Archive for the house tech Category

hot water heater not so hot? turn it up!

Posted in house tech with tags on January 8, 2017 by marksun

D been complaining that we doesn’t have enough hot water – runs out for during a long shower.  She says it is a recent behavior in the past couple of months.    I have noticed at times that a shower is just fine but I sometimes have to set to the maximum  hot setting on the shower valve.  I take shorter showers.  This has been long-standing I believe.  Also note that it is winter now and it is about 10 degrees colder in the house than summer.

Kenmore Power Miser 6
Installed: 1/4/2006
Source: Sears

I have been wondering if we should replace the heater even as a pre-emptive measure.  Friend Cowboy who is a contractor thinks it should be good to go for 15 or 20 years.  For now, we’ll play with it.  Couldn’t hurt to drain it one day either and see if there is corrosion.

Today I made thermostat changes.  Turned off power to heater, adjusted, power back on around 1125.  The two thermostats look different ( i.e. bottom is just a screw, bottom has pointer and A B C markings ).  Both adjust with a flathead screwdriver.

1/8/17:  made an incremental adjustment to increase temp to top and bottom thermostats:

  1. Top element, moved set dial from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock with flathead
  2. Bottom element, moved dial from full left to “A” position.

Amazon Fire Remote Stops Working

Posted in house tech, household appliances with tags , , , on November 9, 2016 by marksun

The Amazon Fire started complaining about low batteries in the remote one day.  After a while I got tired of that so I replaced the batteries with new Duracell alkalines.  Then the remote stopped working altogether.  Lucky I have an Android app for fire TV which works. In the meantime- after a few tries to reseat the batteries, it started working again.

Couple days later, the remote is intermittent.  It turns on the device, we watch something, try to pause, the remote is not working.

This time, I tried Corrosion Block with a qtip, reinsert batteries.  Remote doesn’t work at first, then starts working.

Two possible things going on.   1) clean contacts may be necessary.   2) blue tooth or wi fi pairing may have to occur

A YouTube video demos  Amazon advice to hold the home button for five to ten seconds. This apparently starts the blue-tooth ( or possibly wi-fi direct) pairing process.  Once started, pairing completion can be immediate or longer – maybe many seconds, who knows.  My experience sounds like pairing lag and suggests that this time can vary. Wireless networking auto-connect is one of those voodoo processes that are hard to second guess.   When it works well great, but sometimes it take a while before it starts to work (or break, again).

Somehow I bet that it is the blue-tooth all along and the playing with the remote got the pairing started.  But I’m not sure about this.   Whatever, remotes working now.

Good luck – hope this helps.

Sugar loving Ants

Posted in ants, house tech with tags on October 6, 2016 by marksun

6 Oct 16 Sugar loving ants have become a pest in the kitchen.  I found the little bottle of prepared borax based ant killer (Terro  Ant Killer) and put out some feeding stations.

In an hour or so, the ants found it and eagerly mopped up what must appear to them to be a mountain of sweet syrup.  They got more to what is about 1cc or ml, total.  I also followed them around and soon traced them to a gap in the lanai wall.  Soon there will not be a gap there but first lets see if the poison works.

Jan 27 2017 – the ants are now potato chip loving ants.  Wierd.  They are still around.  It has been very dry all of January.

Washer Repair – September 2016

Posted in house tech, household appliances with tags , , on September 16, 2016 by marksun
Screen Shot 2016-09-16 at 12.18.39 AM.pngThe washer stopped working on a  Frigidaire Model GLEH1642FS1 Washer Drier combo unit in the rental unit we call the Round House.  When I get there, there is  water in tub that won’t pump out.  The timer dial does not work.  “Door Lock” light is on.
I was introduced to a website called Parts Select with good troubleshooting and repair information for this specific model.
Ordered the part below  and installed it.  It is possible to shop around – and I suppose that the buyer be best aware of the possibility of cheap knockoffs.
Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 11.50.27 PM.png
In testing I note that the “door lock” light stays lit through the whole cycle – makes sense, the door is locked.

