A few years ago, I picked up a Dyson DC56 vacuum from Costco. While I could always drag the corded vacuum out to the driveway, having a cordless handheld vacuum is so much more convenient. However, when I was vacuuming the car the other day, the vacuum kept falling apart because the purple latch at the top no longer held the cyclone to the main body. After an inspection, I figured out that the spring which provided tension to the latch was missing. I contacted Dyson about getting a replacement spring, but their solution was to purchase an entire cyclone for $75.99.
No thanks. I also searched online for the schematics, but the only spring listed was for the latch that attached the accessory brushes and nozzles to the vacuum. With nothing to lose, I headed to Orchard Supply Hardware hoping that they would have the right spring. I found a 3-pack of 3/8 x 3/4 x .032 springs for $3.49. When I returned home, I popped one of them in without even having to use any tools. Success!
I guess it pays to wait. Last year, Costco was selling these LED 4ft tubes for $29.79. This year, Costco was selling them for $17.99. How many items drop 39% in price from year-to-year. Next year, these bulbs will probably cost less than $10.
I have two fluorescent shop lights in the garage. I bought one box with two replacement bulbs as a test. I was so impressed that the light came on instantly and was so bright that I bought another box for the second light.
The only “trick” was that these lights had a plastic end cap. At first, I didn’t realize these were caps. Maybe LED tube lights have a different connector. I wasn’t sure how these would fit in the fixtures, but gave it a try anyways. After some frustration, I studied the box, which shows the bulb with the traditional pins at the end. That’s when I realized that these were caps. Popped them off and I was good to go.
I have some fluorescent task lights in the garage that are really efficient. I don’t think it makes sense to trade fluorescents for LEDs because the cost savings are negligible. However, sometimes the lights work, and other times they are temperamental. When I flick on the light switch and the fluorescents pop on in full brightness, I am happy. But sometimes, for whatever reason, I flick on the light switch and nothing happens. Then I play around with the switch hoping that the lights will somehow come back on. Absolutely aggravating.
I would consider switching out the fluorescents for this reason alone, thought the $29.79 price tag for a pair of lights does give me some pause.
I might need to chart how often the lights aggravate me each week, and then decide whether to pony up the 30 bucks.
How long does a Toto toilet handle, a/k/a trip lever, last? I think the answer is 7-8 years. I replaced the first one last September. The second one got swapped out in November. Now, six months later, I’m ready to replace the third and final toilet handle. When three fail within six months, I’m quite confident that I’ve hit the life span of the product.
Curiously, the third failure exhibited a different symptom. Unlike the first one that which left the water running, this one would flush when the lever was first depressed. Takes a couple flush attempts for it to work. Since the other two failed, I don’t need to take a look at the handle and wonder what’s wrong. It’s just time for this one to be swapped out as well. When the part comes in, I’ll take apart the old handle and see if it failed at the same spot.
After two years, the Roomba started breaking down. First, the Roomba would not charge even when seated in its dock. The orange light would not pulse. The other behavior was that it would approach the dock, when the dock button was depressed, but it would twist, turn and collide with the dock as if it could not detect it. I finally called tech support, and we went through all the typical steps: resetting the Roomba, making sure the contacts touched the dock, etc. The odd trick that got the Roomba working again was to spray compressed air into the battery charging outlet.
So, the Roomba was charging again, but it would not return to its base. It would run out of juice before the cleaning cycle ended, which tells me that cleaning cycles are timed, instead of based on the remaining charge in the battery. After a few more weeks of delay, I finally ordered a new battery.
Installing the new battery was easy. Just remove a few screws. I also cleaned the Roomba at the time. With the bottom panel removed, I could see dust everywhere. So, the Roomba has been working like new again. On one hand, I’m disappointed that the battery only lasted two years. However, it was working every single day during that stretch, which is more work than all the other vacuum cleaners I have owned have put in to date.
The garage was a terrible mess and in desperate need of organization. It didn’t start that way though. At first, all the Costco supplies were packed into the pantry. But, in a bid to clean-up the house, all that got dumped into the garage. And, one by one, the boxes multiplied until they occupied a fair amount of space.
I had always intended to pick up some shelving. However, every time, I spotted a stainless steel shelving rack at Costco, the size and weight of the box was just enough to dissuade me. Finally, I just ordered the shelving rack online from Costco. It took one business day to deliver, and one hour to assemble. If I had to put together a second one, I should be able to cut down on the time dramatically, especially if I started with a tape measure in hand. Mount the shelves at the same height on each leg!
After I assembled the shelving, I organized what I needed and disposed of the rest. Now, I have a mini-Costco in my garage.
