Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mrs. Fix-It

Ladies, allow me to talk to you seriously for a minute.

Do you FIX stuff?

Like a leaky toilet? Or a flat tire? Do you know what the aerator is in the faucet? Can you tell me the difference between Phillips and Flathead?

I am the product of divorce. My parents split up when I was 11 years old, and shortly after that time, my father was transferred to another state with his job. My mother had, up to that point, been a stay-at-home mom since I was born, and she was now thrust into a new role. She was Single Mom, going back to school to update her skills before returning to the workforce. She was not-working single mom, trying to adjust to hew new life, and her new income level.

And then, something broke. It was July. And it was the air conditioner. Holy smokies, Batman, it was HOT, and we simply did not have the money to pay someone to fix that AC. And my mother took that opportunity to teach me something wonderful.

Girls can use tools. And there are instructions out there for about anything.

My Mom went to the library, checked out a book on AC repair, and fixed the Air Conditioner. All by herself. And when she grinned at me, with just a little pride in her eye, she set the best example for me that she could have.

Since that time, I have learned to do a great many things. I do change my own flat tires. I know how to change the oil in my car (although I usually do go ahead and let someone else do it. It's not that expensive, and I don't have to worry about safe disposal, etc.), I have replaced the thermostat in my house, framed walls, taped, mudded and sanded drywall, hung curtain rods, and more. My boss lovingly referred to me as "The Son He Never Had" (having 3 daughters of his own) after I changed both a tire and a sink for him.

This has all worked out well for me. My husband is very good at a great many things, but is quite happy to let me be the one to fix stuff. He's not inept, but he's also not a handy-man. When "we" built this:

I took on the tools part (with the help of my brother & a friend) while my darling hubby fired up the grill and kept us fed. I have saved us money on our electric bill by installing a programmable thermostat. I just finished fixing our kitchen faucet, replacing a broken aerator and repairing the spray mechanism. Big Daddy isn't interested in the fixing of stuff. He just wants it done.

I have the most fun shopping at home improvement stores. I ask for power tools for gifts. I love that I can Google instructions to know how to repair things. It's wonderful to not have to rely on someone else to fix things that I am capable of fixing! So, ladies- don't be afraid to grab the tools! And, for your own safety and sanity, I encourage you to know the following:

Where is the water shutoff for the house?
If a pipe were to burst, would you know how to stop the water flow quickly? It's also good to know where to shut off the water for specific things (sinks and toilets) but knowing how to stop the flow of water completely until you can pinpoint the source of issue will be invaluable.
Where is the breaker box?
Breakers will trip when overloaded. Sometimes you will encounter situations where you need to turn off the power to a specific area of the house (if you've ever had an outlet short out, you know what I'm talking about here!) Know where your breaker box is, and ideally, make sure it is properly labeled so that you can quickly kill power to portions of the house.
How about the Gas Shutoff?
If you smell gas or otherwise suspect a leak, cutting off the supply can help, but if the odor of gas is strong, just get out and call the gas company. Don't mess around with that stuff! They'll get someone there quickly to make sure everything is ok!
This kind of stuff can be very helpful, especially after a natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado, or in the event you have a pipe freeze and rupture, etc. So, gather up this information and tuck it into your mind, or onto a list that you keep with your emergency preparedness kit! And don't be afraid of a screwdriver! (Phillips is the one that looks like a plus sign, Flathead is, well, flat!)


  1. No idea where the gas shutoff is, but I do know the other 2. I think at times I'm more handy than hubby, too. But his dad was a carpenter, so he feels inept!

  2. I know none of these things. I mean I don't even try to learn, I feel that I don't need to but that is not true. I would be in big trouble if I had to deal with fixing things in the house on my own, I think? I never tried though so I don't know. But hubby works over an hour away and if something were to happen while he was at work(which is most of the time!) it would take him to long to get home. Going to find out how to turn off the gas and water!! I know wear the breaker box is!! Had to mess with it a few times to help hubby with lighting! Great post!!

  3. Yep, know where it all is and know the difference between a phillips and a flathead, can change a tire but choose to leave that to those stronger, because, well, I can! I can do a few things around the house but not the magnitude you can. I wish I could tape mud and sand my drywall but not a clue. However, I have been known to google how tos on things that need done asap.

  4. I'm so proud that you can do these things, because, I can't.

    I have an instilled fear of house repairs. Which is odd, considering that my dad is the house repair and remodeling king... Of course, it's his fault, anyhow, since anytime I tried to help - I ended up crying. So, ingrained fear of repairs. Now that I own my own home, I really need to learn to do things. Really, I do.

    ~Liz T.