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Insulating Between Floors, Is It Worth It?

May 24, 2012

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Yes and no.

Single-Family Units: No

If you live in a single-family dwelling, insulating between the floors may actually make your home colder. Hot air rises, and the heat produced on your first floor floats up to heat the second (and third) floors. This type of passive heat transfer saves you a bit of money on the energy bills.

My home was built in 1855, before the onset of central heating. I can only imagine how freezing cold it must have been in this house, with no insulation, no ducts and hot water pipes to transfer heat. Still, even after these inventions, the house was bitterly cold every winter because we had no insulation in the walls.

Well so far, I’ve managed to insulate the entire downstairs. It’s been a slow process since I’m gutting the house room by room. But it’s been SO worth it. The downstairs of this house is so cozy that I am hot during the winter. The upstairs, however, is still much cooler. The walls upstairs are uninsulated (for now). Yet because the downstairs of my home IS insulated, the rooms retain their heat and of course the heat rises. This year, for the first time EVER, we did not turn on the baseboard heaters this winter. The heat from the downstairs supplied all the heat for the upstairs. If my floors had been insulated, this would not have happened.

DRinsulation

I did insulate the ceiling above a heat sink, where the joists extend from the warm living spaces over an unheated garage. This makes a world of difference.

Insulating between floors does not save energy. It does not warm the house, but it does make the insulated section stay warmer longer. So all the data I have read says that insulating between floors is not necessary (and may even be detrimental) for a single-home dwelling.

Multiple-Dwelling Units: Yes

With that said, I think that the floors between multiple-home dwellings SHOULD be insulated. In this case, each family is paying for its own utilities. With the cost of fuel, the last thing a family living on the first floor wants to do is pay to heat the apartment on the upper floors. I once lived in an apartment for a few years. The heat was pretty expensive so we scrounged to conserve. Right before we we moving out, a neighbor confided to me that one of their rooms was on my heating line. I’d been paying to heat a part of the neighbor’s apartment for years, without ever knowing! Needless to say, we made tracks to chew out the landlord, lol.

How Do You Do It?

I heartily recommend that floors between apartment buildings are insulated. It can be a messy job, though. You can always rip out the layer of drywall, install fiberglass batting, and reinstall the ceiling. Another option is renting an insulation blower and filling the ceiling joist cavities with blown-in fiberglass insulation. A few notes on insulating between floors:

Do not fill the ceiling joists with insulation if the room has recessed lighting. Recessed lighting cans become extremely hot during use, and loose fill surrounding the can may ignite.

Do not insulate between walls or ceilings if your home still has the old knob-and-tube electrical wiring. Many building codes prohibit insulation with this wiring. The wiring, covered by insulation, can ignite and cause a fire.

It also helps to place the insulation blower outside a window, to reduce the dust and mess a blower makes. Most blowers are equipped with extra-long hoses for this purpose.

Close Up

What I found when I opened my living room ceiling. It would have been very dangerous to insulate between here!

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How to Buy Replacement Windows That Look Great

February 16, 2012

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One of the best investments you can make for your old home is new windows. For the average homeowner, vinyl replacement windows is a good choice. But all vinyl replacements are not the same. Here’s how to choose the best window for your money and your old home.

Making your Selection

It comes as no surprise that the best window is the one that is the most attractive at the most affordable price. This is easier said than done, however. Window manufacturers seem to love to confuse the consumer with strange terms, baffling “new” “technology” and other slick marketing techniques. I’ll explain what some of these terms mean.

Vinyl
Vinyl replacement windows are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the same material used for PVC pipes and vinyl siding and fencing. PVC is a veritable soup of chemical ingredients. One manufacturer may use more of one ingredient to produce a better window while another manufacturer may use less and produce an inferior window. For this reason, it is best to stick with a name brand manufacturer who has a history of producing quality windows. Avoid the cheap no-name brands because chances are these products use cheaper ingredients that may cause problems in the future. Look for windows that have the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) label on them. This means that the window is certified by the AAMA for high quality materials and manufacture.

Two of the big problems with vinyl windows are their propensity to warp or sag with extreme temperatures and yellowing that occurs under direct sunlight. Look for a window that contains titanium dioxide (TiO2), an additive that helps vinyl keep its white color. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the warping from temperature changes– vinyl siding suffers from the same plight. If possible, install awnings over the windows that face south as these generally receive the brunt of direct sunlight year round.

Double Glazing
Most vinyl replacement windows are “double glazed.” Double glazing is also known as insulated glazing. It’s basically two panes of glass separated by a small pocket of air space. This type of glazing is marvelous, in my opinion.

