House Stuff

November 24, 2007

The caulk stuff seems to work pretty well, I definitely recommend it.

Better news - in cleaning up the dining room I decided it was time to test the pile of ballast again. Test as in figure out how much of it I could move to the basement and not have the floor spring back up. The answer: 600 of 700 pounds. It springs about 1/32" when that last 100# is removed, so I just moved everything to the basement. The doorway to the dining room is finally clear.

November 12, 2007

Not much to report, I'm in winterizing mode, mostly. I found some removable caulk designed for sealing up leaky windows in the winter, so I'm trying that. Also, pictures of the heating project are finally up here.

November 6, 2007

Apparently life got busy, as not much as gotten done to report here. However, tonight I got two more zones done, as I pulled thermostat wires to 3 and 5 (for 4 & 5) and got them fully connected up and running. No more rooms sharing zones they're not really supposed to be attached to. Now we figure out what we want for programming...

October 21, 2007

I've actually gotten a bit done over the past couple weeks without an update, but really not much at any one time. (I was working on a show.) I've had the heat on and working for a couple weeks, but as of the last update all that was left was one connection where the wires were right next to each other. Since then I've pulled the thermostat wires from the basement to the attic (along with the phones and ethernet runs that were in the back stairwell) and gotten the new thermostat in the dining room fully connected and working. So now I'm at 2 working zones - the dining room and kitchen, and the rest of the house. As I add a thermostat, I add a working zone.

Next up is building the wine racks John needs to hold the product of his labors, which coincidentally includes all the wines for my wedding, followed by replumbing the entire domestic water system to get it out from under the bathrooms as much as possible.

October 8, 2007

Forgot to update yesterday - I got the pumps in place and the system pressurized. Nothing too exciting that I can remember now.

Today was annoying. I started wiring the pumps into the system and while pulling wire to one of the first pumps I noticed water on the floor. I traced the leak back to the pressure-relief valve on the boiler, which is supposed to trip at 30 psi. The regulator is set for 12 psi and the boiler isn't on, so I figured a bad valve... again. Then I noticed the pressure gauge on the boiler that was reading slightly more than 30 psi. Great, bad regulator. Fortunately, Johnstone Supply was open today, so I went and dropped another hundred bucks on parts and replaced the regulator.

Wiring is now done, the one thermostat in the living room is jumpered over to the four zones actually connected, all tested and working. Only part left is to connect to the boiler trigger itself to tell it to fire.

October 6, 2007

More progress to report. The flange bits are attached to the manifold. If the last of those hadn't managed to spray me across the upper chest with molten solder I would have the pumps in place, but that was my cue to stop for the evening. Also I got the crappy shutoff valve replaced while Amanda and John were out shopping - no one home to care that the water was turned off for several hours. Pumps will go in tomorrow morning, then a pressure test to make sure things are working, then I wire them all up. Fortunately it's bloody hot at the moment, so we don't need heat.

October 5, 2007

Last night was a bust, I just couldn't find the motivation to move. Tonight took its place. Manifold is reinstalled, the top flanges are in, the first piece that goes under a pump is fully assembled and just needs to be installed, second is 66% of the way there. Now that I've done a couple it gets easier.

The shutoff valve for the water feed to the boiler leaks. I installed it when I did all the major work last time around... two? years ago. Never buy valves from the major retailer H.D., they suck. Two of the four valves on my "wall of shame" are from there. I discovered this when I removed the manifold and the single big pump from the boiler back on the... errr... 2nd? I apparently didn't do an update that day and now I don't know which day that was. It was dripping a nearly full 5 gallon bucket per 24 hours when shut off as solidly as I could manage. Tomorrow I get to shut off the water to the whole house, drain the whole bloody place, and replace that valve. Again. So tonight I cut just after that valve so it would drip somewhere that was not all over me working on the boiler.

October 3, 2007

More work progressing on the heating system. I got the top parts of all the runs to the various pumps in place, with much swearing and burning of fingers, hands, and arms. Also got all of the joints in the top of the manifold cleaned out so I can reassemble things in the next couple days. Tomorrow's plan is to get the manifold reinstalled, the top flanges for the pumps installed, and get the pumps themselves in place temporarily so I can measure the pieces of pipe that need to go between the pumps and the manifold.

