My kingdom for a ladder.
December 9, 2011 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I need a bit of extremely minor home repair... but can't do it myself. Who in the L.A. area would handle this sort of thing?

I live on the second floor of a building near Melrose and La Cienega in Los Angeles. I've got what should be an embarrassingly easy problem to fix. I'm 99.9% certain the issue is that the exterior flap at the end of the dryer venting is wedged or otherwise stuck shut. Which makes it impossible to dry clothes. The difficulty? The exterior venting is 20 feet above ground level and I only have a 10 foot ladder. You'd need at least a 12 foot extension ladder (for a total of 24 feet) to reach it and living as I do in the middle of Los Angeles I don't actually know anyone who keeps a 24 foot ladder laying about. I'd buy one but don't have anywhere convenient to store it.

A dryer repair service doesn't seem like the category of person to call. Nor HVAC. I really just need somebody with a 24 foot ladder to haul it out here, climb up the ladder, pop open the vent and brush out any accumulated dryer lint at the end point. That should be a 5 minute job. If I had access to such a ladder I would absolutely do it myself.

So this may be a dumb question but what type of repair guy should I get to do this? Any recommendations in the area? It is going to stick in my craw to pay somebody to do something so easy but I've exhausted all attempts to fix the problem from inside my unit and 24 foot ladders aren't common for apartment and condo dwellers. Cheaper is good because it's not like there's a chance of botching the job and making things worse.

Oh, yes it is a condo not an apartment so this isn't something there is a landlord to bother about. I'm responsible for maintenance for things of which I have exclusive control, like my dryer venting.
posted by Justinian to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
 
How close are you to the fire department? My brother shot a rocket onto the top of a library once and we got the firemen to help us get it back.

It was on an Air Force base though, and the fire station was across the street from the library. So obviously YMMV.

Another option is to hang down from the roof instead of going up from the ground. Any chance you know someone who would be willing to do that?
posted by theichibun at 12:20 PM on December 9, 2011


I'm about a mile or so away from you, and I know we have a tall ladder at home - let me check tonight and see just how tall it is.
posted by mogget at 12:24 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look under "tool rentals" -- 'looks like you could rent a suitable ladder for ~$25-$35 a day. Example

(Sometimes places that sell ladders will also rent -- around here, Ace Hardware rents tools; I've heard that sometimes places like Home Depot or Lowes will rent ladders.)
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 12:31 PM on December 9, 2011


Any place that rents tools is likely to rent ladders. Try your local rentacenter or even home depot.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:32 PM on December 9, 2011


I am not familiar with stores in LA, but most hardware stores do tool rentals; try calling around to the local Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace etc. You can also look in the phone book under "tool rental" or "equipment rental".

Forgive me if you've tried this already, but can you disconnect the dryer from the exhaust line and reach the flap from the inside? If you can't reach it with your hand, a length of rubber hose or a plumber's snake would probably do the trick.
posted by Commander Rachek at 12:34 PM on December 9, 2011


I would probably just go buy a ladder at Home Depot or Lowe's, which have very liberal return policies, use it for the one job, then return it. I've done this with various items that I needed for one-time jobs and didn't cause any damage to the item. My favorite example was buying an axe as a prop for a Halloween costume and returning it a week later. The cashier was definitely a little weirded out about having to accept the return of a used axe.

"Ah sir, why are you returning the axe?"
"Oh, turns out I didn't need it after all."
posted by otolith at 12:35 PM on December 9, 2011


I'd check for a handyman, either in the yellow pages or perhaps on Craigslist. (I'd volunteer the services of my boyfriend, who actually does handyman work, but I already know our ladder isn't tall enough.)
posted by scody at 12:39 PM on December 9, 2011


If you call a handyman, make sure he knows how tall of a ladder he'll need. One time I hired someone to do something kind of similar, he showed up with too short of a ladder, and wanted to charge me an arm and a leg for going to get one and come back.
posted by primethyme at 2:03 PM on December 9, 2011


Forgive me if you've tried this already, but can you disconnect the dryer from the exhaust line and reach the flap from the inside? If you can't reach it with your hand, a length of rubber hose or a plumber's snake would probably do the trick.

