December 17, 2005

At my mother's request there are pictures, here. This is all the "Christmas Decor" there is.

December 4, 2005

Amanda has been being a bad influence on me lately... she's been pushing me to get curtains done, she's been pushing me to do some holiday decorating (WAY beyond what Megan got me to do a couple years ago), she's been pushing for me to host a Yule dinner (12/21, for those not familiar with the holiday). The curtains are a good thing, they'll save me money heating the house. The others... well they all require much cleaning.

SO, we're cleaning. Things are getting there slowly, but it'll probably be to the point of the massive "load the tools back into the basement" step by mid-week. Once that's done and the windows have met with their annual plastic, I'll probably be ending up with a 18" aluminum christmas tree and a can of spray pine scent. (Just kidding, I'm thinking anything short of an 8' real tree would look cheesy in my living room.) She's already bought the decorations, and has been working on me for a week.

In other news, today was the Troy Victorian Stroll. While wandering around downtown Troy admiring the decorations, the various actors (Victorian labor movement protestors and a really amazing Father Christmas), and the food, we spotted something with signs up for a "Spring 2006 Grand Opening" that is actually applicable to this - Poulin & Sons, Inc. full service ornamental plastering. for those who are interested. WOW.

Oh, the Victorian Stroll is one of the reasons to actually want to live in Troy, NY.

November 20, 2005... later

I just replaced the shelves in the kitchen cabinet that we use for plates. Actually, I replaced the *shelf*, and added a second that hasn't been there since before I bought the house. Now the old, nasty, sagging cheap particleboard shelf has been replaced with new, clean, not sagging birch plywood. And a second shelf for more space.

November 20, 2005

Now that I'm a bit less burnt out from the heating project (no pun intended) I'm starting to make progress again. Got the A/C out of the front window of the living room today. The original thought was that it is better insulated than the window itself is, so we were going to leave it. Problem was the little wings on each side were much, much worse. It's now living in the little closet under the stairs pretending to be Harry Potter.

Yesterday was a bit of a shopping trip. John, Amanda, and I went on a trip around all of the fabric stores in the area (that we knew about) looking for curtain makings. I've got linings for the dining room, living room, and study, along with fabric for the dining room and study. The stuff for the living room will be in next week, they were out of the color I wanted.

October 30, 2005

There is now heat in my bedroom, along with John's and Justin's.

October 27, 2005

Ahhh... the joys of homeownership in downtown Troy. Today has been "my" first experience with the not-so-nice aspects. There has been a gold Honda parked in front of my house for the past day or so, they left their lights on, no idea where it came from. We assumed it was the neighbors to the north, as they're pretty new and we haven't quite figured out who is who yet. Nope. Today the street got blocked off, cops everywhere, checking out the car. Turns out there was a body in the trunk. Justin will be on pretty much every local news program tonight, as we're convenient for them. It was in front of my dining room window, so the house will be prominently placed. As he was on the phone with me explaining what was going on there was a crew from Fox 23 out front waving at him through the window. *sigh*

In better news, I'll probably have heat to my bedroom either tonight or tomorrow. I got it mostly dry-fit last night, so it'll be fairly quick going once I break out the torch.

October 24, 2005

Expansion tanks appear to be a popular item this time of year. Johnstone Supply is *out*. I'm thinking I'm going to put up with a leak until next year, then replace the damn thing with the furnace. What's another $100 on top of the $6000 I expect to spend? I did, however, pick up 216' of pipe insulation today for the 1" pipes that make up the first floor loop. I'm going to get the 3/4" and 1/2" insulation next month, when 1) there's more of those size pipes actually carrying water, and 2) after my credit card month rolls.

I picked up a stack of clearance sweatshirts to keep in the living room for guests to use. I expect we're going to keep the heat turned down quite a bit to try and save money. I also picked up a totally high-tech programmable thermostat to replace the practically new non-programmable thing I bought last year. This one is energy star rated and does things like figure out the thermal inertia of the system. It'll also let us turn down the heat automatically when no one's home or everyone is asleep. I expect it to pay for itself in the first two months at most.

October 22, 2005

I hate a number of things about heating systems. Valves are most of them. The drain valve from the expension tank completely lost its seal. The valve on the bottom of the boiler gave up the ghost, too. The automatic air purge valve stopped sealing correctly and became an automatic water purge. Several of the other drain valves decided to not seat correctly in their threads. I'm going to have to buy at least two more new valves to replace ones that are broken - in the short term I scavenged from other parts of the system that aren't really connected yet. I'm also going to have to replace the expansion tank, as the threads at one end of it are shot to the point where I can't get a seal at all.

On the other hand, I left enough air in a few radiators that they can act as expansion tanks and turned the blasted thing on. I have heat on the first floor.

