Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Light in the Darkness!

Remember these lights we got last year? They were earmarked for the bathroom. Not any more! I removed the Rejuvenation Fixtures that you can see in this link which are now going to be installed in the bathroom and installed these, with one slight modification. I switched the shades for the pair we paid $30 for in Tucson. Here is the end result.

I got a little bored during the clean up last week. Now that we have hot water, we can really clean up this place! Maybe I'll even put the wallpaper up in this room.

I'm working on those chimney lining posts that I promised in case you are waiting in suspense.....

Monday, July 23, 2007

You Need a Positive Attitude.

I positively have an attitude. I hate plumbing with a passion. I'd fix one leak and another would spring up as a result of heating the copper pipe! On the stubborn ones I replaced the joints and that would cause the pipe to move due to its own weight which in turn caused two more leaks! Very frustrating stuff this plumbing is. After three afternoons, two trips to Lowes, fixing all the copper pipe leaks and getting the water heater to work (yay me!) I had to test the upper floor water lines which are all CPVC . There was one leak at the shut off valve in the basement to the hot water line because I used that wimpy white Teflon tape on some screw threads instead of the manly pink Teflon tape that is much thicker and less likely to leak. So I fixed this and proceeded to turn on the water to the upper floors. What do you think happened?

Wait for it......

Nothing! No leaks before the shower shut off and the two (count them, two) toilets are working!

That was yesterday. Today is a new day.....

Have I told you how much I hate plumbing? I'll hate it even more if I get another leak......

Friday, July 20, 2007

If at First You Don't succeed.....

Use a bigger hammer!

When asked, I describe myself as a ten of all trades. Not good enough to be a Jack. This is true for my plumbing skills. Especially when I am using 1" copper pipe. I'm sure you are aware of the saga of my basement plumbing. If not then just let me say the pipes froze over winter ( for the 3rd time) all the way back to the shut off valve. Even after I had drained them. I dreaded the day that the water would be turned on because I knew what would happen. When the meter was installed this week and the water was turned on there appeared to be no leaks before the shut off valve. The moment I went to the basement to check my pipes and walked up to the spot where the water line enters the house I heard a Pfft and then a pssssss as a thin stream of water jetted at one of the walls. After several trips to the street to turn the water off at the meter I was able to reduce this to a drip every 5 minutes, which I can live with because it should seal itself with scale build up in a few days. Next was to open the valve and allow water to pass about 10 inches to the 2nd shut off valve which was installed after a boiler drain. "Pftt! Psssss!" one leak. So I say to myself "OK. Lets get this over with." Then the big moment. Water to the rest of the basement and the first floor. I open the 2nd valve. "Pfft! Pfft! Pfft! Pssssssss!" Three more leaks. Which isn't really bad since I had to solder 33 joints before the hot water heater. I guess I'm 88% efficient, which is better than some appliances I own. To date I have reduced the four leaks down to two stubborn ones that may require me to replace the joints because it will be faster than sitting for 20 minutes melting solder over them. Now many people might say "Thats no big deal" but this is 1 inch pipe and one spot near the shut off retains a small amount of water. This means it takes 20 minutes to get the joint hot enough to just melt solder in one spot yet alone the entire joint. The spot where it leaks is against the wall and I can't get the blow torch to it! It will be easier to cut the pipe and fix this in a vice, then solder two coupling seams when putting the pipe back. I hope after a trip or five to Lowes for the correct plumbing parts I should have this fixed by tonight AND we will have hot water for the first time in 6 years! I really doubt thats going to happen though. Then I get to open the valves to the upper floors. Oh Joyous day!

Next I get to tell you about lining chimneys and how much fun that is!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What's in Your Basement?

The City water department installed our water meter and turned our water on today. You know what that means? I'll post a report later but just so you get in the mood, all I have to say is "Phuck it!"

"Phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it!"

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Gift That Keeps on Giving....

