I started a new vinyl cover for a spa section which broke my Singer 9960 sewing machine. I sent it out for repair and it is not yet ready. But I purchased a really heavy duty expensive Sailrite zig zag sewing machine. Based on reviews and a thorough search for a used machine or a clone that sounded reputable. I decided on a new machine with a 5 year warranty and renowned support.
I was able to sew the rest of the vinyl cover easily with the new machine. I planned to install a zipper in just one end instead of the whole length of the cover. After it was installed I realized that was a mistake because I could not fit the section into the case through that zipper.
I had to remove the zipper and since I didn’t figure out immediately how to put in a longer zipper I decided just to see if it would cover the section and work correctly. Even though the cover is a bit over-sized I had a difficult time pushing the styrofoam into the cover. That meant I didn’t want to take it off and figure out how to install a zipper to round the corners of the casing. So for the winter I just duct taped the end of the cover!
Now it is much more sturdy than the plastic bags I had covering the styrofoam. But the heat of the hot tub means the vinyl stretches and hangs down about six inches under the cover. That is why the factory vinyl cover is made so tightly. Manufacturers must heat up the whole assembly to insert the styrofoam into the tighter cover. The brown cover is the factory made one.
I attached a flap to go over the crack between the pieces but I hemmed it on the wrong side. Not that professional for sure. Nevertheless, the looser cover seems to be working out. I need to make the cover for the end piece next. It would be good to add a skirt to cover the edge of the cover and spa. maybe I can hem it on the correct side next time. I have multiple rolls of vinyl fabric that I bought at a repurposed materials auction. Originally my plan was to sew new seasonal awnings for the solar overhang. That is still my plan. Now I have the machine to do it.
We first had this problem when one of the doors was new. There is a piece on the three point lock that is called a mishandling device. This is a latch that releases the top and bottom throw bolts that make up two of the lock points with the deadbolt being the third.
The problem is that over time the mishandling devices gets stuck in the strike plate and the door will not open. The mishandling device #342 also called a lockout device in this diagram from the Hoppe patent.
When this device is pressed in, the handle can throw the top and bottom point locks and the deadbolt can be locked. It is included to prevent the deadbolt from striking the door jamb in a locked position.
Thus, when the lockout device 334 is engaged with (e.g. abuts with) the lock point actuation slide 324 in this manner, actuation of the deadbolt 310 and the auxiliary lock bolts to the locked/extended state is prevented.
The lockout device 334, when in the lockout state, prevents actuation of the deadbolt 310 and the auxiliary lock bolts. This protects the secondary door component 106 as well as the multi-point locking arrangement from damage to a user trying to close the hinged panel 104 relative to the secondary door component 106 with the deadbolt 310 and auxiliary lock bolts in an extended state.
The patent states that this device is meant to be held in by the strike plate when the door is closed. It allows the top and bottom shoot bolts to be engaged but when I cut it off and substitute a small bottle cork the shoot bolts operate correctly when the handle is lifted.
The lockout device 334 includes a contact end 342 that is configured to contact a strike plate 144 (FIG. 1) or other portion of the secondary door component 106 (e.g. a door jamb) when the hinged panel 104 is in a closed position. While it is typically understood that the strike plate is a separate component secured to the doorjamb, for simplicity of explanation, the door jamb or strike plate may be referred to generically as a strike plate.
As noted previously, strike plate 144 may be the same strike plate that defines an opening for receiving the deadbolt 110 or a separate strike plate or a portion of the secondary door component as mentioned above.
The patent does not show the correct alignment of the strike plate or the number of holes required.
I tried resetting the strike plate so that the cut outs were not opposite the device. I tried filling the strike plate opening with a wood block. But these options did not work so when the mishandling device gets stuck in the strike plate now I just cut it off and hold it in the locking position with a small bottle cork.
It appears that the strike plate is the wrong one or it is incorrectly installed by the Therma-Tru door assembler. However when I tried to move the strike plate so the mishandling device fully met the metal I was unable to line up the deadbolt.
These doors have been a headache in general and of course its either because they were installed incorrectly or the house is shifting but the front door warped and it has had to be reframed a couple of times and several of the doors have shifted so that they cannot be opened easily. Also the paint job was terrible and it has peeled twice. For the expense I wish I had purchased foreign made doors from Alpen.
When we returned from Indiana, our key did not work in the front lock. The mechanism would not turn. Fortunately one of the patio doors is keyed the same and we were able to get into the house without breaking anything. With the Thanksgiving holiday we didn’t try to fix the lock but decided to think about rekeying the locks to one key. In order to do that we had to remove the Hoppe lockset.
Unfortunately the cylinder was stuck in the lock and no matter how many screws we removed disassembling the entire lock, the cylinder would not release. I researched how to release it and none of the tricks I read worked.
