Author Topic: DIY fails  (Read 1377 times)

intellectsucks

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DIY fails
« on: March 09, 2017, 01:59:24 PM »
Figured I’d discuss a couple of failures and maybe get some advice on how to either fix them or keep them from happening again.
First, while doing the dishes one morning I noticed water dripping….from the ceiling.  Ugggh.  I’m REALLY not comfortable with plumbing work, so I call a reasonable, reliable plumber.  Later that day I have no leak (WOOHOO!!!), but do have a giant hole in my kitchen ceiling (DOH!!!).  I go to patch it myself, but the joists and framing are not quite even so I can’t get the new piece of drywall to be even with the existing drywall.  Oh, and we’re having a big holiday party the next day too, so I only have a couple of hours to get something up and covering that hole before moving on to the other 10,000 tasks that need my attention that day.  Now there’s a crooked, ugly ass piece of drywall above the sink taunting me 10 times a day.
Next, I discover that the fuel filter on my 99 Mercury Grand Marquis is leaking.  I look up some videos on youtube, check some forums, discover it’s a super easy fix and a ten dollar part.  BOOYAH!!!  Get under the car, pull out one side of the fuel line with no trouble at.  Go to pull the other side out, and after five minutes of grunting, twisting and turning, the fuel line snaps.
They were both pretty crushing to my DIY mentality.  I went in expecting a fairly simple, low cost repair, but came out with a lot of frustration and extra cost after making things worse.  Having better tools would have helped (a better jack and jack stands would have allowed me to get a better angle to pull that fuel filter), but I also think that a lack of experience was a problem too.  You can buy better tools, but my opportunities to gain experience making similar repairs is limited.  Now I have those little lingering doubts about my DIY projects, wondering if I’ll really be saving money or just making things worse and more expensive.
Looking forward to your responses.

therethere

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 02:14:00 PM »
I've got one from this weekend. The shower head is on a swivel arm that couldn't hold itself up. So it would just slowly fall until it was hanging making you have to shower really close to the wall. I went to put in new gaskets to hopefully up the friction and help it stay. I spent 1.5 hours trying to get it back together and it didn't fit because I had the pieces assembling in the wrong order (dummy). I finally realize my mistake swap the order and get it back together. Turn on the shower and it just sprays everywhere out of all the gaskets. Another 30+ minutes of tinkering and spraying the entire bathroom I finally get it to stop. It still falls to its resting hanging position and two days later its leaking. At least it is a leak not a spray that goes all over the wall and ceiling like before. Not attempting the repair had been nagging me for over a year. Now I'm going to be taunted with my crappy non-repair that only makes it worse. Ugh.
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JLee

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2017, 02:15:31 PM »
Heh, I've definitely had some DIY moments not go as well as they should.  Experience helps...once you've learned how to fix the problems you create, you know how to fix more stuff!

sokoloff

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 02:20:35 PM »
When I first started fixing things on my car in my teens, I broke about 1/2 as much stuff as I fixed. With more and more experience, that ratio got a lot better and now more than 95% of attempted repairs go smoothly and as-planned. (Along the way, accumulating a LOT of tools has also helped improve that ratio.)

House projects are all that different. In learning to do repairs, my first one always looks ugly. Solder joints that look like a mercury pigeon crapped all over the pipe, drywall repairs that look like a moonscape, woodworking projects that look like a 7th grader would have gotten a "C" in shop class, etc. It's all part of the process. You didn't learn to walk without falling; you didn't learn to speak without mangling grammar; you didn't learn math without arithmetic mistakes, etc. Why do we think that we could just pick up a paint brush, torch, or wrench and instantly be good?

I DIY in large part due to cost, in medium part due to the feeling of learning, self-reliance, and accomplishment, and in small part because it gives me an excuse to buy more "needed" tools.

jjandjab

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2017, 02:49:59 PM »
First, while doing the dishes one morning I noticed water dripping….from the ceiling.  Ugggh.  I’m REALLY not comfortable with plumbing work, so I call a reasonable, reliable plumber.  Later that day I have no leak (WOOHOO!!!), but do have a giant hole in my kitchen ceiling (DOH!!!). 

Wait - do you know why you had the leak? I'd make sure you do before you finish patching. And ugh, a ceiling patch is rough. We had almost the same thing - a leak above our kitchen island which took out an 18 inch area of drywall.

We also did not have a plumbing based leak, but rather our kids shower is kinda old and there was a spot that looked like plastic, but was actually wood near the shower door (?!?) and was allowing water to slowly drip down - this happened when they became teens and actaully were taking showers .

