Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Submariners And Home Repairs

As my "Honey-Do" list starts to get longer and longer, I found myself thinking about how Submariners make such great husbands. (Hey, it's a less taxing use of my time than actually finding the short in my sprinkler system controller or fixing the leak from the hot water chamber of my water cooler.) And why is it that Submariners are such a catch, husband-wise? It's because, generally, we're much better than average at fixing things around the house. At least, in our own minds we are.

Enlisted submariners and LDOs, I've noted, tend to be really good at home improvement projects. Us officers, though, are probably another matter. I can't speak for everyone, but I've seen more "amateurish" home "repairs" in officer's homes than most other places. This comes from one of the cardinal rules of nuclear submarining -- if you ever see an officer with a tool in his hands, there's something very, very wrong going on. Because we can't fix things on the boat, we tend to try to overcompensate at home. I put in some ceiling lights and fans at our first house in Connecticut, and they worked great; luckily, the home inspector for the buyer never looked closely at the wiring job I did in the attic, because I'm sure it wasn't up to code. (One of the lights was off center in the room, 'cause I kind of put my knee through the ceiling when trying to get where I wanted to go, and put the light in that hole.) I recently replaced a garbage disposal in our sink (up-check), then was surprised when the dishwasher didn't drain anymore because I hadn't read the directions and knocked out the plug from the dishwasher connection (downgrade). Luckily for our wives, officers make quite a bit of money, so we can hire professionals to fix our mistakes before we have to sell the house. (That being said, I think even officers are better than the general public at fixing stuff around the house.)

How about you guys? Have you ever done a home improvement project that actually increased the value of your home?


Blogger beebs said...

I have only once did a home improvement project that I was proud of. I hung metal blinds in my daughter's room. It was a pain in the ass, on the ladder trying to figure it out for a half hour.

I later found a handyman who would work for peanuts that I used for various jobs. I told my wife, "Honey, if you want it done right, hire someone to do it."

ex officer DCA 637 class.

9/02/2008 6:04 PM

Anonymous Papaya Mom said...

Oh how I dread the "helpful" addition of my officer husband to home-improvement projects. I love renting - it's an excuse to have someone else do the fix-it work.

I think that cardinal rule of nuclear submarining is true at home with our dear husbands as well.

9/02/2008 6:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Who do you think does the home improvement projects when our husbands are away for 6 months at a time--magical DIY elves?

(And even when the boat's at the pier the husband seems chained to it..)

--a department head's wife who just fixed her refrigerator

9/02/2008 6:24 PM

Anonymous LT K said...

I agree that most of us officers are challenged in the day-to-day maintenance of a house, but where we excel is in the diagnostics. 99% of the time I can tell you exactly what piece-part of appliance has failed withing 5 minutes. Unfortunately when the question comes "so how do you fix it?" I can do little more than shrug my shoulders.

9/02/2008 7:00 PM

Blogger T.J. said...

I put hardwood flooring in our family room and a hallway, I've tiled another room with ceramic tile, I've put up crown moldings, added cable and phone jacks, fixed my furnace when it wouldn't light, rewired a thermostat, ran surround sound wires, ran some CAT5 cable from one side of the house to the other,installed ceiling fans, changed out bathroom faucets, coated my garage floor in the last 5 years since buyng my house. Of course most all of that really happened during the last 2 years while on shore duty.

I have a fancy leaded glass set of french doors ready to install for my next project.

I'll let you know if any of it pays off when I sell the house, but it looks good and we are happy with it.

I am an officer and I hold tools. Was a prior enlisted guy though.

I also work on cars - that is what I like - the home stuff I do to learn something new, accumulate new tools, and save money.

9/02/2008 7:05 PM

Blogger IronMal said...

My dad was an officer and like others O gangers have mentioned it might be a bigger danger to himself to actually attempt to wield a hammer. But he was good at delegating and paying bills. He racked up 5 Masters Degrees to his credit.

As a former Deck Division Leading PO I had extensive on the job training in horizontal surface maintenance. And while I started as a laborer I became better than average at home projects... and actually professional level at painting - go figure.

Now I just wish I had the time to do more around the house let alone the finer things in life. Like fishing.

9/02/2008 9:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never understood how my wife, who knows what I do for a living and knows that I thrive on being able to figure anything out, finds it impossible to believe that I'm able to do basic home repairs and renovations...

Of course I have some doubt myself given the slight acrid odor that my ceiling fan emits when turned on. Hmmmm....

9/03/2008 6:04 AM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Words of wisdom from a chief petty officer: "The most dangerous object in the world is a tool in the hands of an officer."

9/03/2008 6:21 AM

Anonymous The Tagout Tick said...

I don't know - aside from A-gang, I'd rather see a tool in an officer's hands than a cone's. The officer will at least ATTEMPT to follow a troubleshooting procedure as opposed to grabbing their pretty pink basket and easter-egg'ing their way through it.