First consulted the Hoppe site for troubleshooting the product. The advice amounted to just call a locksmith. Why do they even bother? Next I watched the video about removing the lockset which was much more detailed, however the cylinder is supposed to slide out when the key reaches a certain point inside the lock. Our thumb turn didn’t line up the cylinder to release it and the key was not working.
The written Hoppe instructions for the insertion and removal of the cylinder seemed to be a simple step by step but I never figured it out. Now that I am reviewing this information though I think I might be able to try again.
Loosen setscrew (C) on knob using the allen wrench provided.
Remove knob (D) from body of cylinder (B).
The drive tab (J) must be aligned with the cylinder to install the cylinder into the lock mechanism. If the tab cannot be rotated to this position, push the pin (E) down with the ring wrench (F) included to disengage the stops and turn the cylinder shaft (B) until the drive tab (J) is aligned with the cylinder (G).
Holding in this position, insert the cylinder body into door so the tab on the cylinder is inside of the lock.
Rotate the shaft (B) that the thumb turn attaches to so that the top of the post moves toward the edge of the door or insert the key (A) into the cylinder and rotate so the top of the key moves towards the edge of the door (H). This will extend the deadbolt. If the post or key is rotated the wrong direction, it will rotate approximately 120 degrees and lock up where it cannot be rotated in either direction. If this happens, push the pin (E) down with the ring wrench (F) included to disengage the stops and turn the key (A) in the opposite direction until the deadbolt extends.
Fix knob (D) horizontally on cylinder shaft (B) with setscrew hole (C) downwards.
Tighten setscrew (C). Install cylinder screw.
I found a DIY site describing the problem I was having. But the advice was to tap the cylinder and the key with a hammer and I didn’t have a working key. Then I read about a key stuck in a lock and that euro type cylinder not sliding out. The recommendations were to use WD-40 and wiggle the key. Plus there were other ideas that had merit.
I used WD-40 and wiggled the key that now would slide in and out of the cylinder just fine. It also locked and unlocked the door. But it would not release the cylinder. So we gave up. The entire 3 point system was reinstalled with some difficulty by Dave so I’m not sure how it was done. But the lock is working again and maybe we will try to slide the cylinder out another day.
We spent the first two weeks of November at our Indiana house. It’s lovely out in the Indiana forest and the house needed attention. In early September I went to Indiana and had to work on taking out moldy drywall and fixing the plumbing. I also replaced the front porch deck.
Dave and I both went this time so much more was accomplished. We needed to replace the back deck boards. These were more of the sanded oak boards that our friends the Halla’s gave us. They had prepped them years ago but never used them.
We went through most of the junk we had stored at the house and discarded it.
I stained and replaced trim in areas that were damaged or never completed. I used oak molding to match what we already had. Some of the original molding is just square boards, some I cut on the table saw with rounded edges. The new stuff is pretty too.
I fixed a toilet that didn’t flush. Dave fixed the deck railings and rebuilt support for the recreation room stairs. He also patched several pieces of drywall that had been removed. We had a productive trip and were happy to have some socially distant dinners and outings with our Indiana friends.
It has arrived! It shipped faster than I expected. The packaging was very secure and it is amazingly heavy and built like a Mack Truck as they say.
The underside of the machine is also very stout!
The machine came very well packaged in boxes within boxes.
And packed in styrofoam in the innermost box.
Such care and detail made setting up the machine fun and interesting. I had already watched the assembly video and several other videos on the Sailrite site. But I also paid attention to the included assembly pamphlet.
This basic version comes without a light but I think I might install a strip of LED lights under the body as shown in many Facebook ads. (They know I like to sew I guess.)
It also came with several tools but funny enough not a screwdriver short enough to tighten the hinges in the basic platform.
This machine reminds me of the Kenmore I had for many years from my mother in law. I didn’t move it to Arizona and missed having that machine. That one was not cast iron but it was heavy duty and I did a lot of sewing with it.
One thing I’m having trouble getting used to is that the foot lever is located on top of the machine. I keep reaching back behind the machine to use it and have to stop and reach above.
I have purchased one improvement so far. A magnetic guide bar comes with the Plus version of the machine. I thought it looked like a handy tool to help maintain seam width. The Sailrite version is very expensive–$32 without shipping.
I wondered if just a plain magnet would work. But while shopping for one I came across this wooden magnetic knife bar for less than $7 that I should be able to shape for the task. Actually I should be able to make two of them from this one bar. In case I lose one.
It certainly has strong enough magnets to afix to the sewing machine. But it will work better cut down and slotted to fit over the needle plate.
The machine came with heavy #20 needles and I have some Coats and Clark outdoor thread but in order to do more domestic sewing I’ll have to buy the specific needles the machine uses, 135-17, in smaller sizes. I can’t use the Singer machine needles in this machine. I’m excited to get started on the vinyl project that broke my Singer 9960.
