Amopé Does Not Charge

Amopé is an electric personal care device for smoothing out calluses on the foot. I found one in the house that was low on battery and placed it on the charging cradle. After letting it sit over night, it was still low on battery the next morning. To diagnose the problem, I placed the two prongs of a multimeter on the contacts of the charging cradle. The needle moved, so I knew that the charging cradle was working.

For the next step, I secured the Amopé to the charging cradle with masking tape and left it alone over night. The next morning, the device was still low on battery.

I then noticed that if I applied pressure to the Amopé, the charging light would sometimes flicker. I tried placing a heavy object on the Amopé, but the charging light would not come on. So, I knew I had to apply even more pressure. That’s when I remembered that I had an Irwin Handi-Clamp. Once I clamped the Amopé to the charging cradle, the charging light started pulsing. I left the device alone until the Amopé had a solid green light. When I turned the device on, it was fully charged.


Area Rug Disposal

I had a large area rug with a non-slip rubber backing. Unfortunately, the rubber backing started to breakdown and adhered to the hardwood floors underneath. After a vigorous effort, I was able to remove the adhesive from the hardwood floors. However, disposing of the large area rug stumped me.

Since the local bulk disposal day was months away, I thought about cutting the rug into smaller rolls. However, the carpet was quite fibrous and had a thick canvas edge. I wasn’t confident that my regular scissors would do the trick and searched for carpet knife, only to discover that it was actually a real thing. So, I headed to Home Depot to pick up the Personna Pro Folding Carpet Knife. For $9.37 + tax, it was worth a gamble.

The moment I made my first cut, I could not stop smiling. That knife slid through that carpet like butter. The canvas edge took a few extra cuts, but I had the rug cut into strips and bundled for the regular garbage pick-up so quickly.


Dyson DC56 Spring Replacement

Dyson DC56 Latch

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!


LED Linear Tubes

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.


LED Replacement for Fluorescent Task Lights

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.

4 Feet LED Linear Tubes

I might need to chart how often the lights aggravate me each week, and then decide whether to pony up the 30 bucks.


Life Span of a Toto Toilet Handle

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.


New Battery for Roomba

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.


Garage Organization

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.

Costco Shelving


Toto Toilet Doesn’t Stop Running

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.

Toto Toilet Handle

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.


How Much Money Can You Save By Switching to LEDs?

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.