A DIY Fail Left Me Stranded!
There are countless ways home improvement projects can go wrong. Sometimes it’s nothing more than an inconvenience or a little mess to clean up. Other times you might find yourself stuck on a roof, trapped in a bathroom or worse! Check out these goofs and you might save yourself from a similar fate.
The Eye of the Beholder
I was remodeling my daughter’s second-floor bedroom and had all the demo work done. I was ready to start the next phase when I saw daylight coming up through a hole in the floorboard. But that didn’t make any sense. How could there be light between the ceiling downstairs and the floor upstairs?
So I got down on my hands and knees and peered through the little hole—and saw an eyeball looking right back at me! I almost had a heart attack right there. When I screwed up enough courage to take a second look, I realized that a piece of broken mirror had lodged itself in a knothole. I’d nearly frightened myself to death by staring at my own eyeball!
I’m building my own home, and I pride myself on being able to tackle almost any job. I thought I’d figured out a great system for installing the prehung doors. My problem came when I got to a closet door that opened out from the closet. To keep the door frame square, I nailed blocks at a 45-degree angle to the outside of the jambs. I then got my shims, level and nail gun ready and went into the lighted closet and started shimming and shooting nails into the jambs. When I finished, I tried to open the door. The blocks were nailed across the jambs on the other side. I didn’t have a hammer or a pry bar, but I remembered the cell phone in my pocket. I called my brother, and after I listened to his hysterics, he agreed to come and rescue me. He hasn’t mentioned it to anyone yet, but I know he’s just waiting for the right moment.
My husband and I put a smooth, flawless coat of epoxy on our garage floor. Then we lowered the overhead door, leaving it high enough that it wouldn’t touch the wet floor but low enough that the cat couldn’t squeeze in under it. The next morning I peeked into the garage and my eyes grew to the size of silver dollars! We didn’t keep the cat out of the garage; we kept her in—all night! (She must have been hiding on top of the rafters.) It’s a goof we’re unlikely to forget; hundreds of little paw prints across the floor’s mirror finish remind us every day.
My wife and I decided to paint the wood stairway in our colonial home. The risers we’d paint the trim color and the treads an oil-based gloss black. As the weekend approached, the timing seemed to work out perfectly. Our 5-year-old son was away and we’d be able to focus on the project and avoid getting footprints in the paint. Our plan: My wife would stay upstairs that night while I painted the stair treads (top to bottom) and then I would simply sleep downstairs while the paint dried. But when I woke up the next morning, the stair treads were still tacky! No way would we be able to walk on them that day either. Throughout the day, I could be seen taking breakfast, lunch and finally dinner to my wife by way of an extension ladder set up outside to a second-story window. Late that evening the treads finally dried and we were all reunited.
I Can Do It Myself
As my wife and kids were heading to the grocery store, I noticed a roller had come out of the track on the overhead garage door. My wife asked if I needed some help fixing it, but I told her to go on to the store. ‘What could go wrong?’ I asked myself.
I got out the ladder, pushed up the door slightly with one hand and pushed the roller back into the track with my other hand. Once the roller was in the track, the door started to roll shut, trapping and pinching my finger. Ouch! As I tried to lift the door free with my other hand, the door began rolling and the ladder started to tip. I screamed for help until a neighbor ran over. As he came into the garage I said, ‘Don’t ask any questions, and please don’t tell my wife!’
Between Hornets and a Hard Place
Hornets had built a good-size nest in our porch light, so I rounded up a can of insecticide and a large cloth and waited until dark, when the pests would be in their hive.
That night I quickly wrapped the cloth around the light fixture to keep all the angry, buzzing hornets inside. But when I tried to grab the can of spray at my feet, I realized I couldn’t reach down that far without letting go of the cloth—the only thing between me and an irate colony of stingers. Was I stuck!
Fortunately, it was summer and the windows were open. After I gave a few desperate yells, my wife came and rescued me from my potentially painful pickle.
