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July Banter 2022


George BM
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Ranking the best things after power comes back on from an extended days-long outage

1. Running water returns (well people know)

2. AC returns

3. When trash day finally arrives and all the spoiled food from the outage finally goes to its final resting place and stops making the air evil foul for 100+ feet around the trash bins

That last one is seriously under-rated. Holy hell, welcome, refuse workers. Your sacrifice is appreciated tomorrow. 

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21 hours ago, WxWatcher007 said:

I’m a homeowner! Any general advice from all the old pros?

Congratulations on your new purchase and welcome to bliss of home ownership...   

A few suggestions:

   Home Inspection:  Was there a home inspection conducted pre-purchase?  If so, read the report.  A good home inspection will have a lot of useful info.  It will include inspection of the roof, sump pump, HVAC unit/s, siding, exposed water line, electrical panels, appliances, check for GFIs in wet areas, etc...  

 Paint:  If the previous owner left any used paint, take a digital picture of the label and dye pigment formula.  This can be used by Lowe's or Home Depot to mix an identical match for your paint.  

  Sump Pump:  Does your house have a basement?  If it has a walk out basement it may or may not have a sump pump.  If there is a sump pump, it's probably there for a good reason.  Make sure it has a battery backup and a high-water alarm.  

  HVAC:  Check the filters in your HVAC air handler unit/s.  If there was a home inspection, inspection of the filters would be SOP.  If not, check the filter and replace as necessary - at least once a year.  Pay attention to the arrow on the edge of the air filter that shows the direction of the air flow - this is critical.  

   Air conditioner:  (Regrets - this part is a bit complicated, but if you have some mechanical aptitude is doable for the average Harry or Harriet homeowner)  Check the condensate drain in the air handler.  There will be a tube or pvc pipe that runs from the side of the air handler to a drain in the floor or someplace.  There may be a small pump that pumps the water outside too.  This goal is to drain the condensate (water) away from the air handler (water and 208VAC don't mix!).  Make sure the drain is open and clean of any debris.  In some cases, you can get mold growing in the condensate tray inside the air handler, which will clog up the drain and create a mess.  Look for an access panel on the side of the air handler to enable inspection of the evaporator section of the air handler and make sure the condensate tray is clean (at least relatively clean).  This may be something you need to watch a technical do the first time. If the condensate drain clogs up, you can get a big mess very quickly with the overflow, especially on a humid day like today.  

   Roof:  A good roof is critical to maintaining a solid house.  Even a small leak can be cataclysmic in damage.  If there was a home inspection they would have performed at least a cursory inspection of the roof, possibly with binoculars from the ground.  When inspecting shingles, look at the edges first.  Aged shingles will start cracking and breaking off at the edge first.  If you have access to a ladder and the knowhow, inspect the gutters and look for access aggregate in the gutters.  This may be a sign of low spots in the gutters or excessively worn shingles, or both.  

   Gutters and downspouts:  Check the gutters to make sure they slope properly to flush out the water.  Low spots may lead to the accumulation of debris and/or promote the growth of mold - not good.  If your house has standard 5 inch gutters with 2"x3" downspouts, highly suggest upgrading to 6 inch gutters with 3"x4" downspouts.  The larger gutter and downspouts can "flush" out much larger debris (leaves etc) and minimize clogging.   The larger gutters are also MUCH easier to clean out.  If you have gutter covers on your house, that may be a plus.  But...  even with gutter covers they are not totally maintenance free.  Have had about every kind of gutter cover there is on our various houses and it is not a matter of if, but when the mold starts growing.  Once the mold kicks in, it is just a matter of time until a major cleaning is needed to avoid a clog.  (this part may generate some debate as there's lots of variables involved with the efficiency of gutter covers).

   Electrical Panel:  Make sure you know where it is and how to shut everything off if you need to.  Make sure you know where all the GFI's are in the house and on the outside, just in case one trips.  A tripped GFI can take out a series of electrical outlets.  If there was a home inspection they should have tested the GFIs for proper function.  (they will do a test trip).  If this was done, that should have shown you how to reset a GFI.  

  Water and Gas Main Shutoffs:  Make sure you know exactly where the main water and gas line shutoffs are at.  On the waters lines, make sure you know where the interior shutoffs are for the exterior hose bibs so you can shut off and drain the hose bib for the winter.  If there was a home inspection these various shutoffs should have been inspected.  