A double glazed window. Image courtesy of pvc-window-manufacturer.com

Old homes with their original windows have single pane glass. As many of you old-home owners know, heated or cooled air and sounds pass very easily through single pane windows. But add another pane to the window and air flow and sounds are sharply restricted. Years ago, the double glazing cost for new windows added greatly to the entire cost, but today, double glazing is very common. Some companies will even offer to add double glazing to older windows and doors. It’s incredibly more energy efficient.

Gas
Some window manufacturers boast that their windows contain argon gas or some other inert gas, claiming that the injected of gas between the two panes help prevent damage from UV rays and add additional energy efficiency to the windows. Personally, I don’t think the gas does much good and I will never pay extra for it. Over time, the gas leaches out. It’s not toxic in such tiny amounts. But seeing that it is not a permanent feature and that it does very little good anyway, I won’t ever pay more money for a window that has it.

Screens
Vinyl replacement windows screens are, in my opinion, substandard.

Kitty cat screen damage.

They are usually made of fiberglass material and they tear easily (especially if you have cats!). They are very pretty at first, when installed, but over time they start to sag and the fibers weaken. They fill with dust and dirt, and if you wash them, the fibers sag and weaken all the more.

I don’t know for sure if any window manufacturers make metal screening in a smart-looking black color. They certainly should. Metal screens are much easier to keep. If you get a vinyl window with fiberglass screens, expect to have to mend or replace the screens pretty regularly, every 7 to 15 years or so.

Tilting Sashes
In my estimation, the sashes of a vinyl replacement window are one of its best features. Many models feature “tilting” sashes. You press two small clips on each side of the bottom sash and the sash will tilt in for easy cleaning. What a marvelous, magnificent feature! No more clambering 40 feet up a ladder to wash windows!

Another great feature about these sashes is that you can lift the bottom sash up AND the top sash down. This is a great feature for homes with small children or pets who may try to poke through the screen. You can simply open up the top sash of the window to protect the lower screen, and still get fresh air.

Things to Avoid

Besides the usual features I’ve mentioned, check the window for any possible future problems that may develop.

Stupidly Designed Safety Clips
When we bought our first bunch of vinyl replacement windows, the window installers proudly pointed to their “safety clips” as an exclusive added feature. These clips were simply plastic triangular pieces that, when flipped out, would “lock down” the windows yet still allow the windows to be cracked open. This would keep the windows secure but still allow fresh air to circulate especially during hot summer nights.

While a terrific theory, the clips didn’t last long. They were poorly made and they were not attached to the window at all. After a year, they fell out and left ugly gaping holes.

Thin Vinyl “fin” Opening Handles
I would have gladly skipped the Amazing Safety Clips for better opening handles, that’s for sure. If you expect to open and close your window more than a dozen times, look for thick handles.

A broken handle on my window.

Blue-Tinted Windows
Some manufacturers tint their windows various colors, because homeowners may not want only white. However, avoid blue-tinted vinyl windows especially if they are a no-name brand and do not come with any AAMA certification label. Like supermarkets that color their old beef a red color to make the meat look fresher, blue-tinted windows hide the sub-grade vinyl used for the windows. These windows are tinted blue to hide their lack of titanium dioxide, the additive that makes the vinyl a white color. Over time, the blue tint will fade and the vinyl windows will become an ugly light yellow color.

Despite the caveats, I love vinyl replacement windows. They are more energy efficient and easier top operate than my old 100-year old windows. While no one is quite sure how long vinyl replacements will last (since they have only been around for 30 years or so), I think they can certainly last the lifetime of the homeowners. I’m hoping that manufacturers continue to offer us better technology and better features in the future.

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Blast From the Past, July Heat Wave Edition

July 22, 2011

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My son’s Biology course is finally over (the kid “A”ced it, too!!), so our summer has begun and our thoughts are turning toward wrapping up a few of the undone projects from last year’s renovation. I’m not planning any big projects this year– I tend to intersperse them every other year, for sanity’s sake! That, and I still have to pay off the kitchen renovation.

But we really can’t do much this week because of a very intense heat wave that’s hit the Northeast. I suffer in the heat, so I’m waiting until it passes before I attempt any projects. I remembered that about this time last year, we had a stretch of unusually hot weather, too. What were we doing then? I checked it out.

OH YEAH. Insulation.

