New Tires for 2011 Toyota Sienna

Writing down my mundane maintenances helps me keep track of my spending. For example, I replaced four brand new Michelin Premier at Costco in August 2018. For the entire year, I managed to miss two rotations because Costco’s service takes four to five hours.

Today I took my car in for a rotation and the technician that the two front tires were badly worn out. Even though I only drove 15,000 miles (125,000 miles to 135,000 miles) in 15 months, the warranty was voided because I missed the rotation.

I ended up replacing all four brand new Michelin Defender tires. I am definitely going to take my car for rotations every 5,000 miles from now on. If Michelin continues to wear out that quick, this will be my last time using its tires.

Total cost: $840

Replacing Battery for 2011 Toyota Sienna

On Friday, the car alarm went off and I didn’t know about it until someone notified me. The battery drained and I couldn’t start the engine. I asked someone to jumpstart for me. I left the engine running for ten minutes.

On Sunday, I couldn’t get it to start again; therefore, I needed another jumpstart. I drove for half an hour, shut off the engine, started again, and it worked fine. I didn’t want to take the chance in the winter; therefore, I bought a new battery from Advance Auto Parts. After installed the new one, I realized that the old battery is a Toyota TrueStart with a 84-month warranty. I only had it a little over 36 months. In retrospect, I could probably get more life out of it.

In any rate, I purchased an AutoCraft Platinum AGM Battery Group Size 24F, 710 CCA from Advance Auto Parts with a 3 year free replacement.

Total cost: $200

New Roof

A few months ago, a couple of young men knocked on our door during dinner time. I was about to send them away until one of them started to speak Vietnamese to me. He explained to me that he could get us a new roof from our home insurance if I let his crew inspect our roof. I couldn’t turn away a fellow Vietnamese so I agreed. They discovered that a hail storm sometimes in July had damaged our roof and they made a claim to our insurance. After they reached the deal with the insurance’s inspector, the insurance agreed to pay for our new roof as well as our shed.

Last Saturday, they came at 7:30 am and installed the new roof around 1 pm. I haven’t have a chance to go to the roof to check, but it looks good. They didn’t do the shed yet. I am hopeful that they will keep their word and come back to do it this weekend. Other than that I am satisfied with their service.

Update on November 3, 2019: Two weeks had gone by and they have not come back to do the shed. I called the Vietnamese guy last week and he he said this week. I am not going to waste my time complaining or making a big deal out of it. I am just disappointed. I also found a dozens of nail the left behind on the gutter. My wife found about a dozen on our yard. My son also found one on the driveway. Luckily, we didn’t drive our cars over it.

Update November 16, 2019: They finally came back to do the shed and they did a good job. I am not sure if they kept their word or they knew they wouldn’t get the second half of the payment if they didn’t finish the job. Early in the week, my insurance forwarded me the final bill they submitted claiming that the job was done, but I responded that they did not finish their job and told my insurance to hold off the payment. It turned out that the payment would go to me and I would pay the contractor. I would have refused to pay them if the job was incomplete. It’s all good now.

I recommend United Roofing & Exteriors after all.

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.

Total cost: $320

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 bought at Home Depot.

Total cost: $13

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. Now the noise is gone and the fan is blowing out more air than before.

Total cost: $125

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.

Total cost: $30

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.

Total cost: $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.

Sequenz by Kilotype

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