News Archive: January 2019
29 January 2019. The HVAC contractor recommended that I increase the air return for the system, so I added a large duct right behind the blower, re-incorporating the doorbell back into the opening where it used to be. (The black paint helps everything disappear behind the grille.)
27 January 2019. I have heat! It took over two hours to get the system balanced, but once things settled down, it ran like a champ. To help the HVAC contractor, I installed a thermocouple on the inbound refrigerant line to monitor its temperature. Worked like a charm. The real test comes this Wednesday night, when the low is predicted to be all of 5 degrees.
While all of that was going on, I finished the interior of the cabinet below the oven, and also installed a nightlight beside the refrigerator.
25 January 2019. It was another unexpectedly quiet day, as no contractors made appearances. So I just did a bunch of random stuff—everything needs to be done, so it doesn't much matter what I do. After framing the third of three new kitchen cabinets, I turned my attention to the small windows, all of which had large gaps along the top edges owing to the fact that the stock sizes differed from my rough openings by over an inch (in my favor, thankfully). After cutting and installing 16 pieces of plywood, I sealed everything with caulk and called it a day.
24 January 2019. I was expecting the day to be crazy-busy, with the HVAC and sheetrock contractors converging on the house at once. Instead... nothing. It was just me and my helper, and since it was pouring rain all day, we did indoor stuff. While he did restoration work on the kitchen lights, I built cabinets... the interiors of the beverage and spice cabinets are done. Plus, as a bonus, I built a kitty cubby over the refrigerator, behind the beverage cabinet (second pair of images). It even features "central heat," which is a small vent over the back of the refrigerator to allow its waste heat to rise up into the cubby. And the cubby will be accessible to them via a series of catwalks disguised as bookshelves. My kitties are so spoiled! Incidentally, I did not plan on the beverage cabinet being exactly the right height for two-liter bottles of soda—it was a total accident.
23 January 2019. While I worked on the new kitchen cabinets, my helper dug a ditch for the septic pump control wires. We also lined the ceiling over the cabinets with ¾-inch ply per the inspector's requirement.
22 January 2019. I did some framing for the new kitchen cabinets as well as the bookshelves. Also, I made an aesthetic change to provide visual continuity throughout the living space by lowering the ceiling over the bathroom and laundry doors. This aligns with the tops of all of the windows as well as all of the kitchen cabinets.
21 January 2019. Made a deposit today to have all of the ceilings sheetrocked, while my helper and I will deal with all of the walls. Depending on the budget, I may have the contractor return to do all of the finishing work; we'll see. Meanwhile, I did more measuring for the planned bookshelves. And thanks to the frigid arctic blast—plus the helpful blustery winds—I located and sealed up a number of air leaks with caulk.
19 January 2019. Returned the leftover insulation, basically trading it in on a nice shop vac. Then I began planning a whole new batch of changes. I also added insulation to the shower wall, as well as a thick bed of insulation under the bathtub. As an aside, now that everything is insulated, the house stays above 50° no matter how cold it gets at night, and reaches over 60° during the day. All still with three tiny space heaters.
18 January 2019. Insulation inspection went without a hitch. Basically that leaves me free to finish the house—or at least take it as far as I can given current finances.
16 January 2019. After taking it easy for a couple of days, I joined my helper for the day insulating the garage; it's now roughly two-thirds done. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Also, it appears there will be some insulation left over, so I may insulate some of the interior walls.
13 January 2019. Heat pumps take a lot of "fiddling" to get working right, especially when it's really cold outside. So, although the system appears to be working properly, I won't know for sure until it gets just a little warmer outside. (It figures that mine was installed on one of the coldest days of the year so far!)
12 January 2019. Back on 10 December 2018, I announced that I was all done with electrical work. I lied. After getting the kitchen wall cabinet wired with lighting, I soon discovered that I needed to make some changes, mostly because the under-cabinet light wasn't dimmable, while the internal lights were; worse, the non-dimmable light caused the others to flicker if they were dimmed. So, I split the lights into two circuits, adding a new switch for the non-dimmable light. Since that only took about an hour, I spent the rest of the day insulating the garage—why should my helper have all the fun?
11 January 2019. Finished my homemade downdraft cooktop vent (below left), and also did more work on the kitchen wall cabinet (below right)—the framing is done and the lighting is installed. The shelves will be glass so that the entire interior will be lit, and I'm planning on fitting the doors with windows; the question I've yet to answer is: clear, ripple or frosted glass? Granted, this stuff isn't high priority, but I bounce around between disparate projects in order to keep from burning out on any one thing.
8 January 2019. Wired the heat pump for 110V supply and thermostat control, and installed the condensate drain.
7 January 2019. Installed the bypass for the heat pump. Also finally installed my brand new four-year-old weather station.
6 January 2019. Owing to time constraints, the contractor was only able to install the blower unit for the heat pump today. But it was still a decent accomplishment. I was thrilled that, because I did my homework, the blower practically dropped into place, requiring only a minor bit of tweaking to the ductwork (I hadn't accounted for the required pan). Between the two of us, it only took about two hours. The question remaining at this point is when he expects to return and install the compressor, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter—especially since the weather has been so unusually mild.
5 January 2019. Rainy day project today: install the kitchen sink faucet. It was a bit of a challenge because it's a semi-homemade fixture that I cobbled together from a single-handle kitchen sink faucet and a two-handle bathroom sink faucet that I bought a few years ago. The new faucet head is actually made of two different parts I cut and soldered together in order to fit the valve assembly. I did all of this work because I'm not a fan of single-handle faucets, and good-looking "old fashioned" two-handle jobs are rare these days. Installation took some creative handiwork because the valves were designed to mount on a wall, not under a countertop. After some careful cutting and fitting and bracketing, the fixture is in place and looking really nice behind the sink. In other news, the sheetrock contractor showed up today to work on a price for doing the ceilings—I'll deal with the walls myself. But this won't happen until finances allow, as I'm currently focused on utilities. And speaking of which, I also heard from the HVAC contractor: he'll be coming tomorrow to install the heat pump.
4 January 2019. Decided to have a little more "fun" today: I rebuilt the lower half of the entertainment center. Despite the shelf being an inch and a half of plywood, it was beginning to sag under 100+ pounds of stereo gear. So I tore everything out and created a new arrangement that provides ample direct support under the shelf—you can probably park a car on it now. As a bonus, I made the shelf a little deeper so I could separate the speakers just a wee bit more. But now I'm also thinking of lowering the lip above the shelf to bring the TV down several inches—now that I can sit and pretend I'm watching the TV, it feels a tad high. I don't know; I'm going to sleep on this idea for a while.
3 January 2019. While my helper wrapped up insulating the foyer, I finished the inside of the cabinet under the sink in order to complete the plumbing. I also brought in a used mini-fridge and microwave so I don't need to run back to the cabin every time I want a cold drink or hot snack. And then I had fun unpacking all of my kitchen stuff, even though it was premature.
2 January 2019. While my helper started insulating the top level of the house, I cleaned up the lower two levels and began building my platform bed. The house is also surprisingly cozy: this morning it was 32 outside, but three tiny $18 space heaters held the inside at 57—and that's with an uninsulated garage and no interior walls yet. This has gone a long way to ease my concerns about the heating adequacy of a small heat pump.
1 January 2019. I'd planned on staining some of the siding today owing to the unusually warm weather, but contrary to the forecast, it was overcast and windy, so I carried on with insulation. The living and middle levels are officially done; all that remains is the top level.
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