Tag: repairs

Refrigerator shelf repair

A few years ago, I looked into buying replacement plastic door shelves for our Bosch (not a good brand when licensed to Brazilians, unfortunately) refrigerator, and they were available from a place in London. I put it off, though, and discovered a year or two ago that they are no longer available for our model. Uh-oh.

But our refrigerator guys were here at some point last year installing a DC split (heating/cooling) unit in our bedroom. DC because a DC motor can be variable speed, unlike AC, so you don’t get crazy noise, and temperature fluctuations. This is helpful if, for example, you’re trying to sleep. We put the previous unit downstairs in the dining room, where it performs admirably despite its diminutive size.

I asked the refrigerator guys about the plastic door shelves. And as an aside pointed out the long dent in the side of the refrigerator that had appeared after they removed it for repairs, a year or three before. The more senior of the two, in his 30s, was horrified at that revelation and offered to fix the shelves for free with epoxy. Can’t complain!

Well, yes, actually can, even for a free job, where a few days turns into a few weeks, and we have to wait a few further weeks for the sticky epoxy to set, since apparently mixing equal amounts of Part A and Part B (thoroughly) presents challenges I am unable to fathom.

Alas, yesterday we realized that the bottom shelf was falling apart, probably because it’s the recipient of the heaviest loads. I consulted with Nico, font of knowledge specializing in the Uruguayan knack of fixing anything with anything, and he suggested I heat plastic with a candle to bend it. (Last time I heated plastic to bend it was around 1974, working in a screen printing shop and making little countertop displays.) I had leftover acrylic from fixing shattered glass in a door window in a casita where a certain muchacho lived for several years, and it worked like a charm. Well, excepting soot.

repairing refrigerator shelf door with acrylic sheet and epoxy

Of course this involved fun with dangerous power tools, in this case my table saw with all safety “features” removed immediately. I marked the depth of each tab cut with a marker. The only problem I had was lifting one tab to put epoxy underneath. It was tight and broke. But there are ten others that “have its back.”

It feels very strong now. We’ll see!



Worn out, burned out

While waiting for the repair guy coming to replace the heating element (resistencia) in our water heater, I took a picture of my flip-flops. They’ve lasted at least a year and yes, the grass is showing through the right heal.

Worn out flip flops and burned-out water heater element

I often have to wait outside to wave people down, since my telephone explanations of how to get here are remarkably and consistently misunderstood. Today’s communications snafu also started on the wrong foot, as I didn’t really know how to answer an incoming call on my new smart phone. Seriously.

handwritten repair bill, Uruguay

Here’s the bill: visit, heating element, and cablingactually for the toll, since he came from Montevideo (it should have been 160 pesos, but then he probably charged it to everybody this side of the peaje).

1,000 pesos is around USD 36.

And if that 1,000 on the bill looks like 7,000 to you, you might share my fascination with Uruguayan handwriting.



Appliance repair

In-home appliance repair doesn’t break the bank


I’ve taken apart this beast several times, most recently to replace the belt, but when it ceased producing heat recently I felt a bit out of my league, and called the appliance repair people, for whom I had several phone numbers. But now one: I guess it’s now the appliance repair guy.

Whatever, from his high-speed mumbling on the phone Friday I got the idea he would be here Saturday afternoon. A bit after 5 PM Saturday, I called again. I can’t say for sure why, but this time the high-speed mumbling left a warm fuzzy feeling.

And a few minutes later, a 30 year-old car pulled into the driveway. Repairman, maybe older than the car, maybe not, with MSC (company name) jacket and toolbox comes through the front door (“Con permiso”). Removes top of clothes drier, starts extracting burned plastic bits, explains in high-speed mumbling that iit’s a burned connector. He’ll replace, but it happens again we’ll have to replace the heating element. Which I had assumed was the problem to begin with.

OK, it wasn’t quite that direct. In addition to having to ask him to repeat everything (something which, I’m happy to report, rarely happens to me by now), I was puzzled by “la resistencia.” Perhaps a bit of cognitive dissonance trying to conflate Latin American political history with appliance repair, then the shoulda-been obvious chimed in. “La resistencia” means the resistence heating element (think wire that, instead of conducting electricity, resists it, turning the electrical energy into heat).

Delighted at my own slightly-delayed ascertainment of the relatively obvious, I shared with him that English term is “element.” Of course, it’s not exactly: it would be “heating element,” or better, “resistance heating element,” Fortunately, my attempt to excuse my ignorance proved uninteresting and irrelevant, and with a brief feint of interest from him, that was done.

The clothes drier works again. Maybe not for long. But the appliance guy came to our house, and fixed the clothes drier, and it cost US$10 total.

So, thinking back to when I called Sears repair in the late 1990s, gave them the model number of my mother’s clothes drier, and said the belt was broken, and they showed (with no parts) to determine the model number and diagnose broken belt—for $49—so, just curious, what would this episode cost now in North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa?

Meet Luis, Señor increible

The bearings on my 6-year old wheelbarrow broke. You can’t replace them. You can’t buy a replacement wheel with the same size axle.

A South African guy named Geoff told me about buying a replacement wheel, then taking it to this guy who fabricated an axle to make it work on his wheelbarrow. So I went to buy the wheel, then after some discussion with the muchacho at the ferreteria (hardware store), decided it might be prudent to discuss it with Mr. Fixit, Luis, before purchasing it.

Luis said he could make a solution out of plastic that would solve the problem for a long time. Come back at the end of the day. So I did, to find custom-fabricated plastic bearings (they would be a T in cross-section, with perfectly fitting rubber grommets.

“Put a little grease on it when you put it back together,” he said, “and you’ll have no problem.”

“You should see what I can do when I get serious about this shit.”

And the cost? 200 pesos, around $7 US.





Cleaning gal (once a week, $150/~U$S6 per hour) wasn’t here five minutes before wheeling into the sliding door with her knee. Events not clear, but apparently an attention-hungry Shi-Tzuh played a part in distracting her. No harm beyond the door.

Alas, it’s Carnaval, and anyone who could repair it ain’t gonna — everything closed.

(And duct tape — even real ‘Murkan duct tape — sucks. There was cardboard on this side as well.)

We couldn’t get too upset, having just heard that Patricia, single mother of five teenagers, has been kicked out of her stepmother’s house and all are living in one room.* Talk about stress.

But it reminds me of a previous cleaning lady breaking a [replacement] coffeemaker glass pot days after we bought it. Which is why we now exclusively use the stainless steel French press our neighbors and friends brought us from Canada.

* update: only she and two kids; the other three are staying with their father

Further addendum: what’s wrong with this picture? The sliding door is made with window glass, not tempered glass, which is pretty much in line with Uruguay being behind northern North America by 50 years in some ways. My father walked through a door like this in 1965 in southern California. In northern (I add northern because some ‘Murkans remain unaware that Mexico is part of North America) North America, she would have had to have something like a metal kneepad, and a serious intent to destroy the door.