Redoing the Pipes

After hiring a handyman connecting the pipes for the bathroom fans yesterday, I noticed that when one bathroom fan was on, the air blew back to the other bathroom. I checked the fan and found out that the flapper was not closing.

Today, I decided to take the entire old fan out and install a new one. Taking out the housing was time consuming. I couldn’t remove the nails so I had to cut off the aluminum. While replacing the housing, I decided to redo what the handyman had done yesterday. He did such a shitty job connecting the 4-in pipes to the 3-in pipes. I streamlined the connection and used only 3-in pipes.

The process took almost six hours. I spent about half of that on the attic. Thanks goodness the weather was not that hot yet. I spent about $100 on the materials including the new fan. It was a good learning experience.

I am not sure if I will use the handyman again. I thought he was a friend since we liked to drink and I took him out to eat and drink before, but I guess money comes first.

Connecting the Pipes

As I was replacing the bathroom fan, I recalled that the pipe just blew moisture into the attic. When we first moved in, we hired an electrician to install recessed lights as well as the bathroom fan. He put the flexible pipe from the fan into open space in the attic. He told me it was the conventional practice. I trusted him and never questioned it.

Fifteen years later, I realized that was not a good idea. When I watched a few clips on YouTube, I was horrified with all the molds on the woods when people just put the exhaust pipe blowing into the attic. I always hated going up the attic, but I had to just to see if there were any mold. To my relief, I didn’t spot anything even though the only circulation system we had was the ridge vent on the roof. The electrician was probably right.

Nevertheless, I wanted to get it right. When I watched YouTube videos, the consensus was to cut the roof and install the pipe to let the moisture go outside. No way I was going to cut the roof myself. I called Ricardo, my trusted handyman, to make an appointment for today to do the job.

Last night, however, I sought out advice from a friend who is an architecture. He told me I could connect the pipe from that bathroom to the pipe from another bathroom, which already had a vent to the roof. As long as both fans had flappers, I should be fine. All I needed was to remove the pipe to the roof and attach an aluminum T connector and hook up the other pipe from the other fan.

I went back to the attic and figured I could do the job myself, but I already called the handyman and didn’t want to cancel him. He showed up late and his eyes were all watery. I asked him if he was drinking last night and he told me he was drinking every night. Nevertheless, I let him do his job. We went to Lowe’s to pick up the flexible pipe and the aluminum T connector.

When he tried to install it, the materials we bought were bigger than the ones already installed. I told him I could run to Home Depot to pick up smaller pipes, but he me told they don’t make those anymore. He ended up taping the big pipes to the smaller pipes. It was a hack of a job. It didn’t look nice at all, but I could careless since it was on the attic. He charged me $150.

I am thinking of taking everything apart and repipe them myself. If I could find the right size for the pipes, I could do it with minimal tapes. I am not going to sweat it for now. I’ll revisit this project later on. The materials were about $40. It was not a bad $150 lesson.

Replacing Bathroom Fan

Yesterday our master bathroom fan stopped working. I bought the exact same model (Broan-NuTone 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation, 50 CFM 4.0 Sones, White Bath Fan) to replace. Plugged the fan back in and still nothing was running.

The next step was replacing the housing. I thought the plug might have gone bad. Still nothing. The culprit was the switch. I should have checked the switch first. I replaced the switch and everything worked.

Fortunately the fan only cost $22 so I was not sweating it. The small job I could have done in 3 minutes turned into 3 hours. Lesson learned.

More Car Fix

Just when I thought I got all the car dramas out of the way, I had to go back to Costco yesterday evening to drop off our 2011 Toyota Sienna. My wife drove over a nail and punctured the rear passenger tire. I brought the car in at 6 pm and they called me at 9:30 pm to let me know it was finished. I still need to pick it up after work today. Did I say I hate dealing with cars? There’s a saying in Vietnamese, “Ghét của nào trời trao của nấy.” It’s true. Whatever you hate, God will give it to you. All these times, I thought God only give me good things.

Getting Tired of the Car Maintenance

The car maintenance has become expensive and time draining. In the past two weeks, I had been working remotely at auto shops more than at my home office, which is my bedroom.

I dropped our 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE off at Costco for balance and rotation. Then I dropped it off at a Toyota dealer for an oil change. Then I did the same services for the 2018 Toyota Sienna LE. I also dropped the 2018 LE off at the Toyota Collision Center to fix the liftgate. That took almost a week. Then the 2018 LE’s airbag debacle that cost us $1,250.

This morning, I had to come back to the Toyota dealer to fix the door for the 2018 LE. The technician didn’t connect the cable to the latch. The passenger door couldn’t open from the inside. I am now working in the waiting room at Firestone to get an alignment for the 2018 LE. Later on, I have to take my 2011 XLE back to Firestone for another alignment.

Needless to say, I am fucking sick and tired of maintaining these two vehicles. I need to take some auto mechanics courses to fix some of these issues myself. My oldest son will take a course in auto mechanics. I hope he can help fix these damn vehicles.

