Go with Kwikset for older 1.5″ bore hole doors

What’s up with the instructions for the Schlage Plymouth BE365 lock? They say it’s compatible with 1.5″ bore holes, but that’s clearly not true. The 2-1/8″ collar is NOT removable. Clearly a copy-paste error by an eager graphic-design intern LOL. Went with Kwikset’s Powerbolt 250 instead. It has a removable collar. Worked like a charm! Though I did need to enlarge the deadbolt hole slightly with a rasp bit. Just move it around in a circle, trying your best to keep the bit parallel with the hole.

Amana Air Command Furnace Leaking

I had an Amana Air Command furnace that was leaking inside the burner cabinet. Apparently, this is a common problem due to the seal around the heat exchanger breaking down. Here’s what I did to get a few more months out of it before getting a new furnace.

First, you can try some high temp gasket seal. That works somewhat, but you might still have a little bit of leakage.

So you might have to use an Altoids can as a temporary trap. Use a turkey baster to slurp it up every once in a while!

But it’s impossible to stop the leak from growing. You can try some WaterWeld. That works pretty well.

But the leak will grow, and you’ll keep adding WaterWeld.

Eventually, what worked best was just to drill a small drain hole from the cabinet directly above the condensate trap. Then any water dripping into the cabinet just drips into the trap!

WTI Rear Windshield Wiper Arm Rip-Off

I purchased this knockoff rear windshield wiper arm for my 2017 Subaru Forester on Amazon. It was described as “WTI New Replacement Accessories Parts Rear Windshield Wiper Arm Blade Kit Set COMPATIBLE WITH Subaru 2010-2020 Forester Fit 86532SC080 86538AG070”. Sounds promising, right? Wrong. The arm wasn’t even the right shape. The bearing was the completely wrong size for the bolt on the rear windshield. What a waste.

Pivotal Home Solutions Runaround

Our local gas & electric utility used to have a pretty good in-house home maintenance plan. Then they decided to outsource it to an out-of-state company called Pivotal Home Solutions. Since then, their service has been piss-poor.

I was changing out the filter from our furnace and decided to inspect the burners. Unfortunately, this wasn’t possible because the access panel could not be removed since the screws had eroded. (The screws just spun and spun when turned.) I called PHS to report the problem and told them I noticed rust and a small leak near the edge of the access panel.

  • “I’m pretty sure there’s a water leak inside and that’s what caused the screws to erode. But I can’t confirm that because the screws won’t come off.”
  • “We don’t cover rust.”
  • “I understand that you don’t cover rust damage, but you must surely cover the water leak inside, no?”
  • “Well, if you can’t see the water leak inside then I’m not authorized to send someone out to fix it.”

It took a while to explain to the agent that I was positive there was a water leak inside because I could see a small amount of seepage from the corner of the panel, even though I was unable to remove the panel. Clearly a chicken-and-egg problem with how they diagnose issues!

Finally, they agreed to send someone over. A tech from a local shop called Platinum Home Services came over, spent 5 minutes trying to turn the screw before giving up and saying there was nothing he could do. I asked him if he could cut the screw off and he said no, I’d have to do it. So I immediately got down and attempted to do this myself with my Dremel, but he wouldn’t wait around. In 10 minutes, I chopped the screw off and called him back, but he was already on his way to another call and wouldn’t return, so I had to make another appointment.

In the meantime, I was able to confirm that there was a leak inside the furnace and water had pooled under the burners. I cleaned up what I could and waited for my next appointment.

When the same tech returned and I showed him the problem, he said, “Oh, the water is leaking from the heat exchanger. That component isn’t covered by your plan.” Okay… I asked him whether there was anything he could do to alleviate the problem, like seal the damn leak. “No, you’ll just have to get a new furnace.” Okay… Seems a bit extreme, I thought. After 5 minutes he left again.

Long story short, I did find multiple YouTube videos showing how this is a common problem with aging furnaces and the leaks can be stopped with high-temperature sealant. Did the trick, no more leaks!

In hindsight, I should’ve gone straight to YouTube and saved myself multiple phone calls and waiting around for useless appointments. What a waste!

T-Mobile Hidden Charges

My wife needed a new iPhone, so I called a local T-Mobile store and inquired if they had any iPhone 13 Mini’s in stock. They said they did and would put one aside for me. They told me the price and said that we could get a $200 trade-in on our old phone. I agreed and my wife went to the store. The employee transferred her info from her old phone, took it, and sold her the new phone plus a power adapter. When checking out, the bill was almost $100 so she asked why it was so high and he said, “Taxes plus the power adapter”, and walked away. When she got home and I looked at the receipt, there was a bogus $30 “upgrade support charge” line item on the receipt. Not only did no one ever mention this charge up front, but even when the clerk was questioned at the end, he simply called it a “tax”. It is not a tax, it is a fee. Moreover, it’s a fee that was not disclosed upfront, making it a scam. I am less concerned about the $30 than the numerous people who are being scammed by this undisclosed “fee”. Furthermore, misrepresenting fees as taxes is surely frowned upon by the state.

Not-So-Thrifty Car Rental

We took a trip to San Francisco and decided to rent a car from Thrifty. The price was decent and everything about our experience from pickup to dropoff was fairly smooth. But there’s one thing to be careful of especially around the Bay Area: tolls.

If you don’t choose Thrifty’s toll plan, then you’re on the hook for tolls plus a $15 surcharge per toll if Thrifty is charged. The agent may tell you that it’s easy to pay tolls online through the Bay Area’s FasTrak program, but it’s not so straightforward.

Our agent told us we’d have no problem paying our final tolls to the airport within 24 hours of returning our car, but it was more complicated than that. When we flew back home after our trip, I immediately logged on to FasTrak’s website and attempted to make a one-time payment, but the website wouldn’t allow me to. Why? I later found out (after waiting for an hour on the customer service line) that after I returned my rental car, the next person who rented my car registered the plate with FasTrak, thereby preventing me from making my one-time payment! The FastTrak agent assisted me in making a payment and I even received a confirmation email. But FastTrak ended up charging Thrifty anyway, so I received a bill from Thrifty with its $15 surcharge tacked on.

So if you are renting from Thrifty at SFO, do not listen to the agent if they say you can pay for tolls after the fact. As soon as you pick up your car, register on FasTrak at the start of your trip. And confirm that your credit card is being charged during your trip so that the charges don’t end up at Thrifty. If they do, Thrifty will make you pay those hefty surcharges.