Upgrading the “Nail Station”

In December 2017, Yoli painted Jadzia’s fingernails with a St. Patrick’s Day motif.

From the time she was little, Jadzia enjoyed having her nails done. She liked watching videos with Yoli to see different techniques and patterns. Then, one year, Nan gave the girls a “Salon Nail Station” made by “The Color Workshop.”

The Nail Station was a plastic storage compartment with a battery-powered fan for drying fingernails after they’ve been painted with polish. The kit included several bottles of nail polish.

The Nail Station includes a storage compartment for nail polish. And when you want to dry your nails, you put your fingers under the compartment, pushing down on the sticker that says “press here.”

The way the station was designed, Jadzia would place her fingers on a shelf under the storage compartment and press down. Pushing continuously on this shelf would cause the fan to blow on her fingers and dry the nail polish.

It seemed great in theory. But when Jadzia tried to use the Nail Station, she had great difficulty keeping the button pushed down. Her fingers were thin, hypermobile, and weak because of Marfan Syndrome. So after a few uses, the Nail Station was set aside for many years.

This year, Yoli began painting Josie’s nails regularly, and they got out the old Nail Station. Josie had stronger fingers and was better able to push the button. But she complained about it, too.

So Yoli came to me with a request: Could I hack the Nail Station and install an on-off switch, so the fan could blow without requiring the girls to push anything continuously.

The upgrade

This was a pretty simple upgrade: Disconnect the bottom button, cut a hole for a switch, then wire the switch.

The Nail Station is disassembled, and the location of the new switch has been marked.

I had an extra toggle switch left over from the time I fixed our Mr. Coffee coffeemaker, so I didn’t need to buy any additional supplies.

The main thing I had to figure out was where to mount the switch. My original thought was to put it under the compartment on the bottom shelf, but that was a dumb idea: not enough clearance, and it would be in the way of the girls’ fingers. I considered putting it on the back which would keep the connections closer to the motor. But ultimately I mounted it on the very top. The plastic was a bit stronger there, and it’s easy to access.

I used my Dremel to make a hole in the top. Then I removed some material from the top two internal supports, to make room for the nut that screws onto the switch and secures it.

The new switch is installed.

Finally, I wired the connections between the switch, batteries, and motor, and soldered them. My soldering leaves a lot to be desired, but it was good enough for this simple project.

A few hours later, Josie gave it a try. It got a thumbs-up from her and Yoli.

Josie dries her nails in the upgraded Nail Station.

It never rains, but it pours

So, the other day I was proud of myself for having successfully emptied the water heater and then re-assembled everything. I spoke too soon.

Upon completing this project, the water heater’s pressure relief valve began to leak, leaving the basement (which gets wet somewhat often when it rains) wet all the time.

Later, our shower faucet began to leak as well.

Today I planned to replace the pressure relief valve. As I was driving around taking Jadzia to school and picking up a part from my dad’s house, the “service engine” light light up in the van.

Hooray!

P.S. I hesitate to speak to soon, but it looks like the pressure relief valve change has been successful. At this moment I am seated at the computer, several feet from the water heater, and there is no dripping. The other problems will have to await fixing another day.

P.P.S. On the bright side, Yoli is trying her first fish fry today, ala Alton Brown.

Working on the water heater

My showers have not been lasting very long lately, and I love my hot showers.

So I got to looking into water heater maintenance. Today I finally took the plunge and flushed the water heater. It turned out not to be too hard. The only mistake I made was at the end while refilling the tank. I left the pressure release valve open, and subsequently flooded the basement. (Note to self: next time just leave the hot water faucet open and closed the valve before refilling the tank.)

I don’t know if this is going to fix the problem. I might try a shower tonight and see. But I suspect the real problem is that the dip tube inside has broken or come undone. But disconnecting the cold water inlet to look for the tube seems (right now) beyond my ability.

Update: So I have actually created a new problem: the pressure relief valve is leaking. From what I’ve read online, it seems that when you open an old one, frequently is doesn’t shut back down the way it’s supposed to. Hooray. Looks like I’ll have to replace it.