Malfunctions

It’s surprising to me that after owning this house for more than three years, there are still many things I don’t know. With any luck, any things I don’t know will be only small issues and that I’m not overlooking anything major. Still, there are new things to learn rather frequently. Although it has nothing to do with the house itself, I’m continuing to learn how to take care of a yard, and that could be a lifelong endeavor.

But even in the house itself, there are still things to learn, most recently, the doorbell. The original doorbell that is wired into the house doesn’t work, and a previous owner set up a wireless doorbell right above the defunct one. Delivery people generally press the old bell instead of the new one when leaving a package, so I’m used to listening for noises on my porch rather than waiting for a ring. The other day, a couple of friends came to visit. I didn’t hear the doorbell, but I did heard scuffling outside the door, so I went to let them in. I mentioned about not using the defunct doorbell, but they said they rang the new one.

I pushed the button, and sure enough, the doorbell didn’t work. (It’s not that I disbelieved them, it’s that I wanted to see the problem for myself.) Thinking that maybe the outlet the chime was plugged into wasn’t working, I plugged it into a different outlet. Still didn’t work.

I shrugged it off, thinking maybe it was time to get a new doorbell, but my friends thought perhaps there was a battery that needed to be replaced. There wasn’t a battery in the chime part, and there was no easy way to check the doorbell itself, so we ripped it off the doorframe. My friend managed to open it, and sure enough, there was a battery. Luckily I had the right battery (one of those nickel-sized batteries) as well as some thick two-sided tape to replace the now-working doorbell.

It just goes to show how few people come to visit because I have no idea how long the doorbell hasn’t been working. Obviously, it wasn’t a major issue, but still, it did surprise me that there was one more battery to replace that I didn’t know about. I knew about smoke alarms, of course, and I quickly learned about the thermostat battery and the carbon monoxide battery. The low-battery chirping from the carbon monoxide detector came on it the middle of the night once, and since it sounded exactly like the smoke alarms, I got up and changed the batteries on all the smoke alarms, and still that annoying sound kept me awake. I don’t remember how it finally dawned on me to check the carbon monoxide detector, but I do remember unplugging it from the outlet. Blessed release! I went back to sleep, and I am ashamed to admit that I never replaced the battery and put that detector back. I know how important it is, but I get tired of always changing batteries. Maybe someday . . . Or even better, right now. (Okay, I did it; the carbon monoxide detector is plugged in again.)

It makes me wonder if there will be more surprises. I know there will be problems like appliances that need repair, pipes that will freeze (though I do leave a faucet dripping when the temperatures dip too low in the winter) and any number of other things. (I’ve already had someone come deal with a toilet ring seal that needed to be replaced, a washer that wouldn’t spin, pipe malfunctions, and various other breakdowns.) But surely, after all this time, there aren’t any more hidden batteries or other house details for me to be aware of.

If there are, I suppose I’ll learn about them the same way I’ve learned about everything else — when they stop working.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.