An Airbag Warning Light Cost $1,245

As stated in my letter to Toyota regarding to the melting of electric wires in my 2018 Toyota Sienna LE’s passenger door. Here’s the breakdown of the repair:

With tax and environment fee, the total was $1245.54. Ouch! Ourisman Toyota.

Toyota Responded

After I sent Toyota a letter yesterday, a Brand Engagement Advocate, responded:

Dear Donny Truong,

Thank you for contacting us about your 2018 Toyota Sienna. We are sorry to learn the electrical wires on the inside of the passenger door are melting and causing the air bag sensor light to turn on and we appreciate you contacting us for assistance. Thank you for the attachments.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. understands your concerns with your Toyota Sienna. We apologize; as this issue is no longer covered under the vehicle’s warranty due to time and mileage limits, and as we do not show any recalls or other support programs applicable to the vehicle, Toyota respectfully declines your request for financial assistance towards the cost of these repairs.

In the interest of customer satisfaction and retention, based on your product loyalty, we would like to extend an offer of $750.00 towards future service(s), using genuine Toyota parts at an authorized Toyota dealership.

Once you have incurred the full amount of $750.00, or, if it is more convenient, you may send in documents for smaller amounts as they occur, and we will reimburse them on an ongoing basis until the total offer amount has been reached. Please forward the complete paid dealership invoice(s) and your receipt(s) to:

Toyota Brand Engagement Center
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
P.O. Box 259001
Plano, TX 75025-9001

You may also scan and attach your documents as case attachments to this comment thread. Upon receipt of your documentation, we will send you a check.

We are sincere in our efforts of keeping you a satisfied guest and appreciate the opportunity to further review. Please know, we have documented your experience here at Toyota National Headquarters under your reference number. If you have any other questions, please contact us.


Toyota Brand Engagement Center

That was not the answer I was hoping for. They should have covered the electoral malfunction on their part regardless of year and mileage. That’s not a wear and tear issue. It’s a safety issue.

A Letter to Toyota

Dear Toyota,

On March 3, 2024, our family (4 kids and 3 adults) were driving home in our 2018 Toyota Sienna LE when the airbag warning light came on. Yesterday (March 6, 2024), I took the minivan to Ourisman Toyota Fairfax to get a diagnose. They found out that the electrical wires inside the passenger door were melting, which caused the airbag sensor light to turn on.

The auto mechanic showed me the melting wires and I took a photo of them. He also told me that he had never seen this issue before. I was shock as well because we never had any work done on that door. I bought the car brand new right out of Priority Toyota Springfield in August 2018.

Clearly this is a manufacturing malfunction—thank goodness our family was safe without proper airbag system—but the dealership estimated $1,688.60 to fix the issue. I declined the repair because the cost was too expensive and the cause was from the original manufacturer. They wouldn’t let me take my car back and negotiated the price down to about $1,300, which was still too much for me. I had no choice.

Since this is a safety issue that was from the original manufacturer, would you cover the cost to fix it? My family owns two Toyota Siennas and have always trusted the Toyota brand for its quality and safety. Please take this serious issue into consideration.

Thank you,
Donny Truong

Update: On March 8, 2034, a Toyota Brand Engagement Advocate responded.

The Liftgate Issue

In May 2021, I took my 2018 Toyota Sienna to Ourisman Toyota Collision Center to repair after being rear ended. Replacing the bumper and the liftgate took damn near three weeks. The liftgate was still having issues such as a pop noise when it was closing or the gate would slam hard to shut. I ignored the issues simply because I didn’t want to bother bringing them back to the shop.

Gradually the issues got worse. A few weeks ago, I noticed a piece of metal sticking out of the panel every time the gate closed. Almost three years had passed, I didn’t think the Collision Center would warranty it. I took the long shot.

Last Wednesday, I brought my minivan back to them and explained the issues. Of course they denied any wrongdoing on their part. It was so long ago anyway, I was not faulting them. When the rep took the panel off, the metal part that was sticking out had no screw to hold it in place, which caused the popping sound. I suspected when they installed the piece, they forgot to put the screw back on.

The rep told me that he would have the technician take a look. If it was not their fault, they would still fix it and I would pay for the parts. I agreed. I left the car there. Later that Wednesday evening I called them back to check on the progress. The rep told me that they had ordered the parts and they would take care of everything with no further charges. I was so grateful that they would do that. They didn’t have to.

Thursday evening, I called back and the parts didn’t come. Friday evening, I called back and the parts still didn’t come. I needed to pick the car up for the weekend. I dropped the car back again this morning hoping the parts would arrive. Thankfully it did.

I hope this will be permanently fixed. The Ourisman Toyota Collision Center took responsibility for their work, which I really appreciated, but the wait was just so long.

Cleaning Up the Samsung Washing Machine

Yesterday, my wife notified me that our Samsung washing machine displayed a UE error message, which meant unbalanced load. I powered it off and tried to spin it. It spinned for a bit and then added more water. Of course I looked up YouTube and came across this video. I didn’t do the second part. I only opened up the bottom and tightened up the screw, which was already tightened. In the process, I cleaned up all the nasty gunks that had been collected over the years. I hope this will fix the issue. I didn’t run the machine because I broke the cap when I pried it open with a flat-head screwdriver.