October 19, 2005

Yesterday I managed to get the rest of the 1st floor south side zone done. At 11:30 at night, I wasn't about to start filling the system, but that left me in a great position for today.

Other problems have left me in not such a great position. The automatic air purger didn't survive this experience - it's a float in a sealed box, and when enough air gets in to the box the float drops enough to open a valve in the top to let the air out. It's designed for the float to be supported by water nearly all of the time - 6 months with no support and now the valve doesn't quite close. Changed from being an air vent to a very effective water vent. Damn.

Also, it appears that the valve on one end of the expansion tank is dead, and the threads at the other end (toward the furnace) are crunchy such that they won't seal. Tomorrow's project: buy a new air purger, pressure tank, and appropriate pieces.

October 18, 2005... barely

Got more done, heat will probably get turned on in the next two days. Finally. It's pretty chilly in here right now... right around 60.

Sunday ended up being 4 hours of useful time rather than the 8 to 10 I was hoping for. Got the first floor south zone extended a bit, and a bunch of work in on connecting it to the radiators in the dining room and kitchen. Today I attached that pile of parts I made Sunday and started working on the second radiator in each of the kitchen and dining room. The plumbing of that zone will almost certainly be done tomorrow night, I expect it is about 2 hours of work.

New pictures in the basement

October 14, 2005

Haven't gotten much done recently, which is a *bad thing*. Yesterday I managed to get power run to the furnace, complete with a pretty new emergency shut off switch (as per code), and got all the drain valves and shutoff valve handles installed around the furnace.

Today I got all of the zones in the south side of the house over in to the south side of the house. I don't expect I'll be getting anything useful done tomorrow, but on Sunday I may be able to complete the 1st floor south side zone, potentially giving me heat on the entire first floor.

The only second floor zone that's done is Justin's room (3), as it was *easy*. The rest are a lot more involved, and thus are being brought close and left until I'm ready to handle the PITA part of connecting the new copper runs to the old cast iron risers.

October 5, 2005

Got some done tonight, not a huge amount but a very critical bit. It is now possible to fill the furnace with water, and I've got a good bit of the circuit run to be able to turn the furnace on.

October 3, 2005

Didn't get anything done yesterday, but I'd hit a bit of a roadblock: I needed to be able to sweat joints literally up against things that are flammable. As long as not too much of the system is done, sweats can be moved around to avoid this problem. No more. I picked up a spray bottle of really neat stuff - spray heat shield. It's disgustingly slimy, but it doesn't appear to get hot or transmit heat... until it dries. Not quite as good as a little asbestos pad would be, but the only thing I could find was an 18"x18" square of high temperature cloth, and it cost nearly $100.

Today was more progress, and more finding of stuff I need to buy. I've got 5 of the 9 pipes in the bundle worked over the main beam and on to the next part of the house. The foyer radiator under the bench is done. Most of the run to 3 is done, since that's also in the center part of the house. As soon as I get a coupler without stops (so it can totally slide on to a pipe) I'll be cutting in to the main water line to hook the furnace in. Then all the remaining 6 pipes will head in to the laundry room. I expect some of this will happen tomorrow, and all the rest of that will be Wednesday.

October 1, 2005

Another weekend, yet more work. I got the expansion tank reinstalled, and got most of the run from the furnace to the water main done. Also, progressed all 4 of the zones in the south side of the house somewhat, since in order to do the water feed I also need to get those past the water main. I've got 9 pipes in between a single pair of beams, so I can't run them out of order without risking having them suddenly not fit where they need to. Sometime either tomorrow or monday I'll have to turn off the water to the house and connect things in.

September 25, 2005

Didn't get as much done today as I might have wanted, but it wasn't bad all the same. Haven't touchd the first zone at all, it still needs it's drain. I *have* gotten three of the other zones to the point where I could screw their drains in, and have the other three zones dry-fitted to the same point - 5+' away from the furnace. A couple of the zones are actually more than 10' out, the rest are all in the process of taking a hard right turn and heading for the south side of the house. Also discovered that I totally forgot to take the location of the gas line for the furnace into account, so I've had to pull a few stupid tricks to go around it...

I've run out of 1" elbows and a few other pieces, so several things will have to wait until I make it to Johnstone again. At least my shopping list is shorter each time I go.

New pictures here

September 23, 2005

Today was largely injury free, and mostly productive. Short day, as I'm about to leave town (at 5:30) for a day to have a birthday away from plumbing.

The only part left to be attached to the first zone is the boiler drain, and that's screw-in. Everything from the furnace to the furthest radiator is attached permanently.

I also started working on all the rest of the zones at once. Now that I know how some of the parts need to fit together, I could work on getting all the valves, drains, etc. for the other 6 zones going at once. I have pictures, but they're going to wait until I get back 'cause they take too long to suck off the camera.

