Thursday, December 05, 2013

Finding the lemonade out of the lemons

Maintaining a household is not cheap.

After about 2.5 yrs of wear and tear through usage and plain old 'depreciation', things start to break up a little for my home. Initially when well informed friends told me that I need to set up a fund to pay for such eventualities, I brushed them off saying that there's no need for such things and I can live with the wear and tear. I bravely and foolishly thought that it's just cosmetics (I can live with that). Nope, things can wear off to such an extent that they don't work anymore.

Here's my list of breakdowns in the last 2-3 months:

1. Home's air con

For my air con at home, it's quite important to have it to work properly because I switch it on whenever I hold lessons at home. My wife also can't live without it so she'll complain that it's so hot and all. Initially the problem is that the air con didn't seem to blow out cold air, so I thought that it needed servicing. However, the problem didn't go away so I've to sent a team to inspect and find out what's wrong. It needed a change in the motor so I've no choice but to order the parts and have it fixed.

Cost: $140 for servicing + $306 for changing of motor
Total : $446

The lemonade out of the lemon: The problem got to the point where before I switched the air con on, I'll do a little rain dance and talk to the compressor, coaxing it to work and not give up on me. Occasionally it'll try but most of the time it'll splutter and die. I'm super thankful that it did work even though it's ill. For the times that it didn't work, I'll just tell my wife that Mr Air con is having a bad day and he's not cooperative. It's quite fun personifying the air con as being temperamental. Oh no, it's not spoilt - it has character.

Mine's something like this, also from Daikin.

2. Car's air con

For my car's air con, the compressor is making a hell lot of noise when it's stationary. I was told that the symptoms will become worse as time progresses until eventually it'll not blow out cold air at all. I thought I'll get it fix the next time I go for my bi-annual servicing, and it'll probably cost maybe 1k? Ouch.

Cost: currently none, but estimated to be 1k

The lemonade out of the lemon: I discovered the joy of winding down the windows and enjoying the breeze whenever I drive! It's so addictive that we do it all the time except when we're stuck in a jam (which isn't that often) and when we enter an basement car park. Doing this is not only good for improving one's mood when driving, but it also saves a lot of fuel. I guesstimate it saves another 20 - 30% on fuel consumption. Instead of pumping fuel every 7 days, now it can drag to 9 or 10 days before needing a refuel.

I should get a car like that. But then, I forgot we're in Singapore lol

3. Kitchen tap leaking

My kitchen tap keeps dripping water. Not only is the noise irritating, but it's a real waste of water. On average, it can fill a 600 ml water bottle overnight. I wanted to find a plumber to do it but didn't really have any good contacts, so I keep procrastinating the repair. Eventually I got so fed up that I looked up you tube to see if I can fix it myself. I wanted to be self reliance instead of asking someone to fix everything in modern life.

Cost: none

The lemonade out of the lemon: Again, I personify the leaking tap as a old cranky person who is having a flu. Instead of being angry at the problem, I see it as a person needing help. Oh, how re-framing the problem helps so much! I remembered that I was at the kitchen sink trying to figure out what's wrong with the cranky tap. Somehow I realised that by turning off the tap gently, the problem can be reduced drastically. Counting the time between drips, it can change from 1s (very very fast drips) to 8s (tolerably slow drips) just by turning the tap gently! I don't know the reason why but it works that way. Because of this episode of dripping taps, I started putting a water bottle to catch all the runaway water to reuse. This act also started off a series of actions that makes me water to conserve water. I started to become more conscious of how much water we use and see what ways we can recycle them. To update, this leaking tap problem solved itself one day. As sudden as it came, as sudden as it went. Today, it no longer drips at all. Perhaps the lesson from this episode had been learnt. Or perhaps the tap recovered from his flu.

