Fox's Fantastic Fixer-Upper

Discussion in 'The Green Room' started by Volpone, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Oh, on a boring note, I wish I'd sanded the vinyl in the kitchen before putting in the vinyl planking. I've got some minor adhesion problems. :garamet:
  2. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Part Gold Room, part Blue. Just came from 30 minutes under my kitchen sink.

    A couple years back I learned that the grit that was clogging my faucet aerators was a plastic pipe in my water heater that is disintegrating over time. Since I still had hot water, didn't have the money or time to do a replacement, and it was merely inconvenient to periodically unclog the faucets, I just left it alone.

    Then a couple weeks ago, it stopped. I'd figured the pipe had finally disintegrated and my problem was solved. :cool:

    Yeah. Things never just get better on their own. Today I was doing dishes and the sink started acting up. I cleaned out the aerator but then I wound up with just a trickle of hot water. :garamet:

    I reasoned out that bits too big to make it through the fixture had lodged there, blocking flow. So I got to turn off the water at the wall, take out the faucet and thoroughly clean it out. First I ran the hot water straight from the hose a couple times to clean out bits that were already in the pipe. Then I went to work on the faucet, sticking a pipe cleaner up in there (they work on pipes as well as pipes and craft projects) and cleaned out a bunch of the plastic fragments. After tapping it on the counter a bit, blowing through it and working on it with the pipe cleaners I got it reasonably unclogged. I partially hooked things up and ran some water through it and got it working again, but it is painfully apparent that I am in desperate need of a new water heater. :(

    Every time you think you're getting ahead you get dealt a setback. I need to rob a liquor store. Still, I can't complain. I'm not in a coma. I don't have cancer (yet. Drinking microscopic bits of plastic probably doesn't do you any good.) And my car works.

    But I've got this week off (without pay) because they don't want us in the stores during the runup to Thanksgiving. I was hoping to use it to job hunt, but now it looks like I get to do home projects. :( I was also hoping to get rid of the truck, but not only do I need a pressure washer, I need to buy a water heater.
  3. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Now THAT'S an interesting development...

    My water heater is dying. 60 gallons, built in '96. I'm told heaters of that vintage had a "dip tube" that was prone to disintegration and the answer was to replace the water heater--around $400 if I did it myself and double that if I paid someone. I've limped along with poor water heating for about two years now. And having to continually clean little bits of plastic out of my faucet aerators.

    Well on Thanksgiving I got to take apart my kitchen sink because it had clogged with plastic too big to fit through it, so I bit the bullet and called the local "water heater king". Not a terrible deal--they had a 1/3-1/3-1/3 sixty day to pay no interest deal, so I was all set to get a new water heater but wanted to sleep on it.

    Today I called up and talked to a different guy. Luckily I didn't say what I wanted--just the problem--and he said, "Come down and pick up a $10 dip tube. You can replace it yourself easily."

    That said, this queers some of my plans for the day. And it gets more complex because as I was typing this my brother called up to tell me my mom is in the hospital today. So I've got to deal with that as well.

    Every time you start to get ahead...
  4. frontline

    frontline Hedonistic Glutton Staff Member Moderator

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    One thing that folks should do (including myself) but which most dont is at least annually drain your water heater to flush the sediment and corrosion. I know that they also come with a sacrificial anode, but I dont know if that can be replaced by the home owner.
  5. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Water heater surgery...

    I may make a longer post later, but for now I'm going to say I successfully replaced the dip tube in my water heater. While mildly stressful, the actual operation was fun and successful. I made a few minor mistakes that I quickly spotted and remedied and then I hit one solid home run--or at least a double:

    Actually I didn't so much "replace" as "install" a dip tube. The old one had completely dissolved. All that remained was a 1/4 collar. And about 8" laying in the bottom of the tank with some more crumbled up bits. After trying to fish the chunk out with a plumber's snake, I was almost ready to give up and just leave it there. Then I noticed a cleanout hatch on the side of the tank. I got it open and scooped out all the gunk and crud in the bottom of the tank, buttoned everything back up, and nervously started refilling it.

