It’s been an interesting week around the homestead. I’ve been on a pretty steady repair mode, as appliances have started going on strike. The biggest thus far has been the igniter on the oven. (The rest of the stove works fine–we just can’t get the oven lit.) The part is on order, and should be here this weekend.
In the meantime, for our baking needs, we’ve pulled our “camping” (more like “glamping,” really) oven out of its storage spot in our trailer. We’ve got an RV stove (three burner, oven, propane-fired) mounted in a box, with storage and a handy flip-out butcher block surface. That has been working fine, particularly now that we have its pilot light issues fixed. Now, to adjust the thermostat–it’s running about forty degrees hot, at the moment (down from nearly a hundred degrees high). Fortunately, that’s just a single screw adjustment.
So, those are the big ones; the most annoying has been the water heater. It’s a relatively new unit (probably less than fifteen years old); mechanically, it appears to be fine. But some mornings, after it’s been particularly cold, its control circuitry trips, and it shuts off. Never after my morning shower, mind you… Fortunately, all that’s required is pushing the “reset” button, then waiting for the elements to heat the water. Unfortunately, getting to the reset button involves going outside to get into the cellar–and it’s cold out there.
(While I like technology, and understand that having a “smart-ish” control circuit on the heater helps make it more efficient, I’m not sure the water heater really needs much, beyond a simple thermostat…)
This is part of the driver for getting a whole-house tankless, this year. It’ll fit nicely on the wall in the utility room, where it’s accessible from inside the house. Downside, tankless models tend not to have replacable parts–they’re all-or-none. Fortunately, they’re quite reliable, these days.
The point to all of this is that we have backup systems set up, in case of major systems failures. In case of power issues, I can retrieve my solar generator for the necessary items (fridge/freezer, maybe some lights). We’ve got about eight redundant backups for cooking (main stove; camp stove; double-burner propane range; single-burner propane range; Coleman white-fuel three-burner camp stove; charcoal grill; two woodstoves, and an outdoor fireplace), and could scrounge up a simple fire ring in the back yard if absolutely necessary. Backup water sources and manual pumps for the well. Candles and oil lamps for lighting. You get the picture.
But more importantly, I’ve got the knowledge to fix almost anything that goes wrong. A surprising number of things don’t require any more than a screwdriver, channel-lock pliers, and maybe a hammer, for hardware; the “how-to” part can almost invariably be found on YouTube, somewhere–or, if nothing else, a quick Google search for the particular problem. Then, the worst part tends to be waiting for any replacement parts to be delivered… And in the meantime, there’s the backups.
In other news, my wife wants me to warn everybody: ALERT! ALERT! Spring is coming! And you are not prepared! Yes, even though everything outside right now is covered with ice, the time for planting is right around the corner. Do you have your garden planned? Seeds ordered? Are you ready for the starting gun?