Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bet The House

You can live in your car, but you can't drive your house. That's a pretty big distinction, and one that wasn't wasted on me when my wife and I drove down to Home Depot to buy a new faucet for our kitchen. She was curious what I thought was more complicated to maintain: a car or a house. I considered it for a moment, or at least I made the appearance that I was considering it, since my choice had been made via circumstance. I was traveling, via the courtesy of our family car that was running like a hybrid top, to the home repair center to purchase a part for the plumbing system that had only recently become an issue. My current experience told me that taking care of a house was a lot more trouble than maintaining a car.
There are plenty of ways in which they are similar. If you are a conscientious owner of either one of these, you can do all kinds of preventative chores that will keep them viable and useful for the long haul. When something breaks, fix it. If it's making a funny noise, check it out. When I was in high school, I tended to turn up the stereo when my car made sounds that I wasn't prepared to diagnose. As a homeowner, and as an adult, I don't tend to sleep if I hear a clicking coming from the refrigerator or a dripping sound from the attic. Or the kitchen.
That's how this whole interaction started. My wife and I had struggled mightily for weeks, bringing all our home repair skills to bear on the kitchen sink. We fiddled and tightened and checked hoses and connections, but we both knew we were forestalling the inevitable. Just like adding that extra can of STP oil treatment to quiet the knocking as you prepare to do the math: How can we afford a new transmission?
Happy news: Kitchen faucets are infinitely easier to replace than car transmissions. The hazards of plumbing, as I have mentioned to anyone who will listen, is that you can get wet. A transmission is a greasy, heavy mass of metal that could crush a small child and should probably be handled only by professionals. The same could be said of plumbing, and most other activities that require wrenches. Why not pay somebody else to take care of your home and your car?
But that would cheat us out of the satisfaction of a job well done. Another very significant difference is the relative age of homes versus cars. Our house was built originally in 1895. That was just a little while before our Prius rolled off the assembly line. Or any other motor vehicle. I guess I feel more responsible to something that has been around for more than a century. What's easier? I don't know. Now that we have a new kitchen faucet, I'm waiting for that rattle to come back when we're turning left. In the car. Not the house.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can live in your car, but you can't drive your house.