After seven years of service, the handle to the Toto toilet started failing. After flushing the toilet, the handle would not return to the up position. It just sagged on the side of the toilet. At first, I thought it was loose, but tightening the washer inside the tank had no effect. Next, I unscrewed the washer and took the handle off the tank. Ah, there was a screw. That must be loose. But when I grabbed a screwdriver and tried to tighten it, that wasn’t loose either. Puzzled, I took a closer look.
That oval slot holds the rod which hooks to the flapper. Despite the all metal construction, this part had worn out from daily use. So, the search for a replacement part began.
I quickly determined that I had a Toto Carlyle toilet installed. But, while looking for the product manual under discontinued models (the Carlyle was replaced by the Carlyle II), the odd interface asked for a SKU number. Thankfully, I still had a receipt that listed the SKU, so I was able to look up the parts manual.
The official name of the toilet handle is the trip lever. Rather than hunt around at the local hardware or plumbing supply store, I just ordered it from Amazon for $23.44. When it arrived, took all of five minutes to easily replace. Flushed the toilet and the trip lever swung back up. Nothing beats success on the first attempt.
LEDs keep getting less and less expensive. Cheaper? No. Less expensive? Yes.
With a PG&E instant rebate, Costco was selling PAR30 spot lights for $13.99. I’ve phased in a number of LED lights as some incandescent bulbs faded to black, but I really haven’t seen any dramatic cost savings. The packaging suggests that I may save $165 in energy costs based on 11¢ per kWh compared to using a 75-watt incandescent lamp for 25,000 hours.
25,000 hours at 3 hours/day is 8,333.33 days or 22.8 years. If you divide the $165 in savings over 22.8 years, it comes to 60¢ per month per bulb. That amount of savings is completely masked by seasonal energy usage.
Right now, I’m paying 10.7¢ per kWh so I’m saving even less than the assumptions. The bulb I am replacing is a Sylvania Capsylite PAR30 75W 120V flood. I have to note how much a replacement incandescent will cost me. But at $13.99 a bulb, the break even point will come a lot faster than when expensive LEDs were selling for $40.
Maybe the problem is that I’m switching to LEDs in a haphazard approach. If I commit to switching 20-75 watt incandescent bulbs to 15 watt LED bulbs, that’s 1.2 kW that I will be saving for each hour the lights are on. At 3 hours per day for 30 days, I’m up to 108kWh for the month. The only problem is that I don’t think I have 20 bulbs that are on for 3 hours a day, but I’ll go all in and see if it makes a measurable difference. Stay tune.
Back in September 2009, I had replaced two torsion springs for my garage door. These springs lasted all of 4 1/2 years.
A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to leave in the morning when I heard an ominous sound in the garage. It’s never good to hear strange sounds from the garage. Before long, I managed to put that sound out of my mind until I grabbed my backpack and pushed the button on the garage door opener, only to see the opener futilely attempt to open the door. That’s when I remembered the sound.
After a quick check of various parts, I spotted the crack in the spring. I made a same-day appointment with the contractor, who quickly replaced both springs. Asking about the life expectancy of a garage torsion spring is a trick question. Like the expensive fluorescent light that promises a lifetime of savings in exchange for a steep initial cost, the economics all depends on the frequency and type of use. Turn the light on-and-off, like in the bathroom, kills the life expectancy. I have light fixtures in the kitchen where the fluorescent lights have never been changed. I also have light fixtures in the bathroom where the light has been changed 4-5 times. Some day, I might figure out the math and see whether it is cheaper to just leave the bathroom light on instead of replacing the bulb so often.
Anyways, if you use the garage door like a main door, the springs will not last 7-10 years. Let’s see if this new set lasts to Fall 2019.
This morning, I stopped by the local Orchard Supply Hardware store. This has been an unusually dry winter. However, the recent storms have woken me up in the middle of the night. I don’t mind the soft sound of rainfall. What I do find maddening is the drip, drip, drip sound once the rain tapers off.
I had previously used The Silencer, which is a sponge glued to a magnet. I don’t believe that the price has changed in six years! It was still $2 and change at OSH. But, for a product that last a season or two, I was open to trying a different solution.
Beside The Silencer, OSH also had RainQuiet for $6.99. Each box contains two pads. So, that is $3.50 per gutter versus $2.39 for The Silencer. If RainQuiet lasts for more than a season or two, it’ll be worth the extra buck.
So, what you get this about a 1/2-inch course mesh pad affixed to a plastic backing. This pad can be cut to size. I ended up trimming about 3/4-inch from the long side of the pad. It attaches to the gutter via a standard office binder clip. It’ll probably rust over time, but should not wash loose like the magnet.
In a few hours, I’ll be able to tell if RainQuiet delivers a good night of sleep.