September 22, 2005

I got another long day in today, but lost a bit in the middle due to injury. I keep saying that solder isn't what you need to be afraid of when doing plumbing, it's the flux. I managed to get a couple burns from solder and a couple/few from hot copper pipes, but the real winner was liquid flux. Now that I've really looked at it, it's the worst burn I've ever had - it even tops the winner I got from the pizza ovens at work back in high school. That lost me a full hour in the middle of the day. The other burns didn't lose me more than 10 minutes total, but they're really annoying - one is on the tip of my dominant hand index finger.

However, over the 10+ hours of work today, I got the entire zone sweated together that I've spent the rest of the week building. All that's missing is the connection from the zone to the manifolds, but even that piece is made and sweated together. I'm in the process of sweating the manifolds to the furnace, then the whole thing will be completely done. Also, it turns out that while 1/2" boiler drains can take 1/2" pipe as a sweat fitting AND 1/2" thread as well, 3/4" boiler drains take 3/4" thread and 5/8" sweat. I was assuming that 3/4" drains would have the same characteristics as 1/2", so I didn't need anything else to make it work. So tomorrow I go buy more parts.

The one nice thing about where things stand - I've been working on one of the two most complicated zones. The other is the other half of the first floor. The other *5* heating zones are each going to be: furnace -> valve -> (maybe a drain) -> connection to piping to the second floor. Those will be *much* simpler and faster to put together. However, I think we're going to end up a bit... cold before I get this done. Damn.

September 21, 2005

I got somewhere between 10 and 11 hours of work done today, and it seems like I didn't get very much done. However, I've been working on the most complicated zone first and sweating together the manifolds at the same time, so I've been making progress in very dense, complex areas.

First, the one non-plumbing thing. While up on a ladder working on plumbing today, I looked over at the main beam I've been trying to jack stuff off of and noticed that it had lifted off the column under its end. Great, progress! Wait... it isn't touching either the column under the end, or the column under the middle. So it's supported only at the end at the wall? That's just not possible. On further examination, I discovered that everything around that beam is nailed together - the lap joint between it and the next piece of main beam has nails all over the place and each of the beams I'm jacking up is toe-nailed in. But the beams are lifted enough, except right over the lap joint - I'll just give the end a couple cranks and I'm done jacking up the bathrooms. This, however, is currently NOT the priority until the heating system is put back together.

The first zone (north side of the 1st floor) is largely dry-fitted together. I'm missing 2 fittings due to a last-second design change (the plumbing is MUCH cleaner than it would have been) and couldn't do the piece between one of the trunk pipes and the manifold on the furnace until the manifold was done, so that's probably 15 minutes to finish both up. The radiator in the study is completely attached and sweated in to place. The first radiator in the living room is partially sweated in. It's starting to look like something real, finally.

I was also starting to look at how to attach the new zones to the upstairs, and am less and less happy with what is going to be involved. I wish I could just rip out all of the cast iron going to the bedrooms, but it's just not going to happen until I rip out the floors upstairs... and I have no plans to do that. However, I *can* rip out the runs up to 1 and 2, and am seriously debating doing just that. It would greatly simplify things around those rooms...

Tomorrow's plan - after caffeine, go to Johnstone and spend more money, then finish the first zone except for the connections to the manifolds - just dry-fit those. I'm figuring the manifold connections will be the very last things done, as I want the flexibility in the system while I'm still dealing with things.

September 21, 2005... first thing

I was halfway through another update last night with the promised pictures, and apparently I was so tired I never finished. The editor was still up when I just sat down with my first cup of coffee.

Nearly everything I accomplished after yesterday's update masquerades as making no progress. Except that it very much was. I spent nearly four hours just sweating joints together. Nothing really looks different, it's just permanent. Unfortunately, that means that no additional radiators were attached, and no more trunk line was placed. Very frustrating.

Pictures: Living Room and Basement

September 20, 2005

I need to update this a touch more often this week. I have the week off, and am doing plumbing. Yay, heating system. However, I'm making pretty slow progress so far, as every day since Friday I've had *something* to distract me from getting work accomplished. So far I've gotten about 4 hours per day in, and not nearly enough accomplished. Fortunately, some of what is yet to come will be much faster work.

One of the manifolds is sweated together, the other is not at all. I've got some of the 1" trunk for the north side of the house, 1st floor in, and the radiator in the study is dry fitted in to the trunk. At some point I'm going to have to go back and start sweating things together, and I'm really not looking forward to that.

Pictures later today, I'm not done for the day yet.

September 11, 2005

I've got the manifolds dry-fitted together for the heating system. These are the parts that break out from the single pipe in to (or out of) the furnace and go the to myriad of pipes heading towards radiators. I've even done the research for how to do zones, including the dimensions of the zone circulator pumps that I'll be putting in next year - so I know there's enough room in the system for the pumps themselves to fit. Next piece of this will be to start assembling the bits actually attached to the furnace, so I can get the manifolds into the air and start looking at where the pipes really need to go.

