Fix It

My friend Jim Wirthman, aka “The Toolman”, a local Foster City handyman agreed to write an occasional guest post talking about fixing things around the house.  Hopefully these tips can save you some time and money.

Electronics:  Today electronics are built into many new products.  Cars and appliances are but two examples.  Electronic items can freeze up and literally stop the show.  The most common “fix” is to power the item down, let it sit for at least 10 to 15 seconds and then power it up again.  Presto, the fault is gone and everything works well.  No need to call the local Handyman, Appliance repair person or TV repair shop.  Examples:  I received a call from a customer in Woodside the other day.  Her new front loading washing machine had stopped mid cycle with clothes and water still inside.  I powered it down by flipping the circuit breaker to off, let it sit for a minute or two and then powered it back up and all was well.  My TV cable box froze rendering the TV useless; same solution.  I unplugged it, let it sit, then powered it back up and all was well.

Electrical problems:  You turn on the light and nothing.  You put a new bulb in and nothing.  When something stops operating, you can do some simple troubleshooting and often fix the problem yourself.  If a plug or light stops working, start by using a known good item.  No, light bulbs from the box are not known good items.  They can be bad out of the box.  Turn another light on, verify the bulb in it is working, then move the known good bulb to the location that doesn’t work.  Unplug something you just verified works (clock, light, etc.) and plug it into an inoperative plug.  Still no good?  Check the Circuit Breaker.    

Circuit Breakers:  Somewhere in each house, townhouse, condo, apartment there is a circuit breaker panel.  Inside, there are a number of breakers that control the flow of electricity to various electrical circuits.  Some guidelines to circuit breakers:  1) When resetting, move it to OFF (all the way to the right usually with a click), wait a second or two and then move it to ON (full left again usually with a click).  Do not simply move it back to ON; be sure to cycle it through OFF.  2) If it trips again, find out why. Don’t just keep resetting it. 3) Many plugs near wet areas have built in circuit breakers.  To reset, push the top button between the plugs in; the bottom button is typically a test button.  Adjacent plugs may also be controlled by a plug breaker. 

Each month I get calls for these items.  I hope these tips help you fix your issues simply and easily.  If not, just call Jim Wirthman, The Toolman, at 650-533-3190 or


  1. thanks for the helpful info, Jim!
    And thanks for fixing the water leak under our sink a few years ago! 🙂

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