Weekly Wire
Nashville Scene Triple Trouble

Moving parts equal heartache.

By Walter Jowers

JUNE 15, 1998:  A couple of weeks ago, co-inspector Rick had a little trouble with his clothes dryer. One day, it dried clothes just fine; the next day, when he hit the Go button, nothing happened. So he called a dryer repair guy.

"No big deal," the dryer guy said. "It's just the switch." So he put a new switch in, collected his money, and rode off into the sunset.

The next day, Rick hit the Go button, and nothing happened again. The dryer guy came back and said, "No big deal, it's just the belt."

The dryer ran fine for a couple of days. But then, don't you know, it stopped working yet again. This time, the problem was the motor. So Rick paid the dryer guy to put in a new motor.

Most things with moving parts break down the way this dryer did. Y'see, the switch probably blew because of the extra load that the tired, old overheated motor put on it. Same with the belt. Once those parts were replaced, the motor didn't have any weak parts left to blow out, so it blew itself out.

Now Rick has, for all intents and purposes, a new dryer. The only old parts are the metal case and the drum. Those should last forever.

The same week, Rick's garage-door opener blew. When he pressed the button on the opener's remote control, the opener just hummed. No door action.

Believe it or not, there are some sorry-ass individuals who use this very problem as an excuse to stay home from work. Back when wife Brenda was doing hospital nursing, she dreaded stormy weather. She knew that if there were any power failures around town, there was a fair chance that her relief person would call in saying she had to stay home because her car was stranded inside her garage.

You people who've been trapped by a dead garage door, I've got three words for you: Pull the rope. I'm talking about the rope and handle that hang down from the arm that attaches the garage door to the overhead guide. It's not there for decoration. It's there to let you release the door from the opener mechanism, so you can operate the door manually. The rope is there to make sure you can go to work. So go--people are counting on you.

The day after the garage-door opener blew, there was a big storm in Rick's neighborhood. The wind blew Rick's cable-TV wire right down to the ground.

Now, this was a big problem, because when Rick and his family bought the house five years ago, they were delighted to find that the cable TV was already hooked up and working just dandy. If the cable snapped, that would be the end of free cable TV at Rick's house.

So Rick carefully tied the TV cable to a pair of trees and figured he'd fix it permanently the next morning. But that night, one of Rick's daughters had some company over, and one of the visiting cars blocked the driveway. When Rick's son Eric came home, he swung just wide of the driveway so he could get to his usual parking spot.

Eric never saw the low-hanging TV cable. He drove his truck right into it, snatching it right off the utility pole.

When Rick told me about this, I asked him, "So, are you going to call the cable company and see if they'll come fix it? I'll betcha it'll still be free, because there's almost no chance that the repair crew will have any contact with the billing people. Shoot, you might end up with free movie channels."

"Nah," Rick said. "I figure I've used up all my cable-TV luck. I called PrimeStar. Now I've got so many channels, by the time I can flip through them all, a whole bunch of different shows have started."

There are two lessons here. One is that weirdness comes threes. I can vouch for this better than anybody, because I know three three-nippled people personally--and I met them all at about the same time. That singular event put me at the center of a cluster of three people, each of whom had a cluster of three nipples.

The other lesson is that we home-inspection guys, even with our heads full of home-repair knowledge, don't know ahead of time when things are going to break.

Visit Walter's Web site at http://www.nash-scene.com/~housesense. Or e-mail him at walter.jowers@nashville.com.

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