Also, I was at Home Depot today (new pipe cutter for 1.5" pipe) and priced a full layer of R38 insulation to fit into the attic. 1600 sq. ft. will cost me around $1200. Ow. I wonder how long it will take to pay for itself. I'm guessing it's measured in months, not years.

September 4, 2005

Discovered something I hadn't expected while cranking up the jacks today... one of the beams (the one most against the exterior wall) isn't solid across the main beam. It's actually 2 pieces that butt against each other right on top of the main beam. So, the jack I've been cranking on has been lifting one of the two pieces. Fortunately, I had a spare jack sitting on the floor, and now the job involves cranking away at 11 jacks instead of 10. Seems like once per month the number grows...

And another problem - my concepts of how to put the heating system back together, specifically right at the furnace itself, are proving... difficult to translate into copper. I covered 95% of the system design before buying all the parts, and I guess I convinced myself that I'd covered that last 5% as well. Now I'm staring at a furnace, a few bits of pipe, the wrong set of fittings, and realizing that I'm missing quite a bit to make it work. I'm *really* glad I started working on this NOW, rather than waiting until the week off I'm taking just for this purpose. I'll be heading to Johnstone some time this week to order more parts. Fortunately, it appears I only bought 2 fittings that are actually *wrong*, so I didn't waste much money. I'll even try to return them.

Another epiphany - I haven't had the furnace cleaned or tuned since I bought the house. I wonder how much of an efficiency boost I'll get when I get it all back together, then have it cleaned.

September 3, 2005

Still jacking...

However, in the interests of not freezing our posteriors off this winter, I've begun the exciting project of putting the heating system back together. Nothing too exciting yet, just working on running new pipes from the radiators down through the floor so I can hook things together later. Actually, more of just getting the parts together, sorted out, and some bits of pipe cut. Nothing is actually sweated together yet, I figure that'll be more efficient if I get everything prepped and have a maraton day playing with fire. Pictures of the plumbing project at: Living Room, Study, Kitchen, and Foyer.

August 29, 2005

Still jacking up the house, hoping to get to some of the plumbing before the week I'm taking off to do just that. I figure I'm more likely to complete it if I don't try to cram it in to too little time.

Thanks to Hurricaine Katrina, natural gas prices jumped 20% for a short while today, prompting me to think more than usual about heating costs for this coming winter. I think it is safe to say that I'm going to see the second 30% cost/CCF increase in a row. Last year I managed to seal up the house well enough to practically offset that, and I kept the Ni-Mo bills to within 5% of last year. I don't think that's possible to do again. I am currently setting aside all of my spending money in November for fabric and insulation to make curtains for the entire house. I expect there will be more money than needed for that, so caulking and insulation will follow. This is gonna hurt.

August 20, 2005

Went to Johnstone today to pick up my order, remembered this morning that I'd forgotten to get any couplers as part of it - tough to run 40' the length of the house with no way to connect the 10' pieces together. Just over $1000 total and the whole thing fit into a cubic foot cardboard box. The only non-copper is a new head for my plumbing torch with good flow control, trigger igniter (piezo-electric sparker), and it'll fit on either propane or MAPP tanks.

Update on jacking up the house - Justin noticed today that above the center post the main beam is lifting off the pillar, rather than the cross beams lifting off the main beam. I'm a lot closer to where I need to be than I thought I was.

August 14, 2005

Not *too* much to report - still jacking up the house prior to doing the structural work. However, I went up to Johnstone Supply and ordered all the rest of the plumbing bits for the heating system. Another $1000 worth of copper, and all I left the store with was a piece of paper - I ordered a bunch of stuff they don't have in stock.

August 2, 2005

I'm taking advantage of a midweek day off (I worked last Saturday) to do a bit of... shopping. I now know what $750 worth of copper pipe looks like. Very much NOT impressive. 27 10' pieces of 1", 26 10' pieces of 3/4", and 26 10' pieces of 1/2". OW. I didn't buy *any* of the fittings, because on talking to the guy at Johnstone Supply it turns out I was full of it on a couple details of how I wanted to do this - I wanted valves, unions, and drains on each and every radiator. Most of that is easy, except the drain. If I can't have a drain, I don't needs the valves, since the idea was to be able to shut off, drain, and remove a single radiator at a time. It'll still be good to have the unions, since then I can remove things without cutting and having to re-sweat things back together later.