    I had these 15 year old copper flex pipes going from the tank to the plumbing and the hot out pipe had deformed just enough during removal that it had a slow leak. So I jumped in the car, zapped off to Lowe's, and anxiously searched the plumbing aisles for the proper replacement. Nowdays they don't use copper flex, they use some kind of synthetic hose with a braided steel sleeve. I bought the longest one they had and tried to decide what I'd do if it wasn't long enough.

    Luckily it was and it bolted in beautifully. Looks like everything is up and running with no leaks and actual hot water. Now after I have some grub and maybe a nap, I'll clean everything up and put stuff away.

    OK, looks like I did wind up telling the whole story.
  6. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Update (but no pictures)...

    OK. I need to make a Blue Room post and a post in this thread. I want to tell someone more than my journal but less than Facebook. Or at least give Facebook a break from me yammering on about my house.

    I'm almost done with the major cosmetic renovations. Oh there are plenty of things to do still--even big things. But the pretty stuff on my checklist on the refrigerator is very nearly checked off.

    Last weekend I finally renovated the mailbox. The day after I bought the place, I came to find my mailbox, off its post. Turns out the welds holding it there had failed. The quick obvious solution was JB Weld, but that just didn't do it. So for the past couple years I've cautiously opened and closed the mailbox while it perched on its post.

    Of course during the three months I was gone it consistently wound up on the ground, so it was time to remedy it. There was also some cosmetic work to do. The post was going for a sort of wrought-iron effect, but it was painted white. So I gave it a nice thick glossy wrought-iron black. The box itself got a fresh coat of white with some new lettering. And I found I could screw the box to the post.

    Oh, I completely forgot: I also stained and sealed the back patio. I think I mentioned borrowing a pressure washer from an acquaintance. That and a couple gallons of chemical stripper when I got back from Wisconsin and when the weather turned, it was finally time to finish the patio. It turned out better than I expected and as well as I hoped.

    I finally started moving stuff into the TARDIS too. I gave up on licking the humidity problem (and after the most recent monsoon, I see I still have work to do) and just moved stuff that wouldn't be effected by water (like cans of paint & tarps) and things that could get ruined (old moving boxes) in. I was able to fill it with crap left over.

    The windows on my garage were really a low priority. But last week I got a bug up my ass and realized one of them was quite accessible and would be easy to fix. So the plywood came off one of my three garage windows. Then it was just a matter of time. I realized the small one would be easy to get at, came out, and I could fix it and then put it back. So that was next. Finally, there was the last one. This was a big old fragile window, with both panes broken, behind a big pile of scrap lumber. But by now I was in full obsessive-compulsive mode. So I got in there with the pry bar and wedged the lumber away from the window (losing my pry bar behind the pile of lumber in the process) and got the window out.

    Of course this required some twisting and prying, so I was understandably reticent about trying to put glass in it and then get it back into place. So just for a lark I looked at Plexiglass. It was about 30% more, but that was manageable. And because the guy working was able to get both panes out of one sheet, it wound up being cheaper than glass.

    Then I set to work reglazing the door for the mud room. That went smoothly and soon I was ready to paint it. Some Internet wag suggested that the way to paint a door was to drive a screw into each end. Then you could put the door on sawhorses and use the screws as a pivot to paint both sides at the same time. Maybe with the right door and the right equipment this works. But with improvised sawhorses and drywall screws a screw bent while I was positioning things, sending the door crashing to the concrete floor and shattering the new pane I'd just installed.

    On further examination, I saw why that pane had shattered--maybe why the original pane had gone. The stile with the lockset had failed at the lockset. It didn't appear to be rotted. And although the jamb showed no signs, the door must've been forced at some point. The first impulse was to just grumble and burn the bugger, but it was a nice door (otherwise) and I had hinges just waiting for it... So I slapped it together with Elmer's Carpenter Glue, clamped it, and got to work painting it. (I decided to wait to glaze it after it was back on its hinges--less strain on the stile that way.)

