugar dish for guests (it's really very spa-like at my house) and I love these fancy clorox wipes holders

And yes, towels in the bathroom for guests, finally.