Ingenuity is the one trait all DIY handymen have in common.They are clever, inventive, and boundlessly original. They think their way around problems. MacGyver is their patron saint. Duct tape their most holy relic. They tend to be very confident as well, thinking there is no problem they can’t solve with a combination of creativity and elbow grease. And while this mix of moxie and imagination usually returns spectacular results, sometimes those results can be… spectacularly bad. Today, will begin a series of posts looking at DIY jobs gone wrong.
- Doorbell Dingdong Mystery
This story came to us from a handyman who was installing a new doorbell. As with most DIY jobs, they approach the task with headstrong confidence. Surprisingly, they finished the task rather quickly. It seemed to go off without a hitch. That was easy. Almost too easy…
Night fell and the family was comfortably asleep when they heard their doorbell mysteriouslyring. It was 2:30 AM. They leapt out of bed and ran to check the frontdoor. No one was there. The doorbell rang again the next night. And the next. And the next. Yet no one was ever found waiting at the door. Was some sinister, unrelenting prankster out to get them? Not quite.
After a month of sleepless frustration, enough was enough. The doorbell was torn out of the wall! It was then that our DIY handyman traced the wiring for the doorbell to a transformer that was also connected to the furnace thermostat. That is curious, he thought. He walked over to the thermostat and turned the furnace on. And there it was – the telltale chime of the doorbell rang out. He turned the furnace off and turned it back on again. Ding-dong! Off. On. Ding-Dong!
It turns out, by wiring the doorbell to the same transformer as the furnace, our DIYer had created one closed system. When the furnace turned on, the doorbell proudly announced the oncoming wave of heat. To fix it, all our handyman had to do was wire the doorbell to a dedicated transformer.
The doorbell had been fixed. The sleepless nights however, were tragically never recovered.
- Inscrutable Illumination
We heard this next story from a DIYerwho simply could not let things go. It was an early one Sunday morning when they shuffled into their laundry room to get a start on the day’s chores. With an overloaded laundry basket sitting on their hip they reached over to flip on the light. It didn’t work. They flipped the switch it back and forth. Nothing. They dropped the laundry basket and tried the switch with their other hand. Curiously, still nothing. The laundry room remained cloaked in darkness. Well, “that won’t do,” they thought to themselves.
First things first. They would check for a tripped circuit breaker. That is almost always the problem! The laundry room draws a lot of power after all. When they opened the fuse box, everything seemed to be in order. No circuit breakers had been tripped. Curiouser and curiouser.
“Perhaps,” they thought to themselves, “the switch or the ballast in the fixture have gone faulty. This is easy. I’ll have the light back on in no time!”
They ripped the switch out of the wall and used a tester to check the wires. It didn’t light up.
“Well, there we go, we found the problem,” they thought to themselves contently. An hour and a half later after a trip to the home supplies store, a new switch was installed. They went to turn the light on. Nothing.
“My, my, this just won’t do,” they thought to themselves again.
Next, they went to the garage, grabbed a ladder, and hiked on up to the light fixture. The took the entire thing apart. They installed a new ballast and remounted the light. They climbed carefully down the ladder, bounded over to the light switch and eagerly gave it a flip. NOTHING. That’s when they almost lost their cool. Okay, maybe they did lose their cool. Maybe they collapsed down to the floor, knocking over the forgotten load of laundry upending it all over. Maybe they cried a little (maybe).
Whatever happened, soon their 6-year-old daughter strolled into the laundry room to witness the rather pitifulscene.
“Daddy,” she asked, “why are you (allegedly) crying? What’s wrong?!
“It’s nothing sweetie,” he bravely sobbed. “Daddy has no answers. He can’t fix anything. Not even a light bulb,” he said, laying on his back, gesturing weakly the light fixture above him.
“Do you need help Daddy,” she asked. “Do you need help changing the light bulb?”
Do I need help….?
Do I need help changing the light bulb…
And the light bulb went off. Or on. It’s hard to tell at this point.
He leapt up, walked two steps over to the cabinet and opened it. He took out a new fluorescent light bulb. He should have let his daughter screw in the new bulb, but frankly, that was out of the question. This was personal. 15 seconds later the new bulb was screwed in. His daughter (Noooo! Let me!) flipped the light switch. The laundry room was brilliantly illuminated. He looked down at the burnt out bulb in his hand and stared at it blankly for a moment.
Sometimes, the solution is simpler than we realize.
Change the light bulb first. Take out the tool belt later.