Oh gosh, installing insulation in July is a nasty job. You have to wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, dust masks…. and the fiberglass seems to shake loose from the batts and go right for your face. But the job is SO WORTH it come winter. The house has never been toastier. Ever.

kitcheninsulation2

kitcheninsulation

We also installed our plumbing about this time. We used the new-fangled material, PEX. It’s a very stiff plastic material, a suitable replacement for the super-expensive copper.

PEXinwall

PEXmanifold

Have you heard about all the copper thefts going on? There’s been quite a bit in my area. These jerks will raid an entire house, ripping out the plumbing so they can sell the copper at the scrap yards. When we went to the scrapyard to sell our old copper pipes, the scrap yard took my husband’s driver’s license information! Apparently, the cops are monitoring the flow of copper in the area.

Did you notice how the husband installed the PEX into such lovely rings? 😀 I love the PEX manifold system. When we went away for a week-long vacation out of state, turning off the water supply was a piece of cake. And when we have to turn off the water supply to a fixture, all we have to do is turn the valve at the manifold.

Going over these photos is somewhat therapeutic for me. I’m not getting any new projects completed, and I feel somewhat low about that, from time to time. It’s easy to get discouraged with so many small (but important) things to do yet. Looking over the photos helps me remember how far we’ve come. I’m really praying that next year, we tackle the upstairs level. And get new windows. After that, it’s just the exterior and yard!!! Oh, and maintenance. :-p

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How to Keep an Old House Cool in the Summer

May 27, 2011

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Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. before the 1970s malaise and even before the Industrial Revolution, most homeowners focused more on keeping their homes cool in the summer than warm in the winter. Back then, wood and coal were plenteous, and labor was cheap (not to mention that families had dozens of kids back then), so heating the house was relatively easy. Houses were built to release heat. High ceilings were the repositories of warmed air; thin glass windows– the bane of our modern homes– and drafty rooms kept the house well ventilated. I’d even heard that the reason for all the decorative gingerbread features in Victorian homes was not for aesthetic reasons, but to give the impression of icicles and therefore the illusion of coolness. I am not sure if this is 100% true, but it’s what I’ve heard.

4snow2011

That's the closest I'll ever get to gingerbread on this house...

At any rate, the world is turned upside down, now. Thanks to the energy crunch, we homeowners must seal every crack, plug every hole, lower ceilings, install thicker windows with better quality glass…. and while there’s great benefit, in hot or cold weather, to insulating walls and sealing every crack, it does make the interior of the house rather airless during summers. Airless homes are not healthy. Mold and mildew love homes with temperate, stale air. Toxins within the home, such as natural gas and small traces of carbon dioxide, reach poisonous proportions in tightly-sealed homes. And since we are in our homes more frequently than previous generations, ventilation is all the more important for our health and well-being.

Close Up

Our old wiring could never have supported the large electric load of an air conditioner.

I have lived in old homes all my life. Old homes aren’t really built for the power-sucking, window-filling air conditioning systems of today. My old homes had outdated electric, unable to withstand the kilowatt slurping window-installed air conditioner. And unless we gutted the walls or purchased new fangled cooling units, we couldn’t install central air, either. So I grew up learning the passive methods of keeping a house cool in the summer. I remember my mom waking up very early on summer mornings to “batten down the hatches” before a particularly sultry summer day dawned. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years:

1. Open the windows at night.
Summer nights are obviously cooler than summer days. I place fans in the windows, blowing cool night air in at night. I sleep better when it’s cool, too.

2. Close the windows before the sun rises.
After encouraging the cool summer night air to enter the house through open windows, I basically seal the cool air in for as long as possible by closing off the source of the heat– the summer day. All windows are closed and curtains are drawn. I may have one upstairs window open, with a fan blowing out.

3. Know the natural air flow of your home.

Every home has some kind of natural air flow to it. I have studied the flow of the drafts in my home, so I know what directions the air naturally travels downwind. If I work WITH instead of against the flow, I can save energy (and money). This helps me to position fans in the right areas, especially that upstairs “out” fan I mentioned in #2. There’s one room in the house upstairs where all the air goes into. I open the window in that room and point the fan out. The fan will blow the heated air that is rising up from the first floor out the window. This does two things: it removes the heated air, and provides a constant draft that makes the house feel cooler.

4. Hang heavy drapes.

Solar energy is a marvelous thing, but when it’s making you sweat buckets, it stinks. I close all windows and blinds during the hottest time of the day (from 11am to 5:30 pm). My current home is situated in the middle of a small business district, with large sections of heat-pumping asphalt all around me. Heavy drapes are my only barrier between comfort and that nasty, heat-belching asphalt.