    (In the process I had to fight with my glue. I bought a gallon of glue, but you can't really just pour it from the jug and one of my glue bottles had dried up and the other had a clogged spout. I tried swapping out the spouts, but the one on the dried up bottle snapped off rather than unscrewing. :garamet: )

    Anyway, at the store I also resolved to get a brass kickplate to reinforce the door. Except Lowe's didn't have any. They had a neat display with about four cool varieties. But they didn't actually have any in stock. Happily the nice manager decided to take down the display and had the kid that was helping me just give me all the kickplates. :cool:

    So with kickplates and glass (and dog) in tow, it was back to the garage. Once the paint was dry I got to work with the plates. While the side dimensions were fine, they were for an exterior door that was about 1/4" wider than my door. So the plate I wanted to use wouldn't work. (It had a cutout for the knob that wouldn't line up if I rebent it.) So I took the best plate that I could make work, carefully flattened it and then bent it around the door and screwed it into place.

    I got the glass in place...and found that I'd measured about 1/16" too short and there would be a gap at the top of the pane. So I cut myself a tiny wood shim, got the bugger in place (managing to cut my forehead while fighting with it) and glazed.

    Oh, I forgot to mention: my guest bedroom didn't have a lock on it, so instead of just putting a new knob into the mud room door, I bought a locking set for the bedroom and put the bedroom set on the mudroom. Unfortunately because of minor differences in the jamb plates, I had to change those to get the bedroom door to latch. :garamet: And because the screw holes were off just enough, I had to fill them up with glue and toothpicks and then wait for that to dry before I could finish that job. :rant:

    Anyway, once everything was together and buttoned up...I found out the new brass plate made the door too thick to close fully. :bang: Ah, screw it. It can just stay open. It still looks nice. If I want to, later I can fix it. The important thing was, I got the door out of the garage.

    So today I tackled the garage. I laboriously moved everything out into the yard and swept the bugger out. I sorted everything into piles: scrap, garbage, Goodwill, and keep. Then I swept out the garage, etched it with acid, and stained it. Now I'm just waiting for the stain to get dry enough so I can seal it. Then I've just got to wait for the sealer to get dry enough that I can move all my crap back in. And hope it doesn't rain. The plan was to put everything under a tarp, but there's just so much crap.

    So there you are. Maybe I'll include pictures later.
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  7. Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee

    Scott Hamilton Robert E Ron Paul Lee Straight Awesome

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    I have a large shed with a basement behind my house that had a humidity problem. I have been sealing it and finally got to the point where a dehumidifier isn't a waste. :)

    However, the original plan of the designer was for it to be "unsealed" enough that air could flow out from the inside through a few locations.

    This worked well until the French Drain clogged. In the "day after day" type storms, humidity would uncontrollable because of seepage. However, by keeping humidity low it seems the dehumidifier allows water to evaporate as it comes in during those rare occasions.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
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  8. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Yeah. For as well as the patio project went, this one went poorly. Speaking of "perfect storms"...

    Right off the bat, I went with a stain from Quikcrete that cost half of what I used on the patio. Second, since that was available in more colors, I went with a different color than on the patio. I started regretting this almost immediately, but I thought I'd trust to fortune.

    Then for the application. First off, I should've done that on a long weekend instead of late on a Sunday afternoon. It wound up dark by the time the stain was on. Then I forgot to stir up the can. Next the instructions...grrr. The instructions on the etcher say "allow four hours to overnight to allow concrete to completely dry." Four hours to overnight!!?? That's a pretty broad window. And if the concrete dries in 45 minutes, what is the difference in waiting another 3 hours, 15 minutes, 12 hours, or going right away?

    Then I start reading the can for the stain. Of course you don't read the whole thing, because it is like "War & Peace" or something. You scan it and find the page and a half of application instructions. In the process of scanning, early in the instructions it says "DO NOT DILUTE" :calli: OK. I'd better go back with a towel and soak up those last couple damp spots, given the etcher and stain instructions. So now I get to the actual application instructions: "Dampen the entire concrete surface with water." :wtf: :bang:

    So I go get the hose again and dampen the entire concrete surface with water. :garamet: But it says to "avoid puddles" and there's the whole "do not dilute" thing, so I just lightly mist it. Oh, and the neighbor's idiot pit bull is back, so every time I'm in the yard he's barking at me.

    Well it turns out I didn't dampen thoroughly enough, so good patches of concrete are dry before I get to them. I'd rewet them but the hose is on the patio and I was nervous enough dragging the hose through the etching solution and then getting it on my precious patio finish, the last thing I want is green hoseprints out there. And I don't want to be barked at the whole time I fight with moving the hose to the front of the house--while the stain that I started on is drying.