I *just* figured out how to do this. I'm going to have a shutoff valve for each zone, and a drain to go with it. If I need to remove a radiator, I don't need to drain the entire system, just the zone. Also, the drain valves will be above head height in the basement, and the drain into the sewer is at about 4' off the floor, so it'll drain much more effectively than the valve off the bottom of the boiler (4" off the floor) does now.

July 27, 2005

No, not much to update. I've been slowly jacking up the bathrooms, and at this point I've got 3 (or 4?) beams lifted off the main beam. Out of 10. Several of the remaining beams appear to have as much as 1/8" of crush literally wrapping *around* the main beam. This is going to take a while. It would help if I remembered to do a little lifting every day...

July 6, 2005

It's 8:10 am, and the roofers have already left. zzz....

They did the warrantee repairs on the two leaks in my roof, and gave me a bunch of advice that probably won't get their company any money at all. Even if it did, these guys were just roofers, not company sales/owners/etc at all so it's not like they were hard-sell pitching themselves. I'm looking at skylights right now to replace the windows at the top of the servants' stair, because one of the leaks was in the sill of that window. Yuck.

June 28, 2005

I now have a 15,000 btu air conditioner in the front window of my living room, and it is making both the living room and the study quite comfortable. Amazing how much of a difference 7-10 degrees and 4 billion% humidity makes. The living room was 87 when I started, and the beast is set for 78 right now... and I hate going out of the room already.

June 27, 2005

John and I reinstalled the pocket door in the living room that came out almost two years ago. It was almost as much of a PITA as we expected. Next step... installing the A/C in the living room window.

June 17, 2005

I got a set of 9 jacks put in place along the main beam under the bathrooms, and got them jacked in tight. Now I start the slow process of lifting the beams up... I'm debating 1/4 or 1/8 of a turn per day.

June 13, 2005

Yesterday I got the radiators from the living room and one from a bathroom out onto the sidewalk and went after them with the pressure washer. One from the living room came clean fairly easily. One wouldn't give up its paint for anything. The one from the bathroom was dragged out just for something useful to do because the recalcitrant one wasn't going to be taking up the time I was expecting it to. The big downside of the whole thing? The front radiator from the living room is @#%$ing gigantic, and we ended up having to get help to get it back in the house - John and I just could not do it. Justin is in CT at the moment, so we ended up with the fiancee of a friend (OK, also a friend of John's) who turned up to help heave. (THANKS!)

I also bought a gigantic A/C, it will be going into the living room front window and will cool off the Living Room AND the Study.

May 30, 2005

Very late last night I came up with what I think is the solution to the beams problem. Unfortunately, it changes the order things have to be done in, and drastically changes the equipment required. My goal was to not need any jacks or jacking to get the new beams physically placed where they need to be, thus eliminating the need to remove any bathrooms to just get the beams in. That way I could deal with the beams and heating system with no other complicating factors.

Now I could put the heating system back in tomorrow. Parts of it were in the way under the bathrooms no matter what, so getting rid of them is a good thing. But there is no longer a need for me to be able to pull the furnace out of the way. I simply can't put the beams in from that side. The original plan was to lift the new beams (14' long) under the north part of the house (14'3" wall to main beam) and slide them in to place under the middle of the house (10' wide, main beam to main beam). Since that can't happen, I was stuck.

New plan - I need to replace one of the main beams anyway, so instead of jacking up the whole swath of beams with a couple jacks to pull the main beam out, I will jack each and every one of them separately. Once the main beam is out, there is nothing in the way of just lifting the new beams into place, supporting them just so they don't fall on our heads, and putting the new main beam into place under them.

Problem with the new plan - I refuse to jack this end of the house up anywhere near that much with the concrete slab on the second floor just waiting to drop on my head. So I need to rip out the second floor bathroom in order to even start on this. I'll also need something like 14 jacks, at $35 each. I currently have 5, I think. They'll be useful again - when I'm working on the porch. And probably after the beams are in and I'm putting in the new floor beams for the second floor bathroom - those beams are pretty well shot, too.

In other news, I dealt with the electrical for the kitchen that used to run under the bathrooms. It's horribly ugly, but differently ugly than it used to be. And not in the way.

May 29, 2005

I'm feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment. I've been ripping down the fire-resist sheetrock over the furnace so I could get at the various bits of electrical I needed to remove/replace, and so I could pull down the pipe straps left from the cast iron pipes. In looking over everything that needs to be done, I've decided that rerouting the wiring from the kitchen will be annoying, but not much more. I've also removed the last piece of 50's vintage armored cable that was running into the main panel.

