Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Useless toilet repair parts

November 22, 2015

It is a good thing that I didn’t leave earlier for Thanksgiving. I heard an odd sound from my bathroom today, followed by the sound of water spilling on the floor. I quickly found the problem and stopped the leak. A connector for the water supply to a toilet had fractured, allowing water from the incoming hose to escape.

Toilet water inlet parts on dirty old floor

In the image above is the hose with the fractured white connector, although the damage isn’t visible. I found that I have a replacement part from a toilet repair kit that I bought years ago (bottom left), but I can’t figure out how to remove the broken part. It seems like I would need to break the metal collar on the hose. I don’t know how to do that without breaking the hose, but even if I could, I would need a replacement for that, too. After searching the web for a while, it seems that the connector part is not replaceable; the whole hose needs to be replaced.

That begs the question: why was that replacement part included in the repair kit that I got? What am I missing?


Air conditioner debugged!

October 19, 2012

This last Monday morning, I noticed that my air conditioner wasn’t providing cool air just before I was going to leave for work. In this southern locale, air conditioning is nice even this late in the year. I had the thermostat set to 81F and it had climbed to 83F, so its not like I keep the place cold. A quick inspection revealed that the fan in the condenser/heat exchanger unit wasn’t spinning. This began my second repair odyssey in as many weeks.

When I came back from work, I investigated what I had. The condenser is a Rheem RAMB-030JAZ. It has a ten year warranty on some parts and was manufactured on April 2002. Figures. I researched that while a fan moved fresh cooler air from outside into the house. The thermostat showed 80F by morning, so it wasn’t too bad. It also helped that it wasn’t raining.

Honeywell R8242A without ants

Honeywell R8242A without ants

Tuesday morning, I opened up the condenser and started poking around. I found it has a Honeywell R8242A relay that switches power to the fan and compressor inside the condenser. The relay is very open; the contact moved by a magnet to open and close the circuit is visible and even movable by hand. It also has 240VAC, so I decided to only try moving the contacts with a large screw driver. Doing this manually did nothing, but my multimeter showed that 240VAC was present. There was some blackish junk under the moving contacts;  a close look showed that junk was a bunch of ants. Ants! My nemesis had denied me cool air! Oh, I’m going with singular for nemesis here since one ant poses no problem, but many ants together form a single nemesis. The picture here was after I removed the ants; I just didn’t think to take a picture sooner.

Condenser way too close to the power box

Condenser way too close to the power box

Anyway, the ants needed to be removed, so I first had to cut power to that relay. I first switched to off all the breakers that had a label indicating they had anything to do with the air conditioning. This did not remove power.  The option that I found in my research was to remove a fuse from a box that supplies power to the condenser. That box is so close to the condenser that it will not fully open nor stay open. This prevented my from getting a good view of anything inside. I tried to get it out with one hand only to discover that the sides of this fuse assembly inside the box include exposed metal with both ends of 240VAC. I felt a burning sensation, and fortunately the instinctive response was the same. That left my hand sore for half an hour, but otherwise I was fine. Good thing I couldn’t use both hands. I wonder if there is a good reason to not cover those surfaces, or if leaving them exposed is done to make things cheaper.

I discovered that one of the unmarked breakers in the house can also cut power to the condenser. I suppose I should have tried that first. With that done, I cleaned out the ants, switched the breakers back, and pressed down on the relay. The compressor and fan started up just fine. Now I need to kill more ants.

Holy Leaping Lizards, Batman!

June 26, 2009

06-26-09_0930Before 20090626-053514I went to work this morning I needed to put out some trash, so I went around to my backyard. Just as I opened the fence, something landed on my back. I was startled and tried to get as good of a view of my back as I can without a mirror. A good sized lizard was there. It was maybe a little longer than a foot, larger than the most common lizards around here, and has different coloring.

I managed to get a few pictures of it using my cell phone after it moved down to my right leg. Those pictures were crappy, but now I can’t say that I’ve never used a cell phone to take pictures. I got my other camera and came back for some more pictures. By then, it had started to climb on my house. Enjoy!


Gasteracantha Cancriformis leaves after five weeks

June 23, 2009

20090528-074340tI had a new resident in my backyard: a gasteracantha cancriformis. It made a rather large web that I had to duck beneath while moving my lawn mower to and from the front lawn. I let it be because there are enough bugs in my backyard. Especially mosquitoes. After a strong downpour early this Tuesday morning, it disappeared.

I first noticed it about a week before I took the first pictures. It lasted five weeks in the same spot. I don’t think I’ve noticed a spider stay in the same place for that long before, but I can’t say I was paying close attention.

Another gasteracantha cancriformis showed up just outside my bathroom windows a few days before the downpour. That spider was also displaced.

The backside of a gasteracantha cancriformis in my backyard.

The backside of a gasteracantha cancriformis in my backyard.


May 31, 2009

I’ve been playing Whack-a-Skeeter, a variant of Whack-a-Mole, at home. Starting last Wednesday and continuing through Friday, I had new windows installed on my house. During and since, my place has been in disarray. I suspect it will continue to be into next weekend because I’m not likely to get anything inspected before this upcoming Wednesday and I need to install blinds. My desk has been striped of its monitors, and I’m wondering if I’ll start up my main computer without them to do some software maintenance.

I also moved my PS3 to my living room and connected it to my old CRT TV so that I could watch a DVD I wrote before all this began. My old DVD player didn’t like the disk part way through. I even played Wipeout HD in SD. It lacks some of the graphical wow factor, but it is perfectly playable. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hook up my big monitor in the living room and watch a movie in HD, or just watch it on on my TV in SD because I can. Either way, it’ll be nicer on a couch than the office-style chair in front of my desk, and it’ll benefit from the fine speakers I have in the living room.

