Archive for June, 2015

21
Jun

Keeping it cool

   Posted by: John    in Projects

Contractor 1: “OK, furnace is mounted in the garage.”

Contractor 2: “Perfect. Laundry is in the room between the garage and the house.”

Contractor 1: “Where do we put the thermostat?”

Contractor 2: “We should put it in the middle of the house, but if we put it in the hall next to the garage and laundry room we can save $2 in wiring.”

Contractor 1: “Works for me!”

That’s the only thing that makes sense. Of course, if we didn’t have critters we could keep the laundry and garage doors shut, but we do and so we can’t. So, what happens is, the doors are open and the heat from the garage and dryer were fooling the thermostat that was only 5 feet away.  It says 76 but the house is 68 and the unit is on solid.

So, part of the painting project was to move the thermostat to a better location in the house. It now sits regally on the wall outside of the kitchen. I was able to extract the dishwasher and cut a hole in the wall behind it, feed the wire down the inside of the wall and under the house. Then it was a simple matter of going under the house (yeah, when has crawling around under a house been a simple matter?) and pulling the wire through to where it goes up and into the furnace.  Connected it up at both ends, mounted the thermostat to the wall and turned it on. Works great! Where it used to be I just pushed the old wire into the hole, patched the drywall and texture, then painted over it.

The hall still gets a little warm but that’s expected with the doors open. The rest of the house is evenly comfortable now. It cost me $18 for a spool of wire. I will probably make that back the first month in electricity saved. In the winter, we had the same issue with the furnace. Cold air from the garage kept the furnace running a lot more than it needed.

The other thing with the furnace is that it uses two air filters that sit in a trough and are angled up, like a V.  I hate that arrangement. My experience with this is that they fill up with dust and the suction pulls one or both down until there is a gap that all the air goes through.  And at $10 a pop for good filters, it takes $20 every couple of months to replace them.  My answer to this was to get one of the washable filters that could be cut down to the proper flat size. I have used these every place I have lived and they work just fine. Just take them out every month, wash them off with a hose, let them dry and back in they go. The filter cost $20, which is what two filters would have cost the first change. Every time I clean it I am saving another $20.

20
Jun

Past project…water heater

   Posted by: John    in Projects

Our house had the original water heater in it. 40 gallons and it seemed like about 10 would be hot. It was getting difficult to take a shower without running out. I take pretty fast showers, 7 or 8 minutes tops.  The girls, of course, ran it out every time.  On top of that, it was making some real bad gurgling sounds and started leaking around the pressure relief valve.  I managed to nurse it along for a while, but finally decided it was time to replace it. It was a 6 year tank and had made it 12.  Home Depot…here we come!

The biggest issue is that our federal government has mandated higher efficiency standards for water heaters. I am all for efficiency, but every thing the feds touch ends up costing more! So, I had to get it done before the new regulations hit.  I picked a Rheem 50 gallon, 12 year unit. I decided that I might as well not have to mess with it for a very long time. This unit is 1% below the new standards so it should be fairly cheap to use. Naturally, it is 4″ bigger around and 2″ taller than the old unit. That’s OK, I had to rebuild the stand anyway as the old one was inadequate anyway.  Instead of using flake-board I constructed it out of 2×4’s. I used the air stapler and strips to hold the pieces in place and screwed the top to the horizontals.  It is a far stronger stand than the old one and should hold up the 600 pounds easily.

I got the tank for $634.  I also had to replace the pan, flexible water lines and the expansion tank. Those added another $100 to the bill.  (I am glad I did this before the regulation deadline date. The day after, the tank price jumped to $726. Same part number, higher price.)

Replacing it was pretty easy. The old tank drained without any problem, much to my surprise.  I built the new stand shorter so the water lines and vent would mate up properly. Getting it set up there was not difficult at all. Just angled it to miss the flue, connected it up and done! The whole job took less than 2 hours.

New water heater

Now the girls can stand in the shower for almost an hour before they run out of hot water!!!  (I threatened to put a 10 minute timer on the water valve. That got vetoed real fast!!)

Oh, and that extension cord that is on the floor…it is gone now. That wall had no power outlets on it. I was able to tap into the outdoor plug farther down the wall and install a 4-gang outlet on the inside. No more extension cord!!!

19
Jun

Painting Projects

   Posted by: John    in Projects

One of the things with this house that Laura and I live in, the walls are all painted a chocolatey brown color. It’s a very nice color, but there’s a lot of it.  The kitchen and dining room are a lighter color, almost a rich tan. In areas where the lighter color is on the walls, the trim is the darker color, and vice versa. It does make the house seem dark and closed in (although the kitchen is fine).  Laura likes it though so repainting it all is out of the question.  I did manage to talk her into painting some walls in an accent color, lighter than the other two colors.

In the living room, we chose to do the West wall.  It is pretty plain in that it only has an arched doorway in the middle of it.  The peak of the vaulted ceiling side goes up to about 12 feet.  That’s not too bad, but I had to drag in the extension ladder to reach the top.  Removing the stuff on the wall was not a big deal (nor was putting it back). When I looked for the paint roller tubes, I could not find them. I was pretty sure I had some in the garage, but nope.  All I had was the edging tool that is about 3″ x 4″. I decided I was not going to let the lack of a roller stop me.  I used the tool do the edges and just for giggles started using it for the wall as well. It worked so well that I used it for everything. Maybe not as wide as a roller, but it used considerably less paint and made absolutely no mess.