We pulled out the rotted wood and fixed it up and tiled the area. But the cieling drywall patch was way too hard. It was worth calling a local handyman to do the original patch and first two skim coats. He was then fine with me doing the final coat and painting.

Given it was such a visible area, the I just could not get it right in a way that would not have driven me crazy... So I'd weigh if it is just worth it to you to do something similar. I have since learned to patch drywall reasonably well, but still think ceiling work might not be my thing...

J_Stache

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2017, 03:15:29 PM »
Now there’s a crooked, ugly ass piece of drywall above the sink taunting me 10 times a day.


Next, I discover that the fuel filter on my 99 Mercury Grand Marquis is leaking...I went in expecting a fairly simple, low cost repair, but came out with a lot of frustration and extra cost after making things worse. 

1.  Drywall patches will always look pretty crappy until you feather them out.  This video shows a good example: https://youtu.be/jhfz2HNuL7s .  Thin your mud with some water to make it easier to work with.  Also, when you buy drywall tools, go with stainless steel (you'll thank yourself on future projects).

2.  Old cars...I always assume something will go wrong.  My fiance has a car from 2010.  All repairs go as planned.  I have a 2004 car and 1997 pickup.  I always add on a few extra hours for unexpected issues and am pleasantly surprised if they don't pop up.

CmFtns

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2017, 07:58:06 PM »
nothing old is ever simple and easy to fix... but the part that keeps me going is even if I screw it up 4 times in a row it usually costs less re-doing it 4 times than it would cost to hire it out and I learn
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lthenderson

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 07:51:30 AM »
If I had a dollar for every DIY project I screwed up, or didn't go as planned, or had to call a professional to bail me out, etc., I would be a much richer man. But now everyone (in my personal life) thinks I'm a genius that can fix anything. You learn by making mistakes in just about every aspect of life. Keep trying and you will get there.

Drywall is cheap so if it doesn't look good now, tear it down and try again. Don't be afraid to put screws in the old drywall surrounding the patch. Drywall sags with time and it isn't perceptible until you go to put a nice straight patch in the middle. You may have to add furring strips around the entire perimeter of your patch (between joists) to end up with a nice joint that you can mud and feather so it isn't noticeable.

Also, I've found that people admire a patch on a ceiling or any DIY project in progress because they see you as a handy person. They rarely see it as a negative because it doesn't look attractive.

skierduder

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 01:32:16 PM »
Solder joints that look like a mercury pigeon crapped all over the pipe

This might be the best description of a soldering fail ever

Tasty Pinecones

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2017, 12:00:36 PM »
I'm pretty good at some topics. The 50% success rate that Sokoloff pointed out is so true. Also the question of speed. You'll get faster.

The first time I adjusted the valves on my old aircooled Beetle years ago it took two weeks to get right - adjust, drive it to work, next day - adjust, drive it to work. Seems like I gave it a few minutes everyday until I got it right. What can I say - I'm a slow learner... ;)

After a few months I could adjust the timing, points, carb, brakes, valves, and oil all the hinges in under an hour.

When you DO need to bring in a professional - be sure to stick around and watch what they are doing. Explain you are just curious - not trying to pester them. Sometimes you'll see something that was obvious after the fact i.e. a second wrench on the fuel line when loosening that fuel filter so the line doesn't get twisted.

Hang in there. Long term - it is absolutely worth it. And we all have access to the Internet/YouTube where it is possible to learn everything short of DIY brain surgery...
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 10:43:30 PM by Tasty Pinecones »

former player

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2017, 12:19:56 PM »
I just put up three curtain poles. One end of one of them is now hanging precariously down as the screws are coming out of the old plaster.  They went in fine, but either the plaster is not up to the job or the screws supplied with the fixtures are too short.  I'm going to try filling the holes with wire wool and putting longer screws in.  If that doesn't work, I'm giving up and handing the job to the professionals.

The only reason the other two poles haven't fallen down yet is that I haven't finished making the curtains for them.
Be frugal and industrious, and you will be free (Ben Franklin)

sokoloff

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2017, 04:53:57 PM »
Horsehair plaster (the old stuff that deadens sound incredibly, but crumbles in your hand) is not going to hold anything.
Modern blueboard with a plaster skimcoat is going to hold up something that weighs a pound or so at most.

You need to anchor to something behind the plaster (ideally the studs; if not, you can use toggle bolts). If your curtain rods came with screws, those were surely meant to go into wood not plaster. You might as well take the other ones out now, so you don't have to do a plaster repair when they fall.

lthenderson

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2017, 08:17:27 AM »
I just put up three curtain poles. One end of one of them is now hanging precariously down as the screws are coming out of the old plaster.  They went in fine, but either the plaster is not up to the job or the screws supplied with the fixtures are too short.  I'm going to try filling the holes with wire wool and putting longer screws in.  If that doesn't work, I'm giving up and handing the job to the professionals.