The trombé wall has been missing its glass ever since the new windows were installed. The original Trombé wall had solar glass that was just glued to a wood frame and trimmed on top of the glass.
The bottom trim boards were rotting and the glass was slipping out of the frames. Some of the glass pieces were missing.
The glass was removed and so was the rotted wood.
Eventually I re-insulated the front of the foundation wall and covered the insulation with a fiberglass cap.
It took some time to plan how to replace the glass and rebuild the Trombé wall. When I saw lattice edges at a Repurposed Materials auction I thought they would make good frames for replacement glass in the Trombé wall. I also was on the lookout for sliding glass door panels to replace the missing glass. I found several for sale on craigslist and bought them although sometimes these can be found as give-aways.
I researched the installation of fixed glass panes and found a good article on Inspectopedia with instructions for using glazing tape and neoprene setting blocks. I ordered each of these items from Amazon.
I have a 4 x 8′ plywood table top on the patio so I was able to put together the window frame on a nice working surface. First I split a double pane window with a utility knife. Then I cleaned the pane of glass and measured for the frame. Once the frame was cut I used alcohol on the window edge and then applied the glazing tape.
I had to cut the side pieces more than once because I neglected to allow for the width of the neoprene blocks that the glass sits on to allow for expansion in the frame.
I used a bit of crazy glue to keep the blocks in place when putting the frame on the window. Next I peeled back the coating on the glazing tape and placed the frame around the window. The glazing tape didn’t hold the frame because there was too much room in the groove. But I was able to glue the corners together. I used a new tool to hold the corners while gluing.
I read about these clamps for holding picture frame ends while fastening them and they were recommended. The set is really lightweight metal and at almost $30 were overpriced but the clamps did work and I’m not sure how else I would have clamped these large pieces.
Once the frame was glued it was still loose around the pane of glass so I read about caulks and glazing compound. Although glazing caulks are supposedly easier to use, glazing compound, especially oil based compound has a longer life up to a hundred years! When I turned the window over, the weight of the glass stuck to the glazing tape and I used the compound to fill the outside edges. I found the compound relatively easy to work with but I am not a perfectionist. I had to order online to get the larger size container and the oil based compound. It cleans up with mineral spirits and takes quite a long time to dry.
The compound was not all the way dry after it sat through several very cold days and nights and six inches of snowfall. But I wanted to install this window so I could start on the next one. I measured the black framing on the wall and found the bottom 2 x 2 was a bit short. My solution was to cut a double lattice edge on one side of the channel and screw it to the bottom of the black framing. Then I cleaned both sides of the window with window cleaner and soft rags.
I had some ethernabond double stick tape that I applied to the repainted and repaired black framing. I used 1″ L-shaped brackets to hold the frame while it was being placed on the tape. With Dave’s help we got the window attached to the black wall framing.
When it seemed to be holding, I caulked all around the outside of the frame. The top and bottom of the frame needed caulking rope because they didn’t contact along the whole width of the frame. I used an entire 10 oz tube of Dap waterproof exterior door and window caulk and there are a few gaps along the bottom.
Now that I have a procedure I hope the rest of the glazing is installed soon.
Unfortunately I tried to use my Singer 9960 sewing machine to sew a spa cover with vinyl. I didn’t stop the first time the machine jammed. Just cleared the jamb and continued. Then it jammed again and I could not continue. The needle and foot stopped moving. So it had to go in for repair and I’m pretty sure it will be expensive. At first the stitching went fine.
I used clips instead of pins and a size 18 needle with Coats and Clark outdoor thread.
I also used a walking foot which is an attachment that has feed teeth above the material to help pull heavy and slick material through the needle.
I was able to sew the long flat seams but the boxed end was too much for the machine. After it went in for repair I tried to find a machine that was up to the job. The Sailrite machines were given the best reviews. There are competitors like the TuffSew and the Barracuda. Some of these cost much less but among successes were many negative experiences. So I scoured eBay for options. I looked at the competition and at the Sailrite machines. I bid on an old Ultrafeed LS-1 and won it but found the listing didn’t include information about missing parts. I was fortunate the seller refunded the money.
The machine was missing the bobbin plate and although the seller tested that the foot worked it was hard to tell if other parts were missing too.
This ancient machine with shipping would cost half of a new one! The history of Sailrite machines explains that the tooling of the metal case was rough so they switched to a new company in 2007. I could tell this machine was that first version by the label.
After this experience I bid on a newer LSZ-1 (zigzag) Premium model with several included notions like thread and basting tape.
