I blame Hometime… a home repair horror story

Remember “Hometime” that PBS show with Dean Johnson and Joanne Liebler and they tried to make home repairs and improvement look like such fun. Pshaw! It’s rarely fun, if ever…

On today’s episode:

After today’s estate sale, we stopped by Lowes to grab a new toilet to install in the downstairs bath. The one there is the original from when the house was built 26 years ago, so it was time for an update I think. We’d replaced the one in my son’s bathroom last week and liked the model, so back to Lowes to get another one.

But first we installed a ceiling fan in my son’s room to replace a standard light fixture. It was also a teachable moment so Gil could learn how to do this. He helped with the toilet last week and we’ve been trying to teach him some of these household projects.

We installed the ceiling fan three times. What a blast!

The first time we tried one of the screws was stripped on the junction box so while it would hold a light fixture, it wouldn’t hold a ceiling fan, let alone one in full motion. So I got in the attic and removed the junction box which was one of those nailed to a single joist kind… Off to Home Depot (we spread the love between the big box home improvement centers).

Bought a junction box with a metal bar that goes between the joists and is supposed to be easy to install without being the in attic. You just turn the bar and the ends expand and grip the wood and bite in. Cool, eh? Well the problem is that these joists were NOT 16″ apart, so the thing in its smallest setting would not fit into the space. I think they did this when they built the house to make sure a joist was where they could put a light fixture in the center of the room, but I might be giving them too much credit. So back up into the attic to chisel out just a bit of the joist so I could position the brace. Junction box installed.

The second time we nearly got it up, but the fiddling with the junction box caused a lot of the drywall around the ceiling hole to flake off, so the fan didn’t look right in place. You could see a little bit up into the attic. So off we go to Walmart to get a ceiling medallion — one of those decorative discs which goes above the fan to make it look pretty (and hide drywall mess). Guess what? Walmart sells ceiling fans but not even the plainest of the plain medallions, which is all we really wanted. Back to Home Depot (sorry Lowes).

After having this time to totally remove the fan and bracket and everything (those long screws for junction boxes are a pain) and getting the medallion in place, proceeded to install the ceiling fan a third time. Of course the screws which hold the canopy to the bracket cannot now be reached with a screwdriver due to the medallion, but after a little trial and error and a lot of patience, it was done. Gilbert did a great job and actually qualified for installing it between 1.0 and 1.5 times himself.

Start time: 4:00 pm. End time: After 8:00. For a ceiling fan. I’m too old for this stuff. Four hours is “Hometime: The Mini-Series”

After a quick and relatively easy move of the old light fixture to replace the one in our shower area, it was time to tackle the toilet downstairs. I was tired, but I wanted to get this done and off my plate.

All day I’d been hoping the flange was in good condition. When we redid our master bathroom we found all kinds of issues with the flange, but hey, they cannot have messed up two in the house right? Right? Wrong.

After removing the toilet — again pretty painless in spite of it being locked in place 26+ years everything was looking good.

And then…

When I was pulling the toilet out to the garage to hold for trash day, something like a long string was attaching itself from the floor to the commode. I have Cristi (sufficiently grossed out) cut it with a putty knife so it’s not dragging through the house. I then put on latex gloves and begin to remove the wax residue from the flange. Everything is looking relatively good until I notice that one side of the flange is cracked.


Thinking I might still be able to work with it (doubtful), I notice the other side is split as well. This toilet was held in place by the wax and caulk I guess. But then I notice what had caused that stringy thing when I was moving the commode. Nothing gross so much as cliche. When they installed the flange they made the following errors.

  1. The flange was installed crooked so the bolts would not seat properly at 3 and 9 o’clock.
  2. The flange was installed by beating two nails through each hole. I think they had screws in 1986, but who can say for sure.
  3. The flange was installed busted! Probably due to beating on it with a hammer.
  4. Finally the best part… the flange was repaired using a 1/2″ strip of duct tape! Yep. Wrapped around the entire circumference of the flange was a strip of gray duct tape to keep the broken pieces in place.

Oh man! I couldn’t believe they would do this. So now after church tomorrow, it’s time to cut PVC and replace a flange before the downstairs toilet gets back in service.

I wish I lived in an apartment again and had never seen Hometime all those years ago.

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One Response to I blame Hometime… a home repair horror story

  1. Pingback: Well that actually went easier than I thought… | | Boxcars in a TrainBoxcars in a Train

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