Stranded and Phoneless
One evening after my wife and daughters left the house for a few hours, I enlisted my four-year-old son to help me inspect our brand new roof. I got the ladder out and climbed up on the roof as my son watched from the ground. Not a minute after I was up there, our hyper puppy wrapped its leash around the bottom of the ladder and yanked it down, narrowly missing my son. He was fine, but I was stranded.
I hollered down to my son to get my phone so I could call a neighbor. ‘Throw the phone to Daddy as hard as you can!’ As the phone flew through the air in what looked like slow motion, I realized his arm wasn’t quite strong enough to get the phone to the roof?and it shattered on the concrete below. I had to be patient and wait on the roof until someone who could help walked by. Needless to say, I’ll keep my phone in my pocket the next time I venture onto the roof.
I take my painting prep very seriously. So before painting the bathroom door, I took off the door handle rather than masking it off. But when I closed the door and heard the lock click, I realized I had left the latch in the door. ‘No need to panic,’ I thought.
I fit the handle back into the door?but the latch wouldn’t catch. I then tried to manually pull back the latch?but it wouldn’t move. Then I used my nail punch and hammer to remove the hinges?a sure bet?but the door was so tight in the frame I couldn’t budge it. There I was, trapped in my own bathroom.
I considered escaping through the window, but given the 9 in. of snow outside, my stocking feet and no key to get back into the house, I decided against it. Mild panic fueled a couple of karate kicks that broke that hollow-core door into splinters. I think I’ll paint the new door before I hang it.
Nighttime is no time for exterior repairs, but I couldn’t sleep with that loose piece of trim slapping against the house. So despite the wind and rain, I grabbed a hammer and crawled out the window onto the roof?wearing only my tighty-whitey underwear. Before I could even begin the repair, my wife woke up and closed the window. As soon as I heard it shut, I scurried back to the window and tapped. No response, so I whispered, no response, louder, no response…
A light went on next door and I could hear our phone ringing. It was the neighbor calling and sheepishly asking if we were having marital problems. (Why else would I be on the roof in my underwear, begging to be let in?) Finally, the window opened and I slipped in, cold and soaked, still tormented by that slapping trim.
No Way Out
I was relocating the shower in a bathroom that was built over a crawl space. To gain access, I cut a hole in the subfloor and slithered down between the joists with all my materials and tools. The floor would be an easy patch since I was retiling anyway. After I spent a few hours down there soldering copper pipes and gluing ABS drain lines, the new plumbing setup was perfect. Then it dawned on me that my beautiful new plumbing job blocked my way out through the opening. Unless I took the whole thing apart, I was trapped! I didn’t have the heart to rip it all out, so I used my cell phone to call my son. I cooled my heels down there for an hour until he showed up and cut another hole in the floor to let me out.
Because of a recent insurance inspection, I was forced to finish building our back porch and steps quickly. It was raining at the time, so I did all the cutting under the cover of the front porch and hauled the pieces into the backyard to install. In the meantime, our dachshund, Beavis, was very interested in the excavation part of the project. He spent the day digging inside the area where I was building.
When the final board was screwed into place, my ‘helper’ was nowhere to be found. Then I heard whining under the steps and realized what I had done. While I was working on the front porch, Beavis’s exploring had led him under the porch for a snooze. Of course, removing one board wasn’t enough to get him out. I had to remove several and crawl in there to fetch him! Next time I’ll screen my helpers more carefully!
During our recent bathroom makeover, my husband replaced the outdated bath fan. That meant turning off the power to the bathroom, so he hung his new cordless LED work light between the joists and got to work. After installing the new fan box, he put up new drywall, taped, primed and painted. The bathroom looked fantastic.
His next project was in the basement and one day I found him searching frantically for the work light. So I asked him the standard question: ‘Where did you use it last?’ I could see the ‘LED’ flash on in his head. He had left it in the ceiling above the drywall!