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Fixed the toilet - again

January 23rd, 2020 at 01:47 am

One of our toilets was taking forever to fill. It wasn't running. It wasn't leaking. It just was filling really slowly. My wife finally asked if I could fix it so a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a new fill valve assembly and installed it. Everything seemed fine. It was working properly and filling in a normal amount of time.

Then 2 days ago DW texts me at work and says the toilet is running and she opened the back and the water level was rising over the top of the drain tube. I talked her through a couple of things to try but nothing helped. The only thing I can figure is that the fill valve I installed was defective and had a leak somewhere so the water flow wasn't cutting off when the tank was full.

I had to work all day yesterday so couldn't do anything about it until today (which I'm sure our next water bill will reflect). I went and got another new fill valve assembly, took out the first one, and installed the new one. I also went and replaced the flapper while I was at it. It wasn't leaking but it was pretty old.

So far, everything seems fine, but that was true last time too. Hopefully it will continue to be okay. I just have to get back to Home Depot to return the first one.

Of course, in the process of doing all of this, I discovered that the water shut off valve to the toilet doesn't work. I had to turn off the main water supply to the house to fix the toilet. I got a plumber referral from a friend and will call them at some point to come install a new valve. That's a little beyond my DIY skill set.

Broken electric meter?

January 21st, 2020 at 08:00 pm

It recently occurred to me that there might be something wrong with our electric meter. The utility bill shows how much our electricity and gas usage is compared to the same month a year ago. The gas usage is sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but I've realized the electricity usage is always higher, sometimes 10 or 12% but sometimes 50 or 60% higher. This was actually happening last year but I attributed it to DD being back living at home and not away at college.

There's no way we can be using 60% more electricity than a year ago though. Nothing has changed in our house. It's been the same 3 people. The only new appliance we've gotten, and that was just a couple of months ago, was a dishwasher and the new one should be a lot more efficient than the 15-year-old one it replaced. Every other appliance is the same.

I'm going to call the utility company and see if they can send someone out to check our meter. We've had it for a long time so maybe it needs to be replaced.

Extra help at work; Free dinner out

January 19th, 2020 at 02:12 pm

They finally gave us extra help at work. We now have 2 providers for 4 hours per day on Monday, Friday, and weekends. It definitely helped yesterday as we saw 22 patients from 9-1 which I couldn't possibly have kept up with by myself. Now I just have to hope the volumes support adding a 2nd person on the remaining 3 days of the week since I work Tuesday and Thursday by myself.

We went out to dinner last night to a place we like. The restaurant sent out an email yesterday morning with a $10 off deal one day only. I'm guessing they thought business might be light due to bad weather, or maybe that was just a coincidence and they were going to send that offer anyway.

In addition to the $10 off, I had a $20 gift card that we got as a bonus for buying a $75 gift card last month. Finally, I hadn't yet used the $100 gift card my staff gave me as a holiday present. I think we ended up using about half of that card.

The storm didn't do much here. We got a dusting of snow and some sleet but it wasn't bad and the temp was back in the upper 30s this morning so nothing froze over night.

Sort of a DIY fail

January 12th, 2020 at 04:03 pm

This isn't entirely a fail, and it is in no way my fault, but I kind of feel like I wasted my money.

A year or so ago, we replaced the ceiling light fixture in our sitting room. We also put in dimmable LED bulbs. There was already a dimmer switch and I didn't change that.

We found that the lights were fine when at full brightness, but they flickered quite a lot when they were dimmmed, even going off momentarily and coming back on. I did some reading online and learned that older dimmer switches regulate the current differently and they aren't compatible with LED bulbs.

I went out yesterday and bought a new LED-commpatible dimmer switch and installed it today. It works okay but the lights still flicker. Not nearly as bad as they did. They don't actually go fully off and on like before. It's more of a constant minimal flicker which does seem to be a lot less annoying. We'll have to see how noticeable it is when it's dark outside and the fixture is the only light source.

I'm all in favor of switching to highly energy-efficient lighting but it does have some downsides and flickering is one of them. The LEDs I installed in our hallway flicker a lot too and those aren't on a dimmer. I've also found 3 fixtures in the house where LED bulbs wouldn't work at all and I had to stick with CFL or incandescent bulbs which was disappointing.

Staycation Day One

November 14th, 2019 at 02:22 am

It's actually been a long time since I took a staycation. I always mean to but it just hasn't happened for years. I had a bunch of PTO I had to use up or lose at the end of the year so I took some random days off. The way my schedule works, I only need to take off on a Thursday to get 5 days off in a row so that's what I did this week.