The only reason the other two poles haven't fallen down yet is that I haven't finished making the curtains for them.

Those kits come with hardware for installation in MOST situations. Your situation is not MOST. You might be able to get buy using self drilling drywall anchors. They have a very large coarse thread that provide much more holding area than the screws that came with the curtain rod and are made for drywall and plaster.  However, your best bet were the toggle bolts mentioned above which will distribute the load to the lathe behind the plaster and hold much much more weight.

BDWW

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2017, 05:05:14 PM »
Didn't see this mentioned, but find a friend/colleague/relative to help you next time?  Most people learn better under personal instruction rather than just reading a book/internet/watchingyoutube.

And to perhaps be a bit of a downer, some people shouldn't DIY some things. I believe most everybody can learn, but sometimes the curve is long and difficult. Others come to it more naturally. It might help to figure out where you fall on that spectrum.

ncornilsen

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2017, 04:17:38 PM »
I had a good one this last summer.

I demo'd out an old deck, filled a septic tank, and removed a bunch of old concrete. Compacted gravel, built forms for a sweet new patio.

I have never had good luck laying concrete, so I paid a guy $500 to pour, stain and finish the patio. (I bought the concrete.)
I had taped a bunch of tarp up against the house to keep splatter away. I weighted part of it down with a ceramic pot (that was a gift from my wife.)

the concrete was laid, contract was gone, and the sealer was curing. The wind kicked up and blew the tarp loose, and it landed in the uncured sealant... and started melting into it! So, I  grabbed the tarp to hold it up, and it ripped loose further down... rinse and repeat until it got to the pot. I coudlnt' walk on the concrete yet, so I jerked the plastic thinking I could pull it out from under the pot. Nope. It falls, right on the new concrete and gouges the hell out of it.

So, I had to buy a bunch of zylol to re-melt the sealer and fix that, plus I had to find concrete dye of the right color, and do a bunch of concrete patcher swatches to figure out how much dye I need to match the concrete. After screwing with that for a week, everything came out OK but WOW that went from a nicely done project to a Cluster F*** in a heatbeat.

paddedhat

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2017, 06:19:42 PM »
I had a good one this last summer.

I demo'd out an old deck, filled a septic tank, and removed a bunch of old concrete. Compacted gravel, built forms for a sweet new patio.

I have never had good luck laying concrete, so I paid a guy $500 to pour, stain and finish the patio. (I bought the concrete.)
I had taped a bunch of tarp up against the house to keep splatter away. I weighted part of it down with a ceramic pot (that was a gift from my wife.)

the concrete was laid, contract was gone, and the sealer was curing. The wind kicked up and blew the tarp loose, and it landed in the uncured sealant... and started melting into it! So, I  grabbed the tarp to hold it up, and it ripped loose further down... rinse and repeat until it got to the pot. I coudlnt' walk on the concrete yet, so I jerked the plastic thinking I could pull it out from under the pot. Nope. It falls, right on the new concrete and gouges the hell out of it.

So, I had to buy a bunch of zylol to re-melt the sealer and fix that, plus I had to find concrete dye of the right color, and do a bunch of concrete patcher swatches to figure out how much dye I need to match the concrete. After screwing with that for a week, everything came out OK but WOW that went from a nicely done project to a Cluster F*** in a heatbeat.


I once stopped by a job an hour after my finishers left. I discovered a deliriously happy Golden Retriever puppy who has walked all over the freshly troweled garage floor AND took rest breaks to cool his belly off, leaving interesting depressions in a few spots. I washed the dog to prevent the little bugger from getting burned, and called the finishers back. They bitched and moaned, but they bitch and moan 24/7 anyway. They returned and saved the floor, the dog's owner showed up, and all was well. I can't imagine how bad it would of been if I didn't drop by the job that day? OTOH, I was just in a barn where a domestic Turkey had done a hilarious tour of the place, just after the finisher left. It really added some character.

lthenderson

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2017, 08:02:44 AM »
I was helping a fellow pour the foundation for what was to be a farrowing building for hogs. It was a complex pour with several built in troughs for the manure and was about three foot above grade on one corner. We reinforced the hell out of the forms on that corner, poured in lifts and had just completed the finishing work. I was sitting in the shade of the form at that one corner drinking a beverage to cool off with a couple other fellows when all of a sudden the form partially separated at the corner onto our backs. We held back for all we were worth while someone got a nearby tractor with a loader to hold it in place. We had to seal off the gap in the form and pour some more concrete in it to level everything out but from that day on, I could always notice that one corner where the concrete stuck out an extra four inches from the building. We were lucky we had been sitting there or it would have been a complete disaster had the form completely collapsed. We were also lucky nobody got hurt.

