Archive for the 'Home Repair' Category

Lessons From Laying Carpet on Your Own

I just laid carpet in my bedroom and wanted to share some things I learned in the process. This is the first time I have actually participated in laying carpet in a capacity other than that of a dumb worker. Given my thrifty mentality, I would definitely do this again, given the money saved and the quality of craftsmanship around where I live (the work done on our house before we moved in was just sloppy). Here are the lessons learned, and below is a description of the process.

  1. Measure the rooms carefully, and take the measurements to the store. Before you buy anything, compare the measurements in hand to those on the roll.
  2. Do not bend rolls of carpet. It will cause you pain and suffering for which you won’t even be able to sue. Man, I thought this was America.
  3. Carpet store employees are generally really salesmen or laborers. The salesman just wants to sell you product and get his commission. The laborer is someone who couldn’t cut it laying carpet and so they took a big pay cut and started doing basic labor. There is no good reason to go to either of these sources for advice, if you can help. Stores that are operated by actual owners tend to offer much better advice and service, based on pride in their service and desire to build a long term relationship.
  4. Make sure you aren’t cutting the carpet out backwards.
  5. The grid on the carpet padding isn’t square to the edge. Don’t let it guide your cuts.
  6. Harbor freight sells a very adequate knee kicker.

I wanted to get the job done as inexpensively as possible, so I went and bought remnants. The closer you live to Dalton, GA, the better deal you can get on remnants, as a rule. Carpet rolls generally come in rolls 12 ft wide, with some rolls 15 ft wide. Our room is 12’6″ by 12’6″. Thank you builders. We had to buy a 15 ft wide roll that was 18ft long for our room. Our sons’ rooms both measure 13 ft by 9’6″. When I was at the store, I somehow deluded myself into thinking that the rooms were actually only 12 ft long. Don’t ask me how I did that, let’s just say I have some carpet for sale on craiglist right now. That is lesson number one.

Much to my dismay, I do not own a pickup, and have to use my minivan for all hauling. It should be clear to anyone that a 15 ft long roll of carpet will not fit in minivan if you want the windows to remain intact. I was thinking I could ask a friend with a truck or bend the roll and put in in my minivan. I asked the help at the store if it hurts a roll if you bend it. As I laid the carpet, I realized I had made two mistakes in one (mistakes 2 and 3). Carpet rolls that have been bent in half have creases and lumps in them that require excessive work to remove.

I ripped out my old carpet and used the old carpet as a pattern to cut out the new carpet, leaving an extra inch or so on all the borders for final trimming. This can be done in a larger room or outside, and leaves you with a lot more room to work with the stiff heavy carpet. I almost made a mistake by not having both of the pieces of carpet facing the same way, i.e. both upside down or both right side up. My wife was pretty pleased with herself when she saved me from massive error. Thank you honey. I will still call that mistake 4 so others will not repeat my near mistake.

A friend of mine wanted to learn how to lay carpet, and would rather do it at my expense than his own (smart guy). He helped me and is very handy. When we were putting down the new pad, I tried to cut the end square with the grid of webbing on the padding. That was mistake number 5. Apparently, the grid on the padding is not aligned with the direction of the roll. Luckily, it made me cut too long, so I just ended up having to trim off a little more.

I bought a knee kicker at Harbor Freight. The knee kicker performed it’s job well, and at $30, it was by far the cheapest available. I rarely buy from Harbor freight, preferring Makita/Milwaukee/Dewalt tools, but I knew this knee kicker would only be used a few times. It firmly gripped the carpet and did not ever damage it.

The actual carpet laying went fairly smooth because I had a smart worker with another set of eyes to prevent me from making any ridiculous mistakes. I still need to lay the carpet in my boys’ rooms, and I plan to do that. After the furniture was removed from the room, the whole process took about 5 hours. I would expect it to take around 3.5 hours next time. I will let you know how my sons’ rooms go. Please leave any questions as comments so I can answer them when I blog about doing my sons’ rooms.

