Rating the worst home repair mistake I ever made would be as simple as herding a bunch of rabid cats. I’ve had enough mishaps to fill my own “Dummies” book.
Like the time I decided to do some electrical work with a brand new pair of Lyman’s pliers. I had never used them and was so excited I didn’t turn off the electricity at the breaker box like I normally do. I simply switched off the light switch.
I can’t describe the bright flash of light, the tingly feeling or the fact I almost went flying off my porch. I kept those pliers (that now have a quarter-inch hole melted in them) as a reminder to respect electricity (and remember my limitations).
I wish I had learned better from the “pliers experience.” But, alas, I didn’t learn well enough.
The pliers experience was bad, but it wasn’t the worst home repair mistake I ever made. That was reserved for later in life when I had had my fill of the do-it-yourself bug and bought our second home, a non-fixer-upper. It was the perfect house, except for the leaky skylight.
I can handle this, I thought to myself. How hard can fixing a leaky skylight be? I soon found out.
The original leak wasn’t big, more like a small indoor fountain than anything else, but its perpetual drip became annoying enough to unnerve the most patient of people. I figured something that small would take a simple fix.
So I scampered to the roof on my faithful six-foot ladder with tar-bucket in hand and began to slather generous amounts of lap-cement all around the skylight. I went quite a ways up the roof because I didn’t want the tar to become a dam and make the leak worse.
When I stepped back, I saw a smooth, attractive water barrier all the way around the skylight. I admired it with affection, sweeping my hands clean as I descended the roof.
It worked perfectly, until the next time it rained, that is.
The Big Problem
If the original leak could be compared to an indoor fountain, what I created quickly overflowed into a rush that would compete with Niagara Falls. Not only did the leak spread from one corner of the skylight to all four corners, but it also began to leak down the ceiling further, causing water damage to one of the supporting beams in our manufactured house.
The water trickled down the beam, causing even more damage and spreading the damage out from the original area. We began plunking buckets down anywhere there was a leak. We quickly ran out of buckets. It was a mess to say the least.
How did we fix it? Simple. We hired someone who actually knew what he was doing. That’s what I should have done in the first place.
I’ve since learned from my worst home repair mistake I ever made. Now I know to leave the difficult problems to the professionals. I’ll still do small home repair. I’ll just make sure I remember my limitations (and my Lyman’s pliers).