Have Tools, Will Travel
Always pack along tools when moving to another country!
Point One: This is the land of calcium deposits from the water. After boiling water just once in my stainless steel pan, the bottom and sides are covered with a white calcium film. The sinks and shower build up deposits from any standing water. The cleanser aisle at the grocery store is full of acids for “anticalcare”. Once a week I have to clean out the shower head and remove the rock-salt sized grains of coarse grit.
Point Two: I had just a slow trickle of water in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, and an even slower trickle, of cold water only, at the bidet.
Point Three: My hot water heater is an “on-demand” water heater, (only heating the water when I need it).
It occurred to me that all three points are related! Calcium and grit had likely built up in the faucet aerators and caused the slow trickle of water. The slow trickle wasn’t enough to cue the water heater to kick on, so I only had a dribble of cold water. If I could just get the aerators off and replace them, I’d have water flow AND hot water! But they were so crusted on, that I needed tools.
I shot photos of my crusted faucet aerators and went on Google Images and found photos of pipe wrenches and crescent wrenches. I printed them out and wandered off for the nearest Ferramenta Hardware Store. I bought a cheap pipe wrench for 4 euro and a nicer metric crescent wrench for 10 euro, plus 3 aerators for 1,60 euro each. I couldn’t wait to get home and test my theory!
The first aerator came off and with it a teaspoon of very coarse grit. Wow! No wonder there was only a trickle! I took the others off and flushed all the faucets. Incredible! With freshly flushed lines and new aerators, I had free flowing water for the first time in 5 months, AND hot water at the bidet! (It was such a simple fix!)
In the 5 months that I’ve been here, I have fixed or done maintenance on the following:
- replaced all the faucet aerators
- enlarged the holes on the shower head (they blocked up so regularly that the o-ring blew out once a week)
- tightened all the hinges on the kitchen cabinets (they lift UP and would fall on my head if I left them open)
- remounted a stray kitchen cabinet door whose hinge screws had “disappeared”
- taken the shower enclosure apart and scraped the whole thing down with a single edge razor blade
- oiled a drawer slide on an otherwise unusable bathroom drawer
- defrosted the unusable freezer
These are all little things, but they make a difference in the quality of daily life.
My minor little tool collection now includes:
- magnetic screwdriver with interchangeable bits of different sizes and types (from Seattle)
- single edge razor blades (unheard of here) and a scraper (from Seattle)
- leatherman multi-purpose tool with pliers and you-name-it (from Seattle)
- fine, jeweler’s needle nose pliers (from Seattle)
- steel wool (from Seattle)
- a shiny new crescent wrench
- an inexpensive pipe wrench
- a 3 euro hammer
I can fix and/or adjust a lot of things with this assortment! (Thankfully, I was well-trained at an early age.) By the time I leave this place, it’ll be in tip-top shape.