October 1, 2007

Painters are done, the front of the house no longer looks like I'm a slum lord. Pictures

September 30, 2007

I've apparently gotten lax about updating this while actually getting things accomplished. I've got to work on that.

I've got the zone control circuitry mounted next to the boiler and powered. I just moved the thermostat wire from the living room over and connected it to the new box just to test things, everything seems to be good. I'll connect it in tomorrow evening to actually fire the boiler, and I'll be able to keep making progress without losing my ability to heat the house for unreasonable lengths of time. Until I have to rip in the to the system to put the 7 new zone pumps in and remove the old circulator.

Totally unrelated but kick-butt progress. The guy who owns #19 lives behind kitty-corner to me, on the corner of Old 6th Ave and Hutton St. He had his house repainted last year, along with 3 other houses on the street. He had #19 repainted last week by the same painter. They started working on my place yesterday morning and will probably be done tomorrow. Yes, they were here both Saturday and Sunday - this is prime weather and the painting season is about to end, so he's making every dollar he can. Pictures will be forthcoming. I'm just glad the exterior of the house will be stabilized against the weather and the birds.

September 20, 2007

OK, the radiators are reattached. One leaky joint kept it from being done yesterday, but that's fixed now. Unfortunately, that broke my streak of no bad sweat joints in the entire system.

Now I can start working on zones...

September 16, 2007

I'm back to working on things again. I've picked up all the supplies to convert the heating system to 7 full zones and I've got one of the radiators in the living room reattached. Hopefully in the next few days I'll manage to have the three radiators I've had removed put back so I can fire the system up when I need it, then I'll start working on installing the zone sytstem.

July 20, 2007

Annual excuse to clean/party starts today, so no progress on working on the house, but lots of progress on cleaning the house. Also, the piano is back from refurb. New strings, new key tops, fixed veneer, new dampers, hammers, adjusted, and tuned. It sounds *great*.

July 12, 2007

The living room is done. The house is still a bomb zone, but the living room is moved back into its proper place. As the cleaning progresses things will move out that are still there, such as the scaffolding which will have to make way for the piano. Lots of new pictures.

July 9, 2007

The mouldings are completely painted, the floor has been touched up. The door frame with the hinge mortices hasn't been finished or painted, but it's not in the critical path to moving in to the living room. So tomorrow night, I clean the floor for the first time and move furniture back in. I'll get to reattaching the radiators at some point, as I forgot to get one critical part and it won't get here in time for the party.

July 7, 2007

Everything is scrubbed down, nearly everything is puttied (some idiot cut hinge mortices into the frame of one of the pocket doors and mounted the doors as open-in to the living room doors, so we're filling the mortices. That takes several coats and a lot of time.) so tomorrow morning I start to paint the areas away from the hinge mortices. Then we do some touchup on the floor (oops), wax the floor thoroughly, and move back in.

July 5, 2007

OK, I caved and am doing what I knew was the right thing to do. Turns out the bottom piece of moulding is easy to make - cut to length, rip to height, rip to thickness, cut a dado at the top for where it fits with the piece above it. Unfortunately this puts me a day and a half (or so) behind where I was. All that WAS left was to scrub the stripper residue off the window and paint. Now I need to make mouldings for 1/2 of the room, then scrub, THEN paint. 1/2 the room took the evening, but it's getting faster. I've done the easy ones, though... hmmm...

July 4, 2007

Found a few more removed pieces that hadn't been stripped, so those are done. Spent the day scrubbing the stripped stuff with mineral spirits to get the residue of stripper off, then installed the bottom bits of the baseboards. There are now *gigantic* gaps between the baseboards and the floor in some places. I'm debating replacing the bottom pieces of moulding, just to fill it in. Problem is, if it doesn't happen in the next couple days, it won't happen at all. The parts I'd have to replace will be behind radiators and the like, and it just won't happen. I just don't know... I need the living room back together and DONE.

July 3, 2007

I finished stripping the mouldings in the living room tonight. Ugh and Yay!

July 2, 2007

So I got home and discovered that the kitchen light wouldn't turn on. The tubes would glow a little bit at the ends, but nothing would make it actually turn on. So instead of finishing the last of the stripping I got to head off to HD to buy a new fluorescent fixture that isn't crap (the one that was in there was cheaper than the tubes alone) and replace the light. It's VERY bright in there now.

