Category Archives: Home

Freezer Frost

Have you ever had frost build up in the ice dispenser chute on your General Electric side by side refrigerator?

I did … and it took me a bit of time to figure out what the problem was.

At first I thought it was a bad seal on the door of the freezer. But the seal was actually fine and, if it had been bad, the frost would have been on more than just the ice dispenser chute.

Here’s an example of the ice dispenser chute AFTER I removed a bunch of frost…


(the broken plastic was from when I was a bit ‘over enthusiastic’ at removing built up ice)

After a bit of research I determined that it was the flapper that covered the chute when the dispenser wasn’t dispensing ice.

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Roofing

The roofers just left after doing a complete tear off and re-shingle.

They did a very good job and it looks great. … I do have a few take-away’s from this particular home project …

  • Make sure the roofer looks at the INSIDE Of the house as well as the outside before giving a firm quote. In our case the roofer didn’t know that the area above the living room didn’t have an attic.  As such, they were unsure about the vents above the living room.
  • Make sure you know what everything on the quote is for … the quote called for 6 extra vents … 3 of which were going to be installed in the garage.  Since we don’t spend a lot of time in the garage, only one vent is really needed.  We also needed an additional vent for the kitchen exhaust vent that wasn’t included.
  • Before deciding on a shingle color / style … make sure you see a full size example.  The shingle ‘chips’ that the manufacturer provides show the colors, but not the layout.  In our case it worked out well.  The shingle’s have black, brown and a little green, which works well with our brown gutters & trim.
  • For all home improvement projects, keep all the paperwork … turns out, when we had the gutters replaced, the guy didn’t install gutter flashing.  This COULD have caused ice damning.  Not exactly sure what I could have done about it even with the paperwork at this point … but, if I had paid for the gutter flashing before, I sure as heck would have gone back to the gutter contractor about it.

Now I have to get the vent in the bathroom replaced (Monday) and the bathroom ceiling fixed (later).

Drainage

For many years we’ve had a serious drainage problem in our back yard …. every time it rained, we would get a big puddle in the back yard that would stick around for at least a week.  The picture to the left is the back yard 3 or 4 days after a heavy rain.

At one point, Ginny was thinking about having a rain garden put in the back corner, but I wasn’t a big fan of that idea.  We ended up dropping the idea because it would have taken a fair amount of maintenance.

In addition, our sump pump outlet was really close to the house and was not at all protected from freezing.  More than once the sump pump pipe would freeze in the winter, after we had a thaw, and the pump would get close to burning out because it couldn’t pump water.  Luckily I’ve always been home when this has happened … so I was able to remove the frozen section of PVC pipe and have it just dump out on to the lawn.

(If you haven’t noticed, we’ve had our fair share of water related house problems)

For years I kept saying I was going to get these two problems resolved.  Well, I finally got off my butt and had it taken care of.

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Utility Conundrum

I’ve got a bit of a conundrum about utilities … specifically, the Cable TV utility.

In the last few days Ginny and I had a major drainage issue in our back yard fixed.   We hired a landscaper to install drain tiles and pipe to collect water that was pooling in the back yard and route it into the storm sewer (they connected the sump pump to the same pipe).

Before the landscapers started, they called the J.U.L.I.E. service to mark all the utility wires to avoid interrupting service.

Late last week, J.U.L.I.E. came out and marked all the necessary parts of the lawn and the landscapers started their work.

Yesterday they finished the work and the lawn looks great.

Last night Ginny and I settled down to watch the premier of Warehouse 13 and were presented with a black screen with a message box floating around indicating that TiVo was searching for a signal on the cable.

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Real Estate Appraisals

A recent experience has got me wondering how many errors are made in the home mortgage industry.

Ginny and I are in the process of applying for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) so we can do some improvements to the house in the next few years.

As part of the HELOC application, they did an appraisal of our house.

When they got the appraisal back, they informed us that our original loan offer had to be revised because the value of our house was significantly lower than our own estimate.

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Roomba

Thanks to a hint given to me by a twitter friend, we purchased a refurbished Roomba 530 from Woot last week.

The unit arrived on Thursday … and I plugged it in to get it charging as soon as I got home.   I positioned the charging base in the corner of the dining room which is pretty much out of the way.

So Friday morning it had a green light, indicating it was all charged up and ready to go.   So, being the good geek that I am, I pressed the button and let it go about it’s business cleaning the dining room, living room, & kitchen areas.

It dutifully started up and was vacuuming up the dust & bits of cat hair.   It went from room to room, cleaning the floors up, as I thought it should.

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Frozen Sump Pump

As I mentioned a few days ago in twitter, the outflow pipe of our sump pump froze.

I had gone down stairs to get something from the utility room and found that the sump pump was running … and didn’t stop.   The pump sounded OK, but no water was draining from the pit.   I turned the power to the pump off and triggered the backup pump … which ran but didn’t remove any water.     This meant that the pumps themselves weren’t the problem.   I went outside and discovered that the outflow pipe was frozen solid.   Clearly not a good situation.

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Installing Hardwood Floor

Kind of a busy two weeks … Ginny and I were on vacation.   Because of the cost of our last vacation (England & Ireland), we decided to make this a “Staycation” … basically stayed home and didn’t go anywhere big.

One of the things we wanted to was finish the floor in the smallest bedroom.   This was a project we started about 6 years ago … we had these grand ideas of turning it into a reading room, with a hardwood floor, a nice comfy chair, plenty of book shelves, etc.

Well, the project started out fine … but ended up completely stalled due to problems with the flooring material we chose.

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Testing the sump pump

Considering the weather today, it seems to be a fine time to test the Aquanot backup sump pump.

It’s taking quite a while for the water level to go high enough in the pit. I’m a bit worried that the float on the pump is too high.

Problem here is that once the water goes over the input from the drain tiles, the flow slows down.

Of course, I suspect the fact that the ejector pit is taking on ground water isn’t helping this test. Yet another item to be added to the repair list. This one, however, is pretty pricy … As the utility room floor will have to be broken up in order to put a new pit liner in.

<time passes>

Well, the sump pump never did turn on. Rather frustrating. I did a bit more research and figured out that the float was not set right. It needs to have some play so it will turn the pump on and settle a bit before turning the pump off. Unfortunately, the primary pump interferes with the floats range of motion.

I’ll gave to call Permaseal about getting it reconfigured so it works properly.   Having a emergency backup sump pump doesn’t help if it doesn’t turn on in an emergency.

HVAC

Ginny and I decided to get a new furnace & air conditioner this year … with the price of natural gas going up, we figured it would probably make sense to get a more efficient furnace … and our A/C has always been kind of wimpy.

As I always try to do, I got at least 3 quotes … in this case, four.

Three were for independent HVAC contractors … the remaining one was from Sears Home ImProvement (SHIP).

Three of the quotes were pretty close … one of the independent quotes was about half what the others quoted.

We decided to get a 80% efficient, two stage, variable speed, system by Carrier. We could have gone with the +90% efficient system, but I think the time to recoup the extra cost would take too long. The variable speed aspect was the only iffy bit … we were told by all the contractors that, because our house lacked adequate air returns, the variable speed fan would not be as efficient as it could be (it will still save us money, just not as much).

We ended up going with Sears … mainly because they were also willing to run the duct work necessary to add returns in the three upstairs bedrooms. None of the other contractors offered that. Well, there was a good reason they didn’t offer that.   The estimator from Sears (Ron) said it would cost an additional $2000 for the duct work.

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