Crappity crap, crap, crap. This isn't a post about plumbing skills or my lack of them. No, this post is about the next bout of "Houseblogger Herpes" that is about to go around. I inoculated myself back in January but I guess the effect have worn off already. You see, I got tagged with an 8 Random Facts virus that requires me to list 8 random facts about me and then spread the love amongst other bloggers. I didn't even see this one coming, it was completely out of the blue and smacked me on the lips like a hooker with a cold sore!
The source of the infection is Tallulah House. (Blame them!) Now I guess I have to go and read her blog so that I can plot my revenge. Maybe we will invite ourselves down to Atlanta and they can buy the beer.

Anyway, things you never knew about me and now you will wish you didn't;

1) At age sixteen I pierced my ear with a safety pin. My brother grassed me out to my mom who made me remove it until I became a famous rock star and nobody would care about my pierced ear. I was 33 when a girlfriend pierced my ear with a needle and now I have a nickel allergy that means I can only wear gold or sterling silver or I get a rash where the metal rubs. After losing every earring I ever had I have worn this one for the last 5 years exclusively. It is a sabre. It is the only one that hasn't fallen out.

It is for the swashbuckler in me.

2) When I moved to Ohio in 1994 I cropped my hair. I didn't cut it again for 11 years by which time it was half way down my back. I used to have a moustache and goatee too but one day I was forking horse manure into my garden and wiped my mouth with a crap covered glove and decided it was time to shave.

3) Despite popular opinion, I don't go out of my way to seek publicity. It tends to find me. I guess I do things that other people find news worthy.

4) I used to ride around on this 1964 Lambretta that I restored in the 1980s until some little bastards stole it.

I never got the vehicle back but I tracked one of the little bastards down, sued him and his dad in small claims court and got to be on the Judge Mathis show as a result. I won. The little bastard is 22 now, a father and has a warrant out for his arrest. I often wonder where my scooter is.

5) I have worn antique wire rim glasses for 13 years. I do this for several reasons. One is they wrap around behind my ears so I don't have to keep pushing them up onto my nose because they fall down it like regular glasses do. They don't come off easily either. Two, I have always worn little round gold rimmed glasses since I was in college back in the late 70s and early 80s. Three, they are OK to wear in 17th century re-enactments. Four, the frames can be bought for less than $20.00. Designer frames of similar style would cost a ridiculous amount of money that I could find better things to spend it on. I'm thinking that I might get a pair of those big round black bakelite frames that were popular in the 1920s to wear for laughs and giggles. I will have to keep an eye out at the antique stores.

6) I worked for an auction company for 1.5 years during my "Mid-life crisis" when I was 32. (It was good to get it over with early.) I learned that what you would think was valuable really wasn't and what people paid for some stuff was crazy. Since then I rarely buy anything new unless it is socks , underwear or shoes. All of our furniture is old and most was bought at auctions. I reason that if we had to sell it we would get back what we paid for it. Which isn't a bad way to look at it.

7) I don't like sports, never have really. I do weight lifting though. 12 ounce bottles are my favorite!

8) If we never bought the "Old Crack House" I suspect that our resident house would have been finished about 5 years ago. Of course five years ago I didn't know what I know now so I'm sure I would have had to do the plumbing twice!

If you want to get tagged, post a comment otherwise I will crawl away back into my hole and wait until this strain of the dreaded pox goes away!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bugger It!

Remember how I was boasting back in May about knowing exactly which tile I needed to bust in order to fix the plumbing behind the shower? Well you had better not depend on me to find buried treasure using a treasure map.

I'll go bang my head against the wall now......

Next week we will get the water turned back on and I can find out where the rest of the leaks are!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hypertufa For Your Garden

Years ago I read an article is some house related magazine and thought to myself "Self, one day you are going to try that." The article mentioned hypertufa garden planters. If you need to know what hypertufa is, you can check the link. If you don't believe any of this you can check this link and this link just so you know that I don't make this stuff up! Well, some day has arrived.

I decided to make a large planter and needed a mold. I looked around the house and settled on one of our lovely "City of Dayton" recycle waste containers for the basic shape with a kitty litter bucket for the inside impression.