   Chimney:  If your house has a brick chimney, check the mortar holding the bricks together for wear and chipping.  If there's missing bricks, hire a brick mason to clean and re-point the mortar.  This should have been part of a home inspection too.  They should have inspected the flue too.  If a chimney flue has not been cleaned recently, that may be worthwhile if you plan to burn wood.  Not necessary for a gas fireplace insert.  

  That covers a lot of ground.  Regrets for the long-winded reply.  Hope it helps.  Congratulations again. 

 

 

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51 minutes ago, North Balti Zen said:

Ranking the best things after power comes back on from an extended days-long outage

1. Running water returns (well people know)

2. AC returns

3. When trash day finally arrives and all the spoiled food from the outage finally goes to its final resting place and stops making the air evil foul for 100+ feet around the trash bins

That last one is seriously under-rated. Holy hell, welcome, refuse workers. Your sacrifice is appreciated tomorrow. 

Can relate on the running water with a well.  We're on well and septic.  Fortunately we have a 10kw generator, which is sufficient to power the well pump.  That said, when the well pump starts, the initial surge is about 18amps at 208, so it taxes the generator a bit.  Can run the well pump, one of our two HVAC zones, the refrigerators, microwave and a few lights.  Have aspirations to install a whole-house auto-start generator, but they aren't cheap.    

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@RDM that’s great, thank you!

We did do an inspection on the house before purchase. The roof is new with solar panels. No central air, no sump pump and signs of water damage, but the location is on a slight ridge and I do worry a bit about water retention in the back. The house is nearly 100 years old so there’s some work to do, but the location is great and some things have been updated. 

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38 minutes ago, WxWatcher007 said:

@RDM that’s great, thank you!

We did do an inspection on the house before purchase. The roof is new with solar panels. No central air, no sump pump and signs of water damage, but the location is on a slight ridge and I do worry a bit about water retention in the back. The house is nearly 100 years old so there’s some work to do, but the location is great and some things have been updated. 

Congrats again.  Sounds really cool.  I love older homes.  They have "character" and no 2 are exactly the same.  Keep an eye on the water.  It is a powerful force as we all know.  

Interesting there's no central AC, but you have solar panels.  Hope you got some powerful window AC units to handle this heat & humidity.    

FWIW - my oldest brother in Ohio lives in a house built in 1860.  He and his wife are the 3rd owners/occupants since 1860.  Yes, only the 3rd in 162 years.  Was an estate sale from 3 brothers who were born and died there.  An amazing place with an enormous fireplace with wrought iron kettle arm.  Did not have central air, nor central heat, nor indoor running water  apart from a garden hose through the kitchen window) when my brother moved into the place about 20 years ago.  The privy was a 2 hole outhouse, still "ripe" from daily use.  

 

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On 7/20/2022 at 8:04 PM, RDM said:

Congratulations on your new purchase and welcome to bliss of home ownership...   

A few suggestions:

   Home Inspection:  Was there a home inspection conducted pre-purchase?  If so, read the report.  A good home inspection will have a lot of useful info.  It will include inspection of the roof, sump pump, HVAC unit/s, siding, exposed water line, electrical panels, appliances, check for GFIs in wet areas, etc...  

 Paint:  If the previous owner left any used paint, take a digital picture of the label and dye pigment formula.  This can be used by Lowe's or Home Depot to mix an identical match for your paint.  

  Sump Pump:  Does your house have a basement?  If it has a walk out basement it may or may not have a sump pump.  If there is a sump pump, it's probably there for a good reason.  Make sure it has a battery backup and a high-water alarm.  

  HVAC:  Check the filters in your HVAC air handler unit/s.  If there was a home inspection, inspection of the filters would be SOP.  If not, check the filter and replace as necessary - at least once a year.  Pay attention to the arrow on the edge of the air filter that shows the direction of the air flow - this is critical.  