July 1, 2007

Another month, yet more paint stripping. I *think* I'll have the living room all done tomorrow evening. Then I reassemble the parts I've removed, putty up the bits that are gouged or have gaps in the assembly, then finally paint. Just a touch too much to get done to let me paint on the 4th, but I may just get that day off waiting for putty to dry instead.

I'm considering moving on to the foyer when I'm done stripping the living room, but I think my back and knees will stop me. That and the deadline of the party for having the house presentable.

Oh, I now have an entire 2.5 gallon bucket FULL of disgusting glop that used to be attached to my house.

June 29, 2007

Haven't updated in a while, but the updates would have been very boring if I had: "Worked on stripping mouldings." Many, many times over. I've got all the pieces that need to go back on around the floor done and drying. I've got all around the windows done. I've started working around the top of the door to the foyer, and will be working on that doorway and the doorway to the study all weekend. The big news tonight is that I found evidence of gold (leaf or paint, no clue) above the door to the foyer. I think it'd look tacky if I put it back, but maybe here and there as an accent...

June 17, 2007

I'm working on a book-on-tape that I recorded for someone back in March, having now promised him a proof copy by the end of the weekend. Problem is, the last step takes real time, so it has to run with moderate intervention for nearly an hour and a half. So I took the downtime to finally put the new chandelier up in the living room. Big win was that the old wires in the wall really are in smoothly bent old conduit, so when I went and bought the appropriate wire to run in conduit I used the old wire as a pull for the new, and I've replaced yet more ancient oil-soaked cloth-wrapped wire in the house. Oh, and I got rid of the yellow wire nuts that were hanging in the middle of my living room.

June 14, 2007

I'm being a bit lax about updating, but the progress being made is pretty slight so I'm not sure it matters. The finish has to really cure for a couple weeks before I put weight on it, so there isn't a whole lot I can do. I AM working on wiring the living room for phones and ethernet, since the old wiring was just pulled up through the holes in the floor around the radiator pipes. New stuff is in the walls, real wall plates and everything.

June 4, 2007

OK, NOW the floors are done. Wood putty in the nail holes around the edges of the floors, followed by a good coat of poly to seal it in. Most places you can't tell what I did.

June 4, 2007 from work

Argh... the floor isn't finished. I forgot to hit all the exposed nail heads with wood putty, so tonight it's getting puttied and another coat of finish. Then I can move on to mouldings, etc.

June 3, 2007

The floor is finished. Pictures here and here The only problems I had with the finishing process were due to substandard consumables for the floor sander - it holds sanding screens through a mechanism I'll call "not holding". There a foam pad that sticks to the machine by little spiky bits on the machine base, and the screens "stick" to the pad by... well... not very well. A good pad will last for a couple sandings of something this size, and through a couple changes of screen. I had one not last a single sanding. I finished the process with my 1/4 sheet pad sander. But it is done and it is beautiful.

May 29, 2007

All the wood is nailed to the floor. Pictures

May 29, 2007

As of late last night all that's left is the little bit between the living room and the study - about 6' wide by 6" deep. Should be filled in tonight, and I'll be doing the finish next Saturday. There's now a drop cloth over the foyer to protect it while we walk on the unfinished wood for a week.

May 28, 2007

Not what I wanted today, but progress. I've got the living room floor in completely and have started the foyer. But there is no way I'll have the foyer done tomorrow early enough to actually put finish on it until next weekend. Bleagh.

May 25, 2007

Living room is probably 85% done, I returned the nailer and will rent it again Sunday. Every estimate I've seen has been totally wrong - plans that say you can redo the floor in a room about this size in 4 hours if you're an experienced carpenter or 8 with little carpentry experience at all. I'm at more than 16 hours of hard labor just putting down hardwood and there's more to go. Tomorrow I won't be home and that will give me a chance to be less sore. But it looks *great*. Pictures

May 24, 2007

Short post backdated - I have 10-15% of the flooring down. I hurt a lot, but I'm about to start putting more down. The pictures are great, when I get to posting them.

May 18, 2007

More stripping, this time in smaller bits to make it hurt less. There's a lot of bending involved and my back can only handle it in stints. So I'm alternating with going over the edges of the old subfloor with a belt sander to even things up before I put flooring down over the joint.

Biggest thing today - a bunch of new pictures of how things are going in the Living Room, Foyer, and for good measure a shot up on the Roof.