    The can said "Dries to the touch in 2 hours. Wait 24 hours before finishing," but I don't have 48 hours (gotta wait for the sealer to dry too) that I can just leave all my crap outside in Oregon, tarps be damned. So I head out around 1am to see how the stain is looking. Problem is, as I mentioned, it is dark out now. And the garage light switch is way inside the garage. So I do what I can with a flashlight and the car headlights. It is nowhere near dry and seems very dark/opaque. To make matters worse, the first thing The Dog did upon seeing things, was walk across the wet concrete. :bang: Then I noticed a cat had also walked around on the concrete. :bang: :bang: So I touched up those areas as best I could and closed the garage door.

    Well this morning I saw my results. In addition to cat footprints, the floor looked like crap. Actually, the areas that were done properly looked OK, but between the concrete drying and me forgetting to mix the can, the end parts looked like they'd been painted with green paint. So this morning I was out there with the hose, the scrub broom, and eventually a wire brush, trying to make it look presentable. I think it'll be OK--it is a garage, after all--but now I've lost half a day because it needs to dry again. :garamet:
  9. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Working the last cosmetic project on the house and apparently I was driving people crazy on Facebook, but I need to talk, so here's the update: I'm renovating the garage. The plan was to stain and seal the concrete like the patio, only I opted for a different shade of stain--partly because I could. In retrospect I kind of wish I'd just sealed the concrete as is. When I was etching it I realized it had really nice colors and patterns to it. I think sealing it as-is would've been very nice--and would've worked nicely with the rest of the space.

    But I didn't. I went ahead with the stain. Then I messed it up and had to spend a couple days doing "damage control." Ah well, it's a garage. And it turned out OK. I just think natural would've been even nicer.

    Anyway, when I bought the place it had an ill-advised room tacked onto the back, where I now have a patio. It had three doors--one opening into the mudroom, one to the garage, and one to the backyard. The backyard door was a lightweight interior door and one of the windows looked into the adjacent guest bedroom. The roof was largely flat and hadn't been maintained. Half the house dumped water on it and it pooled there. The outside wall was built on bare ground.

    Still, it wound up making a nice patio, and the material I reclaimed from it is being used to redo the garage interior.

    The garage. To recap, it had a nice rape-y serial killer feel. Gravel floor, sort of a urine smell to it, lighted by Christmas tree lights, exposed joists and makeshift insulation between them in some spots, in other spots they were covered by scrap carpet and plastic beer banners. The windows were all boarded over--as was the lower half of the garage door. Oh, and the back 5' or so was tacked on with a different slope to the roof and set up with a sort of Inner Sanctum of Rape Closet. The dividing wall was pretty substantial, although it was built on a foundation of scrap wood that had since rotted so instead of supporting the roof it was pulling it down. The roof, less flat than on the Crap Room, was still largely flat and hadn't been maintained, so it was leaking.

    Prior to this month I'd repaired the garage door, torn out the Inner Sanctum, put in proper lights (the fixtures were already there, so I don't know why the Christmas lights), and gotten a concrete floor poured. The concrete floor wound up being 3-4" thicker than I expected, and the way the front of the place was designed (and the way it got poured) I wound up with a sharp, curb-height, lip (but no curve like a curb) that entailed laying down ramps to drive in and out of the garage. :garamet: I've been working on these with a 3# hammer and concrete chisel and, along with gravel fill, have managed to get it so I don't need the ramps any more.

    I hadn't planned on doing the windows. There was plenty of light with the lighting and I could always open the doors, but on closer examination it was going to be a pretty easy job. Then everything from the garage got moved out into the backyard for the aforementioned floor-staining project.

    When I did that, I sorted the material as best I could: Trash, burn, scrap metal, Goodwill, keep, etc. Then I started to panel the inside of the garage with the lauan "plywood" I'd salvaged from the Crap Room. Behind that, on the garage wall (the garage, bedroom, and mud room walls had made up 3 of the walls to the Crap Room), had been 3" cedar shiplap siding. That wound up being the moldings for the paneling. I've left all that natural and will be finishing it with linseed oil.

