2005-02-05: Of Leaks, Trim, and Grounding

Plenty of fun and games today. Woke up at 1300, as is my custom on Saturdays. I wandered around the house cleaning random things for a bit, then my eyes set on my maul. The poor thing had been borrowed by the old sisters next door to take down a shed, but then they left it out in the rain for a week or two before returning it. By the time they returned it, it was covered in rust - and therefore, it's the last tool they'll ever borrow from me. However, a generous coating of Klean-Strip rust-stripper completely dissolved the rust and left it looking normal again.

The issues on my personal horizon consisted of:

  1. The cable line strung through the front yard.
  2. The bits of trim either dangling from the house or ripped from it.
  3. The porch supports still being mangled.

So, the first point was taken care of pretty quickly. Although it does turn out that SOMETHING in the house is feeding electricity into the cable connection. I actually got a nifty shock off of the cable splitter while I was pulling the connection. One of these days, I shall disconnect things in sequence to find out what exactly is doing this, as it can't be healthy for the rest of the electronics. At any rate, once I disconnected the wire, I went around the side of the house and crawled up to the front area. Based on some reading I did later on, it seems that this indicates issues with the grounding in the house. That doesn't surprise me much; there seems to be a law somewhere stating that I'm not permitted to live in a house with proper grounding. I want it found and repealed, but if I had the money to pay a legal team to do that, I'd just spend a fraction of it on having the house properly grounded, then buy some very large guns.

Along the way, I found that I was being dripped on. After realizing that if I were in a horror movie, moments after looking up I'd be eaten by something hiding above me, I sighed and looked up anyway. I think I'd have fared better against some sci-fi monster than what I saw - namely, that there's some kind of huge leak in the water system up by the bathrooms. I finished running the cable up to the splitter, then crawled my way back out from under the house. Eventually, I'm going to have to dig a trench to the cable box so that it's not strung through the yard.

My next project was turning off the water being fed into the house. I found that the spigot worked, although it too was dripping. When I turned it back on, more leakage came from two more sections of the pipe before it reached the house. Two of those junctions were standard garden hose diameter junctions, and there were some standard hose washers lying on the cement slab my utilities emerge from. I'm guessing this issue came up on a semi-regular basis. After closing off the main spigot, I opened both pipe junctions and inserted washers. When I turned it back on, at least those two sections have stopped leaking. However, I then noticed that the main water spigot itself was leaking. Not so great. At any rate, at least by shutting off water to the house, the leak in the bathroom will stop.

When I get home from grandmother duty tomorrow, I intend to try to locate the leak's source up in the trailer. If it does happen to be something I can actually fix myself, I'll be quite happy about it.

Next, I turned my attention to something I could actually fix, such as the house trim. Disobeying all safety measures I'd been taught, I climbed the ladder without anyone else around and managed to get the west-side trim back in the tracks where it belonds. Then, when I got to the east side, I learned that most of the screws in two or three of the trim supports had been torn free, and none of my metric nut drivers would work with them. Realizing that my house had been built in 1965, probably by people who considered the metric system to be some subversive French invention, I determined that I needed to make a Sears run for the standard-system version of my metric set.

Along with the metric set, I picked up a digital tire pressure gauge with an integrated LED flashlight (yes, I'm a sucker for geek toys, particularly ones with replaceable batteries) and a stud/wood finger with an LCD display and AC detection. The latter was direly needed in order to correct the grave injustice of there not being a light over my couch. That, and I have yet to hang up either of my calendars - the LOTR one or the penguin one.

When I returned, I found that I had the right nut driver for the task, so I climbed the ladder again and tried to reattach the screws which had been pulled loose from the supports. It turned out that the screw holes were completely stripped out, which left me with the prospect of either drilling new holes along my roof (unappealing), using larger screws, or using an alternative solution. I chose to hit Home Depot before they closed, and found that they do in fact have some glue which will set up inside of a stripped out screw hole, which can then later be unscrewed - in essence, it forms new threads. And if that fails, then I'll just sigh heavily and start using epoxy for fun and profit.

Considering that it was well past dark, I wasn't about to climb the ladder and try to fix the screw holes until I could do so during daylight. So, I turned my attention to the porch supports. I learned that the aluminum was stripped out and bent where they attached to the awning, so there's no way around having to drill new holes and bolt things together. This will have to be a project for next weekend, as grandmother duty precludes a Sunday implementation.

I did, however, straighten out the awning a little by lifting the supports into the same configuration the awning used to be in. It may not have been a wise solution, but at least it provided the right support.

And now, for something completely different. My indoors projects involved the Tivo tonight. It seems that there's a Linux version of the Tivo desktop client - which should allow me to view jpegs, play mp3s, etc on my TV, without switching my display from the Tivo to the Linux box. So yes, it's entirely useless for me to bother installing, but I'm going to wrestle with it anyway. The one and only big drawback can be inferred from its name: JavaHMO. My other Tivo-related work for the day was getting it back on the network. This meant I could finally take the telephone cable from its position of being snaked in through the California room. Unfortunately, the network cable which superseded its functionality is still snaked through the california room, but at least I'm back down to one cable to trip on.

All in all, I've been productive today.