May 17, 2007

Started stripping more mouldings tonight, but it's very slow going. The crown mouldings above the doorways in the foyer are all very complicated, making it pretty slow going. Also, it seems that I can't find any good scraping tools smaller than 1.375" wide, and I really want 1" or even .75" to make this go faster. AND, I'm doing all of this up on scaffolding.

But the oak is so pretty...

May 14, 2007

New plan for the floor: I'm going to do some more stripping of mouldings above the 5' mark I was going to while waiting for my wrist to thoroughly heal. John helped me get the scaffolding set up in the living room last night so I'll be able to get to everything. At some point we'll get access to the table saw cleared up in the basement so I'll be able to do some of the work for the floor, and I'll tack down the edge courses of the framing for the new flooring. Then I'll actually do the floor Memorial Day weekend, as I'd already taken from Thursday through Monday off to go to a convention I'm not going to anyway. Tha gives my wrist two weeks to recover before I risk doing serious damage to it, AND lets me get something accomplished in the meantime.

May 11, 2007

OK, it's over. The sprain is just unworkable. I'm going to try and get the edge courses in place because those are relatively easy, but there is just no way for me to move bundles of oak flooring, let alone handle a floor sander.

May 10, 2007

Today was supposed to be a day of recuperation. I woke up when I wanted to. I put some screws into the subfloor (it was tacked down, now there are screws every 12" in the middle and 6" on the edges of the pieces). I wandered up to Johnstone Supply to see about the little metal rings that go around heating pipes where they come through the floor ("Floor Escutcheons"... and now you know.) I had lunch. I started pulling nails out of the salvaged oak flooring from the foyer and stacking it on the porch. I sprained my wrist pulling nails, then got cornered by a local wingnut (of the tinfoil hat variety) looking for salvage to use for the landlords he does contractor work for. (Hint: those aren't landlords, they're slumlords.)

I *did* get all the nails out and the wood moved. I did get the living room cleaned up (with help from Amanda, Justin, and Mark Destefano), screwed down, and chalk-lined for laying out floor. I found that the living room is the most un-square room I think I've ever worked in. It is an inch wider at one end than the other, and an inch and a half longer at one side. It is also skewed angle-wise to exaggerate those, so my lines are *really* screwy. At some point when typing hurts less I'll deal with the pictures, they're exciting.

May 9, 2007

OK, the subfloor is done everywhere. The rest of the schedule is slipping due to age. I'm going to take today to clean up the living room from all the work (cutting subfloor) and the pile of oak salvage (remove nails and stack neatly) and figure out where the chalk lines need to be to align the new flooring correctly. IF I'm feeling up to it this evening I'll go rent the nailer and start on the flooring, but otherwise I'm just pushing everything a day. Friday for flooring, Saturday for finish.

Oh, and my shopvac is dying. Blew the breaker in the living room with just that (rated for 11.5 A) and a box fan in the window (.5A?) on a 20A breaker. Took it outside and cleaned it up a lot, should be better, but it's still making a nasty noise...

May 8, 2007

Learning as I go, I now see the schedule was silly in some ways. If I were in better shape I could have cut a day out of it. Instead, I'm pushing some stuff off until tomorrow to try and recuperate a bit. The subfloor in the living room is nearly done, the next piece has to wait until the foyer is ripped out because it will extend into the door frame that isn't ripped out yet. I've gotten the hard parts of the foyer floor ripped out, the straight bits in the middle are *fast*, so that'll be tomorrow morning. Then much vacuuming, ripping out of the subfloor, and all the subfloor goes in.

I'm NOT using any felt paper or related product. I finally found out why it was used, which explains why it is no longer needed. With 7" plank subfloors with knot holes, gaps around the tongues for expansion space, etc. and plank flooring with small gaps around the tongues for expansion space air can get through the floor. Not a big deal 100 years ago for heat, except for one detail... when you heat with COAL, heat is plentiful and cheap... and comes with coal dust. I finally figured out what the dark grey dust is in the floors... SO, anyone who says the felt paper (rosin paper, sometimes tar paper) is to keep the floor from squeaking doesn't know what they're talking about. The squeaks are nails that have worked loose (find a squeak, then pull out a nail from something, compare and contrast). Use screws, and if you're really paranoid use construction adhesive on the beams under the subfloor.