   Air conditioner:  (Regrets - this part is a bit complicated, but if you have some mechanical aptitude is doable for the average Harry or Harriet homeowner)  Check the condensate drain in the air handler.  There will be a tube or pvc pipe that runs from the side of the air handler to a drain in the floor or someplace.  There may be a small pump that pumps the water outside too.  This goal is to drain the condensate (water) away from the air handler (water and 208VAC don't mix!).  Make sure the drain is open and clean of any debris.  In some cases, you can get mold growing in the condensate tray inside the air handler, which will clog up the drain and create a mess.  Look for an access panel on the side of the air handler to enable inspection of the evaporator section of the air handler and make sure the condensate tray is clean (at least relatively clean).  This may be something you need to watch a technical do the first time. If the condensate drain clogs up, you can get a big mess very quickly with the overflow, especially on a humid day like today.  

   Roof:  A good roof is critical to maintaining a solid house.  Even a small leak can be cataclysmic in damage.  If there was a home inspection they would have performed at least a cursory inspection of the roof, possibly with binoculars from the ground.  When inspecting shingles, look at the edges first.  Aged shingles will start cracking and breaking off at the edge first.  If you have access to a ladder and the knowhow, inspect the gutters and look for access aggregate in the gutters.  This may be a sign of low spots in the gutters or excessively worn shingles, or both.  

   Gutters and downspouts:  Check the gutters to make sure they slope properly to flush out the water.  Low spots may lead to the accumulation of debris and/or promote the growth of mold - not good.  If your house has standard 5 inch gutters with 2"x3" downspouts, highly suggest upgrading to 6 inch gutters with 3"x4" downspouts.  The larger gutter and downspouts can "flush" out much larger debris (leaves etc) and minimize clogging.   The larger gutters are also MUCH easier to clean out.  If you have gutter covers on your house, that may be a plus.  But...  even with gutter covers they are not totally maintenance free.  Have had about every kind of gutter cover there is on our various houses and it is not a matter of if, but when the mold starts growing.  Once the mold kicks in, it is just a matter of time until a major cleaning is needed to avoid a clog.  (this part may generate some debate as there's lots of variables involved with the efficiency of gutter covers).

   Electrical Panel:  Make sure you know where it is and how to shut everything off if you need to.  Make sure you know where all the GFI's are in the house and on the outside, just in case one trips.  A tripped GFI can take out a series of electrical outlets.  If there was a home inspection they should have tested the GFIs for proper function.  (they will do a test trip).  If this was done, that should have shown you how to reset a GFI.  

  Water and Gas Main Shutoffs:  Make sure you know exactly where the main water and gas line shutoffs are at.  On the waters lines, make sure you know where the interior shutoffs are for the exterior hose bibs so you can shut off and drain the hose bib for the winter.  If there was a home inspection these various shutoffs should have been inspected.  

   Chimney:  If your house has a brick chimney, check the mortar holding the bricks together for wear and chipping.  If there's missing bricks, hire a brick mason to clean and re-point the mortar.  This should have been part of a home inspection too.  They should have inspected the flue too.  If a chimney flue has not been cleaned recently, that may be worthwhile if you plan to burn wood.  Not necessary for a gas fireplace insert.  

  That covers a lot of ground.  Regrets for the long-winded reply.  Hope it helps.  Congratulations again. 

 

 

All excellent points! And congrats to you WxWatcher007!!

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32 minutes ago, IronTy said:

Man this morning I was walking the pup and it felt and smelled like I was in Saint Lucia.  Except for the muddy bay and lack of the epic view of the pitons.  But aside from that it was basically the same. 

We stayed at Sugar Beach last year for my partners 40th. The Pitons are gorgeous and we loved the resort. Looks just like SoMD!

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On 7/20/2022 at 9:48 PM, WxWatcher007 said:

@RDM that’s great, thank you!

We did do an inspection on the house before purchase. The roof is new with solar panels. No central air, no sump pump and signs of water damage, but the location is on a slight ridge and I do worry a bit about water retention in the back. The house is nearly 100 years old so there’s some work to do, but the location is great and some things have been updated. 

Was thinking some more...   (I know, that's dangerous!).   One other suggestion that is often overlooked in home inspections.  It's about your garage doors.  

Most garage doors have a long torsion spring that is wrapped around the jack-shaft.  The jack-shaft is the long rod that runs across the top of the garage door with a cable on both sides. It is what actually helps lift the weight of the garage door.  On a single door there is just one spring and on a double door there are two.  Not all springs are the same.  They are tailored to the type, size and weight of the garage door (there's several categories of springs)

Torsion springs have an enormous amount of stored kinetic energy in them.  Don't mess with them unless fully versed on the mechanicals and even then, be extremely careful.  On occasion a torsion spring will break.  When it does the release of energy is loud and dramatic - like a shotgun blast (sort of).  