My bid was quickly surpassed and it currently stands at $1315 plus $60 shipping with 3 1/2 days to go. Granted the thread is expensive at about $140 a spool for the Tenara brand. But this premium package is $1395 brand new with a 5 year warranty. So I decided to purchase the Basic package of the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 which is the blue zigzag capable machine. The red machine is straight stitch only. I opted not to pay extra for a case or heavy duty wheel because this machine itself is very powerful. The basic version comes with a wooden base.
Although the website indicated that machines were being built and might be delayed, my machine shipped right away and is due In a couple of days. How exciting.
Fall is falling and some quick chores were completed. We have a Campbell filter on the whole house water supply. It takes a double charcoal filter and it relatively easy to change as long as the water turn off is not stuck and I have the right tools to open the filter.
The other replaceable filter I use is for calcium deposits and I have one at the cold water entry to the Challenger boiler/water heater.
These filters are expensive so I don’t change them as often as I probably should but it makes sense before the new heating season. I should also install one going into the boiler but it is only on the hot water side. Those pipes are smaller too so more subject to calcification.
I also did some fall maintenance on the Challenger combo boiler. The condensate drain has to be cleaned out and the exhaust tube is disassembled in order to remove it. I cleaned the water reservoir with vinegar and got out a lot of soot. I also cleaned the inside of the boiler and reassembled it.
More intensive maintenance would involve flushing the boiler with vinegar water using a separate pump. Also checking the ignitor for deposits and setting the correct spark plug gap. And opening the body to check the heat exchanger for dirt. That is more work than I seem to fit into my schedule. It’s hard to believe we have been using this boiler for seven years.
I won’t need to turn the heat on for several more weeks. The house stays so warm that we can go below freezing outside and still be comfortable. I’m glad to be getting prepared for a new season though.
I also packed the pool up for the winter. We had fun using it this summer with its jerry-rigged solar heater.
But after reading the advice for and against I decided to take it down for the winter. We were plagued by small leaks all summer so I am hoping they can be found or I will replace the pool liner or maybe the whole pool. Would love an in-ground pool. But we have more important goals these days. I tried four different pumps to drain the pool. A small water transfer pump worked for awhile but it got fouled. Then I tried my larger water transfer pump but it wouldn’t work. Then a smaller pool pump but that didn’t turn on. Then I tried a sump pump and that worked well. I got the last of the water out with the shop vac. I scraped up the extra chemicals which I think was pool stabilizer and saved it for next year.
It took several days to empty the pool and since it is very prone to collapse in high winds, I took half of it down.
Then I started cleaning the bottom and eventually took the other half down and cleaned and after I was sure it was completely dry, I rolled it up. Also rolled up the new solar cover (the original one disintegrated) and the tarp cover and put the equipment parts in a storage bin.
The equipment was very heavy so my son helped haul it all into the blue shed to store it for the winter. Just in time because it’s getting cooler and very windy. Now I have to winterize the RV.
We are finally enjoying the spa again. It broke on January first and here we are in fall and it is back online.
After installing the new Megatrol equipment, I had to wait for the new controller to get the spa put back together. I ordered a completely waterproof unit this time. The new one is a little larger than the old one. I spread silicone liberally beneath the edges and carved enough of the fiberglass off so that the new unit fit.
I actually faced the new unit into the spa because we most often set it while inside the spa. But I noticed a new function in the electronics is to reverse the reading so it is easy to manage from either side.
Next the spa needed a thorough cleaning. I took two days to clean it out because I get tired faster these days.
I ordered water to fill the tub so that I would not have to wait for the well to fill it or risk running out of water. That was the first time it was filled for this fix.
Unfortunately after a few days I noticed that the temperature had dropped and I was not getting a wifi signal from that unit. The circuit breaker had tripped and perhaps that was a good thing as the water had drained out almost completely.
So I had to refill the spa with the hose from the well. I started filling it from the house hose before I found the leak and Dave found it while I was doing something else because he noticed water leaking from the house hose spigot. It was the Ozone purifier that disconnected. I must not have tightened the clamp enough.
Fortunately that was an easy fix. I had fixed another leak with Plumbing Goop. One of the jets was dripping water and I didn’t want to disconnect it and redo it. So I stopped the leak with Goop.
The controller has an LED panel to show that the functions are working. Here the lights show; A = 120V Power Supply to Terminal Block, B = 240V Power Supply to Terminal Block, C = Low Pump “ON”. No light on D means High Pump is not “ON”. Also the two bottom lights mean; I = Heater 1 “ON” and J = Heater 2 “ON”. It is a lot easier to see these lights at night.
And I added the fancy wifi interface for the control panel last Christmas just before the old control system broke. Thankfully it was one component that was not destroyed by the bad wiring. It is really great to be able to control the spa from anywhere and check its temperature.