May 7, 2007

Both ahead of and behind schedule. The subfloor isn't done, but 99% of the demolition is and 75% of the subfloor is in. However, I got water-based stain, so I don't have the 3 day drying requirement at the end of the week. We'll see how it all works out.

May 6, 2007

Today I got the entire living room floor removed, and the horrible mess that was under the floorboards cleaned up. The oldest coin I've found so far is a 1920 penny, although I don't expect to find many more coins - the living room was the good place for them to get stuck. Now that I can see all the subfloor I'm really scared by it. Places where it was installed wrong, places where it has shattered over the years, places where the knots were 1/3 of the width of the boards... it's not pretty.

Schedule for the week:

Only problem with this is that the stain needs to dry for three days (assuming I get an oil stain, which is not guaranteed) which means I need to stain on Thursday so I can finish on Sunday. I'm not sure how this is going to work yet.

More pictures.

May 5, 2007

Finished up 2 (or 3) passes of stripper on all of the mouldings in the living room, and 1 pass on all of the mouldings in the foyer that I can get to at the moment. The pile of subfloor is in the way of the last bit, so I'm putting off finishing stripping the foyer until I have the subfloor installed in the living room. So I moved on.

So nearly half of the living room has no flooring. I'll get to the subfloor at some point soon. I'm particularly glad I'm ripping up the pine first - I figured out how to remove the boards without damage BEFORE I start to try to remove the foyer where I want to keep them. Pictures of current status in the usual place.

May 2, 2007

I've been stripping mouldings still. Generally I've been alternating between being annoyed that Amanda pointed out this would be the right time to really get the mouldings clean and just accepting that this needs to be done and when I don't care about the floor under it is the time to do it.

Tonight that changed a lot. I've stripped all the mouldings in the living room below 5' and not behind radiators, so I started working in the foyer. Turns out the mouldings in the foyer are all original oak. The stripper is dissolving the varnish they used much better than the bottom layer of paint in the living room, so the latex paint is coming off in sheets exposing pristine dark-stained varnished oak underneath. It's a gorgeous thing.

So I have to share.

April 29, 2007

Lots of paint stripping going on today. It takes about an hour from glopping the stuff on to glopping on the second pass, so it's a slow process. I've got the walls where the entertainment center and book cases used to be done and I've started working under the windows. Also, some new pictures are up here.

April 28, 2007

Today I started working on stripping the paint off the mouldings in the living room. Partially, I wanted to see how difficult it was going to be. Partially, I want to clean the many layers of gunk off the mouldings so I can repaint them and make the room look that much *better* in the process of doing the floors. Problem is the paint stripper I've been using around the house from the beginning won't touch the bottom layer of paint. Apparently the stuff takes modern paint formulations off without any problem, but the 100 year old stuff it can't even begin on. But since I'm going to repaint the living room mouldings white (or maybe a cream, now that I see what the original color was) I don't think I care about that bottom layer. I did have to strip the entire section twice just to get to that point, though. It's going to be a lot of work...

April 25, 2007

So, as yesterday was the promised Tuesday, the piano is gone and the lumber has arrived. My fancy scheduling attempt failed miserably, so I waited 6.5 hours between the two where I was hoping for 2 hours. At least they were in the correct order - get rid of the piano FIRST. Everything I've found recommends letting the flooring and subfloor acclimate for 3 days (minimum) before installing, so I've got a couple days to kill... so I'm debating stripping the mouldings on the walls to repaint. Pro: no removing the mouldings, risking damage, etc. Con: Can this project expand any further without collapsing under its own weight? Pro: The room will look GOOD when I'm done. Con: If I'm not extremely careful, I could damage the wallpaper next to the mouldings with stripper, paint, or even the masking tape... the paper is *very* fragile. I just don't know.

April 21, 2007

Now the living room is well under way. Stuff shows up on Tuesday, so the space is somewhat ready to receive it. I've started pulling mouldings off the bottoms of the walls (part of the baseboard) so I can yank the flooring out from under. The faux mantle came right off the wall, and I found a couple old bottles from a pharmacy in Troy behind.

LOTS of new pictures in the Basement, the Dining Room, and the LivingRoom

April 15, 2007

The living room is starting already. I ordered the flooring and subfloor yesterday, it will be delivered on April 24th in the late morning or early afternoon. That's important because the piano movers are going to be here between 9:30 and 10:00 to take my piano in to Aldritch Pianos for a complete refurb (except the keytops... I want ivory and can't afford that at the moment).

