I Think I Can, I Think I Can…


What do you do when you shower suddenly reverses polarity, and the handle twists all helter-skelter, and you have no idea which way will make the water hot or cold? It was a fun few days of playing Shower Roulette before I finally had enough. Yeah, I could have called the landlords, waited on a plumber, and been annoyed. Instead? I got out my tools and took the shower apart!

It only took a philips-head screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Turns out the housing that goes around the gasket-thingy (technical term) which turns the valve had broken. I gathered all the pieces into a ziplock bag and headed to Lowes. In about 10 minutes, I had the replacement parts in hand, and within the hour, my shower was fixed! Voila! I’ll deduct my $10 in sunk costs for replacement parts from the rent and they can be happy that I’m the most awesome tenant ever (besides David Tenant- he’s clearly more awesomer than I am).

It was fun not playing Shower-Roulette this morning.

This is actually something I really value about how I was brought up and how I’ve lived. Watching my parents build their own house, I learned early that it wasn’t that hard to do stuff. There was no mystery- get a book, read the directions carefully, and you can pretty much do a kinds of fix-it stuff. I’ve watched my mom pour concrete, frame a door, strip furniture, repair drywall. I’ve watched my dad frame rafters, build foundation forms, point masonry and roof a gable. And now with YouTube, it’s easier than ever to take the reins. If there’s something you need, find a video on how to do it, and give it a shot. Be careful that it’s a simple job and you actually have the correct tools- but don’t be afraid to jump in! Had my shower been leaking in the wall or required a specialized pipe-wrench, I would have acquiesced and called a plumber- but often the fixes are small and simple, and easily done. Plus, the sense of accomplishment is validating in a way that might surprise you.

Tell me something you fixed that made you feel awesome and competent and like you wanted to don a cape and stand in the sunset…

22 thoughts on “I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

  1. I once replaced the stickshift in a VW squareback. I got tired of waiting for my husband to do it. It was a simple job (I could probably rebuild a whole VW engine, they’re so simple) but I’m still proud of that one!

    • Oh that’s a good one, Susan! (and Happy Birthday!)

      I once did a dent pull and a bondo job on a 71 VW bug. I also used my purse strap as a generator belt on the same car. God bless easy old engines!

  2. I fixed the aggitator in my washing machine. I took it apart and watched a video on youtube, ordered the part and put it back together again. I know that it isn’t much, but I felt amazing at saving our family some money at a time when even the $14 for the part was diffucult to come by.

  3. I never thought of putting air in my car tires as being any special thing until one day a lady drove up and asked for help doing it, because she didn’t have a clue how to do it. I saved her day. πŸ™‚

    • See? Sometimes it really is the small things. I’m terrible about my car maintenance. I know how to change the oil, but I take it to whomever sends me the best coupon when I need it. I know how to check the air, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I did it.

  4. Oh good for you! This post made me laugh because just last night my husband and I went to Lowe’s to look at entrance door handles. Our kitchen door deadbolt just spins around and the front door locks are questionable. I thought it couldn’t be too hard to choose a set to replace our current ones……… I kid you not we walked around that store like lost little puppies….we …don’t … have….a clue….about home repair…lol There is a general contractor handyman guy in our ward who will only charge $35 an hour…for us that is worth it to get it right…

    • Replacing locks is actually really simple- give it a shot yourself! Of course, there is something to be said for peace of mind, too. πŸ˜‰

      • I think I could probably replace the deadbolt, but I’m just not confident enough. There is a man in my ward who is a contractor/ handyman who isn’t real busy right now. I’m hiring him tomorrow morning. It’ll be worth it in the long run…Thanks for the vote of confidence. πŸ™‚

      • Update: Had I started to replace the locks myself, I would have ended up calling him anyway. The hole for the dead bolt needed shaving down so the new one could fit, and the hole where the bolt goes into needed enlarging…tasks that needed tools I do not own…He did a nice job. 65 dollars well spent. Next up is the kitchen door locks. Our doors are pretty much next to each other. We live in a condo.

      • Yes, having the proper tools is a must- no matter how good your intentions or your spatial skills. Good call on the handy-man, and on being willing to try!

  5. I took apart my lawn mower when it broke, replaced a bunch of stuff, cleaned out the carburetor and put it all back together again (thanks youtube!) I was a little shocked when it fixed the problem because it was the most technical thing I have tackled. I did most of the household diagnosing and repair even when I was married, but this was a bigger step for me. I fix things here all the time, but I haven’t had to take apart a shower yet :-).
    One of my friends who owns several properties said that he hesitates to rent out to single women, mostly because he doesn’t want them calling him to fix dumb stuff. I have found that most single moms I know have learned to be capable and inventive and don’t have time for someone else to come fix things if they can figure it out themselves. We need to overturn the stereotype πŸ˜‰

    • I’m impressed with the lawnmower, Cyn. I helped a boyfriend take apart the primary on a Harley Davidson motorcycle once, but the odds of that skill ever coming in handy again are pretty slim.

      We DO need to overturn the stereotype. I haven’t called my landlords once to fix something stupid or small. I’ve fixed the toilet, changed the furnace filters, changed two leaky shower heads and now the broken shower handle. Take that, helpless!

  6. I took the vacuum apart once, messed with the wires (before youtube) and it ran for another year.

  7. it’s an attitude thing mostly. The different between you and a “handyman” is tools and experience. Mostly tools are simple hammer, screw driver(one flat, one Phillips) and a wrench. experience means you may have to try twice to get the job right. but so did the Handyman the first time he did the job. and just think next time you will know exactly what not to do. follow directions and ask the nice guys at Lowe’s they will tell you exactly how to do the job and even sell you the tools. I have over the year fixed about everything I wanted fixed because my hubby is of the school that it needs to be repaired by a paid professional to be right and I was tired of the money wasted.

    • Yep, Jennifer- it’s totally about attitude. Yeah, some folks are better at spacial relationships, but anyone can turn a screwdriver, and anyone- I mean *anyone* could have fixed the shower like I did. It just takes the confidence to try, and to keep trying if you can’t figure it out the first time.

  8. another thought: I however do not try large electric repairs and major plumbing but that is an attitude thing too ; I have also on special occasioned played the Poor helpless women who needs a handyman to give work to someone who needed the money

  9. I love this! My husband and I built our house two years ago (literally – we hired out the foundation and drywall only) and it was easily the hardest but most satisfying thing I have ever done. We all really are more competent than we give ourselves credit for!

    • That’s awesome, Melissa. My dad ended up hiring someone to drywall, too- but it was mostly because of the special tools needed. It ended up being less expensive to have someone professional do it. I remember watching the guys on their foot-jax hefting those sheets over their head to do the ceiling. Pretty amazing.

  10. I fixed the handle on my toilet using gorilla glue and saved a trip to the hardware store, a few dollars, and a lot of water. I love fixing things. It makes me feel so capable.

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