One bonobo's view of the world...and stuff.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why I hate DIY

In Human Factors/ Ergonomics, we sometimes talk about ‘Maintenance Induced Latent Errors’ – that is, when someone’s fixing something, they make a mistake which is not noticed at the time but which later has disastrous consequences.

This is why I hate DIY.

So…I get a desperate phone call from home yesterday saying the washing machine’s broken. As soon as I get home I go to fix it – the start button has slipped back and got jammed behind the fascia. (By the way…this was my second repair of the week. Last week I had to put the drive belt back on. A charlatan of a repairman tried to sell us a new circuit board!). To get at the buttons I have to get the top off the machine, which meant pulling it out from the kitchen units. This proves difficult, because one of the legs has come off and it keeps on jamming on a gap in the flooring, and I end up having to pull the tumble drier out also to get at it – which means untaping the vent hose from the duct in the wall. Anyway – I do all that, and fixing the button is a doddle (Couple of screws for the top cover, unclip the circuit board, clip the button unit back into its mounting – repeat in reverse). Then all I have to do is re-tape the tumble drier hose and put it back…But the washing machine is still hard to budge, so I decide to fix the leg back on (by a miracle I know it’s in the cutlery drawer). This means tilting the machine on its side and simply screwing the leg back in. Problem is – I can’t tilt it because it’s constrained by the feed and drain hoses and electrical cable. So I unplug it, unscrew the jubilee clip on the drain hose under the sink and turn off and unscrew the feed hose from the water supply (with a minor panic when I find there’s a second, old and disused hose which I inadvertently turn on, causing a minor flood). Anyway…I do all that, on goes the foot, I slide the machine back in place and connect everything up again. By now my work clothes are filthy and partially soaked (never mind – dress down day tomorrow), so I go upstairs and change. Then I go back into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, and while the kettle’s boiling I notice there’s some dishes in the sink basin. So I tilt the basin to empty out the gungey solution of yesterday’s rice…Strange…Why are my feet so getting wet? Yup, you guessed it…I’ve forgotten to refit the drain hose from the washing machine and the sink is draining through where it’s meant to go. And, of course, the hose has been pulled out of the kitchen cabinet so I have to pull the machine out to get it.

But that’s just a simple DIY job. Suppose, though, that it’s a complicate chemical plant of the cooling system of a nuclear reactor. Do you reckon they’re any better? I’m afraid to have to tell you that experience suggests not.

5 comments:

woodpigeon said...

I hate DIY too. Isn't that what they gave us father-in-laws for? Any time we want him to stick holes in walls we call him.

The worst house problems, I have found are leaks. The ones dripping from the ceiling. I get a persistent urge to sell the house there and then, but to no avail.

psychocandy said...

I am sometimes SO glad I do not own my home. Now I remember why I feel that way so often.

Edward the Bonobo said...

Sticking holes in the wall...

My pal Yeuchter Iain told me a great story about working as a sparks. One Sunday, he and his mate fouled up and put a hole through a water pipe. Iain was holding on tight while his mate went to phone for an emergency plumber. His mate came back and said :
"I've got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that the plumber cannae come for another hour. The good news is that they've let Nelson Mandela out of jail."

(We'd been reminiscing about being part of the huge crowd that turned out on a filthy wet day to see Mandela receive the Freedom of the City of Glasgow. Glasgow was one of the first cities to award him the honour - while he was still in jail - amd to nme a square after him. What I hadn't known is that Mandela Place housed the South African consulate.)

healingmagichands said...

I hate DIY because it always takes twice as long as you think it is going to and costs 3 times as much. Plus it involved tools being removed from toolboxes and then invariably not put back there but left on the kitchen counter or on top of the drier or somewhere where the tool user can't remember 3 months later when he needs them again for the next DIY project.

Anonymous said...

I once spent a day working with my dad to change the cistern in a house my wife and I rented.

It was a badly beaten up bakerlite monstrosity that needed pumping to make flush. So dad had a spare ready to go.

After several hours of battening walls and reforging pipe connections on came the water... which gushed out the back from a great big crack! Only for my dad to say "Ah! that's why we never used that cistern"

So then some more hours removing battening and reforging pipes as the newly purchased cistern was a slightly different size.

So yes, I hate DIY. Something always goes wrong, you always have to buy a tool or tools you'll only ever use once and most definitely there will be a hidden consequence!