So we started moving the living room into the dining room. A fair bit of time was spent discussing how to fit everything and still have a usable "living room in exile" so we can occasionally watch Good Eats or Dr. Who. The piano is on movers dollies so it can be shuffled easily and the love seat is where the piano used to be in the study. The book cases are in the dining room next to the dining room table minus its leaves. One of the nasty carpets we've had in the living room is working its way to the trash, once it is no longer snowing.

April 10, 2007

The plans for the living room floor have changed a bit. I'm going to be replacing the living room floor and the front half of the foyer at the same time in early May. Then I can use the salvage from the foyer to replace a few bits in the dining room that need it. To prep for this, the dining room has been cleaned quite a bit, the pile of tile and cement backer board have been moved to the basement, and I've scraped the carpet adhesive off the floor of the foyer. (Easier to do that while it's thoroughly held still rather than after I remove it.)

Some interesting discoveries: The warp in the floor that the tile has been trying to press out has mostly been pressed out. After moving about 2000 lbs of tile to the basement it started to spring up, so we left the last 700 lbs of sand and plaster sitting as close to the source of the warp as possible to keep it from coming up further. Hopefully that's enough. Also, under the carpet adhesive in the foyer was traces of a carpet that used to run from the door to the bottom of the stairs. Pretty much the same width as the runner up the stairs, cut diagonally from the door to the stairs. Very odd to find a clearly diagonal line.

March 27, 2007

Wow, it has been a while. I've been out of town a lot, that makes progress difficult. Nothing under the bathrooms except continuing to stare at the plumbing that will have to be done. Much cleaning around the house this past weekend, starting to prepare for the living room floor to get replaced in early May. I'm really looking forward to all new oak flooring, new 3/4" plywood subfloor, new finish, no more slivers in Amanda's feet...

Today's bit of progress was finally (more than 2 years later) scraping the last of the carpet adhesive off the dining room floor. Since I'm going to need the space for all the living room furniture in the dining room, I figured I'd finish that off while I had the opportunity. Not much real progress, but I feel accomplished.

February 4, 2007

No real progress, some planned progress. I figured out how to reroute the cold water feed that currently runs under the bathrooms so it will no longer be in the way, except for the little bit feeding the downstairs 1/2 bathroom. So I expect that bathroom will be offline for a bit once I get that far. I can run the main feed line over into the laundry room, pick up the washer and kitchen feeds along the way, and tap in to the existing main run across the back of the house which feeds the hot water tanks, the second floor, and the first floor full bath. Then I can start working on the hot water system.

January 27, 2007... more

OK, I've got something set up to get pictures off the camera. In the relatively short term I'm going to have to put some money into the computer, unfortunately. In the mean time, there are pictures of the beams.

Oh, the parts I picked up were valves. When I bought the house there were nearly no valves in the domestic water system at all. There will now be lots.

January 27, 2007

Seems my computer is having parts die on me... no USB ports on the front of the machine work any more, and that's how I've been getting pictures off the camera. Bigger problem is now I'm not comfortable that my machine isn't going to keep dying slowly.

Next steps on the beams aren't beams. I picked up some parts to start replumbing all of the domestic water, since it is ALL in the way of the beams. I'll likely also redo much of the electrical that goes through there, but that will actually be pretty easy... it all just goes through. Progress is going to be slow for a bit as I work out how to do this without just having no water for a week.

January 25, 2007... again

A bit of an update... Justin came home. It took less than 30 minutes to completely remove 13 feet of main beam. I would post pictures but my relatively new digital camera has just decided to not talk to the computer.

January 25, 2007

A short bit, but a big bit of progress tonight. I gave in to peer pressure (and some impatience) and went after the main beam with the saw. The end away from the wall is the lap joint, which was being annoying and would have to go anyway if I succeed in using the beam as my new mantle... so I cut it off. The mantle is just under 6', so then I cut a piece more than 6' long... which took it to about 4' from the wall of the house. The piece near the wall is the worst of the rot, so I was able to pull it free with very little effort. The piece in the middle is much longer and is solid wood... but it came free with a little work with a 3' wrecking bar. I left all of it physically in place because everyone is out and about tonight and I'm not strong enough to lift down 6 1/2' of 7x10 beam. But that won't take long when people ARE home.

