Give Me Enough Rope

Longtime readers will know that our household is ruled by cats. This means that some household chores have higher priority than others. One of the odd chores that has to be done every few years is re-wrapping the scratching pole with rope.

Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope
Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope

Yes, the cats use the pole, usually more than they use other soft surfaces around the house. The result is a shredded mess of sisal fiber hanging from the pole. Eventually it gets bad enough I just cut it away and re-wrap the pole in rope.

Conveniently a 50′ package of 1/2″ rope from the local hardware store neatly does the job. Just an hour spent cutting the old rope away, then wrapping the pole neatly with a drop of glue to secure the end down inside the tube… Done, with happy cats busily clawing away at the fresh rope.

How long will it last?

The Main Pressure Regulator

Raking leaves out from underneath the lanai I just happen to look up. The water line into the house is right there and can be seen through a opening I cut in the lattice to allow the main shutoff valve to be reached without crawling under the house. There are pretty little ferns growing on the water pressure regulator.

That is not good.

Household Water Pressure Rregulator
A leaking household pressure regulator… Another weekend repair required.

The regulator is weeping, a steady dripping from the bottom of the assembly. A closer look shows that the valve body is badly corroded. This is not something I want to mess with until I have replacement parts on-hand. It is likely to come apart when disturbed, leaving the house without water.

Thus a mid-week trip to HPM is made. No matter, a lunchtime trip is an excuse to stop in Big Island Brewhaus and try some of the new menu items, the burgers are great! I note that the cherry trees are also beginning to bloom nicely, all good for the Cherry Blossom Festival next week.

A new regulator, a water pressure gauge, a handful of copper fittings. I have the rest of the needed tools on-hand already… Torch, propane, pipe cutter, flux, solder and pipe compound. I make sure I have everything before I shut off the water. I also warn my wife that the house will be without water for a few hours.

The old regulator is in bad shape, but not that bad. Failure was not imminent, maybe in a few months, but not tomorrow. It was leaking quite a bit, a steady drip. Water shut off at the street and at the supply to the solar water heating system I can open the lines. A little struggle ensues before the old fittings yield and the old regulator can be removed.

Of course the new regulator is smaller, I can not just thread it into place. This is what the copper fittings are for… I cut away the old threaded fittings and measure some new pieces of pipe. While I am cutting and fitting copper I add a new valve above the regulator, a convenient way to drain the household system and a place to attach a pressure gauge when adjusting the new regulator.

Yes, I raked out the pile of old leaves caught in the corner before lighting up the propane torch. No need to burn the house down to do a little plumbing repair.

All done I open the valves and return water pressure to the house. The gauge reads just below 50psi… good, just what the manual stated for the setting from the factory. This is not, of course, satisfactory for Deb, not enough pressure! Adjusting upwards to 60psi and my wife is happier.

The job cost a bit over $100 in parts. All good, and vastly cheaper than calling out a plumber for an easy job. Never mind that Hawaii law requires a licensed plumber to do such a job. Another weekend repair completed. What would I be doing else-wise? Probably painting or cleaning the garage.

Washer Repair

Internet wins again.

Washer Repair
A broken pump in a washing machine… No problem.
Appliance parts have always been an interesting game. In thankfully bygone days the various companies would restrict access to parts, selling only to licensed repair shops. Some parts were available from more enlightened companies, many were not. Still, there are companies I will not buy appliances from, no parts, no deal.

The problem… A washing machine that will not spin, making a horrible racket instead. The pump bearing was shot, shutting down the whole drive system.

These days the parts game has been broken open by website based suppliers that will sell just about anything. Parts are still an interesting game, if not nearly as bad as before. Making sure you get decent parts from a website supplier. A bit of online research shows who has been around for a while and is recognized by the major online services. I bought the parts from Nice website, complete mechanical diagrams of the washer with cross indexed part numbers, no fuss, no muss. Real Whirlpool parts show up in the box.

Consider that the cost of getting an appliance repairman here in Waikoloa is hundreds of dollars. And that is just for the visit, the parts would have been additional. My total cost for this repair? $80.45 after I added a new belt and shipping to Hawaiʻi.

It did take five days for the part to show up, FedEx home delivery. Fortunately we had enough clean clothes to get by without a trip to the laundromat. Meanwhile the machine was shoved back into the puka on its front and a sheet of cardboard, feet stuck out past the door, a pile of tools on the back. The cats though this was quite interesting and investigated thoroughly.

The most difficult part of the job? Disassembly? Diagnosis? Those were quite easy, it took about 15 minutes to get the washer out of its home, turned over and find the problem. The most onerous part was cleaning up the pile of lint, dust and cat-hair found behind that machine when I pulled it out of the closet.