    Right now the paneling is all on. I've still got a bunch of stray nails and such, portruding from non-paneled areas, to clean up. I've got to trim the windows and the back door and paint the areas I won't be able to use an oil finish on. I've also got to get the rest of the crap in my backyard moved back in. Then I need to finish sorting all that, organizing it, and pulling nails from the lumber I plan to salvage.

    All told, the project is going well, and the biggest danger is that I'll work on that instead of things like looking for a better job.
  10. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Light at the end of the tunnel...

    So tired. I did most of the painting in the garage--doors and cabinets. All that remains to paint is the back wall of the shelf/cubbies. (I've also got to oil finish a whole bunch of stuff and do some little finish work, but that can be done whenever.) The trouble is, the last bit of painting needs to wait until this paint is dry and will likely entail quite a bit of prep work. I'm really not looking forward to it, but I'll be glad to be done.
  11. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    I planned to just slap one coat of oil on the shelves and call it "good", but I've got free time this week and it really wasn't as big a project as I thought so after brunch they get their third coat. I can put stuff back on shelves this afternoon. Hardware is back on the cabinets. I need to use up the last of the lauan plywood and trim that I've got, Dremel off a couple nails that I can't pull, oil the ceiling, and pretty-up the spots between the rafters, the paneling, and the ceiling.

    And if it ever stops raining long enough for paint to dry I NEED to get a coat of paint or two on the newly exposed window sills. Particularly one that has had a good head start on rotting. I should probably tear it all out and put in new wood, but I feel like if I can keep new water out I can stabilize it.
  12. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    Finished up the shelves in the garage today. Got about 90% of the stuff put back. In culling and organizing I found a bunch of stuff that's been missing for years. And freed up a ton of storage space. That was actually kind of the plan all along, so I could move some junk out of the house and into the garage. The problem is, now I've got to go through the house and cull and organize that. :garamet:

    Oh, and once I get everything on the shelves, I've still got some trim work to do and a whole bunch of stuff to oil finish.
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  13. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    I really should take some more pictures, but for now...

    As mentioned, the last big cosmetic project was the garage. I wish I could give you the bought-the-house "before" pictures, but my 6 year old laptop shit the bed and I'm working a restore in the midst of all kinds of real life shit. And I wish I could give you the latest pictures, but they haven't been taken yet. So here, then is the garage, both before finishing the concrete and starting to install paneling and after. No everything is paneled and I need to finish up with the trim. And that basically means "do trim until I run out of trim". I've got 3 windows, a door, and a couple corners and panel joints to trim and arguably not enough scrap trim to do the job.

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  14. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    What are your plans once you get it all fixed up? Flip it and move on the next live in project? Rent it out?
  15. Volpone

    Volpone Zombie Hunter

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    I don't know at the moment. The initial plan was to hold it for three years sell it and use the profits to buy a bigger/closer in crappy place to fix up. Lather, rinse, repeat until I was living downtown. The follow-on plan was to turn it into a rental property and buy the next place, lather, rinse, repeat until real estate was my full time job. There are a number of wrinkles in both plans though. One is that my construction skills, while adequate for me, are less robust than I'd like for a rental property. I mean, if I'm living there and the sink starts to leak again, I can get underneath and fix it. But I've heard horror stories of tenants just ignoring problems rather than calling the landlord with the end result of destroyed cabinets. Then there's the dual issue of the neighborhood. I quite like my neighbors but the actual houses some of them live in (and the street we're on) doesn't make the best impression with a lot of folks. So a sideline plan is to buy another house, stay where I'm at, and rent that place out. For now it is a roof over my head and a place I enjoy calling home.
  16. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon outta my way Administrator Formerly Important

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    I REALLY recommend you checking out Napoleon Hill. Basically he was an untrained journalist that Andrew Carneige saw a spark in and commissioned to hang out with him and all his friends and figure out what made them all successful. Years and years later he started writing and lecturing on it.

    The thing that keeps coming up is that plans are shit. Circumstances change, plans change, don't even worry about plans they come to you. All that matters is to have a PURPOSE. What the fuck do you want. Everything else will fall in line once you have that perfect and set yourself to accomplishing it.

    On Audible there is a really good long ass lecture of his taken from a record, check it out for running/driving/whatever.