LOL! Lemonade taps

4. Windows at balcony dripping water

Whenever there is a super heavy rain with the wind blowing from a certain direction, my balcony will have water gushing out from the gaps between the frame and the window. It is so bad that I can collect a medium sized pail of water when it happens. My neighbor directly below my unit also complains that his ceiling is bloated with water retention so the town council stepped in and tried to solve the problem. The problem is attributed to some external wall and they are sending contractors to rectify it (at no cost to me, thankfully). But I suspect the inspector made an observational error. I didn't tell him at that time because I wasn't I think even after the repairs had been done, we'll still be in the same situation. We'll take one step at a time.

Cost: Tens of dollars (see below)

The lemonade out of the lemon: I tried to make some repairs to bridge the gap between the window frame and the window itself by getting some silicon sealant from DIY shops. It worked, but it wasn't an elegant solution, so I redid it again. This time, I bought foam tapes from Daiso. It should work now because since I installed it like 2 months ago, there's no more water gushing out. Then again, this problem only comes when it rains a certain degree of intensity and the wind comes from a certain angle, so I wasn't sure if my newest solution is a success or it simply hadn't been tested. We'll see. But this desire to be as self reliant as possible makes me want to learn how to solve my leaking tap issues. In modern life, we forgot how to live and we always solve problems by outsourcing to specialist. We should try to capture that can-do spirit as much as possible again.

This is something like the contraption I use to catch those gushing water

In summary, I think I was pretty methodical in solving my those little problems that crop up in my household. Scientific even. Re-framing a problems helps to put it in a different light. Try it! Always look on the bright side of lie :)


AK71 said...

Need sinking fund. Otherwise, we could be sunk. :)

CreateWealth8888 said...

During your year-end budgetting exercise, look around at aging household items that may need to be repaired or replaced in the following, and set aside this R&R budget.

My 15HWW said...

Hi LP,

I do know that the quality of applicances are going down since people like to change and upgrade.

But I am surprised it's that bad these days? 2.5 years seems quite a short time.

I do hope that my stuff will give me few problems for the next 5 years but guess better not be so hopeful.

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Ya, maybe this should be a semi-emergency fund haha :) But I do keep aside a small amount, a few hundreds per year, for such unplanned maintenance these days, after these experience.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Oh, I didn't do that. I'm trying to put aside a small sum, like $30 per month and let it roll. It accumulated for a few months before being wiped out because of my home's air con repair. $300 plus gone :(

la papillion said...

Hi 15HWW,

Yes, I agree. Planned obsolescence they call it. Sign of the times I guess, where people don't want durable goods because they want to change after a few years.

I heard that 5 yrs is about the average time people need to do a major repair for airconditioning. Lesser if you use less frequently. I switch on fairly consistently, but do not switch it on throughout the night. Perhaps I'm just unlucky and got a dud.

You better set aside some funds for such things lol

Anonymous said...

Hey could I know how the foam tape looks like ?
Got the same issue with leaking windows. Thks!

Anonymous said...

My agent has lobang for second hand motor for air-con when mine broke down. $300 net only, motor cost$150 iirc...

Air-con men say new model air-con only last 5-7 years, if last 10 years, you got a loyal servant already.

My dad old air-con lasted almost 20 years until it was replaced recently (i am not kidding..), granted they don't switch on the air-con every night... but older things seem to last longer.

Hope older humans last longer too..

la papillion said...

Hi anon,

Give me an email? I need to show you pictures.

la papillion said...

Hi sillyinvestor,

Yes! My old aircon also never had to undergo any major repairs at all! Things are not as well built as they are in the past...sigh

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

New air-cons have invertor technology. 4 ticks! Or at least 3 ticks.

Save energy. Save money.

However, if they break down more often, how to save money? ;p

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Ya exactly, it's supposed to be energy saving, but if it keeps breaking down, it's not money saving!

Really nonsense..

JayDoubleU said...

water tap leakage is due to wear and tear of the ball bearing inside. old days taps were alot better with orings. nowadays merchants cut corner.