January 21, 2007... again

Yep, second post. Much progress was made in the basement on many things. Justin is moving his workbench from the laundry room over to next to the power panel. In order to do that we had to do a lot of cleaning and a set of big shelves still need to move. The shelves are going to end up underneath the heating feeds up to bedrooms 6+7, so I got a bit done on extending that plumbing out so the shelves wouldn't be a problem. Also, the original intent of going down there today to work was to make progress on the beams.

On the beams front, more old junk was cleaned up under the bathrooms, old BX cable cut out, all of the electrical runs that are effected were unstapled from the beams (I know that wasn't english, I don't care) and the first of the joints around the main beam were attacked with my sawzall. Amazing how when you cut the nails it starts moving a bit.

January 21, 2007

The first of (I hope) two posts today. Took a bit of a break because of Arisia, but I am no longer Technical Director of that. Three times was plenty.

Last night I finished the spice rack and got it on the wall. We freed up half a shelf of the crappy metal shelves in the kitchen by moving spices onto the new rack. Pictures are on the usual kitchen pictures page. They were taken at an odd angle due to the location of the old shelves. The new rack is also significantly more full than in the pictures.

January 9, 2007

OK, I'm getting tired of coming home to problems with the furnace. Obviously, it doesn't take much... just two in a row. Today was Orkin day, so I was wandering around the house with Terry while he sprayed noxious stuff in cracks and crevices trying to keep the creepy crawlies out. Yesterday I'd noticed a tiny leak in the pressure relief value on the boiler while the guy was working on it, so I tucked a bucket under it and didn't worry about it. It was dripping once every 10 seconds or so, big deal. Today the bucket was full to overflowing and the drip was several times each second.

So, one trip to HD to get a new pressure relief valve. I'm very thankful I put a crazy number of valves into the heating system back when I redid all the plumbing - I was able to just close everything off and drain ONLY the furnace core. Pull the old valve, the new one is physically different (same manufacturer) and is slightly larger. It now hits the pressure gauge AND is larger than my largest wrench. Take off the pressure gauge and prove that the two can fit next to each other. Go back to HD and get a bigger wrench. Reassemble. Discover that the boiler drain valve has split and no longer fully seals. Drain the rest of the core (I hadn't bothered to drop it all the way) and swipe a drain valve from a zone that I haven't finished yet.

We have heat again, but I'm really tired of this.

January 8, 2007

Well, I had grand plans for tonight, but it's funny how life bites you in the butt when you least expect it. When I got home it felt a little... chilly in the house. First guess was the we left a window open when the weather was gorgeous over the weekend (71 in January... whoda thunk it?) but that didn't prove out. So next I started poking around the furnace, and realized the pilot light was out. And I couldn't get it to relight and stay lit.

So, a couple hours, one replaced thermocouple, and $235 later, we have heat again. Thermocouple sits literally in the pilot light - as long as the pilot is lit it produces a little bit of electricity. When the thermocouple dies OR the pilot goes out, it cuts the gas flow to the pilot light to keep from blowing the house up. AND, as long as he was here, the guy from Roland J Down replaced the cutoff valve for the gas at the furnace. The old one was leaking a tiny bit - not enough for me to be worried about it, but enough to smell. Turned out it was largely shattered, both the casing AND the central shaft. A good hit in the wrong direction and we would have had a 3/4" gas line just dumping into the basement.

The guy from Down guessed the thermocouple was original to the furnace. 35-ish years from a $30 part isn't doing too bad.

January 7, 2007 - Late

Got lots done today. The remains of the little wall in the basement are now a pile outside waiting for trash pickup. We even got out the vacuum and cleaned thoroughly. Then we pulled out a bunch of wires from circuits that I'd already retired - the old feed to the second floor, the power for the sprinkler system, some old wiring to the kitchen. Lots of junk removed today. Now I can really see how all the plumbing is in the way of the beam work I need to do. This project is going to force me to fix a bunch of things I've been ignoring, all before I can even start on the project itself.

Turned out the drawer for the linen closet needs a replacement side and 1/2" plywood for its bottom, so that needs supplies. But now I know.

Finally, some pictures of the conduit project, spice rack, and basement work.

