Over the years I have been doing some repairs and upkeep of various things at home. Most of the things are simple and you probably already know them. But I thought I will just list some of the things I learned. My first piece of advice is that if something breaks, try to repair instead of replacing it. Most likely you are capable of repairing. You just don’t know it yet :). The internet is full of helpful people giving excellent advice on how to repair. What is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t know how to repair? You will break it further and then you can replace it, which is what you were planning to do anyway. You might have wasted a couple of Sunday afternoons trying to repair, but the knowledge you gain and the fun you have putting things together is amazing.
That is precisely what I did when my TV stopped working because of a voltage spike way back in 2013. The TV is protected by a voltage stabilizer so the power supply wasn’t the problem. The high voltage passed through the HDMI cable from my media center PC which was not protected from voltage surge. Anyway, the TV would not turn on. It was receiving power and when I power it on, the LED blinks for a few seconds and turns off but the TV would not boot.
I searched around on the internet for the specific issue and found out a few blogs and videos on how one can narrow down on which part went up the flames. I opened the TV’s back cover and tested each board for malfunction. I used a video similar to this one to figure out which board was causing the problem. The main board was the culprit.
Since I bought this TV in the US and brought it along when we moved to India, the parts are not available here. Thankfully I was still working at the time and I used to travel to the US at least once a year on business trips. So I asked a friend of mine to purchase the part and keep it with him. I picked it up from him on one of those work related trips. Then I replaced the board and fingers crossed, it worked! While the board itself was a bit expensive at $200, I did not mind it considering that the TV itself cost me $2000 in 2010.
The same issue happened again for another reason and the main board died again, this time in 2015. These Vizio TVs supposedly have this problem. Anyway I again replaced the board for another $200. But by this time it did not seem like a great replacement given that the prices of a 55” LCD TVs have come down quite a bit by 2015.
Another thing that we like to do is to keep things well oiled. Not always in the literal sense though. Basically I blow out dust from most electronics every few months. I have a repeating calendar event that reminds me when cleaning is due. I use the exhaust side of a vacuum cleaner to blow out dust from electronics. These include computer fans (we have 3 laptops and a media center to clean), keyboards of all the laptops, external keyboards, harddisks, backup drives, UPS, Solar charge controller, batteries, amplifier boards (for my 5.1 AVR) etc.
I also like to clean up software. Any software that is not used for some time needs to go out. Otherwise cruft builds up and the laptops, tablets, mobile phones etc slow down. We clean our washing machine following this excellent video. We started cleaning the coils and fan of our refrigerator after a recent repair.
I oil my gym equipment from time to time otherwise the weights don’t move smoothly. Same with my kids cycle. I apply vaseline on car and UPS battery terminals to reduce corrosion. Toping up the lead acid batteries with distilled water is another thing. Wiping dust off the solar panels and cleaning with a wet cloth once a week to keep the efficiency high. Vacuum clean the railings of sliding doors to make them slide smoothly. You can also use WD-40 help smooth the wheels. All this in the hope that they will last a long time :). If you know any other tricks, do let me know in the comments below.
One thing which I don’t do and I really like to take care of, are my vehicles. I send them to regular servicing, but if I can learn to do it myself like replacing engine oil and filters then that would be awesome. My dad used to disassemble his then Bajaj Chetak scooter, clean all the dust that built up and even cleaned the spark plugs. Perhaps I should have paid a little more attention back then and I would have learned a thing or two by now.
I hope that by watching us do some repairs and building our own things at home, it will encourage our daughter to follow the same in future and be more environmentally friendly while being frugal at the same time. As long as she keeps a small footprint and reduces the burden on earth’s resources I will be a happy parent. I would like her to be more environmentally conscious and less consumer friendly, but I would neither tell her that or nudge her in that direction because I want to stay open to the marvelous mysteries of life. Life just flows and we watch, notice and enjoy – not control!