This screen shows that the system is filtering. It will also show the current temperature at the heater. I have set a delay of 60 minutes between temperature checks after the system reaches temperature. That is when it reads ECON. I can also monitor the temperature with an Acurite remote water sensor. So for now we can enjoy relaxing in the exercise spa with the family.
We built our first energy efficient house in the early 1980’s on 40 acres in the countryside outside of Spencer, Indiana. We have owned the property for over 40 years. But we recently decided that we should sell. This photo is dated 2012. The corner of the front porch is beginning to settle.
In 2017 we visited and the porch had settled more.
I went to work on the house for a couple of weeks this summer and the porch was in sad shape. The deck boards were beginning to rot and the post had sunk even more. Friends gave me some planed oak boards that they had hoped to use for the last 40 years themselves. But I had a more urgent need so they generously gave them to me. I knew there was a reason I needed to rent a truck. I brought them home in two loads.
Not only did they give me the boards for the decks, they also came and helped tear the old decking off. We put it in the truck and took it up to a friend’s burn pile.
We thought jacking up the floor would allow the deck to get leveled out. I drilled a new hole to attach the leveled framing.
But just a little digging around the post revealed that it was completely rotted at the bottom. Another friend stopped by to help and cut off the worst of the rot. We jacked up the post to the original bolt placement. Then the dirt underneath the post was removed enough to cut off most of the rotten area of the post.
Then the hole was dug deeper and wider to insert concrete blocks to hold up the post. The new boards were cut to length and using a couple of borrowed drills. I bored holes for the deck screws and installed them with a hammer drill that made short work of the process.
After the boards were installed I treated the wood with water barrier and filled a few areas on the leader board that were starting to rot. The porch was fixed making the house look much less worn.
The story of the new spa equipment is a sad one. I unfortunately wired the first shipment of a new controller box incorrectly and blew out all the 110 volt connections by sending 220 to them. I sent everything back to the manufacturer and it languished for some time. I believe that the owner was reluctant to tell me that I had ruined it all. I said fix it and I’ll pay for it. So he put in a new control board and sent it back to me.
I did not get the peripherals back though. So I called and asked and he said sorry they are completely broken too. So I ordered another water purifier system but a larger on because I noticed the first one I bought was limited to treating spas of 500 gallons or less. Mine is 1000 gallons.
The new water purifier arrived while I was out of town so I just started to put the system back together. I called the dealer because the new one came with many pieces that the other one did not. Turned out they allowed multiple ways to attach the instrument. I had some of the items from the first install and support told me I could use the original ones that are already installed.
First I connected the water pipes on the spa to the heater connections on the control box. These are 3″ connections and I had a lot of trouble aligning them with the old pipes. It turned out I had to remove the former boards that held the box and install new lower ones. Then I was able to make the connections.
I used some of the included brackets to attach the ozone purifier to the spa piping which was convenient but it was unclear how they were supposed to attach. So I drilled some holes into the brackets and screwed short pieces of board on to hang the instrument from.
Notice the purifier label reads right side up but unfortunately the connection for the ozone was on the left side the unit. I did not think about the issue with the old installation but I called about the proper position for the venturi piece and it should be in the water line before the purifier, I had to hang the unit upside down which apparently does not matter to the operation of the purifier.
The error that I made in the wiring the first time was a lack of observation. Instead of noticing how the system was wired, I followed an installation diagram. In the erroneous wiring I connected White to Red, Black to White and Red to Black. Couldn’t have been more wrong. By observing the actual wiring the second time around the wire colors match.
I closed up the bottom of the control box but I can’t complete the installation. Unfortunately I realized I had sent in the electronic control panel too and since it was also destroyed I had to order a new panel as well and now wait for that to arrive. One step at a time apparently.
The Tesla solar roof is made from tempered glass. Advertising mentions quartz glass which is a form of tempered glass, the other form is silica although the terms are used interchangeably. The product is called Solarglass and is textured. Last October in 2019, version 3 of the roof was released and the Tesla factory in Buffalo, NY had increased production to 1000 solar tiles per week. The plain glass tiles are apparently being sourced from China. The old tiles came in sets of three and each tile was about 14 x 8 inches.
The new tiles are much longer and wider at 15“ x 45″.
The larger tiles are more efficient to install and have fewer wiring connections. But the warranty has been reduced to 25 years for both the tile itself and power production. The former warranty was “infinity” on the roof tile and 30 years on solar production.
The tiles are hooked onto raised modules and overlap with metal flashing on the edges and rooftop
Each V3 solar tile outputs 58 watts of direct current. The connections are typical M4 solar wiring connections into a harness that runs under the tiles.
The harness provides shade control instead of micro-controllers so that power differences from shady areas do not detract from sunny areas.
Many of the roof tiles do not have photo electronics but are just plain tempered glass. The solar and the plain glass tiles are priced separately. Our house qualifies for 10.9 kw of solar power so I calculated that there are approximately 189 solar tiles and 490 plain tiles in our order.
