Saturday, May 5, 2012

Home Maintenance Hassles

Home maintenance  is a hassle even when we hire others to do the work for us, because we are compelled to monitor every contractor's work (with the exception to lawn services) which in turn is due to the bad experiences we had with some contractors.


A few years ago when we just moved to north Texas, strong winds flattened quite a few fences in our neighborhood, and partially damaged many more.  The north side portion of our fence was leaning. Not knowing what to do, and not knowing the real reason for the leaning, we left it like that for a few days. Talking to friends about the situation, we were told that a post is broken and it should be replaced. We hired a contractor who just fixed a friend's fence; he did a decent job fixing my fence. Good experience!

So we contracted him again the next year when the southern portion of the fence was flattened. This time,  two posts were broken, one was right next to a sprinkler head. I emphasized to him that a post was next to the sprinkler head, and asked him to be careful around, and I went into the house to let him work. An hour later, when I came out to check on their progress, one new post was erected already, the post next to the sprinkler head was removed, but no new post, and he looked at me weirdly. I went closer to look at the hole - it was full of water, he broke the sprinkler pipe! He simply said that if a certain size PVP pipe and a certain brand of glue were available, he would fix it without charge. No use to blame him, I went to buy the stuffs. He fixed the sprinkler pipe with me watching over. I was outside looking over the rest of time while he was fixing the fence. I did not hire him again. I started monitoring contractor's work frequently

I encountered many contractors like him,  reasonably capable, but careless about quality of work, all they want is to complete the job as soon as possible.

Garage Door

Long story short, my garage door spring broke and I had a new spring installed. The next summer the door had difficulty close or open, it turned out that the Teflon gear wore out. The gear was replaced, the door functioned properly. Not too long afterwards, I had problems with the door again!! I complained to the company, and explained the situation. The technician who replaced the gear came. This time I stayed at garage while he was checking the system. I chatted with him, telling him what I tried. and asked him why the gear wore so fast. He was very knowledgeable, answered all my questions and explained  to me that gear wears fast due to imbalanced garage door. Then I asked him how I could tell that if my garage door was balanced or not, and how to balance it. His explanation: The spring has to be adjusted so that the garage door would be self balanced in two intermediate positions - I believe - half opened position, and 3 quarters opened position. (*)

While we were talking, he lubricated all rolling parts, including the gear. He opened and closed the garage door a c couple of times a without problem and declared that the problem was fixed. Before I wrote the check, I asked him to examine the garage door balance. It was not balanced!! Since he told me earlier how to check the balance, he did exactly what he told me. He told me that the first person who installed the new spring did not balance the door after installation. Nevertheless, he knew the first time that imbalance caused gear worn out, he did not balance it; and this time even after he explained the cause of fast worn out, he did not balance the door until I asked him.

Some contractors are like this technician, they know exactly what they do, they purposely not to fix the root cause of the problems I had, so that I might go back to them again and again.

From then on, every time the garage door seems to stick, I check the door balance and I lubricate the gears in the motor - using solid lubricant.  Our garage door have not needed major repair since.

LG Dishwasher

We bought a new LG dishwasher with extended warranty from home depot after the old dishwasher stopped working.

A few weeks ago,  my kitchen was flooded due to a fractured drainage hose. I called home depot warranty department, and told the agent what was wrong and asked him to inform home depot's contractor to bring the part when a technician come to fix it.

I rushed home mid day to wait for the service call, A technician came without a part. I asked him why he did not bring a part, he said he did not know what the dishwasher's brand was - all the information about the dishwasher is on the warranty, the home depot employee did not pass those information despite the fact I told him to pass the information. The technician spent five minutes writing down product serial number and checked the hose and left.

The planned second visit was cancelled a hour before the scheduled service call. The new drainage hose was damaged! I wonder if my original drainage hose had defect when it was assembled with the dishwasher during initial installation.

When the technician finally came with a good new part, I expected that he would finish the job in 30 minutes.

When he started working I could tell he was not competent.I stayed around the dishwasher. First he had trouble to pull the dishwasher out. He told me what he wanted to do in order to pull it out, and i gave him some advice on how to do it. Then he disassembled the water inlet unnecessarily when he removed the old drainage hose. After putting the new drainage hose, he pushed o ring into place without properly placing it, then he pushed the dishwasher into position without placing drainage hose under the sink! I had to tell him that he should put the drainage hose under sink first before pushing the dishwasher in. He was moderately embarrassed and thanked me. Then he found out that there was leaking at water inlet and drainage outlet!!

A 30 minute work lasted 2 hours!

Well known company like home depot, does not guarantee quality service because warranty services and many other services from home depot  are performed by third party contractors. This is not the first bad experience we had with the service we purchased from home depot.

More hassles with major items - like air conditioner, roof ....that will be stories for another time.

* I checked online - most sites only mentioned half open position. For example, this is a link to  lift master's instruction. If you look at this video, it mentioned only half opened door test, but at the end it showed a balanced 3/4 opened position.


  1. I agree that home maintenance can be a hassle. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off renting, and having the landlord worry about all the repairs.

  2. The technician who worked on your garage door may not have known at first that the cause of your gear problems was an imbalanced garage door. Since that was the only problem to be addressed at the time, there was really no need to check out the balance of the garage door. The fact that it happened again in just a short period after he had already replaced it was what alerted him. You were right to ask him to check the balance before he left for the day.