Whew Exhaustion

ISSOHOT

5. Reduce heat-producing appliance use.
Obviously, the clothes dryer is a biggie here. If you have a laundry area right in the living quarters, it can get pretty hot, running that thing. Hang clothes or relocate your dryer to the basement. Don’t use the stove at ALL (you’ll really regret it!)– get a grill and cook outside. Computers generate a lot of heat, so turn off the ones you are not using. Lower your hot water tank thermostat. Use the “air dry” cycle on the dishwasher. Turn off lights. Regard anything that produces heat as an impediment to your goal.

6. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides of the house.
Deciduous trees will provide shade for your land during the hot summers. The nice about deciduous trees is that they will drop their leaves by winter, giving your home access to the warm sun that is welcome in the winter. Don’t plant them too closely to the house, or you may have roof and/or gutter problems when the leaves drop in the autumn.

7. Plant evergreen trees on the north side of the house.
Much like deciduous trees on the south, evergreens offer your home a little barrier. But while deciduous trees provide a barrier from the hot sun in the summer, evergreen trees provide a barrier from the cold north winds in the winter.

8. Install light colored roof shingles.
Black asphalt shingles retain heat and continue radiating it. Shingles in white, gray, or even red absorb less of the sun’s sweltering rays.

9. Insulate the attic.
And seal all holes and cracks from the attic to the living areas. In my old home, the insulation is both insufficient and disgusting. It’s the old cellulose crap– loaded with dust and it stinks like all get-out. Oh, how I hate cellulose insulation!

Attic2

How I HATE this attic!

 

Well, anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, seal the holes! In my home, the roof heats up and the backyard heats up thanks to all that asphalt, and the heat builds up to epic proportions in the attic. And I know all about physics, but in my house the heat actually DROPS. Must be wacky airflow. But the house sometimes smells like the attic and the upstairs gets really hot. When we gut the upstairs, I’m going to seal that blasted attic.

10. Open the basement door.
Before we had our sneaky cat who is always trying to get outside, we would open the basement door and place a fan in the doorway. I really can’t believe how wonderfully cool the basement is. When the weather gets really oppressive, I sometimes go down there to cool back down to 98.6.

FTK 3.26No2

Of course, sitting in the refrigerator is a great way to cool off...

11. Install awnings over south-facing windows.
Believe me, this works. My new kitchen window at 4 feet by 5 feet is so wonderful, but it faces south and receives the full brunt of the hot summer sun and asphalt.

So there ARE ways to keep the house cool without busting your energy bill. After all, you’ll need to save every dollar you can for the winter’s heating bills!

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Ice Dam Damage

February 13, 2011

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I was pretty happy and contented with winter until the temperatures tumbled into the double-digit SUB ZERO numbers, causing ice and ice dams. I found myself browsing the selection of gorgeous patio furniture at CNS Stores yesterday. *Sigh* They have over 200 stores– stores loaded with furniture and home decor and linens. I’m torn between getting a porch swing or a rocker, because I am going to be OUTSIDE all summer long this year!!

Back to reality. Lots of Northeasterners groaning about the ice dams these days, and no wonder. 4snow2011We got ICE. All the snow on our roofs promptly froze. Then, the temps bounced back up, and the ice melted. Then it refroze. Not to mention that my attic leaks tons of heat because it is a) improperly insulated (another thing I need to fix), and b) there’s no insulation in the second floor walls (we have to renovate that section of the house yet).

Here’s a photo of an ice dam, for those who don’t know. Ice works its way up and under the shingles, where it meets with the warm air from the house. Leaks commence, and can be extremely destructive.

Photo courtesy of lyonscontracting.com

This house has evidence of some very serious ice dams from the past (scars of ugly, patched plaster are on some of the upstairs bedroom ceilings), but we’ve never had bad ice dams until this year. Maybe it’s because the house was never really WARM due to the disgusting forced air furnace system that was here. This year, with the new heating system, it’s downright toasty in the house. But I guess I’m paying a price…

We discovered some damage in our garage. Bad ice dams. This is the ceiling, from the inside:

IceDamdamage2

IceDamdamages

Yes, that IS old tin ceiling. I think it’s about 120 years old, maybe. And above the tin ceiling is even older wallpaper– that probably dates back to the 1870s, I assume. The previous owners before us covered all these ceiling layers over with a 70’s drop ceiling. The drop ceiling has been collapsing, so that explains why we can see the old tin ceiling and old wallpaper and original plaster ceiling.