So why am I overwhelmed? Only 1 of the 7 beams that I need to replace isn't physically blocked by something. One is blocked on both sides by a chimney, so I simply can't replace it - I can't get the new one in. The next 3 are all blocked on the north side (where I've been expecting to get the new beams in from) by a cross beam that I uncovered when taking down the sheetrock. Not a brace between two beams, an actual crossbeam right at the edge of the chimney. The next one is clear, but only barely. The next 2 are blocked by the main gas line cutting from one end of the house to the other. From the other side (over the laundry room), a couple more are clear, but that's if I count having to rip out the water heaters as "clear". There's water lines, gas lines, electrical runs (both normal circuits and the subpanel feed to the second floor), and even the exhaust vent from the water heaters. I need to get these replaced, and I just don't see how...

And still more May 28...

I figured out what needs to be next. Other than random cleanup and the many things I *could* do, the next step on the critical path is a bunch of electrical work. I need to get *all* the wires out from under the bathrooms. Some of that won't be possible in the short term, but I can work around 2 cables - the feed for power to the upstairs. The rest is stuff like the kitchen - which really has no reason to cut through where it does (and is horribly ugly to boot), the furnace - which is so far from code it's rediculous, and power to the bathrooms themselves.

And I got woken up this morning by someone coming by and taking the last of the pile of pipes, so I don't even need to deal with getting the city to take them away.

More May 28...

So I finally managed to move and do something - I cleaned up a bunch of the mess I'd left in the basement, and finally dealt with the pile of beadboard that had accumulated on top of the new beams. I then moved the beams to be more or less where they'll need to be in order to be installed, and stacked them to try and use their own weight to press a bit of warp out of a few of them. One is more accurately "twizzler" shaped, but most of them aren't bad at all. And now that they're stacked, they're taking up 14'x1' of floor space, where before it was more like 14'x5'

May 28, 2005

Once I finished the initial goal - ripping out the heating system - I've found it quite difficult to do anything else useful. I need to come up with the next major goal...

May 26, 2005 written late again

This is turning into a trend.

All the pipe is gone, the heating system is gutted. See the pictures of the Basement. Also according to my expectations, a couple guys came by and took the pile of pipe we were leaving on the sidewalk for the scrap value (last I checked, on the order of $1.50/100 lbs) so I don't even have much of a mountain out there now.

May 25, 2005, written a bit... late

I was too exhausted last night to write this, so it's first thing the next morning. Close enough.

Yesterday was very simple. Cut pipe, haul it out, lather, rinse, repeat. There is nearly no pipe left under the center of the house, or the south section. One of 4 long runs under the north section is on the floor, but needs to be cut up in order to get it out of the house. There's only one run left attached to the furnace - pulling the furnace out completely will involve disconnecting gas and the pressure tank. We even pulled the vent yesterday in order to not drop a hundred pounds of cast iron on it.

On a very related note, whoever installed this in the first place (the current furnace, not the cast iron pipes) did a horrible job. Leaking joints everywhere, slowly corroding their way into oblivion. The vent going in to the chimney was held in by a small pile of loose brick and stone bits, slopped over with improperly applied mortar patching stuff. The whole thing just fell out in my hands. I guess I'm learning masonry, too...

New pictures of just the Basement.

May 24, 2005... later

Much in the way of accomplishments today - the pipes are gone from the laundry room, formerly feeding the kitchen, 1/2 of the dining room, and bedrooms 1 and 2. There are stubs still from 1 and 2, just because I haven't figured out just what I want to do with them. It looks like I will be able to completely replumb all the way to those two bedrooms without too much pain. I started following those same feeder pipes toward the furnace, and got most of them removed from under the bathrooms. They're more than 4" at that point, and with the gigantic fittings they're getting !$#%ing heavy.

There are no cast iron pipes sticking up onto the first floor any more, except where they are still en route to the second floor. Only two radiators on the first floor are still connected to anything, because those are ones I replumbed last year and haven't gotten to disconnecting yet. I'm more worried about the other ones, anyway.

I'm going through Sawz-all blades as though they come dipped in chocolate. I actually got one to last until it was dull today, and in the first 30 seconds of the new blade turned it into a pretzel. Damn.

I'm gonna be really tired of chili by the end of the week. I made a gallon and a half of it yesterday, and meals are filling, fast, good, and a bit repetitive.

A day in pictures: Kitchen, and Basement.

May 24, 2005

Just a short update now, lots more later. The slowest part of ripping down the old heating pipes is turning out to be letting the TigerClaw cool. I've been pulling the temper from the blades and the motor has been getting awfully warm... so after 3 or 4 cuts I take a half hour off and let things cool.

May 23, 2005

A bunch was accomplished today, and more may still happen. I got the water feed to the furnace cut and capped (only took 4 hours to get the @#$% cap to sweat on... I just couldn't get the pipe to dry out.) and now the entire heating system is completely drained... except for where there are little pools lying in wait to jump out on me. All the radiators on the first floor that hadn't been removed in the past are disconnected from the system, and in many cases the pipes have been ripped back a fair bit. It's a good start. The new TigerClaw (Porter Cable's Sawz-All clone) is awesome, cuts through iron pipe like butter. (Or is that "Like Buttah"?)