January 7, 2007 - "First Thing"

Quick decision this morning to put fixing up the linen closet onto the projects list for the year. It needs a coat of paint, shelves, and a bottom put back into one of the drawers. I may even do the drawer today as long as I've got everything out for working with plywood.

January 6, 2007

OK, not much progress on the spice rack - I realized that loaded it's likely going to weigh more than 100 pounds and my original plan for holding it to the wall was just not going to cut it. I stopped off at HD today and picked up 4 3/8"x4" lag bolts and now have to figure out how to make a 2x4 bolted to the wall look pretty.

However, I had help today (thanks, Jason!) with getting stuff done, so I picked tasks that could use assistance. We cleaned two different parts of the basement, put up a set of shelves I've had for a while but never pressed into service, cleared more real estate loading a lot of John's wine that's aging onto the shelves (and all of the wine I brought back from the Finger Lakes, too) and then cleared the space under the bathrooms. Then we ripped out a little wall that may have had a purpose originally but certainly hasn't in the past 30 or more years - its header was nailed to 5 of the beams I need to replace.

Upside: progress was made under the bathrooms. Downside: It's a real mess under there right now, we didn't clean up the wall or even finish ripping it apart. Problem: I found stuff in the way of the beams, such as various drain pipes and the main water supply line for the house.

January 5, 2007

Well, there's a spice rack mostly assembled on my living room floor. I still need to make the mounting brackets, attach them, and polyurethane the whole thing before sticking it on the wall.

January 4, 2007

A little more progress and an entire task crossed off the list. I got the data conduit installed between the basement and the attic. Not much to see, so I'm not going out of my way to put the pictures up. They'll turn up eventually. Next piece of that project is to disconnect all the phones and ethernet runs to the second floor, pull them back to the basement, and pull them up the conduit. They'll finally be out of the stairwell.

January 3, 2007

Not much to report, but a little. Got all the parts for the spice rack done except the back - I'll cut that when I've got the rest assembled. Picked up a few minor things at HD, didn't realize I'm out of wood glue... since I wasn't going to go back there again today, the spice rack gets to wait. So I started in on getting the holes for the conduit to the attic cut. I could run conduit from the basement most of the way to the second floor now... the hole between the first and second floors was just being a pain and I was getting tired.

January 2, 2007

The weekend was exciting, mostly NOT for NYE-type reasons. Work exploded Friday when our ISP turned off the Internet connection on the wrong day, the entire weekend was either mopping up that mess or working on the house.

Now there are curtains in both the living room and dining room, the sprinklers are totally gone, new spice rack is a bit more than half done, and planning for 2007 got rolling. Current plan for 2007 in priority order:

  1. Beams under the bathrooms
  2. Living Room Floor replacement
  3. Pantry re-gutting and total rebuild
  4. Data conduit basement to attic
  5. Mouldings in Justin's Room
  6. Spice Rack
  7. Curtains
  8. Finish the heating system

A bit ambitious, but this may be the first year I actually accomplish the whole list. The beams have been put off for too long, too much is waiting on them. I'm going to be starting on that after Arisia is over - a couple weeks from now. The living room floor is no longer waiting on anything else and will be a very visible bit of progress. I'm taking a week off in early June for this - my time estimate is 5 days of work, I'm allocating 8. Pantry is something that can be worked on at any point, I'm going to gut it in May and make slow progress over time.

The little stuff: Data conduit is going in where the sprinkler pipe came out, I need to enlarge the holes a little bit and put it into place. I already have all the supplies except maybe a new holesaw. Mouldings in Justin's Room are not that much work and should have been done years ago. The spice rack will be 1) gigantic, 2) easy, and 3) not on the crappy metal shelves we've been using that are slowly trying to collapse under the weight of lots of little glass jars. I expect this to be done tomorrow, give or take drying time of the polyurethane. Curtains - more John than me, since he's making the curtains himself. The rods for the fronts windows are up and the liners are hanging. He started in on the velvet last night. Finishing the heating system is a bit more interesting. We're not really using 4 of the bedrooms, so I never bothered to get heat back into them. I'll make some progress on this no matter what, some of the pipes that need to be ripped out and replaced are in the pantry, so they'll come out for that project.

2006 Archived Commentary
2005 Archived Commentary
2004 Archived Commentary
2003 Archived Commentary
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