Today was day 1. Slept late. Like really late for me - 9:20, which was great because for some reason I was really exhausted yesterday. Did some cleaning around the house today including packing up a bag of clothes for Goodwill. DW and I went to Target for a few things and stopped at Goodwill on the way back to drop off the clothes and an old broken printer to recycle.

DD worked tonight so DW and I had a date night. We went to dinner at a place nearby that we've never tried but was on the 1,000 point list for Open Table. It was really nice, definitely a place we would go back to. Then we fired up Disney+. One of our goals with the new service is to catch up on the Marvel cinematic universe and see all the films we've missed. First up tonight was Captain Marvel. We enjoyed that.

No big plans for tomorrow except going to the gym at noon (DW has an appointment with her trainer). I have a number of things on my To Do list so we'll see where the day takes me.

Happy dishwasher update

October 29th, 2019 at 02:01 pm

The 2nd attempt at getting our dishwasher installed was yesterday afternoon. A different crew from a different company came out and they were amazing! They were friendly and understanding and professional and skilled. They were shocked that the other crew hadn't even made any attempt.

They pulled out the old dishwasher easily (the other guy said he might not be able to get it out) and proceeded to install the new one like it was nothing. They appreciated that we were educated and knew what we were talking about as I'm sure they encounter plenty of customers who think they know everything and don't really have a clue.

Once it was installed, they showed us the basic features and gave us some tips. They even answered a couple of questions we had about some other appliance issues. Of course, we now have their contact info and would happily use them again for future needs.

So we now have a shiny new installed and functioning dishwasher. We'll probably run the first load tonight.

Nothing is ever simple - appliance issue

October 23rd, 2019 at 05:33 pm

We bought a new dishwasher last week. They came yesterday to install it. The guy took half a step into the kitchen and said, "I can tell you right now it won't fit." We have a ceramic tile floor and there is a drop off at the end of the tiles to the floor where the dishwasher sits. It's been like that since we bought the house 25 years ago. This will be the 3rd dishwasher going into the exact same space. Previous installers thought the same thing and then proceeded to install it just fine.

Nope. This guy was convinced it wouldn't work and wasn't even willing to try. Back I went to the store today to complain. They said I had to contact the installation service directly as it's a third party.

I called them and the guy I spoke to actually seemed pretty good. He understood the issue and seemed surprised that the installer didn't even attempt to do the work. He said he'd seek out another installer and get back to me, which he did a short time later. He gave me his direct line if we need him and gave me the name of the new guy. We're just waiting for that guy to call and schedule to come out. Hopefully he can do it with no further issue. Otherwise I'm going to have to go to Lowe's again and have them refund what we paid for installation. I have a friend who has already said he'd be happy to install it if it comes to that. So still on hold at the moment to see what the final outcome will be.

Small DIY success

October 22nd, 2019 at 11:02 pm

Okay, this one may sound lame but I still count it as a success.

We were in Lowe's last week buying a new dishwasher. As we were walking through the store, we passed the aisle with the 4-foot long workshop light fixtures like many people have in unfinished basements or garages. We have 3 in our basement. One barely works and one hasn't worked at all for ages. I just never bothered to do anything about it.

Ours have 48" fluorescent tubes. Now they are all LED which is nice. I took pictures of the 3 options and a couple days ago searched on Amazon. Of course, I was able to find similar fixtures that are even brighter and cheaper than Lowe's so I ordered two of them.

They arrived today and I installed them both easily since they were going exactly where the old ones were, even hanging on the very same hardware that was already there.

We now have 2 super bright fixtures. The laundry room has only had a single regular bulb since that fixture died and the other half of the basement was pretty much in the dark except for the rare occasion when that fixture actually decided to work. It looks great down there. DW is happy because she is in charge of laundry and I'm happy because I do a lot of stuff on the other side. Plus the extra pantry is down there so now we can find things without pulling out our cell phone flashlight. And all for just $60 (and I'll get 5% cashback from our Discover card).

Bought a dishwasher

October 16th, 2019 at 09:13 pm

We headed over to Lowe's today. We've bought several other appliances there. They seem to have a good combination of reasonable prices, nice selection, and helpful staff that isn't overly pushy. Today was no exception. A couple of people asked if we needed help while we were browsing and walked away when we said not yet. Once we had it narrowed down to 2 models, we went over and asked the one woman for help. She was very nice and answered a few questions we had.

Of course, we ended up with the more expensive of the 2 we were looking at but it did have a couple of features that we preferred. It has a recessed handle so we won't be constantly banging into it like we would have been with the other one. And the racks and gliders were clearly of better quality. It was also rated a few decibels lower on sound level.