Pictures of the wreckage: Living Room, Study, 1st Floor Full Bathroom, 1st Floor Half Bathroom, and the Basement. The Living Room Pictures includes the explanation of the "pools lying in wait" comment.

May 22, 2005... a little later

I just went around and took a pile of pictures. Living Room, 1st Floor Half Bath, 1st Floor Full Bath, 2nd Floor Full Bath, Bedroom 2, Bedroom 6, Bedroom 7, and the Basement.

May 22, 2005

New pictures are finally up (first time this calendar year... geez) of the stuff for the bathroom renovations. I put them all in with the 2nd floor bathroom pictures just because that's going to be the first one to go.

I'm also now draining the heating system. I turned the furnace completely off for the first time (last year I left the pilot light going) so I'll have to find out in the fall just how much of a PITA getting the pilot going again is going to be. I'm expecting to actually have to disconnect the furnace from the gas lines and move it out of the way to get the beams into place, so I'm prepping for that eventuality.

May 21, 2005

I started a week off from work today by picking up a mountain of stuff at Top Tile. The only bathroom supplies I still need from there are grout and thinset. I also still need subfloor, sheetrock, electrical parts, all the plumbing, the upstairs sink and vanity, medicine cabinets/ mirrors, shower doors, and towel rods. And probably other stuff I'm not thinking of.

Yes, I said sheetrock. I was convinced by the folks at Top Tile that the right stuff to put behind the wall tiles is bathroom grade sheetrock, rather than cement board. If the walls flex enough that it pops tiles (the usual reason to use cement board), the cement board would just break. But you need something that's water resistant, so plywood won't cut it. I haven't figured out whether I'll do plaster where it's exposed, but I'm definitely doing sheetrock behind the tiles.

My project for this week is to completely rip out the heating system and get the new beams into position, at least ready to be installed if not actually sitting on the house's main beam. We'll see. If the weather decides to cooperate and the heating system doesn't take TOO long I'm going to see about going up the front of the house to poke at the bay window... now that I have enough scaffolding to get all the way up to the roof.

April 28, 2005

I'm really attempting to get everything together as soon as possible to redo all three bathrooms completely, prior to starting anything. Today I ordered the in-floor heating, the rest of the wall and floor tiles *except* the top and bottom trim for the walls (I didn't have measurements with me... damn.) Also, the pans for the floors of the showers, along with the rest of the shower accoutrements (drain bits, liner, etc.) and nailed down the exact products I'm using for cement backer board for the floors (HardiBacker 1/4") and the walls (a more standard PermaBase 1/2" cement board). I need to figure out how much of each of those I'm going to get, and the trim tiles, and get all that ordered.

I also still need: plywood sub-floor, copper pipe for plumbing, a sink for upstairs and the vanity for it to go in, medicine cabinet for same, medicine cabinet for downstairs full, just a mirror for the downstairs half, lots of lighting type stuff, and a plumber to handle the drains. And probably a bunch more stuff I'm forgetting still. It's turning out that my most recent cost estimate is at least three thousand dollars low. Not the end of the world, but ouch.

April 27, 2005

I had a wonderful opportunity today, having gotten out of work unexpectedly a little early, and get the bathrooms parts from Curtis Lumber that can only be gotten from there. Curtis is about a half hour drive north of here, and they're the only place in the area that carries the brand of bathroom fixtures I'm using. They're also the only place I've found that carries scaffolding at reasonable prices. So I've now got everything except the towel bars either here or ordered.

I got an email back from Danze, the people who make the fixtures I've been getting. "There are no plans to add a 2 or 3 handle shower set to the Opulence product line." However, it turned out there was a similar product line that included a 2 handle shower set that looks right, so I've got 2 of those. The handle style is a little different, but close enough. The faucets in that line are a combination of cool handles and post-modern spigots, so that's why I didn't go that route for the whole thing. The woman I dealt with at Curtis was very helpful, and helped me find these shower sets very quickly. I described what I wanted, and she just started ticking off manufacturers - "Delta won't have anything, Moen doesn't either, (someone whose name I don't remember) would look right, but you don't want them - they're crap..." until we came across this. It's all good now.

April 23, 2005

The show is over, and as pretty much always happens after a show I'm now sick. So I'm sitting at the computer doing the research for exactly what all I need for the bathrooms. I've spec'd out all the faucets and accoutrements except the showers, the product line I've been getting doesn't include ANY 2 or 3 handle shower controls. I hate the single handle things. I also haven't figured out the towel bars, I don't need to be in a rush for those.

