Sunday, February 26, 2012

fix it yourself.

Ahh, a big weekend for the kitchen! After pouncing on great appliance deals last weekend, they were due to be delivered yesterday. Around 3:00, just as I took a phone call from a dude who was interested in our old fridge (posted on Craigslist), the doorbell rang...fridge and range! Fridge and range! -Not actually, like, ringing the doorbell (though next time, the delivery guys might consider staging that to up the "wow" factor), but they were here.

Aaand so were the issues.

I'm not sure why, after all the updating we've done, it still surprises me EVERY TIME when a project takes twice as long as we planned. For reals, I had done all the prep I could think of: I had moved our cars out of the garage; shoveled and salted the walkways; wiped down the fridge, freezer, oven, and stove inside and out; emptied everything; unscrewed a doorstop on the sliding wall to accommodate a wide load; and even laid a tarp on the hardwood so it wouldn't get salty. DUDE, I OVER-PREPARED.

The house disagreed.

First was a teeny little bump - the delivery guy wanted to know if we had purchased a cord for our new range. Nope, seeing that I was never told to do so. Ack. He said it was okay to use the cord from the old range, so? Problem solved. I breathed a little sigh of relief and figured that was our issue of the day. Old range out, new range in, bibbity-bobbity-boo.

After they moved the old range into the garage, where it awaits adoption by a yet-to-be-named Craigslist buyer, it was on to the fridge. So, once upon a time, our old freezer started making uncontrollable amounts of ice. We put bowls in there to catch it; they overflowed. We tried turning it off; no dice, just ice. And more ice. And more and more ice. We didn't know why, and we didn't really use the ice very much anyway, so J.J. dismantled it. Well, that was actually a clue of what was about to come.

The head delivery guy took one look at the old copper water line that ran to the fridge and said, "Now, you may have to replace this before we can do anything." Uh, what? "This is old. You start messing with it, you're gonna get some leaking." Sonofamother. Sure enough, after attempting to stop the water flow to the fridge line by turning the shut-off valve (Teachable Moment: that is the ACTUAL NAME of that plumbing part) in the basement, the delivery guy loosened the nut by the fridge...and, Houston, we had a wet problem. All over the kitchen floor. This is very likely why our ice-maker over-functioned a while back - the water line got out of control. J.J. shut off the water to the whole house, which was the only way we could stop the leak at that point. 

Meanwhile, I was on the phone with a dude from Craigslist (henceforth known as Craig; he became a major player in our SATURDAY OF FUN) who was ready to pick up the old fridge within the hour. Delivery Guy shook his head, said he couldn't detach the old fridge without risking major leakage, suggested we hire a handyman to help us out, and basically - after depositing the new fridge in another part of our kitchen - dusted his hands off and hauled ass.


I relayed the issue to Craig over the phone, who responded, "Oh, I've got a handyman with me. He's coming to help me move the fridge." What's that? You just happen to have a handyman with you? What is he, like, your sidekick? I tried to discern whether he was a legit handyman, or if he was just mildly handy and a man. Craig assured me he was legit, that the guy (we'll call him Manny, after Handy Manny) always helps Craig out with repairs...but English is not Craig's first language, and from the way he was answering my questions, I wasn't sure he understood what I was asking. Cathy: "Is he employed as a handyman?" Craig: "Oh, yes, he's with me all the time." Cathy: <silence>

Whatever. At this point, we had a new range, an unplugged old fridge, an unplugged new fridge, and a cooler and countertop's worth of spoiling food, all squaring off in the kitchen. We were desperate for help and knew of no convenient plumbers or handypeople.

Old Fridge vs. New Fridge: WHO SHALL PREVAIL?

Leaky McWaterline places his bet on Old Fridge.
J.J. took off to grab the few supplies the delivery guy told us we would need (which was our only source of information for this entire home repair: Delivery Guy's offhanded advice), while I stared at my kitchen (Kim Jong-Cathy: Looking at many fridges) and slowly started to panic. I understand that this is not really a panic-inducing situation, but hey, we had some pretty bad scenarios lined up for us. At best, Manny would hook us up, and we'd be all set. At worst? Floods, food spoilage, major money output, getting murdered by Craig and Manny and ending up as the next set of Craigslist victims. And we couldn't turn the water back on until the leak was fixed, and I really had to pee.