I’ll betcha there’s a human-sized icicle in the attic above the garage. 🙁 I’m too afraid to look.

There’s not a whole lot we can do. Our roof is too steeply pitched to climb up on it and loosen the ice. I considered throwing rock salt up on the roof…. we tried to get roof rakes, but all the home centers are sold out. Yeah no kidding.

So we want spring to come now. REAL bad. lol. I am SICK of ice!!!!

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Old Window Icicles

December 29, 2010

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Huh. I’ve never seen this happen before.

oldwindowicile

You know why that’s happening?! Because for the first time in this house, it is ACTUALLY WARM. It’s so warm that the warm air is leaking out through these leaky, 100-year-old windows, and making icicles when the warm air hits the freezing air outside.

Wooow.

Since ditching our forced air furnace and installing gas heaters, the house has been incredibly warm. And the gas bill is much lower than last year. Unfortunately, the electric bill is SKY HIGH because we have electric baseboards upstairs. I knew that would happen. But I wasn’t comfortable installing gas heaters upstairs. This setup is temporary– we intend on installing a hot water baseboard system in the future. But the gas heaters are just phenomenal.

I did a LOT of research about the heaters before I bought them. I’m a copywriter for a few online writing companies, so I also wrote a number of researched articles on the devices. I’m pretty impressed with them. Of course, I have a slew of carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout the house (you should install these if you have ANY gas-burning appliance in your home, anyway– and especially if you have a fireplace). Some of them have digital readouts that display the level of CO2 in the room. And mine has consistently displayed 0. Yay! The gas burners burn very cleanly.

Actually, gas heaters are no more dangerous than a wood fireplace. Wood needs oxygen in order to burn, too, and dispels carbon monoxide, too. Gas heaters have something that fireplaces do not, however– sensors. When a heater senses that oxygen is being depleted, the heater will shut off automatically.

Anyway, I am very happy with out heaters, although I think they keep the house a little too warm. The water vapor is not a problem here, as we have PLENTY of drafts in this house (I never thought I’s be grateful for a drafty house!) and the moisture helps eliminate the massive static electricity we’ve had problems with every winter. So far, the gas heaters are a win-win.

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Chestnuts Roasting On A….

November 19, 2010

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Who eats chestnuts anymore?

And who has a roaring fire anymore?

It’s this time of the year that I long for an open fire, SOME kind of open fire. When I was younger, my family purchased a home with a huge stone fireplace. One of our favorite things to do was to sit in front of it. And that was exactly the problem– all of us sitting in front of it. No room for all of us! A fireplace does not give off much heat, as a lot of the heat goes right up the chimney. Fireplaces also suck up the oxygen in a room, creating a draft. And of course, house fires start in chimneys; you must carefully maintain your chimney very year. So the flames were very cozy-looking, but not very warm. And all that wood chopping, stacking, loading, ash removal…

TOO MUCH WORK.

We have only one chimney left, and it’s merely a vent for the gas appliances. When we convert our garage into a family/music room, I’m going to install a hansenwholesale.com vented gas logs fireplace. I’ve done a bit of studying, and the vented are best. They draw air in from the outdoors, and vent the combustion gases outdoors.

Well, this year I still have only the electric space heater to cozy up to. But soon I’ll have my nice gas fireplace! 😀

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Plugging Holes For Winter

October 19, 2010

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I’m busy trying to get all my Internet writing work done these days, and at the same time, scrambling around trying to winterize before the snow falls (which, they say, will occur Friday morning). Eeep! I’m not ready for winter. I mean, I’m READY— there’s nothing I’d like more than to cozy up in front of a toasty fire, cuddled up with cat and blanket. But we have a LOT of loose ends to wrap up before anything cozy goes on in this house. For one, there’s this:

Basement Window2

Yes, that’s a hole in my basement window. The window fell out.

BasementWindow1

That’s the original 1855 basement window. The old cut nails are still in it. It had been patched at some point in the past 100 years or so, but I’m amazed it’s lasted this long. We have a few other ones that are seeing their demise, now.

Rather than figure out how on earth to replace the window (and figure out how we’d afford the custom craft), we decided to close off the window. This area of the house is extremely soggy, and water tends to pool beside it. Instead of exacerbating a water problem by keeping a hole here, closing off the window will seal out the moisture. Next year, we’ll remove all the top soil and lay a slab of concrete, to further direct water from the roof from collecting here.

I’ve got some kids who help me haul the concrete, and mix it. Yay!