We just have to wait for the installer to call and schedule installation. Hopefully that will happen within a few days. It will be nice to have a working dishwasher again.

Time for a new dishwasher

October 14th, 2019 at 12:45 am

Another chapter in "The Joys of Home Ownership". My wife informed me that the dishwasher has been making an awful noise lately and the other day was the worst it's been. We could: a) call out a repair person or b) buy a new one. Yes, I realize there is choice c) try to troubleshoot it ourselves to see if we can fix it. However, I'm opting for choice b.

We got our first dishwasher in 1995. We remember because we bought it when DW was pregnant and started having trouble reaching the sink to do dishes Smile. That one lasted almost 10 years and was replaced in late 2004. So the current one is actually 15 years old which is not so bad as appliances go.

I don't think it's worth paying for a service call plus any repair costs for a 15-year-old dishwasher. Plus, I've been self-managing gradual rusting of the one rack for the past few years, sanding it down and coating the edges. I even cut out a small section of the rack that was too badly damaged to save, so the whole thing is kind of ghetto at this point.

I've been browsing online and we'll probably hit a couple of stores on Wednesday and get a new one. It's not a huge expense as home repairs go and I can't complain about this one lasting as long as it did.

Odds and ends

March 20th, 2019 at 10:55 pm

I said I'd try to blog more regularly so figured I actually need to post every couple of weeks.

I made our latest mortgage payment which brought our principal under the $10,000 mark. The end is near. I expect to pay it off in August most likely so that's exciting.

I haven't picked up any extra shifts at work the past week or two. I need to take a look at the schedule and pick up something in the coming weeks.

My wife and I are doing an overnight getaway this weekend. We're just going across the river into the city. There's a whiskey bar we've been wanting to try (we are big bourbon and whiskey fans). We didn't really care for their dinner menu so we're eating at a different place in the next block and planning to then go to the bar for drinks and dessert. The only problem with that is that we couldn't reserve a table just for that so we'll have to wait for space at the bar on a Saturday night. Hopefully around 6:30-7:00 it won't be too crazy yet. We're using a free hotel voucher for our stay. Just have to pay for parking.

Haven't done any decluttering lately. I'm hoping spring brings a nice weekend soon when I'm off and can start attacking the garage.

Need to start working on plans for our June trip to Dallas. The hotel was booked months ago but I haven't bought airfare yet. DW has been browsing the tourist sites looking for things to see and do when we're there.

I can't think of anything else of significance from the past couple of weeks so I'll stop there.

Happy Spring!

Fixing our cable bill (due to my own error)

February 27th, 2019 at 03:06 pm

A couple of months ago I took a look at our cable bill, something I had neglected to do for way too long. I noticed we were being billed for 2 convertor boxes at $6.99/mo. each. However, we only have one. I went over to the office and told them and they agreed to take one off the bill.

Fast forward to last week. I was in the basement and came across a convertor box. Sure enough it is the one they insisted we had and have been paying for. I have absolutely no memory of why we have an extra box or why I never returned it. I brought it up and figured I'd drop it off next time I was over that way.

A couple of days ago, I get a letter in the mail from, the cable company. An account review showed that we're paying for one box but their records still indicate we have two so they're going to start charging for it again.

Now that I actually have the extra box, I can fix this once and for all. I'll go over today and return it and make sure our account is updated accordingly so that we can stop paying that $6.99/mo. fee.

Mortgage payment, decluttering, and date night

February 18th, 2019 at 09:04 pm

There are 3 savings things that I do manually each month. I send $1,000 to our Ally savings account, $1,000 to our taxable Vanguard account, and $1,000 extra to our mortgage. I don't usually do them all at once but it worked out that way this time. I just did the Ally and Vanguard transfers.

When I went to do the mortgage payment, I discovered a notice that the annual escrow review showed a shortage (doesn't it always?) of $114.89. So I had to pay that. I also had already decided to up the extra going to principal from $1,000 to $1,500. So I did all of that and made that payment. I can't wait until the mortgage is gone in a few months.

If you really want to follow our decluttering process, I'd head over to the forums: https://www.savingadvice.com/forums/forum/financial-chit-chat/general-discussion/700407-2019-decluttering-thread. We just went through all of our sheets and mattress covers and are getting rid of a whole trash bag full that will go to Goodwill. Some worn out stuff is also going in the trash.

I didn't realize it but my wife and I have a "date night" tonight. Our daughter is heading back to her college for a fraternity event and will be gone from about 4:30 until after 11:00. I think we're going to cook dinner together and then rent a movie on one of the online services and relax with a couple of drinks. Not sure what we'll see but maybe A Star is Born.