This month (and several other months, but mainly this one) has been a flurry of badge work, studying for tests (Biology requires a lot of study time), and catching up on schoolwork.
One of the badges I’ve been working on is called Home Care and Repair. It is exactly what it sounds like. Most of the requirements involve getting familiar with tools, simple repairs, and the many systems in your home. Recently, my wonderful Grandfather helped me wipe out three of my requirements (Requirements 1,16 and 21)! He set up “Papa Gene’s Tool Seminar” in his garage with saws, sandpaper, screws, bits and screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, pliers, and a fun electric hedge trimmer. He provided a very exciting and interesting lesson! By the end of the seminar, I had a lovely little Christmas tree, made by my own hand, using the saws, and sandpaper (not using the hedge trimmers).
My dad and I recently covered another couple of requirements in a series of afternoons. Dad showed me where the electric panel is, how to turn it off, and how to turn off our gas system (Requirement 18). Another requirement was to find the trap under a sink, figure out its purpose, and how to clear a clogged drain (Requirement 20), along with finding the shut off valves for the sink, toilet, washing machine and water heater. Lastly, I learned how to turn off all the water to our home. The valve is located in our front yard, under a small layer of grass.
My mother shared a funny story (well, funny now) about when she first moved in, and the washing machine was upstairs in the sleep porch. She had started a load of laundry and suddenly the hose supplying water to the washing machine started spraying water, a lot of water! There was no cut off valve for the washing machine, and no cut off valve for the water upstairs. Fortunately Papa Gene was here and he found a valve in the basement that worked! So, the point is, it’s really helpful to know where your shut off valves are!
Requirement #19 was tough to figure out. I was required to interview a certified technician, plumber, carpenter, or handyman. We didn’t really know anybody who fit that description, until my fabulous and life-saving Grandfather mentioned his go-to repairman, Jeremy Thompson of Thompson Services. He gave us the number, and the next day we called him, and met one of the friendliest handymen ever! He was happy to help me out with questions about how to get started in the business, what sort of education, training and experience is required and the outlook for job opportunities. I got my answers, and asked about a possible job for my Dear Big Brother. 🙂 Mr. Thompson works in the Hampton/Newport News area, and does a wide variety of jobs, including smaller construction projects, property management, and repairs for realty companies. He has experience replacing everything from windows to appliances, and recently teamed up with some other handymen to build and install historically accurate cabinetry in the Governor’s Mansion in Williamsburg. There are no college degrees in ‘Jack-of-Many-Trades,’ but Mr. Thompson started with a good mentor with a solid reputation and lots of experience. He continues that tradition and says that word of mouth from satisfied customers is the best way to grow a business. Mr. Thompson has 25 years of experience as a carpenter, and 13 years as a professional plumber, and enjoys owning his own company.
The final requirement that I did (Requirement #17) involves researching the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Suggestions include: insulating your home, which retains heat or cooling, reducing the amount of time your heating and air conditioning needs to run; caulking windows, and weather proofing doors to reduce air leakage to the outside; and turning off appliances after use. It is also helpful to replace any super-old appliances (which are often less energy efficient), open curtains for natural light and winter solar heat gain, and set up rainwater collectors (already done!) so you can water your plants free of charge. Last, plant a tree, to provide relief from heat both outside and inside.
Overall, its been a very busy and interesting badge, and puts me one step closer to my Stars and Stripes Award! I’m very excited to get started working on my other badges!
Here are a few links with information about Energy Efficiency:
Garner Family Cameras