I've also spec'd out the shower stalls (preformed things that go behind the tile to slope all the parts correctly) and the heaters. I still need to figure out the rest of the tile - I haven't ordered any of the little squares for the floors, and haven't figured out any of the "trim" pieces. (Primarily for the tops and bottoms of the walls.) I also forgot that when you tile a shower, you don't stop at 4' up the walls like I'm planning to do everywhere else, and on one wall of the shower it's tiled both inside AND outside... so I significantly under-ordered the subway tiles. That'll be another couple hundred bucks... and another couple hundred pounds in the dining room entrance.

I put in for the week before Memorial Day off from work... that's when I'll be ripping out the heating system.

March 14, 2005

Nothing big going on - I'm working on a show and accumulating money to make more progress. However, I just found a place that sells the various bits I'm going to need in order to rip out and replace the heating system. Or more accurately, all the pipes. I need to remove all the plumbing above the furnace in order to do the structural work under the bathrooms - the pipes are just in the way of putting new beams in. Once I start ripping at that end of the system (as opposed to the radiator end) I may as well replace all the cast iron pipe with new copper, and reduce the total volume of the system by a lot. The 4' of 1.25" pipe I replaced last fall with 1/2" copper removed almost a gallon from what the furnace needs to heat.

Why is it good to reduce the volume, you ask? If the furnace needs to heat 100 gallons of water in order to heat the house 1 degree (generally what the thermostat is asking for) it starts pumping heat in. By the time that heat actually reaches the thermostat so it stops calling for more, it's pumped in enough to raise the house 3 degrees and we overshoot. Now if I remove 50 gallons, it will take less time to get heat to the thermostat (less water in the system to heat, less time for it to circulate to radiators, etc). and thus overshoot less.

Other advantages - I'm going to prep the house for multiple loops. The downstairs will be one big loop, just because of layout. The bathrooms will all be separate (electric in-floor, actually). The bedrooms upstairs will hopefully each have their own loop, but I'm thinking there are some rooms that will end up in pairs (4+5, 6+7) because of how they're plumbed. The sooner I can get all of THAT working, the better - I'm tired of my bedroom being 80 in the winter because the heat is on for the downstairs, and I'm getting morning sun, heat from downstairs, AND heat from my radiator.

Oh, the other advantage of the place I found that'll sell me the pipe and fittings in the right sizes? They're 2 blocks from my house, right next to the onramp for the Rte 7 bridge.

February 20, 2005

Yet more tile news... first, I finally received the last sample I was waiting for - the "Bombay" light blue. It is to light blue what the first green sample I got is to green - yucky. So, the final decision on colors is: Dark Blue for the upstairs bathroom, Juniper (dark green) for the downstairs.

Second, I picked up the subway tile for the walls - all 26 boxes, at 35 lbs each makes for an additional half ton of ballast in the doorway to the dining room. That got me an additional 1/2-3/4 of a turn out of each of the jacks.

February 12, 2005

More tile news... I've gotten some samples of tiles to use for accents as part of the bathroom floors. The first couple samples came in as 4x4 squares of 1"x1" square tiles - exactly what I wanted, Cobalt Blue and "Dark Green". The Dark Green turned out to be a very earthy green, not nearly as deep as "Dark" implies to me. So I got more samples. The sample of "Juniper" came as 4 square feet of 1" hexagons, loose. This is the color I expected Dark Green to be, and I have enough of them to do a serious mosaic accent somewhere. Shower stall, maybe...

Then today I went and ordered the bulk white wall tile. Until I figure out exactly what colors I'm using I can't get any of the trim tiles, but I'm just slowly accumulating all the tiles for all three bathrooms. So I've now got 325 square feet of "subway tile" coming.

February 1, 2005

Amazing what being Technical Director for a SF Con then getting really sick will do... I haven't gotten anything done in a month.

I *have* gotten a couple turns out of the jacks under the dining room, slowly getting the house back onto it's supports there. I also finally got the tiles I ordered back in December and added them (~300 lbs) to the pile of weight over that spot. I've got a couple pictures of the pile and the one sheet of tiles we put out in the bathroom upstairs to look at.

January 3, 2005

The topic of original deeds came up today, and I commented that the original for my house probably hasn't seen the light of day in decades. Someone commented that it used to be traditional to hide them in the post at the bottom of the stairs. This gave me an idea :-)

Tonight I popped the top off the post at the bottom of my stairs, just to see what was in there. Turned out to be a few sections of newspaper from the early '50s, for no apparent reason. Also, a small placque that reads: "Expect a Miracle", from Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. I figure none of it needs to go back in there, and I need to come up with something interesting. Maybe my mortgage, rather than burning it. Obviously, when it's paid off.

January 1, 2005

I ordered a bunch of bathroom floor tiles yesterday, just the white hexes for the bulk of the floor. Yay, adding another tax write-off before the end of the year. It should be turning up some time next week...

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