Schactya vam!

Fixing a Whirlpool Duet Dryer

Last Saturday, my wife called me over to the drying machine and told me that it just was not putting out hot air. The dryer was pushing air though the basket, but there was no heat. In South Carolina, it is so humid drying clothes without a dryer is a multi day process. I knew it would cost at least $120 (two trips- One to inspect and one to install the part) plus the padded cost of a part to fix it. I decided to go the frugal way, and get more blogging material. First, I checked on the internet and found some plans for the dryer. (It is a model GEW9200LW0). Here is a link to a site with the repair manual. I saved it on my computer so I would have it for future reference.

The tools I needed to fix this were a flashlight, a ratchet, a 1/4 ” socket, and hopefully a nut driver. (I just used the socket on a screwdriver adapter).

Before you even start to rip your dryer apart, reset the breaker and make sure you have power to the back of the dryer. I checked these and found out I had to look deeper. Before I did this I unplugged the dryer and then double checked to make sure . I really don’t like the idea of having the poop literally shocked out of me.100_0027.jpg

The good news is that I did not have to tear the dryer apart to get to two additional possible problems. First you need to take off the bottom panel, using a 1/4 ” socket to remove the two screws that are on the bottom front corners of the dryer. I propped it up on some 2×6’s to get easier access to the screws and make it easier to slide the bottom panel off.

There is a thermal fuse that shorts out if the dryer outflow is too hot. This prevents you from destroying larger more expensive components, and all you have to do is buy a $10 fuse. The fuse is located behind the blower casing, which you can reach around if you take off the bottom panel. It is a white flat plastic piece, about 1×1″, with two connectors coming out of it. It is pretty well centered in the dryer by the blower. To check if it is good, check it’s resistance after unplugging it from the system. It should be darn near zero. If it is open (infinite resistance), you have melted the fuse and need to buy a new one. Just take it out with a ratchet and don’t lose the screws. Make sure you clean out your dryer vent, as restricted flow because of lint is generally100_0026.jpg the cause of overheating. That wasn’t my problem.

I then checked the heater. You can also access this through the bottom front panel. I undid the green grounding wire so I could have a little more working room. This also would have helped me check the thermal fuse, as the angle is very difficult to work with. I also removed the plate over the front of the heater when I removed theInside heater one screw holding it. At this point you should be looking at this.

To test if the heater is working, unplug one of the red wires on the end closest to you and test the resistance of the heater. It should be between 7 and 12 ohms. Mine was zero. I removed the other red wire and took out the heater. There is a screw right behind where the wires are hooked up, and I used by ratchet to remove that screw. The heater then slides out. The problem is the spades run into the blower on the way out. To get around this I just unscrewed the screws used to hold the heater holder to the bottom of the dryer, as shown in picture 2. I was able to slide the heater holder over just enough to slide the heater out. The heater had a break in the wire, so I looked at ordering a new one. The best price I found was at partstap, paying about $36 for the part and $6 shipping. The part was $60 at a few places. I ordered the part late Saturday night and it got here today (Wednesday). I slid it into the slot, replaced the screw, and reconnected the wires. I put everything back in place, happily not ending up with any holes or screws left over. I double checked all the connections before I replaced the front panel. I plugged it in and it is working. Yeah!

Things I learned.

  1. Use Google to find some valuable information.
  2. Partstap made a positive impression on me based on shipping speed and price. Shopping around saved me over 40%. Let me know what your experiences are with them, so I can find out if this was a great isolated incident, or the rule.  So far, people have said that it is easy to order from them, but hard to return.  Based on comments that I am getting, it looks like Ebay can also have some great (best) deals on the part.  Scroll through the comments to get a better picture.
  3. Don’t get shocked. I didn’t get shocked and I liked that. You will too. Unplug it!

Happy trails, good luck, and give me feedback on anything you would like to see.

Thanks for the feedback that I have thus far recieved.