Home Maintenance: When To Hire Help

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The need for home maintenance goes on, though our ability to do it ourselves changes over time. One has to learn when to hire help and when to still do it oneself.

Home sweet home, till something breaks. In general, we here on the 45th Parallel try to fix the simple things ourselves to save money. But there are times when we must hire help to do home maintenance jobs.  Replacing the furnace was one such job.  So was the septic system and the roof.  But sometimes things just happen.

Home maintenance challenge:  garage door opener

Last Friday I came home in subzero weather to a garage door opener that wasn’t pulling the door open. So I got out and helped it. Then I got the car in and closed the door. But the door shouldn’t have needed help. However, it was Friday so I mentioned it to my husband and we forgot about it.

Monday dawned. I got all suited up and went down to get the car out. Door wouldn’t budge.  I looked up and there was the broken spring on the right side of the door, sagging cable and all.  Not only that, but there was a piece of wood whacked out of the ceiling joist.  Oh joy.  So thinking I would not do anyone any favors by running the opener again in this shape, I tried the manual method.  Door refused to budge at all.

So I did what had to be done.  I stole my husband’s truck, which sat outside.  I know, but he’s retired, and I still work and I had to go!  My husband was able to fix it so he could get his snowblower out to get up all the snow I shoveled off his truck bright and early.  Lucky for us he has fixed this junky door annually for some years now.  He fashions new hooky ends in the springs with a torch and hooks them back up.

But every year?  At this rate we’ll soon run out of spring.  I mentioned to him hiring someone to rip that thing out and get a new installation.  Besides, the door was made of cardboard or something and we could use a real one.  You know what?  He didn’t say no.

Stuff gets old

Our house was built in the 1970s by a guy who taught himself how to do a lot of things, and learned the rest in the Navy.   It’s been an adventure fixing and remodeling here.  But now the house is old enough to have stuff just give up and give out.

Read more about the house.

Case in point:  the bathtub drain, the metal part, has corroded from our acidic water and has a leak.  We have patched and patched.  Every time it gets more difficult to do.  We are now considering hiring a plumber to fix that for good.

If we hire a plumber we can also have the washer and dryer moved, which our septic designer suggested for easier drainage.  We have a weird system, what can I say?

People get old

Now, we used to do crazy things like tear out the kitchen and the subfloor and rebuild it all.  Perhaps that’s part of why we have bad backs now.  My husband has it worse from all the heavy work he did when we ran a small hydroelectric station.  He is the instinctive fix-it man who did almost all our home maintenance tasks.

The other day we were talking about the deck.  He rebuilt it several years ago after the stairs failed, and put pressure-treated wood decking down because it’s affordable.  He now says he wished he’d used Trex instead.  Then he added that he won’t be redoing the deck again–he’ll supervise.

And that really has a lot to do with why the drain needs a plumber and that garage door is going to need professional help.  It’s about being able to do work on ladders, in cramped positions, requiring strength and flexibility.  My dear husband, talented and experienced though he is at a wide variety of technologies, can’t physically do much of it any more.

There’s still work for him to do

We bought a new refrigerator this past August.  It replaced one that was about 26 years old.  That being the case, the new one’s connection to the water supply was different from the old one’s.  My husband could not help himself with a new machine coming in.  He had to be there and chat with the delivery guys.  When they needed a plumbing part to fit the water line to the fridge, he went to the cellar and found one.  We had ice that afternoon!

Recently he put a grab bar and a fancy new shower curtain rod up in the bathroom.  He shopped for them online and got the best prices.  In addition, he managed to redo his truck’s stereo system himself, though that was painful.  He still has hopes of moving the antenna mast so we can use it to hold the Internet radio link.  It’s currently in a tree, just at the edge of the signal.  If it were on a mast it would be further into the signal and not as wobbly when the wind blows.

We’re just now exploring my husband’s “retirement” from being the fix-it man.  He’s absolutely brilliant at fixing things, just not always strong enough any more.  It’s hard for him to make this change and to transition to a more supervisory role.  So far, though, he’s doing a really good job.  Maybe he’ll get back into photography.

Are you or your partner going through a shift in roles, or preparing to?

The need for home maintenance goes on, though our ability to do it ourselves changes over time. One has to learn when to hire help and when to still do it oneself.

The need for home maintenance goes on, though our ability to do it ourselves changes over time. One has to learn when to hire help and when to still do it oneself.

The need for home maintenance goes on, though our ability to do it ourselves changes over time. One has to learn when to hire help and when to still do it oneself.

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