The new version of the roof has a class 3 hail rating and I think the original roof was class 4. A Class 3 roof is earned if the sample does not crack when hit twice in the same spot by a 1.75 inch diameter steel ball. A Class 4 rating, the material should not get damaged when hit twice in the same spot by 2 inch diameter steel ball. It is interesting that the test is for the same spot hit twice since hail tends to distribute over a plane.
The Class F wind rating is the highest that is tested. Asphalt shingle test specimens passing the two-hour test duration at 60 mph are classified as Class A; those passing at 90 mph are classified as Class D; and those passing at 110 mph are classified as Class F.
The tiles are also very tough. Firefighters were given special instructions regarding breaking into the roof to fight a fire. Notice the ladder placed on the roof to steady the firefighter on the slippery glass roof and the use of a chainsaw to cut through the tile.
There are several opinions about the wisdom of an investment decision to purchase such a new roof product because of the long payback and lack of years of data. When we bought our first hybrid car there were similar arguments. Is it worth it? I believe that new and sleek technology is always expensive. People don’t question whether a fancy car is “worth it”. It is acceptable to buy a car that is very expensive and loses value over time for the technology and performance. Solar technology has the same attraction to us as homeowners and it costs less than a new Mercedes Benz or the new Tesla Model X.
When the new glass roof tiles from Tesla were in the media, I was intrigued because we eventually needed a new roof and we live in the Hail Alley of Colorado which means hail is frequent and often damages roofs. Our house had a particularly strong roof shingle that has held up well, but the roof has begun to lose granules from age.
On June 1, 2017 President Trump thought to put America First by pulling out of the Paris climate change agreement from 2015. That seemed like an ill-advised move to us so to counteract this act I sent Tesla $1000 and signed up for their solar roof program. This was about one year before our 3.9 kw panel system was installed by Tesla. We went ahead with the panel system because it was difficult to know when the glass roofs would be ready. There were several delays as production and installations issues were worked out.
When the solar roofs were first installed the distribution area was in California but over time more states were added and in April of this year I was contacted about our roof project here in Colorado.
The first active step was sending additional information regarding our power company and usage data. We also had to prove we had home insurance and liability up to $1,000,000. The next step was approving the roof design based on the Xcel allowable kilowatt production for our usage.
A couple of installers came out to measure the roof and inspect the project. They were happy to see that the roof is practically at ground level on the north side of the house. A building permit was submitted to the town of Arvada and approved in May. Then Tesla began the Xcel application process. So that is where we are now.
We fully own the 3.9 kw roof panel system and already have the Powerwall battery set up. The inverter will be replaced for the larger system so we will have an extra twelve 325 watt panels that we hope can later be installed on a garage.
I’m waiting for Tesla to install solar roof tiles. The project is at the Xcel power company application stage. The permit from the city was granted. We decided to upgrade the roof to solar tiles the day the president announced pulling out of the Paris climate accords. We needed to do our part and figured for twice the price we can get over 3 times the solar that we have now and get a new roof. But the solar roof does not cover the flat roof at the front of the house. It needs at least a 2/12 roof slope.
I investigated installing a green roof on the front that would help nudge the house toward net zero. That means the house creates as much energy as it uses. The growing medium on the roof has insulating value. A green roof also manages rooftop water by absorbing it and releasing filtered water to catch in rain barrels. Since we are in Colorado we can only collect 110 gallons of rain water at a time and that is a recent change in the law. When we first moved here rain barrels were illegal.
I learned about green roofs when we toured one in Denver during a USGBC conference in 2013. So I’ve been considering this idea for a long time. The roof we toured was built from shallow trays of sedums. That is an extensive style roof and the lightest type. An intensive style has a deeper soil bed.
Extensive roofs are lighter than intensive but they can still weigh 30 lbs per square ft. fully saturated. That in addition to snow load can be too heavy for a typical roof. Fortunately we don’t have a typical roof.
But the first step is getting the official calculations from a structural engineer. I contacted Andy Creath from Green Roofs of Colorado and the person who presented at that conference years ago. He discussed the green roof options with me and arranged for a structural engineer to run the calculations on our roof. Andy’s green roofs are not in trays. He creates a monolithic growing medium above waterproof membrane roofing material like TPO. A parapet rises above the roof edge to hold the plantings. All the typical green roof layers are installed and a patio and walkways would be incorporated into the design.
The layers of a green roof are made from differing materials depending on the vendor but the design is the same. It is a layered system that creates a barrier rooftop but provides drainage for plant material and a growing medium. It is referred to as growing medium because rooftop soils are specially formulated to be lightweight and well-drained.