Anyway, while the windows were being installed, my house was very open to the outside. Plenty of sawdust from a table saw the crew used on my porch made it into the home, and I’m still cleaning it up. It also rained, so the crew tracked in mud over the floor. Bother. I was cleaning the floor, at least partially, every day until Saturday.

Dead mosquito

Dead mosquito

A fleet of mosquitoes would follow me around outside, so it’s no surprise an armada found its way in. I decided to stalk them for a while. Thanks to the new windows, it is quieter in my house now, and at its quietest I can hear a mosquito in flight a few feet from my ears. I just don’t have a good sense of the direction to the mosquito without seeing it. Most of them I squash with my hands, a few I bagged with my Dust Buster type tool, and I stomped on one. A few times I’ve gotten two in a row (quick successive successful attempts), and once I got two with one blow. Sometimes its a bloody mess, but I’m not tasting them back. Hunting them is enough for me.

I think I might be getting good at this game. I hope so, anyway. There hasn’t been a shortage of mosquitoes for me to go after yet, and I’ve still got plenty of itchy spots. At least I’ve got more motivation for this game than Whack-a-Mole. I always thought that one was rather dumb.

— Jeff, Mosquito Hunter (not to be confused with an exterminator)

The Banana Saga

December 2, 2008

20081007-165252_filteredThere are several banana plants growing in my backyard. A little over a couple months ago, one of them started to grow bananas. I’ve been taking pictures every week to show their progress. They did not get as large as the bananas found in grocery stores around here, but some bananas are small. Unfortunately, their time to grow was cut short by the storm that came through this past Sunday. I found the plant leaning Monday morning. By the time I returned home from work on Tuesday, the plant had fallen over. I’m going to try to get something edible out of what I got, but I don’t know how well it’ll turn out.

Here are a few of the pictures:

20081007-165402_filtered20081014-175830_filtered20081026-170652_filtered20081108-124330_filtered20081123-155012_filtered20081201-093306_filtered20081202-180418_filteredThere are more pictures at

Amphibians like it here

November 30, 2008
A small pond with a decorative bridge over it.

A small pond with a decorative bridge over it.

I have a little artificial pond in my backyard that is frequented by at least three, maybe four, toads. When I go outside at night, I often hear the splash they make when jumping back into the pond. Occasionally, they’ll just sit near the pond in spite of my sudden appearance.

About three weeks ago, I saw that a toad was sitting the pond while I was taking pictures of my growing bananas (more about that in a future post).

20081109-143448nsHere is a closer view of the toad:


There were two toads present, not including the stone shaped like a toad:

Battleground of the Ants

November 12, 2008

The ants are encroaching on my new territory. Their numbers are growing in the backyard. Even more bothersome is how their floor patrols have brought in greater numbers of ants. I have struck back, leaving some of the floor looking like an ant graveyard, minus the burial. This is a fine excuse to show a few pictures of this battleground.

Given the title, this must be a low budget B-movie. As such, there is no HDTV, but there is a VCR and an Atari 7800.

Given the title, this must be a low budget B-movie. As such, there is no HDTV, but there is a VCR and an Atari 7800.

This view includes the kitchen. It also shows the Ballblazer game cartridge, although the text isn't readable.

This view includes the kitchen. It also shows the Ballblazer game cartridge, although the text isn't readable.

The library, with a few of its toys, and plenty of VHS tapes, and even some DVD-R disks. And books, too.

The library, with a few of its toys, and plenty of VHS tapes, and even some DVD-R disks. And books, too.

The dining areas.

The dining areas.

Garage fits the car like spandex

October 19, 2008

Everyone told me my car would fit in the garage of my home just fine. What they didn’t tell me was that brining groceries in to my kitchen through the garage wasn’t going to be possible unless the car was not in the garage. I barely have enough room to walk into the garage. This does not please me at all. Although I am thin enough to actually get in and out of the car, which does please me. I just better not try carrying anything that doesn’t fit easily in a hand.

Ethylene glycol is not my friend

October 16, 2008

My parents visited me all last week and helped me paint the walls of my house, among other tasks. Before this, I don’t remember painting interior walls since maybe high school, but I did remember that it stinks. I definitely needed the help, and now my house looks much better. Thanks to the paint fumes, my eyes were sometimes too irritated to see the improvement. We also got to enjoy laboring in the Florida heat without air conditioning, but the fresh air was worth it.

There were some awful color choices made before I moved in. This spot had some shelves used to store home A/V equipment. A television was in the corner on the right. Seemed like a very poor place for it.

The shelves were removed, and the walls prepped for painting.

I somehow missed taking a picture of the finished walls, and now I’ve got disheveled stuff in the way. The spot in the previous pictures is on the left in this one. I’m still figuring out where to put everything, although this room is much less cluttered now, a the week since this picture was taken.

Evil Harlequin

Evil Harlequin

This large unsettling image on a bedroom wall had to go.

Harlequin meets Kilz

Harlequin meets Kilz

My father put the first coat of the Kilz primer over the offending image.

It was still visible under the primer, so we gave it two coats to be sure it would never be seen again.

The room is much less creepy without the harlequin.

The website of the Kilz manufacturer, Masterchem Industries, claims that the product we used has a “very mild odor”. So mild that a good whiff made me feel like vomiting.

False Steps

The Space Race as it might have been

You Control The Action!

High Frontier

the space colony simulation game

Simple Climate

Straightforwardly explaining climate change, so you can read, react and then get on with your life.