AC Cleaning and Service Partner with Home Service Doctors

Last week before July 4, our AC leaked condensed water due to frozen coil. I called Home Service Doctors for the following cleaning:

  • Evaporator cleaning: $205
  • Condenser cleaning: $205

I also signed up for service partner to get 15% discount on the services: $180/year.

Total cost: $590

The service was fine. The cost was not cheap.

The Tree Debacle

Last Thursday, a brief storm splat one of the branches of an oak tree in front of our house. Both pieces hang down to the ground. I wanted to cut down the entire tree, but Đạo and Đán begged me to save it. I called a tree service, but it won’t be available until next week. I decide to do it myself.

My workplace had no power; therefore, I didn’t have to go to work on Friday. I climbed up a ladder to cut off the lower half of the branch that was still hanging down. It fell off and scratched my face. Luckily it didn’t strike me and make me fell off the ladder. Saturday, I did more trimming and cleaning. Sunday, my brother-in-law and I tried to pull the upper broken branch off, but we were unsuccessful. The weather was extremely hot so we gave up and let it hanging.

Sunday, a couple of men came by and asked if I wanted them to cut off the broke part. I wanted to cut off half of the branch. They wanted $500. I negotiated down to $300 because I knew it was a quick trim and would only take them half an hour. They left, but then came back 20 minutes later agreed to do the job. I gave them $320 after they completed it.

I am glad I paid them to do it. Even though it only took them half an hour, it would be too dangerous for me to cut down half of a tree. It might fell on my house, on my neighbor’s house, or worse, on me. The two days of work made me realize how hard it was to do the job myself. I also got a good exercise out of it.

Replacing a Mortise Lock

The mortise lock for our sliding glass door to the deck broke. Luckily, we did not have to replace the entire door. Here’s the instruction video I followed. When unscrew the lock, make sure you put the screwdriver at the bottom of the lock to secure it rather than the top, which showed in the video. When I placed the screwdriver at the top, the lock dropped. It’s a pain to take it out. The mortise lock cost $13 at Home Depot.

Replacing Blower Motor for 2011 Toyota Sienna

Earlier this winter, I noticed a loud noise from a blowing fan every time I turned on the heater. I was worried it will cost a fortune to replace if I take it to the dealer or an auto shop. I ignored it for a while, but the noise was getting louder and screechy, especially when the weather was freezing.

I can still live with the noise, but I also noticed the air was not blowing out as much. I did some Googling and came across a YouTube video showing how to replace the blower motor, which located underneath the glove compartment. All I had to do was unscrew three screws to replace it. The process took less than five minutes.

I ordered a brand new Genuine Toyota (87103-0C051) Blower Motor Sub-Assembly on Amazon for $125. Now the noise is gone and the fan is blowing out more air than before.

Replacing Sink Pop-Up Drain

I had to replace the sink pop-up drain in our master bathroom. Without replacing the entire faucet, the sink pop-up drain was pretty easy to switch out. Although it was not my first time, it took about an hour to complete. Checking the leaks took the most time. The pop-up assembly costs about $24 and the stain-free plumber putty cots $5.

Replacing a Light Fixture

When we bought the house, I imagined our basement as an entertainment space where the kids and I watch movies and play video games. We hired an electrician to put in fancy track lights from Ikea and we painted the rooms dark purple. Needless to say, it now turns into storage space with tons of shit. The track lights have been flickering on and off for years, but I refused to change the fixture.

When it comes to electricity, I am shit scared. I got shocked three times for simply replacing the switch. I got shock again yesterday even though I turned off the breaker. This afternoon, I shut off the entire breaker panel just to replace the fixture. I rather be safe than sorry because I am such an amateur.

After about an hour, I successfully replaced the fixture. Turning on the lights that worked felt great. You’re probably laughing at such a trivial task, but it is a huge accomplishment for me. I am starting to like doing small home improvements.

Being a cheap-ass has its advantage. It challenges me to do more things that aren’t just related to the web. Besides, I can’t hire an electrician to do small jobs like this. I can ask my brother-in-law, but I also dislike bothering people unless I absolutely have to. I might as well do things on my own. I can read and follow directions. YouTube has been a fantastic resource. Home Depot and Lowe’s have anything I need. All that I need is a bit of self confidence.

When my father-in-law was still living with us, he tried to teach me how to fix things. I appreciate his efforts and I miss him terribly, but I was not learning much. I need to figure things out in order to learn. I always messed up the first time, but I learned my lesson quick. The second time is always better. There is no shortcut. I just need to do it unless I could depend on my wife.

I envy my neighbor whose wife does everything. I hardly see him outside the house, but I always see his wife outside shoveling the snow in the winter and mowing the grass once a week in the summer. She even patched up and sealed her driveway, something I need to catch up on.

Back to the light fixture, my wife brought the Hampton Bay’s 3-light white ceiling spotlight. It is easy to install and it is perfect for storage area. The design is simple and you get lots of light. It costs $25.

Replacing Bathroom Exhaust Fan

I am embarrassed to say that I have put off replacing our bathroom exhaust fan for almost 10 years. The previous one made loud screeching noise, but I was not confident to do it. In the past few days, it bothered me enough to look up YouTube and tried to replace it. To my amazement, replacing the fan motor took 10 minutes. All I had to do was unplugged and popped out the out motor and put the new one in. I am beating myself up for being such a sucker.

Nutone Fan Motor Assembly cost $15.

Toyota Sienna 2011: Check Engine Light

Just spent about $1,225. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Diagnosed: $105
  • Replaced thermostat: $255 (labor: $233, part: $22)
  • Performed coolant flush: $110 (labor: $73, part: $37)
  • Replaced alternator: $700 (labor: $475, part: $225)

This is my second time at this shop. Its price is fairly high. I don’t think I will go back to it.

The Toilet Debacle

One of our toilets clogged up for several years now. I used to have to plunge it every once in a while, then every week, then several days. So I decided to replace it once and for all.

The job was quite simple. All I had to do what place a toilet over the damn hole. Yet I took me a whole day with three tries and several trips to Home Depot and Lowe’s. The first time went almost smoothly, except the color was wrong. My wife wanted the biscuit color, not white. I didn’t care much, but I don’t want to hear her complain for many years to come.

Home Depot only stocks white so I had to go to Lowe’s to get the biscuit color. The second attempt failed because the wax was broken and the water leaked. I had to unassembled everything and tried again with a waxless seal gasket.

The third attempt was getting better but the toilet was not secured tight. I had to open it up again to tighten up the flange.

I must admit I am terrible at this. Given how much time and energy I had spent, it was worthwhile just to pay $150 for the installation. Then again, I have learned how to do it through my failures. The next time will not be as bad.

After my second failure, which I followed the instructions from the toilet’s manual, I looked up on YouTube. This clip is simple and helpful.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Kohler Highline Classic Biscuit: $285
  • Oatey PVC Flange: $12
  • Sani Seal Waxless Toilet Gasket: $12

Duct Cleaning with F.H. Furr

The last duct cleaning was done when we first moved into our house, which was 10 years ago. Today, we have another duct cleaning service by F.H. Furr. Its inspector recommended the service and we figured we might as well do it before the new baby come out.

Service cost: $455