Monday, October 24, 2005

Adventures in home ownership

673rd in a series...

There’s a right way to change a bulb in an electric stove. Then there’s my way. Here’s how things played out when the culinary light left our world this weekend:

Step 1: Open stove door and observe that the bulb has shattered, leaving a jagged base stuck in the socket. This will happen when the bulb is as old as the oven: 9 years. It served us well.

Step 2: Gingerly touch the edges of the bulb’s base. Oh yes, they’re sharp.

Step 3: Fetch a Winnie the Pooh band aid while my wife and I discuss alternative means of extracting the bulb remnants.

Step 4: Wife suggests a potato. We have none. Perhaps a crispy apple will do the trick. I pull one from the fruit drawer and begin carving it carefully so that it will fit into the hole.

Step 5: Watch sadly as the apple fails to grasp the ragged edges. Too mushy. Apple juice streams down the back wall of the oven.

Step 6: Grab the nearest pair of pliers and begin to gently twist the bulb.

Step 7: Notice with consternation that the soft metal has begun to buckle and flake off.

Step 8: Stop using pliers to turn the bulb. Start using them to rip the bejeezus out of the bulb.

Step 9: Observe many small metal fragments cascade into the stove. Children gather by the kitchen table to watch the unfolding spectacle – not unlike spectators at an accident scene. Daughter asks if it hurts for Daddy to be half inside the stove.

Step 10: Bulb tugging activity intensifies as I become increasingly frustrated. Sweat pours from my brow. It’s me vs. the stupid shard of metal.

Step 11: Did I gouge out some of the porcelain surrounding the socket?

Step 12: Enough of the metal is now gone that the bulb begins to turn on its own. In a fit of victory, I give one last yank.

Step 13: Large sparks shoot out of the socket as the bulb breaks free and I fall back. On my duff.

Step 14: Wife checks that I’m OK. Wife is heard to utter, “Uh oh” as she looks up at the stove’s digital clock and sees…nothing. It’s dead.

Step 15: I wonder aloud if perhaps I should have unplugged the oven before embarking on this adventure (I told you I’m not handy.)

Step 16: Concerned that perhaps the oven is no longer getting power, I reach, like a moth drawn to the porch light, into the socket and touch it.

Step 17: My fingertip and arm confirm that 110 volt AC current is indeed flowing through the socket.

Step 18: Make the long trek down to the electrical box in the basement. Dollar signs dance in my head as I wonder how much this might potentially cost us.

Step 19: Reset the breaker – it had tripped, but only sorta halfway. Good thing I didn’t pursue electrician school.

Step 20: Return to kitchen to a relieved wife. The clock works. We're saved.

Step 21: Vacuum up the stove, screw in the new bulb, and smile to my once-again happy family as light returns to our midst.

Your turn: I know some of you have your own home repair stories from hell. I hope you’ll share one in a comment.


buffi said...

Bob Vila you ain't!

I could tell you about the time my husband and father in law decided to install a skylight and tied a rope around FIL's waist (with the other end tied to the bumper of the SUV) while he scaled our very steep roof. But I won't because that would be mean. And it's actually a very long story. Which I may have to share over at my site soon. Yes, what a good idea...

Rachel Apanewicz said...

At least you didn't get electocuted! I fell off the ladder while painting my small bathroom--boy did my butt hurt, not to mention my pride!

kenju said...

I have nothing like that to tell! I was told to use a cork to unscrew a broken lightbulb, Carmi. It might have worked for you.

My husband was trying to paint the side of our house and he fell off the ladder directly onto the neighbor's chain link fence. It ripped the heck out of his lower legs!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

My practical and competent grandfather was called to unblock the kitchen sink. Bucket under the U-bend, he unscrewed it, and loads of yucky water and a lump of something nasty fell into the bucket. He fished out the lump and threw it in the bin, stood up, emptied the bucket into the sink, and swore colourfully as yucky water flowed out of the unscrewed U-bend and all over his shoes and the floor. He fetched the mop, mopped up all the yucky water into the bucket, and emptied it... yes, you've guessed it... into the kitchen sink.

He screwed the U-bend back on after that, before he mopped the floor for the second time.

Thumper said...

Does car repair count since it was done at home?

Right after we got married--when we were very very very broke, the Spouse Thingy decided to perform a tune up on the car. It's easy, he assured me. Dont it a dozen times with my dad, he boasted.

He pulled the plug wires, he gapped and installed enw spark plugs, he did this and that and something more...proudly proclaimed it was finished, closed the hood and went to start the car...and nothing.

We were without wheels for a week until he talked to his dad, who told him to check the order he'd put the spark plug weires back on.

Totally in reverse order...

:::rolls eyes:::

Aginoth said...

I'll think of something after I stop laughing

Very funny Carmi :o)

Glad you're OK, putting your finger in the socket....[falls on floor in fits of giggles]

Juggling Mother said...

I would love to share, But Aginoth has never actually finished a DIY job in our house.

He's good at starting them, mind. I have many half done things, but few finished items.

although to give him his due, he can build flat packed furniture, and is good at confirming electrical appliences dead beyond repair - time to go shopping - his favourite pastime, my worst!

Stationery Queen said...

Carmi, I have no such stories. What the man can't fix, I'm more than happy to pay someone else to.

Hey, writer, stick to words, eh?


Jef said...

I felt your pain, but I laughed at the same time.

Plain Jane said...

We tried the potato thing too... and I tried the pliers on the outside of the casing (which resulted in the same thing you got, buckled soft metal).

So, we just didn't have a light for awhile - until my Dad visits, snorts at us uneducated DINKS...

then he gets a pair of pliers and widens the mouth INSIDE the bulb base and viola! it turned easily and came right out.

Talk about feeling dumb.

I don't dare mention the re-wiring of a wall socket and the house having no lights on just one side for about 3 days....

Marcus said...

Visiting from Michele's and wondering how you are still alive!

Heather said...

Promise me you will never stick METAL pliers in a LIVE SOCKET again! ;-)