I’ve never been particularly handy around the home, but I haven’t let that lack of ability stop me from both breaking things (as I try to fix something else) and creating more problems than I solve.
At least I try (Dad always told me, “Don’t just stand there, do something,” and I guess I take that literally). I’m also trying to instill that “try hard” ethic in my kids, so when opportunities come up at home to fix or repair something I try to involve one or more of the kids so they can use it as a learning opportunity.
Last year our water heater was acting up … it would still heat the water, but it was slow and the water wasn’t getting all that hot. It seemed like one of the two heating elements wasn’t working. I went to the hardware store, found a matching element, and took it home to try.
My oldest son (whom I’ll call “Son Eldest” in this story, appropriately enough) and I went into the crawl space underneath the house where we keep our water heater. I had a wrench that looked like the right size, but after about ten minutes of not getting the heating element to budge.
I decided I needed to take another approach. It looked like it had perhaps partially rusted into the body of the water tank, so I decided to go get some WD-40 and see if I could loosen it up.
I left the crawl space, went to the garage, and returned a minute later.
I sprayed the WD-40 and set the can down. I waited a minute or two, and Son Eldest and I chatted about random things. I picked up the wrench and tried. No success.
Then I decided to get serious, so I put my whole body into it, bending my knees and putting as much of my weight on that wrench as I could. Suddenly I heard a “shhhhhhhh” sound.
“Son Eldest, did you hear that? I think we have a leak somewhere.”
“Son, I’m going to pull down on this wrench again. Listen for the sound.”
Again, I bent my knees and put all my weight into pulling down on the wrench. Shhhhhh, the sound repeated.
“Yep, we’ve got a leak, Son.”
“I wonder if it’s a leak in the drain valve.”
“I hope it’s not a leak in the base.”
“Let me try it again. Tell me if you can tell where the sound is coming from.”
“What is it Son?”
“When you kneel, you’re sitting on the can of WD-40. The spray is what’s making the noise.”
I reached back and felt my bottom.
Son Eldest was right.
And my bottom didn’t squeak for months after that.