How not to be a handyman

Know your limits. That has been the self-defeating phraseology which I base my handyman work. I know my limits and they don’t venture far past a Phillips screwdriver. I know this and yet, I remain happy.
Give me a computer or home entertainment system and I can make it work, but I’m at a loss when it comes to home handyman stuff.

I have the evidence to prove it.

Shortly after moving into our home, I tried to fix the bathtub with disastrous results. I was home by myself one Monday afternoon and tried to repair a broken bathtub faucet. The handle had came off. I thought I could see the nut and screw that held it in place and, unfortunately, I had the right tool to “get ‘r done.”

As I lefty loosied the bolt, I had a nagging feeling that something was missing. When the water started to spray, I knew exactly what it was.

The adrenaline has helped block my memory of exactly what followed. I believe I quickly tried to turn the bolt back to its original position. That’s when it ended up in my hand. However, I still wasn’t too concerned because the water was falling into the bathtub. Turning off the water seemed a good tactic. (Remember the strategy was to fix the bathtub faucet!)

As I passed through the kitchen to the utility room, I saw an odd situation: Water was spraying from my microwave oven mounted over my stove. It was a pretty mist that caught a rainbow as it glistened in the sun rays streaming through my window. I was jerked back to reality by the stream that dampened my socks.

The importance of getting the water turned off just became acute. My adrenaline increased as I saw my real estate investment getting hosed. I frantically searched for a knob that would stop the rising tide of damage. Every knob yielded nothing. In a panic, I set the microwave to defrost, hoping to evaporate the water. I opened the oven door to relieve the pressure. The floor was wetter. My fears were growing. My socks were soaked. My kitchen was beginning to resemble Falling Rock. Yet, the control for the water shut-off valve was nowhere to be found.

Eventually, I learned that my house has no water main shut off. Even with my naivete of house plumbing, I did know that the town water supply could be cut off in my front yard (long story!). I grabbed an adjustable wrench and beat it to the streets. Within a few frantic moments, I stemmed the tide and learned a valuable lesson.
A few phone calls later, I was able to get a plumber to respond to my emergency and even bring in a fan to dry my kitchen out.

The lesson learned was one of knowing my limits. I realized that if I had just called a professional in the first place, I would have saved money and extended the warranty on my heart. I did surprise myself when I knew how to use an adjustable wrench.



  1. We hear this kind of story a lot. Plumbing can be very risky because if you don’t get it right, a lot of damage can occur longer term. If you want to try items on your own, we recommend carpentry or painting. Anything electrical or plumbing related are best left to a proven professional.

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