Home Improvement v. Home Repair

I’ve done home improvement all summer. These are jobs that aren’t really necessary, but that make the house a lot nicer. For instance, last week I repainted our main bathroom. It was a pain in the butt, requiring wallpaper removal and taking the hardware off twenty two cabinet doors and then remounting all of them after painting. Tedious. Yet fun, too, because the room is about one hundred per cent nicer now then when I started.

I’ve also had to do some home repairs. For instance, in the same exact bathroom I finished last Thursday, water started dripping from the ceiling yesterday. That ceiling now looks like this:


I’m not going to bother speculating about why the hell the water had to wait to leak until AFTER I’d already finished painting the damn room. Probably bad karma for laughing at too many episodes of Renovation Realities. I don’t know. I’m not thinking about it, though, because it’ll only hack me off.

I can explain, however, why the hole is there: Because I could not figure out why the water was dripping.

The last rain was two weeks ago, so it wasn’t a leak from the roof. The water lines are under the house. I examined the attic, even digging in the insulation, looking for wet spots and found none. In other rooms, when the a/c has been running for a while, I’ve had problems with condensation on the vents. This drip wasn’t from an a/c vent, it was from the combo heater-vent-light fixture. Still, out of other ideas, I thought maybe somehow the air from the a/c was causing some condensation.

I took it apart and found puddles of water on top of the sheetrock around the fixture. O.K., back to the attic. Still nothing up there. Well, I thought, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. So I kept cutting small pieces until I figured out where it had started. Hence, the hole.

The cutting eventually led me to another part of the attic where I found the culprit:


That’s the vent. Shouldn’t even have water in it. But out of that ninety degree angle was a steady dripping. What happened, I guess, is that the vent was angled ever so slightly down towards that joint, instead of the other way towards the sewer line. Hence, rain water entered at the roof and then sat at the joint rather than continuing to flow down to the sewer. To fix it I just put a couple of boards under the joint and checked with my level to make sure it went down from there. That stopped the drip. Now I just have to add some glue to make sure it’s sealed.

Now that all sounds sort of simple, but it sucked. About half way through the job, I had trash all over the floor, a big hole in my new ceiling, insulation all over me, the vent in twenty pieces on the counter, and no idea how to find the problem never mind fix it. At that point I alternated between wanting to throw a hammer through the wall or just sit down and cry. That’s why I hate home repair. It makes me feel like my house is a dump and I’m incompetent.

Of course, simply identifying the problem went a long way towards making me feel better. I still have to fix the hole and put the vent together again, a process that will no doubt cause me to lose what little religion I have. Then I’ll need to repaint the ceiling. But I fixed the problem. From that point on the chaos gets reduced with each step, rather than the other way around. It’s like reaching the half way point on a long ride, each stroke brings you closer home.

The other thing I hate about home repairs is all the effort is just to keep the status quo. People who saw the bathroom before I painted it and after will comment on how much nicer it is. No one will comment on my fixed leak unless I do a crappy job on the drywall repair. The only one who’ll appreciate it is me.

Maybe that isn’t too bad, though. Even if no one knows or cares, there’s something very energizing about fixing problems on your own. I’m not a man with a whole lot of “fix it” skills. So when I do manage to solve a problem, I have to enjoy it, even if no one else will.

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6 Comments on “Home Improvement v. Home Repair”

  1. Himself Says:

    Were the PVC pipes glued or just dry fitted? If they were glued correctly, that should have prevented any leaks.

  2. Mom Says:

    It’s very exciting to be able to figure out what is wrong and then be able to fix it yourself…congrats! The bathroom looks great – what a difference the light color makes in the room. So…..what projects do you want to do for me when you come visit 🙂

  3. All of us who know home improvement and fixing give you lots of credit and BTW – great job:) I know first hand that home fixing is not an easy job. You are right that no one will notice the finished work, but as you said there is that feeling of accomplishment that goes a long way. Again – great work on fixing the leak and I enjoyed your post very much.

  4. Simon Says:

    Thanks for one more interesting information. Where else can anyone get this kind of information in such a faultless way. I really enjoyed reading it.

  5. Home Repair Says:

    Home improvement plus home repair will be a great for our home. We improve at the same time we save money to repair by our own.

  6. Home improvement and repair is the best way to upgrade your home that increases its value and renders it a much comfortable place to live.

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