Most people use cardboard boxes but I wanted to be able to make additional planters if I was happy with the result. I lined the recycle bin with a plastic construction grade garbage bag so as not to ruin my lovely blue bin with the city logo on it.
My recipe consists of 1 part Portland cement, 1.5 parts sifted peat moss (you need to get the big twig bits out), 1 part perlite and 0.5 parts sand and a pinch of polypropylene fibers. I used a shovel to measure the parts and mixed it all in a wheel barrow. This is masonry not rocket science. Here is what the mix looked like when I put it in the wheel barrow

and here is what it looked like after it was dry mixed.

I added enough water to make the mix malleable and not to dry or too wet and put an inch of the stuff in the bottom of the lined bin. I then placed the kitty litter bucket in place and added more of my cement mix around the edges. I had to mix up three batches in order to make enough for this project because I am lousy at guesstimating volumes. When done it looked like this

and then I pulled the bag over the top to allow the thing to cure and retain the moisture as it does so.

After a couple of days I removed the planter from the bin by lifting out the plastic bag. I did this because I needed the bin for trash collection on Thursday! While I was at it I removed the kitty litter bucket too and allowed the thing to cure for one more day before I took a wire brush to it to roughen up the surface and make it look like rock. I also gauged a hole in the bottom with a short handled dandelion plucker to allow for drainage. I would have used a screwdriver for this task if there was one sitting on the back porch. At 4 PM on Thursday it looked like this.

This puppy is about 9 inches tall by 16 inches or so long and isn't too heavy due to the fact that I used perlite as an aggregate. I stuck it back in the bag to cure and went around to the front of the house to look at a smaller one that I made about three weeks ago.

The Portland cement costs about $5.00, sand is $2.50, the peat moss was a little over $6.00 and a huge bag of perlite cost $12.00 from a florist. The perlite will be the hardest thing to find. I am guessing that I could make about 7 of these large planters for $25.00 which is good because the little ones sell for about $30.00 each at Meijer.

So go off and be good gardeners now and make some pots to plant your herbs in. In a few weeks when I make the sink for the small powder room you will realize why I am experimenting with this kind of stuff!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A week of Silence

I have been "off-the-blog" for a while. I had a festival to put together and had to spend a lot of time making some carnival game boards while other neighborhood volunteers cleaned out the rest rooms and shelter at the local park where the festival was to be held.
On Friday, one day before the festival, the city workers arrived to clean the shelter and the rest rooms! I guess they got to go home early that day! I also fixed a huge crack in the concrete slab that you step onto in order to enter the shelter. I tuck pointed some of the major cracks in the stone wall of the shelter. I mixed up some sand, lime and portland cement in a bucket and used up as much as I could on Friday evening since the festival was scheduled for Saturday from 10 AM til 8 PM.
On Monday the city workers were at the shelter caulking the cracks and fixing the roof! Nothing like being late.

Elizabeth and I also made front page news.

Our picture was on the front page of Wednesdays Dayton Daily News with a story, or actually two stories, that the reporter gleemed from our neighborhood newsletter that someone gave her.
The only work that has been done on the house involved a vacuum cleaner and a wet rag and I'm certain that every houseblogger has been there and doesn't need a detailed description of the process. I also took it upon myself to do a little experimenting with some portland cement, peat moss and perlite in the last couple of weeks and my next post will discuss the trials and tribulations of making hypertufa garden planters! Oooohhhh, bet you're getting excited about that!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


PSSSST! See that "Vote for me" button under the baby with the hammer on the right side of this page? Go to their site and vote "YO" for "This Old Crack House". If we get the readers choice award it might just pay for the two chimney liners that I need to buy in the next month. Of course the sponsor is a Canadian company so the prize is probably in Canadian $$$ and will only pay for one of the liners!

Then if you're feeling REALLY bored, click on the cost estimator link further down the page and try to figure out how much money we saved by doing all this work ourselves!