Thankfully, J.J. returned and Craig and Manny showed up shortly thereafter. Usually, I try to quickly size up Craigslist folks for murdery potential (meaning them murdering me, not vice versa, friends) if I have to be around them for more than a few seconds, or if they're entering my house. Craig and Manny were...I don't know. Strangers. They assessed Leaky McWaterline's situation, and then J.J. and Manny headed to the basement (alone! What if he had killed J.J. down there?! What was I thinking?). Craig and I stood in the kitchen and made awkward small talk. He asked intrusively personal questions about my job and my house (sketchy) and told me about his kids (un-sketchy).

To lessen the sketchy factor, I guided Craig towards the basement (safety in numbers?), where I found a great big puddle of water on the floor underneath the fridge water line's shut-off valve. DAMN. J.J. and Manny had installed the new shut-off valve incorrectly (and let the record show that Not-So-Handy Manny had NO FREAKING IDEA what he was doing). They messed around with it for another 20 uncomfortable minutes, during which I discovered that Craig used to own the Indian food cart outside the School of Social Work. Good times, but I still couldn't help envisioning how I would escape if Manny attacked J.J. and Craig went after me. (FYI, I was definitely faster than Craig, who had 20 years and 200 pounds on me, and so would have bolted up the stairs and out the front door, where I would have screamed for help. Our next-door neighbors were home; I could see their SUV in their driveway. It's always good to have an escape plan when Craigslist strangers are in your basement. I even had a script for how I would tell my therapist that I now needed PTSD treatment. My brain is...active.)

Finally, I gave Craig and Manny an out - I suggested they just take the fridge and go. They weren't helping J.J. make any progress, and either way, we were going to have to leave the main water off while we figured out how to fix the line. Manny was clearly out of his element, so they might as well just disconnect the old fridge and take it with them. Also, Craig was glancing at his watch repeatedly and shooting Manny meaningful looks. SKETCH. ...Or maybe they just had dinner plans, whatever.

Craig, Manny, and the old fridge left (after Craig asked to use the bathroom, to which I stammered, "Um, you're welcome to, but the water is still off..."), and J.J. continued working in the basement. I do not do such a good job of watching J.J. work on repairs that he's never attempted before (see: blog post about the new vanity oh, that's right, there isn't one yet because I'm still so bitter about it), so I tapped into my strengths and started cleaning the new-to-us refrigerator. There were some food smudges on the inside and tape remnants on the outside that needed some love. I discovered a few scratches I hadn't noticed in the store, but I kept reminding myself that (a) no one will ever notice those except me, (b) who cares if they do, anyway, and (c) it was half-freakin'-off! File under: Worth it.

And then...from the basement...a cry of victory!

"I did it! It's not leaking! Check up there!"

Dude. No leaks anywhere. J.J. totally did it! We literally jumped up and down and high-fived each other and made out a little. We hooked up the new fridge to the water line, checked for leaks again, and - that was it! J.J. successfully replaced the shut-off valve and the water line all by himself (well, Manny provided moral support for a short time). AND, bonus, we didn't get Craigslist-murdered.

We celebrated with pizza and fridge water. It's actually strange to me to drink water that comes out of a refrigerator door, just like magic (and my rich friends' fridges from when I was little). This must be what people felt like when indoor plumbing was introduced: "I can just turn the handle...and the water flows through this tube?" I'm still not feeling like it's safe, triple-mega-super-internal-filter notwithstanding. Safe or not, the fridge is pretty as hell, not to mention significantly bigger than our old one. Four-point-six cubic feet bigger, in fact. And, when all was said and done, it only took three hours, two hardware store trips, two delivery guys, two Craigslist dudes, two new parts, and a lot of rags for us to get two fancy new appliances.

The best part? This officially kicks off the kitchen remodel. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. This was totally my favorite post yet! Stuff looks great, and I'm also glad you didn't get Craigslist murdered.



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