Newly painted front room wall

The end result is fantastic. The room is much more inviting than it used to be, a lot warmer and lighter. In the picture the dark paint is pretty prominent, but the lighter color contrasts it beautifully.

I decided to do the back wall of the little hall through the doorway and it turned out very well. I did not originally do the wall around the bedroom door but the little bit of dark paint did not look right at all. I changed it to the lighter color and that fixed the problem completely.

Hallway and bedroom door

Everything required two coats to cover up the old dark color. At this point I had used about 60% of the gallon so I figured I had enough paint to do one wall in the other hall and one wall in the master bedroom.  The other hall is  narrow and tall. I had toyed with the idea of doing the lower part of the back wall, but decided to only do the top part. It turned out very well and makes the hall look a lot bigger and more inviting.

Other hallway

Other hallway

The master bedroom is another example of a room that is just too dark. Again, the color is nice, but it needs a little brightening. We decided to do the wall that has the window. The arched window over top of the drapes had rough cut cardboard over the opening. Yes brown, but very tacky looking. I brought home a couple of large cardboard pieces and cut a new one. This I coated with some primer and then some wall texture. Finally, I painted it in the trim color.  It needs another coat or two as it appears the cardboard sucked up some of the paint and the sheen is not even.

As for the wall itself, two coats of the light color makes all the difference. The room is brighter and looks a lot bigger.

Newly painted bedroom wall

I have to say I was very impressed with using that flat edging tool for the painting. It not only did the edges with remarkable precision, but it spread paint very evenly. It handled the texture better than any roller I have ever used.  I did the first coat vertically and the second coat horizontally. I used much less paint than a roller ever would have and the finish quality is perfect. The painted cardboard arch looks very natural and using the trim color on it really sets the wall off.

The gallon of paint cost $28. I spent about $35 on supplies, primer and wall texture material. I can use the supplies some more (I am going to repaint Kristen’s bedroom next month). I think the results make this project a full success and I did it pretty cheap. Best of all, Laura loves it.  That makes it worth it!

18
Jun

Update…It’s been such a long time…

   Posted by: John    in Family

Extra points for knowing who sang ‘It’s been such a long time…”

Seeing that is has been a very long time since I have posted anything, I suppose I should briefly catch up on events of the past 18 months.

First, I got divorced. 22 years, gone. The only thing I feel bad about is my 15 year old daughter. She is living with her mom, but spends quite a bit of time with me. Since her mom is actively out dating, my daughter sees a lot of guys around the place. And, since my ex is into messing around, there is a goodly amount of that going on as well. It does not make me very happy.

As for me, I am engaged. My fiancé is someone I have known for nearly 10 years. We had never dated before the divorce, but it seems that we have known for some time that we were going to be together. We just had never said or done anything about it.

In reality, I knew a very long time ago that my first marriage was not going to be the rest of my life. We just never really clicked. Oh we had some fun times and we had kids together, but we just didn’t like doing things together. And when it came apart, it came apart. That’s OK, I am not broken up about it at all. I have come to realize that getting away from a bad situation is good for the soul. Sometimes it takes a seriously strong kick to make the change.

My fiancé, Laura, is absolutely amazing. As I said, we have known each other for about 10 years. Her kids and my kids have known each other that long as well. That does not make it weird at all.  Our kids are all very happy for us. Her marriage ended a couple years ago and she had pretty much resigned herself to a life alone. However, we found that we had very strong feelings for each other and decided to go with them. It is the best thing ever! Both of us have never been happier in our lives. Aside from being in love, we also have respect for and absolute trust in each other. That’s the way it should be. And with us, that’s the way it is.

Laura is an amazing cook. She has some incredible recipes, things I had never tried before, like corn patch casserole (chicken, corn, cornmeal and who knows what else). She makes a homemade spaghetti sauce in the crock pot that is incredible. The broccoli salad is fantastic. It is so nice to come home several nights each week to supper being made. And, on the days she works, I make the meals so she has that luxury of arriving home to supper.  Of course, we often make our meals together and we also clean up and do the dishes together. That’s one thing I remember fondly from my grandparents, them working together to get the kitchen work done after the meals.

Laura takes care of the house and it is always clean. Not just clean, but sparkling clean. Everything has a place. The inside of her closet (and my dresser) look like clothing racks and shelves at Dillard’s. There is no lint or dust sitting around. Cleaning house is therapy for her and she does it well. There is no way I can emulate that level of OCD (and she admits she is OCD about it) but I do everything I can to make sure I put things away, do my part with the cooking, dishes, laundry, etc. (I don’t fold shirts. She has a way of doing it that I can’t duplicate and she will refold them anyway, so I leave them for her. She’s OK with that, flattered that I appreciate the way she does them.)

There is so much more, but most of all we love each other. And in a few months we will be married. That will be a fantastic day, one I look forward to.

Aside from the amazing relationship, I have been very busy with projects around the house. There has been a ton of stuff to do, some of it very necessary, but also some that make a difference in appearance as well as some ‘just because’ or fun stuff. I will be putting up some posts with some of these projects just because I am pleased with the way they have turned out. More important, Laura is happy with the results. And that’s the best reason to do them.

14
Jun

Time to start up again

   Posted by: John    in Uncategorized

This poor blog and server has been just sitting here for a long time now and nothing has happened with it. I think with everything that has happened in the past 18 months I just have not cared about it. Well, it’s time to get it going again…might as well put the server to use, right? So, I am going to start posting again. My life has changed a lot for the better in the past year. I will explain along the way and also post what I have been up to.  Stay tuned!