I can and have tried to open it from the inside. I've got stackable dryers inside of what is essentially a closet. The vent opening is in ceiling, goes up about 6 inches, makes a 90 degree turn towards the horizontal, runs approximately 10 feet, makes another turn downward, then (one presumes since I can't see) turns back towards the horizontal and goes outside. I can get a plumbers snake to what I believe to be the end but it's impossible to get any sort of force given it's running out 10+ feet with two curves and it won't push the vent open.

The only way to even see as far as I have is by using a stepladder to crawl on top of the dryer (there is about 8" of clearance between the top of the doorway and the dryer) and holding a digital camera blindly up in the vent and snapping photos until one manages to have it aimed down the vent shaft. That's how I know there is another curve at the end rather than, as I had assumed, the duct running straight to the exterior.

I'm about a mile or so away from you, and I know we have a tall ladder at home - let me check tonight and see just how tall it is.

If it is an extension ladder it is probably either 16" or 24" but I would guess 16" is more likely if you live a mile away from me.

Any place that rents tools is likely to rent ladders. Try your local rentacenter or even home depot.

Unless they're going to rent me the pickup truck to go with it... That's also the problem with buying and returning a ladder, I'd have to go rent a pickup or something. There's no way I'm strapping a 12" ladder to the top of my car.

I'd check for a handyman

This is probably what I'll do. Do you or your boyfriend have any recommendations? It would have been great to hire your bf, too bad about not having the ladder.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on December 9, 2011


If you call a handyman, make sure he knows how tall of a ladder he'll need.

Yes, definitely. The whole point of hiring someone is to get the ladder so I'll make sure to be clear on that point.
posted by Justinian at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2011


I can't recall if the Hollywood Home Depot does tool rental (for sure the Westlake/Macarthur Park one does not and for sure the Atwater Village/Lincoln Heights does), but if they do that would probably be the cheapest/easiest way to go about getting a ladder. If you do go to HD, they'll probably rent it to you by the hour or by the day. I've done this with furniture/appliance dollys from the Lincoln Heights store and had great experiences.

Also, in my 'hood the yard care specialists who come around once a week are fairly uniformly equipped with tall ladders. If the job's as easy as you think it is, and if they show up in your neighborhood too, maybe you could hire one for a few bucks to come over and fix it for you. Maybe you could ask your landlord if they have a recommendation or number for those kinds of services?
posted by carsonb at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2011


Derp, no landlord. Maybe a nearby store that specializes in getting to high-up places will loan you their ladder? Light Bulbs Unlimited is a short walk from Melrose/La Cienega.
posted by carsonb at 2:50 PM on December 9, 2011


Home Depot & Lowes DO rent trucks as well as ladders. Be safe!
posted by TishSnave at 3:00 PM on December 9, 2011


Ok that's good to know. So at that point the question becomes whether paying to rent both a ladder and a truck is enough cheaper than paying somebody to do it for me to be worth the hassle. I will investigate, thanks.
posted by Justinian at 5:30 PM on December 9, 2011


It's a chance to rent a man-lift. Use it for 10 minutes to fix the problem and the rest of the day cruising LA in style!
posted by Argyle at 7:18 AM on December 10, 2011


These days lots of folks are looking for extra cash, so you can usually find someone on Craigslist to help you out. But, we've always had very good results with people we've hired off of Angie's List.
posted by vignettist at 8:41 PM on December 10, 2011


Finally remembered to check and our ladder is 16', so not too helpful for you, alas. Good luck!
posted by mogget at 9:44 PM on December 10, 2011


Thanks for checking! Not surprising, though, 24' ladders aren't exactly common in urban settings. I'm going to call a handyman on Monday and see what kind of cost I'm looking at to compare with renting.
posted by Justinian at 8:43 AM on December 11, 2011


Did you get this all ironed out today? I've had a similar ladder-availability issue. You know who always has ladders? Painters. I'd go on CL and start under labor/hauling (as the cheapest) then move to painting. Sorry I don't have a specific suggestion, but I don't live in LA.
posted by slidell at 2:01 AM on December 20, 2011


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