One thing that everyone can do to extend the life of a torsion spring is to lubricate it once a year.  A good spray lithium grease is a reasonable option.  Garage door companies use a variety of lubricants.  

The goal is to use a grease that is sufficiently fluid to penetrate in between the coils of the spring, but not so fluid that it drips down on your garage door or your car when you are entering/exiting (WD-40 is not a suggested option).  Getting the lubricant down inside the coils of the spring significantly reduces the friction on the surfaces of the coils, which greatly extends the service-cycle lifespan of the springs.  

Replacing a coil spring is not an extremely expensive endeavor.  But it is best left to the pros who can replace a spring in a much shorter amount of time than any of us can.  I've done one before out of necessity.  But it's a tricky endeavor and one slip-up in the process can result in a trip to the ER, or worse.   

 

Hope this helps and hope things are going well getting settled into your new home. 

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1 hour ago, WxUSAF said:

Our torsion spring broke a year ago. Yes, shotgun blast. Had a garage door company replace it. 

Ours did too.  When the house was built, only one spring was installed on my double size garage door.   The company I called replaced the broken one and put a second one in and haven't had issues since. 

 

The second spring helped balance the load as well. 

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1 hour ago, RDM said:

Was thinking some more...   (I know, that's dangerous!).   One other suggestion that is often overlooked in home inspections.  It's about your garage doors.  

Most garage doors have a long torsion spring that is wrapped around the jack-shaft.  The jack-shaft is the long rod that runs across the top of the garage door with a cable on both sides. It is what actually helps lift the weight of the garage door.  On a single door there is just one spring and on a double door there are two.  Not all springs are the same.  They are tailored to the type, size and weight of the garage door (there's several categories of springs)

Torsion springs have an enormous amount of stored kinetic energy in them.  Don't mess with them unless fully versed on the mechanicals and even then, be extremely careful.  On occasion a torsion spring will break.  When it does the release of energy is loud and dramatic - like a shotgun blast (sort of).  

One thing that everyone can do to extend the life of a torsion spring is to lubricate it once a year.  A good spray lithium grease is a reasonable option.  Garage door companies use a variety of lubricants.  

The goal is to use a grease that is sufficiently fluid to penetrate in between the coils of the spring, but not so fluid that it drips down on your garage door or your car when you are entering/exiting (WD-40 is not a suggested option).  Getting the lubricant down inside the coils of the spring significantly reduces the friction on the surfaces of the coils, which greatly extends the service-cycle lifespan of the springs.  

Replacing a coil spring is not an extremely expensive endeavor.  But it is best left to the pros who can replace a spring in a much shorter amount of time than any of us can.  I've done one before out of necessity.  But it's a tricky endeavor and one slip-up in the process can result in a trip to the ER, or worse.   

 

Hope this helps and hope things are going well getting settled into your new home. 

Also, use the lithium grease on the rails and "door wheels" too.  It makes the door run quieter and smoother. 

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RE: WD40...

 

WD stands for Water Displacer.  It does have lubricity properties but is probably the most mis-used product inside the garage outside of say the standard screw driver! ;)

And roger on overhead torsion springs.  Some things are best left to skilled tradesman.  And that is one of them!

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12 hours ago, mattie g said:

^
^

How do people know all this random sh*t?

If you're referring to my "random sh*t", it's partially a curse from being an engineer and partially good fortune from growing up with a dad who could fix just about anything.  If you were referring to someone else's sh*t regrets for the off-base assumption.  B)

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9 hours ago, Stormfly said:

RE: WD40...

 

WD stands for Water Displacer.  It does have lubricity properties but is probably the most mis-used product inside the garage outside of say the standard screw driver! ;)

And roger on overhead torsion springs.  Some things are best left to skilled tradesman.  And that is one of them!

Rgr that on WD-40.  Had a lubricant engineer explain the drawbacks of WD-40 once.  In particular, WD-40 is hygroscopic - meaning it attracts and retains humidity/water.  Not exactly what we want in many applications.  

That's why after after the petroleum part of WD-40 wears off, evaporates etc, there's often a rusty residue left over.  Then we apply more WD-40 and it quickly becomes a point of diminishing returns.  

 

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