The icemaker in my refrigerator stopped working.
Forethinking individual that I am, I have a homeowner’s warranty to cover this. For a mere $60, they send a refrigeration specialist to fix whatever is wrong, even if that means replacing the refrigerator. (Not likely for this scenario, but comforting nevertheless.)
The refrigerator repairman came, listened to my description of the issue, and asked how was the water flow. Since we never use the water dispenser in the door (we have a water purifier with a nice-sized reservoir for drinking water), I didn’t know, and it had never occurred to me to check. He held a cup under the dispenser; water trickled out like ice melting off a ledge on a 34-degree day.
“The line’s bad,” he said. “Tell the plumber you need a quarter-inch saddle valve. That will fix it.” A relatively cheap education for $60.
I found a plumber on Angie’s List and scheduled an appointment for Presidents Day, when I knew I’d be home. In the interim, research showed it didn’t require a master’s degree in Plumbing Science to replace a saddle valve. The part was $5-$10, and it was nothing more complicated than shutting off the water, disconnecting the old valve, and putting the new in exactly the same place. Piece of cake.
But it was water. Bad experiences at a previous abode have made me paranoid about water issues. It seeks its own level, and that level can be up to my ears while I’m laying in bed. I’m also not the handiest person in the world; switching out the storm windows for screens has been a three hour chore, and the screens and storms were self-contained. Still, I had myself half talked into doing it when Snowpocalypse 2010 struck, leaving me plenty of time to work, but no way to get the part.
The hell with it; I let the plumber come as scheduled. Two professional, courteous gentleman shut off the water, took off the old valve, and put a new one in exactly the same place for $199, including $45 for the part. (Yes, I know.) The plumber sent me upstairs to try the water dispenser. Nada.
He looked confused when I told him, for maybe ten seconds. Then he said, “When’s the last time you changed the filter?”
So far it’s cost me $259 to learn I needed a $26 filter that I could have bought right from the get-go to uphold the basic principle of troubleshooting: Is it plugged in? Always start with the simplest thing to check and the cheapest to replace first, then work your way up.
I told you I wasn’t very handy.