Last weekend my husband and I decided that it was time to finally cut the grass. After reseeding our lawn in the fall, we'd let the newly grown grass soak up as much of the spring rain until it was so tall, the dog had to hop like a bunny over the lawn (now looking like a small forest) whenever we let him out.
When we pulled the lawn mower out of the shed, we noticed that the blade was at its lowest setting. Not good when you have tall grass since it's guaranteed to choke up and stall. No problem—we'd just raise the blade.
Only problem? This was a brand-new lawn mower that we'd purchased last year on sale, and the instruction manual was nowhere to be found.
After puzzling over how to lift the lawn mower to a higher setting, inspiration struck: we could just Google the make and model of the lawn mower, in hopes that we could find the instruction manual online.
Turns out that there are plenty of user manuals online these days. In fact, nearly every manufacturer has a PDF of its user manual on a website somewhere. I can recall turning to the Internet to find user manuals (when I couldn't find the originals in my home) for everything from the laser printer in my home office to the DVD player I wanted to connect to our new flat screen TV.
And if the official maker of your home-related product doesn't have a user manual online, someone somewhere has likely created a reasonable facsimile.
In fact, a recent New York Times article called "Do It Yourself, or With the Help of Tinkerers Everywhere" had this to say about free user-generated user manuals that you can find on the Internet:
"Web-based instructions—often designed by hobbyists for other hobbyists—are now supplementing the often-confounding printed directions..."
While that article talked mostly about inventors sharing their ideas on the Internet to benefit other inventors and science geeks, there was a nod to home-related items, such as the guy who created his own slow cooker and then posted instructions online on how others could make a slow cooker, too. Maybe this is why one of my Suddenly Frugal blog posts from 2009 on DIY laundry detergent continues to be one of the most clicked-on posts.
Back to our lawn mower quandary: by using specific search terms (Sears electric lawn mower, model XXX), we found the free user manual online. In no time flat we'd raised the motor and gotten the lawn mowed before the heavens opened and it poured down rain again.
Well, at least now we know how to raise the lawn mower and, thanks to the rain, we won't have to water the lawn any time soon. However, if I did need to water the lawn and discovered I couldn't get my sprinkler to work correctly, you can bet Id turn to the Internet to find the sprinkler's free online user manual!
Tell me: when have you turned to the Internet to look for a user manual when you couldn't find the paper one that came in the box?