There Should be a Class in Highschool for This Stuff

Being a homeowner is a funny thing because it opens you up to a whole new world of issues and frustrations that you never realize existed before you were 100% responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your own domicile. After all, as babies, then kids, then teenagers we’re rarely held responsible for much more than cleaning our rooms, washing our dishes, and maybe loading the washing machine every now and then.

Prime example? Growing up, my husband never had to mow a lawn. He lived in apartments, or houses with small yards that his step-dad didn’t mind mowing himself. Then when we moved in together we lived in a dive (in other words, we couldn’t have cared less about the state of the lawn), then an apartment, and then a duplex for which the lawn was taken care of by the landlady’s son. So when we finally bought our own home and had to deal with the lawn, we realized two things: we needed a lawnmower, and my husband didn’t know how to work a lawnmower. To this day it is one of those lovely moments that I get to hold over his head…walking outside to find him cranking on the pull-cord, cursing like a madman, while failing to hold the safety release bar down. I don’t know if I’ve laughed that hard since.

But the fact is that he just wasn’t thinking because he’d never done it before, and it wasn’t that long before I learned the same lesson. I’d had the back of our dryer apart a couple of times because it kept getting clogged up with lint. So when the drum suddenly stopped spinning, I just defaulted to what I’d been doing all along. I had about a hundred pieces laying all over the basement floor, wondering how the hell I was supposed to get the broken drum belt out through a 2-inch hole that seemed to be the only available opening, when my husband suggested I look for YouTube videos showing how to replace a dryer drum belt. I begrudgingly did so, and found out that literally none of what I’d done was the slightest bit helpful; the top of a dryer will pop open if you release two little clips on the front, allowing you to remove the front panel and gain access to the drum. It would have taken ten minutes to replace the drum belt if I’d done the YouTube step first, instead of the two hours it took me to completely tear apart and rebuild the entire dryer.

This is how my morning went yesterday. How was yours?
What you can’t see in the picture is the several dozen bolts and pieces that are missing from the back as well.

And these are the things you learn once you become a homeowner, because you know what always seems to come with owning a home, even if that home is brand new? Repairs. It’s just one of those facts of life that it seems like something is breaking down all the time. That dryer incident above was only one of five total times I’ve had that dryer torn apart. The ice maker in our fridge has been ripped out three times. We’ve made several adjustments to terrible DYI projects that the previous owners of the house completely mucked up. One day the back-plate in our pellet stove cracked in half out of nowhere.  And once, when we were just on our way out the door for a shopping trip, we discovered a massive leak in the water line in the basement because of a plugged up filter (which, by the way, ruined three kitty litter boxes and a couple of bags of pellets). All of this stuff has occurred over the course of five years, and every one of the incidents required some kind of research and learning on behalf of my husband and I. Neither of us had ever so much as glanced at the ice maker before it stopped working. When the pellet stove back-plate cracked we had no idea where to go for such a replacement (or whether we even could replace it, or if it was one of those ‘buy-a-whole-new-appliance’ situations). It’s one of those things, like how no one thinks about needing a plunger until they realize that they need a plunger…when you’re a first-time homeowner you have no idea how to deal with these non-stop situations until they arise.

So why the trip down homeowner memory lane? Well, to put it bluntly, one of our toilets started draining constantly, so I guess we have to replace the inner tank workings, and I’ve been putting it off because it turns out that stuff doesn’t just pop out and pop back in. It’s a glorious thing, owning a home.

How has your experience with homeowner-ship been? Have you ever been caught totally unawares by a situation you had no idea how to deal with? Any super-funny (in retrospect) stories? Please share!

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