ncornilsen

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2017, 10:01:24 AM »
I was helping a fellow pour the foundation for what was to be a farrowing building for hogs. It was a complex pour with several built in troughs for the manure and was about three foot above grade on one corner. We reinforced the hell out of the forms on that corner, poured in lifts and had just completed the finishing work. I was sitting in the shade of the form at that one corner drinking a beverage to cool off with a couple other fellows when all of a sudden the form partially separated at the corner onto our backs. We held back for all we were worth while someone got a nearby tractor with a loader to hold it in place. We had to seal off the gap in the form and pour some more concrete in it to level everything out but from that day on, I could always notice that one corner where the concrete stuck out an extra four inches from the building. We were lucky we had been sitting there or it would have been a complete disaster had the form completely collapsed. We were also lucky nobody got hurt.

I can picture this! :D

I always overbuild forms. On my incident, the concrete contractor made fun of me. But with concrete, if a form blows out badly, you have to (basically) start over 100% to make it completely right. I remember an incident at work where the gave the new guy the concrete vibrator... that'll blow a weak form out in a heartbeat! Extra stakes and lumber is cheap.

I swear I had more lumber in the forms for my houses addition foundation than I did in the house itself... but I sold the forms to the concrete pump guy so I was happy!


Spork

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2017, 10:36:39 AM »

I think I may have told this tale in another thread at another time.  The repeat is free of charge.

Set your wayback clock to about 1986.  I had a cool (to me) old British sports car.  The left rear wheel bearing started going out... and was going out fast.  It was LOUD and destroying itself.

I started disassembling the independent rear end and ended up with the last 8 inches of the rear axle -- still firmly connected to the rear hub.  Very firmly.  Like "almost welded."  I hooked my handy dandy 8 ton gear puller to it... cranked it tight.... BOOOM!   When the dust cleared I still had a firmly connected rear hub and a gear puller that was broken into multiple pieces.

Back to the drawing board.  I took the stub shaft/hub to a local shop that specialized in British cars, hoping they had a trick.  They put the whole thing in a 20 ton hydraulic press.  Nothing.  They suggested I leave it with them and they'd figure something out.   About a week later, I got a call... I picked up the shaft/hub.  They said they had to heat it to red hot while pressing with their press.  Because of that, the threaded end of the shaft mushroomed a bit.  They had special ordered an appropriate die (probably at my cost) and re-threaded it.  Good as new.

I bolted everything back together and was back on the road.

Fast forward about 6 months.  I am north of Dallas, top down, headed south on I-35E at about 70 mph.  Traffic was "pre-5 o'clock"... Not awful, but lots of cars.  Suddenly I was absolutely out of control.  I was going hard left and could NOT change my direction.  On my right, I see something zooming off into the distance -- bouncing really high.  I later realized the thing on my right was my left wheel, still firmly bolted to the hub.  Somehow, not because of my driving skills but out of dumb luck, I missed every car on the road and went into the center concrete guard rail at a 45 degree angle.  Due to what seemed like perfect conservation of momentum, I turned 90 degrees and the rear slammed into the guard rail.

Postmortem: The last inch or so of the shaft sheared.  I assume from being deformed and probably also from being heated and changing the temper of the steel.  The car was totaled, though in my idiocy/naivety I bought it back from the insurance company and paid to have it repaired.  My reasoning was that I had rebuilt the engine/transmission and that was an "investment".  This was most definitely not the right choice financially.

About 2 years later parts houses started offering rebuilt rear hubs for this car.  Apparently the difficulties I had in disassembly were common.
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10dollarsatatime

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Re: DIY fails
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2017, 06:43:42 PM »
I used to wrench on motorcycles when I had time.  Hopefully one of these days I'll have time again.

So my uncle rides his Kawasaki Ninja to town.  It starts spurting coolant, and he assumes head gasket.  Wants a new bike anyway, so he leaves the Ninja with me and buys a new one to get home on.

And so I go to work.  Pull the head and all the other crap needed to get to it.  But when I go to put it back together, I snap a head bolt.  Order a new one, and try again a week later... and snap a head bolt.  ...Turns out the instructions were for inch/pounds and not foot/pounds. 

So I finally get the thing back together.  Starts right up.  And starts spurting coolant.  Not from the head gasket, but from the disintegrating coolant pipe.  I could have just replaced a $12 part instead of tearing apart the top end of the engine if I had just done my own diagnostic.