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Weekend Wrapup: Home Improvements and a Sprained Back

Knowing my dad reads my site, I can only picture him turning to my mom and saying “Your son hurt messed up his back again”, with an emphasis on “your”. Well, he’d be right that I screwed up my back less than a year after the last mishap (2 herniated discs). This time, it’s on the right side, and it’s not pushing into my sciatic nerve, which is a very good thing. I’ve never been in as much pain as last December/January, but this weekend and today are up there on the list.

On Saturday, I was casually raking up the remainder of the leaves in the yard onto a tarp, then dragging or carrying the tarp to the front of the house for leaf collection. Although we don’t have any trees of our own, I’ve collected about 5 giant piles on two occasions this season thanks to the neighbors’ trees. I already had most of the leaves in piles from before our vacation, so I didn’t have to rake too much, but near the end of the raking, I noticed my back was stiffening up.

And then it hit. My back seized up and I hobbled around the yard finishing up the chore and cleanup before going inside. By the time I got inside, I had to ease myself onto the floor. This couldn’t have come at a worse time as I was scheduled to help my father-in-law run some wiring in the crawlspace under our house for a new baseboard heater thermostat and a new power outlet in the front of the house, as well as plug up our crawlspace vents with insulation for the winter.

But I wasn’t going to make our father-in-law drive all the way from Pennsylvania to Maryland and do all the work himself! After some stretching and pain medication (which didn’t help), I slowly got up, got my knee pads and boots on, and crawled under the house. I have to say this was no easy feat! But once I was in the crawling position, it wasn’t too bad, except when I had to crawl under pipes or through tight spaces.

I got the vents plugged with bagged insulation, then helped run some electrical wiring through the floorboards for the new wall thermostat. After that, it was onto the next task of running more new wiring from the breaker box to the front of the house for a new interior and exterior power outlet. My FIL figured we should just do it all while we’re down there, and I agreed, much to my painful chagrine. While under there, we also added more insulation in the floor joists to plug up some open areas. By the time we got out of the crawlspace, it was dark.

Sunday wasn’t much better, although I figured out the best ways to stand, walk and sit to bring the least amount of pain. While the wife and mother-in-law prepared a Thanksgiving meal, my FIL finished the wiring and installation for the thermostat and outlets…and I took a nap. I woke up in time to watch my Steelers beat the Patriots, eat dinner and then spend 2 hours trying to fix our dryer.

The Dryer of Death, part 2

If you recall, in January our dryer died and I tried to fix it while nearly killing myself. Thankfully a friend had an extra one they gave us for free, which turned out to work better than our old one. Unfortunately, this “new” dryer is now squeaking like a banshee. While both I and my FIL are pretty handy, neither of us could figure out how to gain access to the dryer’s interior for 2 hours, even with diagrams we found online. After slicing my hands open trying to put it back together, we called it quits. We believe we need to take out about a dozen screws and lift off the entire dryer frame to access the drum, rotor and belt inside. But by then it was nearing 11pm and I had to wake up before 5am for class the next day. I decided it might be time for a new dryer.

I’m not sure what we would do with the old dryers as one has electrical problems and the other seems like it was made to be an impregnable fortress. I can probably list both on freecycle and have takers in minutes, or I could take them to the county recycling center where they would be used for scrap metal. However, both would require moving the machine(s) out of our mudroom, which I can’t quite do in my current state. So we’ll live with the sqeaking for a while longer until we determine the best course of action, which may even include buying a used dryer on Craigslist.

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Clever Dude

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