9/03/2008 7:12 AM

Blogger Chap said...

The sub officers after WWII mostly wanted to build their nests, much like the rest of the country. This urge to remodel the basement infuriated Rickover, so the story goes.

And if we make such great husbands, then why are so many sub officer wives psych majors? I've seen boats fulla couples like that...

9/03/2008 7:14 AM

Anonymous STS2/SS said...

It was a standing order from my LCPO never give a tool to an officer.

9/03/2008 9:28 AM

Anonymous Neil said...

I've tiled 2 bathroom floors and showers, re-plumbed both rooms and installed new lighting and exhaust.

Gutted a downstairs room, down to the studs, put up drywall, 10 recessed lights, 3-way switches, new flooring, molding, (including crown molding).

Replaced 3 exterior doors, 2 interior doors.

Tiled foyer, kitchen, and dinning room.

There are a few other odds and ends to add but...I don't want to brag.

9/03/2008 9:59 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I spent many an hour talking to the CO, XO, and Eng explaining why I would chase O-gangers away from active work sites when I saw them either:
1. Giving advice
2. Picking up a tool
In fact, I also had a standing order to my E-Divisions: If I see an officer with a tool in his hand near your worksite, you're sleeping with the biggest tool at the jobsite until the next person is caught. Fixed that problem right away!

9/03/2008 11:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't work on anything at home because my wife won't sign the tagout.


9/03/2008 12:16 PM

Anonymous Handy Sub O-Ganger said...

Gotta disagree with you on this one. My wife and I are in our third old house renovation, almost completely done oursleves. I have rewired, replumbed, framed out rooms, torn down walls, tiled floors, hung cabinets, redone siding, redone roofing, you name it.

I got into subs because I liked mechanics. Spent most of high school fixing up old cars. I think most sub guys, officer or enlisted, understand how things work better than the average joe.

9/03/2008 12:57 PM

Anonymous phw said...

Naval reactors may not have made me better at doing "honey do's" but it has made me better at dealing with getting yelled at...

9/03/2008 1:10 PM

Blogger Mark said...

My garbage disposal just broke and the first move, after flipping the switch and the circuit breaker, was to call up the apartment office. Me and my roommate? Both officer students at NNPS.

9/03/2008 3:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've repaired just about every major appliance in my house and did an emergency replacement of my car's alternator and fuel injector. Everything still works so far.

Of course, I wasn't a very good officer...

9/03/2008 7:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do i suspect that all of the officers here who talk about fixing stuff are former enlisted nukes? just a weird guess...

Nothing scarier than an o-ganger with a tool - unless they're a former MM2(SS)... (and not just the LDOs, although most of those guys seemed to be terrifyingly competent at fixing things)

9/03/2008 11:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so excited to jump in and defend my CO husband's history of home repairs, but then I re-read the original question about doing a home repair that actually INCREASED the value of your home. Until he decides to install a nuclear-powered hot water heater, I recommend calling an a-ganger friend for home repairs.

9/03/2008 11:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, I've done projects that increased my home's value--but then, I was a black-iron 'shoe.

Bill the Shoe

9/04/2008 6:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Home improvement/DIY/hunny-do stuff doesn't scare me. I've run the gammut of some major repairs/upgrades:
- replacing toilets/toilet software and guts,
- replacing sliding door track wheels,
- installing new garbage disposals (multiple - due to silverware caualties),
- hooking up water source to the fridge for auto ice maker (that required drilling a hole in the water pipe under the sink),
- installing attic exhaust fans,
- replacing the entire breaker panel,
- cleaning the woodstove chimney (semi-annual),
- pool maintenance,
- soldered in new sections of water pipes
- and not to mention the occasional light fixture.

And for the coup de grace, I installed a septic tank aerator to improve aerobic activity due to ponding in my leach field (my septic system is designed for a 3 BR/4 person home - which it was originally. Now it's a 5BR/6 person home, so my septic is a little stressed).

On a tangent, if you ever have a problem with your septic tank backing up/ponding, go to It'll cost you about a grand but the alternative is to dig up your septic system for 10 grand - or more.

I do all this, but a lot of times I take the O-ganger way out and call somebody to avoid the aggravation.

9/04/2008 6:58 AM

Blogger J120 Bowman said...

Did we really need to open this can of worms?

I still can't live down my first ceiling fan installation. I was a student at NPTU Charleston and instead of opening the breaker, I flipped the wall switch to "off".

So I'm on a ladder twisting wires and I get a little "tingle". Of course that's impossible because I turned the switch off! So sure as sh!t, I touch the wires again! Yup, another "tingle".

My wife still throws that in my face 16 years later! God, I love her!

By the way, the o-ganger to fear the most is the prior enlisted o-ganger with a tool in his hand. Why? Because they USED to know what they were doing!

9/04/2008 8:01 AM

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