The roofs feature a variety of plants from wildflowers to succulents and cactus or grasses. Of course the Midwest and East require different plants than more arid areas of the country. Colorado rooftop gardens also require an irrigation system. The research conducted for the EPA determined that a green roof cannot survive in this climate without periodic irrigation.
In Colorado the plants are often varieties of sedum a low growing succulent with low water and nutrient needs.
This sedum roof is similar to the roof on the Denver EPA building. It is planted with sedum and the plants are in trays that sit on top of the other layers. This is the lightest green roof.
We had the structural report created and as I suspected our roof is built solidly enough to hold a green roof. The engineer’s conclusion was for a medium weight green roof.
For the calculations of this residence roof, the green roof system dead load of 42 psf was utilized. Based on the revised loading and the existing spans of the wood joists, the existing 2×12 joists spaced at both 16-inches on center and 24-inches on center do provide adequate capacity to carry the additional proposed superimposed green roof loading.
Donald E. (Leo) Whiteley, P.E., Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
The next step is to decide whether to engage Andy’s company to create the green roof or investigate a tray system. He told me that the best time of year to install the green roof would be fall. That would give the structure time to settle before the growing season. I’m waiting for the Tesla solar roof to be installed before we make a decision.
When I applied for a permit for the pool the requirement was to have a separate 20 amp GFCI line for it. The electricians installed that back in 2016. I have been using a long extension cord for the pool pump but wanted to install an outside box for the system. I tapped into the line that feeds an outside electric outlet on this breaker.
The box that I tapped into was an exterior power connection box. I turned off the breaker and clipped the wires. One set of wires continues to the outlet and the other is routed to an outdoor switch.
But before this wiring step I had to pull 100 ft of wire through the conduit.
I used the wire puller to start the wire through the pipe doing one section at a time. There is a 90 degree corner from the junction to the pool and that had to be threaded through in the right order with that first pipe cut to the correct length.
Each section got progressively easier since there was less wire to pull. But my hands got sore tugging on the wire and the leader metal. For the last pipe I was able to cut the wire to fit the rest of the way and that took off about 20 ft. of wire so it was even easier to pull the last piece of conduit and the elbows.
I used water tight connectors at the junction box and the switch box. These screw on the pipe to tighten them. I drilled a hole in the cover of the junction box for the fitting. But the conduit first had to be glued together at the joints.
Each piece of conduit was cleaned and pipe cement was applied. The wire had to be pulled taut to get the pipes close enough together to pull the joint tight. It was really hot while I was working on glueing the joints. I took a break and came back to it later in the afternoon when most of the line was shaded.
At the end of the line I used a piece of 3/4″ rebar to hold the waterproof outlet box. Inside the box I wired two outlets. I wired them so that if one failed the other would still be hot. I used this example from the internet.
Once the wiring was completed and screwed together I tested turning on the switch and getting power. But the first time I tested the outlet had no power. I took it apart and found a loose white connection and reassembled the box. It took quite a bit of delicate holding of the outlets and the box to line up the outlet screws and the box face plate. The outlets were used and I could not locate the bag of electrical screws that I have saved so the middle screws are missing.
I finally got the box connected and power at the switch in the waterproof case. I meant to install the box higher on the rebar but when I was glueing I didn’t have that last piece and I forgot to add it. So the box is a bit lower than I planned which should not make much difference since it won’t be live in the winter. The pump was plugged in and automatically turned on to boost mode. I turned off the solar so that the pump can run all night to make up for not running today.
Looking pretty good so it was time to clean up my tools and call it a day.
I’ve been spending a lot of time on the pool plumbing. I’ve had a couple of pipe blow offs including one that moved a lot of water out of the pool. Each one of these threaded pipes blew apart when pressured by the pump start.
My solution was to switch the new pipes for older ones. Apparently the older piping had deeper threads and connect more securely. I also had issues with the opposite end of the hot water input pipe. I had connected the metric and the international pipe threads and although they didn’t leak the first time, it leaked and I could not re-tighten it after I switched out for the older hose.
I had an extra adapter with the correct thread on the backflush hose. So I took that out and moved it to the check valve. In order to attach it to the check valve I had to have a series of pipe fittings and clamps that show just how jerry rigged these connections are. I had to really get the clamps tight before these joins stopped leaking.
I also took advantage of having the system apart to install a new salt cell pipe. I bought it for $9 plus shipping from Intex because the old one leaked in two places. I thought replacing it would provide new threads that would help seal the connections.
The replacement worked! But I also replaced or turned around the rubber gaskets so that the seals were new too. This stopped the constant dripping from the salt cell connections when the pump was on.
Unfortunately having these leaks fixed turned up a new one. You may notice that for some reason this connection has an extra screw in the middle of the threaded area. I can’t imagine how that fixed the problem in the past. But I was able to use the threaded part from the old salt cell to replace it. Along with another gasket the newest leak was fixed.
