We bought our house 5 years ago now, and have replaced all the terrible floor surfaces except the kitchen. This was largely due to lack of options, and also the fact that we didn’t like the idea of cold, hard, tile. I personally think hardwood in the kitchen is a bad idea (dings, divits, water damage, etc), and carpet is obviously right out. When, about 3 months ago, my wife found modern “luxury” peel and stick, grout-able, tile (Lowes page) she suddenly got very interested in replacing the flooring. The current floor was an “orange” rock looking sheet vinyl from the late 70’s, and had since become impossible to clean.
Just thought I’d post and give a quick update on the last two days.
Yesterday, Tara and I tackled a long overdue project that I’ve been dreading since it involved a bunch of time in the crawl space (well, 30-45 minutes). We replaced the dryer exhaust vent. The old one was one of those wedge shaped ones that directed all the flow downward, and had a flapper below the “wedge” that keeps outside air and critters out. Well, the vent was situated right above the ground (it comes out from one of the crawl space vents). So, the vented air goes right into the ground, and if there was any soil/debris buildup in the herb garden, it would block the flow of exhaust. The other problem being the flapper had long since stopped working/been clogged with lint and debris. So outside air came down the vent into the laundry room, making it even colder. So, we replaced the vent exhaust with a modern louver style (one of these). The advantage is supposedly they have better flow, they don’t blow down into the ground, and they actually close, so no more air coming down the vent pipe. YAY!!!!
Then today, the other project I’ve been meaning to do: repair the front sillcock (a frost-free Nibco 90). Back when we bought the house, I noticed that if the sillcock is open, but there is no flow (a sprayer on the hose, a Y with both sides closed, etc), it would leak at the stem. Opening it up, the packing was all torn up. So, I tried to rebuild it at the local hardware shop with various parts. Afterward, it wouldn’t leak, but it was a bitch to turn on and off, and it didn’t turn on all full flow unless you opened the valve all the way. So, this year, while wandering around the local hardware store, I noticed they had rebuild kits for “Fu San” Frost free sillcocks (not that I can find such a thing exists… the receipt, however, says “Flor Repair Kit”) that looked like they had the right parts. So, I pulled it apart again, and brought in the stem. Then at the store, put it all together with the new parts. Similar to this. Turned the water back on, and viola, it works like brand new! And the vacuum breaker seems to work again (it was kinda weird between the first time I fixed it, and now). Cost of repair kit, $2.99.
Other than that, Tara and I are going to be on cleaning duty the next day or so since Tara’s mom and aunt’s are coming to visit. Hopefully we’ll be ready for them. We’ve been struggling to control a sugar ant problem in our guest room (of all places, that doesn’t ever have food in it). Here’s hoping it’s somewhat better by then.
So, there it is. Have a great weekend!
This weekend, Tara’s family are all coming back to town for Spamalot. Should be a lot of fun, but there will once again be about 9 people in the house (including Tara and I). So, that’s a lot. In preparation for that, I installed a new shower head in the guest bathroom that’s only 1.5GPM (a handheld Waterpik EcoFlow: here). It’s not a bad shower head, though I’m not sure about the usefulness of the “mist” setting. Either way, it’s better than the 5GPM of the old head. The funny thing is, the old head was marked as low flow… obviously that was before 1992 (when the Feds said showerheads had to be a max of 2.5GPM at 80PSI). Funny thing is, my current main shower head that we use daily seems to flow at about 4GPM instead of the stated 2.5GPM… Which comes to my next item…
We have high water pressure at the house. About 96psi static (no flow), which is the same pressure in the mains in my area (due to gravity because of the water tower/tank on the top of Kelly Butte above my house). The UPC (Uniform Plumbing Code) says the max is 80psi (minimum of 25psi). I thought we didn’t have a pressure regulator valve (PRV), but in fact we do, it’s just seemingly bad (it was installed with the house, and was buried under sod, and a few inches of dirt when I found it). So, I’m looking to replace that here soon. The pressure has been at it’s current level for at least the time we’ve been in the house, but I really worry about the wear and tear on our appliances and fixtures because of the high pressure. Currently, we get about 7.5-8GPM at the hose bibs, so I’m hoping that won’t be impacted too much by the drop in pressure. Some things I’ve seen indicate the flow might not change that much due to flow restriction caused by the “friction” of the water pressure and pipe walls. We’ll see. I’m hoping it’ll be an easy change out… I just need to finish unearthing the valve, and get it out. Biggest PITA is going to be “draining” the house (when I shut off the water at the street, and remove the valve, all the water in the house pipes is going to come running out). Here’s hoping a shopvac will take care of that.
On the water side, I’m also going to put a water expansion tank on the water heater after the PRV goes in. The valve will allow for pressure relief back to the city water mains if it climbs enough, but I’d rather not get those spikes (I believe it’ll keep the pressure from climbing above 10PSI greater than the supply pressure, so basically, it’ll keep it at or below 106PSI). A thermal expansion tank should prevent that completely. While I’m putting that in, I think I’m also going to wrap the water heater. It’s currently about R-16 (2″ foam), but adding a blanket would make that about R-26, which is about as good as you can do. Biggest pain is going to be moving the water heater, but, it shouldn’t be too bad once it’s drained. I also need to replace the front sillcock, but that’ll come later in the summer if I can’t figure out how to rebuild the stem (it’s a frost-free, so it’s got a long stem instead of a “normal” valve).
My other project I’m really looking forward to working on is more of my power graphing/monitoring. A site called energycircle.com (http://www.energycircle.com/) built their own “Google Powermeter” using the Visualizations API. I’m hoping to get ahold of their code to do the same. At the least, I think I’m going to switch my data collection to a mysql backend, as that will really allow for better report generation. We’ll see. I’d really also love to build one of these so that I can have a computer monitor my TED, and put the actual receiving unit I got with the TED in another room, more easily viewable. Bitch is, I don’t know a whole lot about building circuitry from diagrams, or programming MCs. Maybe I’ll pick up that Make microcontroller set at some point… =/
Also, I found this just now off that site above, which looks awesome. Wireless, web configurable, and will look at RSS feeds. I’d love to pick one of these up… I have a couple places it’d work great. Maybe in the hall where there is a giant hole at this point, or in the living room, or bedroom, etc. They have an 8″ version too, but it’s only like $20 cheaper… it’s certainly worth that for 2″ more! I’ll post some about work crap later, but at this point, there’s not a lot to discuss.
More in a couple days!