BasementWindow3

I lay a thin layer of sand mix to give the cinder blocks something to grab as they sit in there. After the first row of blocks, I fill them with concrete. Then I slather another layer of sand mix, and add another row of blocks. I will eventually smooth out the entire side, to make the wall look seamless.

This is just the first row of blocks. I have since added two, and need to wedge in a narrow third before the window is entirely sealed off. Problem is, I’ve been SO swamped with work that I haven’t been able to get back out to the project.

BasementWindow5

I’d better hurry. We have a mass of water and drain pipes right in front of this hole. God forbid they should freeze.

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Find the Kitty Friday, Late Edition 10/15

October 15, 2010

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Find the Kitty Friday

Where the action is, there is Livvy.

LIvvyHelpingLaundry2

We finally got the gas dryer installed. The Hubs installed the gas line. It’s actually not a very difficult task (yea, SHE says, haha!). The key is perfect measurements for the gas pipes. We were going to hire our plumber to do the work, actually, but changed our minds over the summer. We found out that our plumber had taken a few dangerous short cuts when he installed the gas line for us a few years ago. He’d used one of those flexible stainless steel pipes (coated with yellow plastic) to rig up to the main gas service line pipe. He then stuck it up into a hole into the laundry room, attached a flange on the end, and connected another yellow flexible gas pipe from the flange to the dryer. Plumbing codes say that for main service gas lines, you have to use solid, black pipe.

One we saw how non-complicated it is to install your own pipe, we decided to do it ourselves. It’s also saving us upwards of $1000. The hardest part is making accurate measurements. You also must test for leaks with soapy water. I also test for leaks with my very sensitive nose. 😀

So anyway, we got the dryer installed. THANK GOD. I had been carting 15+ loads of laundry every week to the local laundromat all summer. WHAT a chore. Of course, as soon as we get the dryer installed, Livvy wants to be a part of the action. I love this cat. Everything is new and exciting to her, even laundry. LOL.

LivvyHelpingLaundry

Yet we still have no heaters, downstairs. We have an electric space heater for the most chilly of days, and are bundling as best as we can in blankets. The heaters require more gas lines, and The Hubs has not had any time to get them installed yet. I tried to encourage him, by patting him on the back after doing such a great job with the dryer line.

“Thank you so much! It’s works great!! Are you happy about such a job well done?”

“It’s over,” was all he said.

😐

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Planning the Heating System

September 21, 2010

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I haven’t touched on our plans for heating the home yet.. mostly because we have been absolutely consumed with so many other big projects that need our attentions now… I mentioned over the summer, during demolition, that we decided to rip out the forced air furnace ducts after seeing their dismal and dangerous condition when we ripped open the walls. I have always hated forced air heat, and the one in this house seemed particularly dusty and toxic. We were always sick with some respiratory illness or another. The ducts in the house were horrible. The sections of ducting had never been connected together; they simply sat inside each other. Well, they had once sat inside each other. After 60 years, the ducts had split apart, exposing the inside of the ducts to the plaster dust and lathe inside the walls, and to the toxic lining they had slathered all over the exterior of the ducts. Talk about horror- I HATE forced air systems. Filthy, inefficient, and expensive. Yuk.

We still have our forced air furnace installed, though. We are eventually going to sell it. We’ve consulted with our Furnace Guy about getting a new, modern heating system. I’m not too keen on central heating, but the Furnace Guy said that is the best way to go when it comes to house values. So far, the decision is to go with the hydronic baseboard heat. Before we closed up the walls in the kitchen, I constructed a shaft made of PVC pipe, for the allowing of PEX piping to go up to the second floor when we decide to install the heating system.

A gas fireplace with sufficient BTUs can heat an entire room or zone! And they look beautiful!


However, this winter we are not having it installed. I installed electric baseboard heat in the bedrooms upstairs, and we will be placing space heaters in some of the rooms downstairs. Of course, I’d just LOVE to install a modernhearth.com fireplace in the house. The home did once have fireplaces– in the living room and in the dining room, but they were old coal-fueled fireplaces, and not the clean-burning fireplaces that we know today. I will be building a section in the living room and the dining room with the hope of installing a gas-fired fireplace in each room. It would be so cozy. And I hear that gas-fired heaters are much warmer. I know a few folks who have them, and their homes are almost hot in the winter!

So that’s our decision thus far. Next year we will be getting a hydronic system. It’s too big a project to do (and pay for) this year, so for this season, we’ll endure the electric baseboard heat and space heaters. I’ll have more updates on that, to come.

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