Hot but no cold water wash

I also found out (after ordering the door lock/switch)  that for some time, the washer can only wash with hot water.  Cold water does not flow into washer.
Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 11.49.29 PM.png
Indication is that the main water valve is bad and should be replaced.

This repair is pending
partselect information link this video

9/22/16  Sourced
Other items to put the washer back online:
1) REPLACE THE RUBBER HOSE WITH BRAID or STEEL – (bursting hazard so it will protect the house in the long run – hoses are already kind of old)
2) put the cover back on the back ( big spinning drum should be protected )
This unit has required maintenance over the years, mainly do it yourself, but fortunately, parts are readily available.  Frigidaire, and other brands use the same OEM parts, so underneath all the branding, there is some convergence of common parts.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call this standardization, but it is a good thing.  This particular washer drier OEM says Electrolux on the label inside the door.
We thought about replacing the unit but after seeing the ready availability of parts, it seems worthwhile to just keep repairing this thing.  It is space saving and a good size for a rental.  The dual unit does have obvious drawbacks and makes replacement problematic down the line as it is likely only the washer OR drier will fail, so you’d end up chucking a working unit.  I did note that the washer is a one size load – no small medium large as I am accustomed to with a normal full size washer.

Vertical Blinds – Aiea- Aug 2016

Posted in house tech with tags , on August 5, 2016 by marksun

I installed vertical blinds upstairs in 2005.  Recently, the mechanism to close the blinds broke.  I found the exact replacement at Home Depot Pearl City.

Source: Home Depot -78×84 Crown Vertical Blinds  $60  – Cottage White.

Replaced the center track and that was it.   Dissected the broken one and was able to repair it.  The gearing would not engage  with the rotating track rail.  The pinion gear engages a spur gear that drives a worm gear. The worm gear engages the track rail to make it rotate- clever.   Anyway,put this up in the spare bedroom to replace a beaten up roll down shade.


windows 8.1 cannot connect to this network

Posted in Computers, house tech with tags on May 16, 2016 by marksun

One day this  Asus SonicMaster Core i3 Win 8.1 laptop got turned on and the wifi was down with the error “Cannot connect to this network.”   No amount of troubleshooting on the laptop fixed it.

The last thing I did – logged into the router admin menu with a browser and checked the router security config.

Post-script – I didn’t reset the router by unplugging at this point.   In retrospect, you should try this first!

Cause – the router security configurations changed from WPA2 Personal, to WPA2/WPA Mixed Mode Personal.  Why? I don’t recall.  No doubt however that it was me that changed it – probably several days ago because I am working on this network a lot – certainly by mistake since we’re using WPA2 Personal .  Did not catch it because no other device was affected including the Amazon Fire box (which would have brought the house down).

Fix – change router security to WPA2 Personal

Outcome: Windows 8.1 box regained network connectivity.


The short life of a GE Helical 26w light

Posted in house tech with tags on September 16, 2015 by marksun

RIP – 22Nov2014 to 16 Sep 2015

This bulb – most likely a Costco item, is supposed to last 9 years.  Tonight I replaced it with an LED 60W equivalent – also from Costco, after less than 1 year.  This gets me wondering …  So a quick look with Uncle Google and it would seelm that GE helicals have a short, sometimes extremely short life, some literally explode. I suppose some simply burn out after a few months of use and maybe some actually last for years.  Who knows? How would you know?  How did GE calculate the life expectancy of these bulbs made in China?

The compact florescent lights (CFLs) have replaced the incandescent light bulbs of yore because of their much lower energy usage, but now I wonder about this whole business of marketing – exagerating, lying (?) about this product.  Who actually goes through the trouble to return a defective light bulb with the receipt ?  Not me.

But I’m done with CFLs and it’s LEDs for me – the best are fine  technology, the worst … must be something less.   I’ve used LED flashlights – and some of the finest and most expensive lights on the market are LED flashlights, and they are superb.  The el cheapo’s are something less than superb.  So it must be with household lights for 120V.