The entire system has been fixed and is leak free for now. I’m still trying to keep the water warm and algae free though so I have been running the pump twice a day instead of once. The automatic timer is set for just once a day. I have been turning it on manually for its 3 hour run twice each day.
Some time ago I picked up a pile of vinyl lattice edging at the Repurposed Materials auction. I had in mind to use the single edge caps to frame the glass for the trombe wall. I’m still hoping they can be used for that.
At the same time I purchased a pile of marine plywood that had been used as home development advertising. They have a thin layer of plastic sign material attached to them. We have used this plywood for various projects around the place and it has come in very handy.
We went camping as a family to a local lake and because of Covid virus we didn’t know if the beach would be open. But the lake was open to boating and fishing. So I purchased an inflatable Intex 3 person boat. I also upgraded to a rechargeable Intex air pump. We found that the pump worked best if plugged into a 12 volt power source.
The Amazon reviews recommended installing a solid floor to make it easier to move around in the boat while in the water. The boat arrived very late the evening before the day we were leaving for the campground and that morning it was raining! My plan had been to cut a piece of plywood for the floor of the boat. But with the rain that seemed too difficult.The more expensive inflatable boats came with a slatted floor and right next to the plywood is the pile of vinyl lattice dividers and edges so I got the idea to build the floor with them.
I inflated the bottom of the boat and measured the pieces that would fit the width of the bottom. They varied slightly in a few places as the boat bottom got a bit wider in the center and much narrower at the front. I cut the pieces with a circular saw. I used about ten 8 foot pieces of trim.
I cut 10″ pieces of the edging to link the slats together to form two layers, a wider top layer and a narrow bottom layer in the middle.
I used woven vinyl hanger strap left over from the ERV project and stainless steel staples to connect the slats. I planned to also put the tape on each side of the top slats but it turned out they held together without the extra tape. The boat bottom rolls together enough that I could fit it in the RV shower for transport.
In order to keep the edges of the slats from damaging the PVC of the boat I wrapped the edges with pool noodles slit down one side. Luckily Dave was at the store when I texted him to bring me four noodles. I tried to staple them on but they easily popped off. I finally wrapped them on with more of the vinyl strapping.
When we put the floor in the inflated boat it was a little too long so two slats and spacers were removed from the bottom. The remaining floor worked well although it made the boat much heavier to haul to the water. The wrapped pool noodle edging did not hold so I have to think of another way to keep the pool noodles attached to the floor.
We had a great time with the boat. It took my son’s strength to get us across the open lake though. Maybe a little trolling motor is called for?
Now that I had this idea, I’m thinking of other projects for the edging. There might be enough double slatted edges to build a walkway for the green roof or to make some kind of deck tiles for around the pool. What a great discovery!
I have had to seek some unusual solutions to some unique spaces in our house. The opening in the partial “attic loft” in the family room bathroom was a difficult one to cover. Originally I thought it could use sliding barn doors but the sides both have vents in them that the doors would have to clear and the ceiling above the opening is very shallow so a track would not fit across the door.
I thought of several other solutions, but they all were restricted by the steep ceiling that kept any type of opening shutter from working in the opening. Then I was thinking some kind of panel in the opening would work. and it occurred to me that it would have to be held in by some type of latch. At one point I was just looking for panels about the right size and I came across metal peg boards that seemed to have just the right measurements for the space.
I could have ordered many different colors but the galvanized was the least expensive and most rustic in my opinion.
The opening was supposed to use 3/4″ trim boards and I used one on top and the bottom but the sides were too lopsided to use even 1/2 inch boards.
I measured for 3/8″ boards and thought I would need to use plywood until I remembered that I have several boxes of 3/8″ laminate flooring that I was saving to replace the carpet in the RV. The flooring was the exact size needed for the side boards in the opening.
Once the trim was installed it was a simple matter of screwing in the magnetic tool bars I used to hold the pegboard in place.
I spaced two on the sides and one at the bottom to hold the metal panels. But then I remembered that the sides were out of square. I had to take out the top screws and put shims behind the sides to straighten out the opening
I also used some of the ceramic knobs I got from a craigslist ad to help put the panels in place and remove them. The job was soon finished. I’m thinking of hanging some tin signs or a wreath on the pegboard as decoration. Trim for the frame will be done later.
The master bedroom also had a curtain instead of a door since we had guests who needed privacy.
Due to my brother’s help and because I completed the family bath door, it was time to try to install barn doors instead. I ordered a 6′ bypass track because it was an Amazon warehouse deal and cost less than $100. Most of the bypass tracks are closer to $200 full price. I thought the track might work if I mounted it above the light sconces. But we found that it needed to be closer to the floor. So my brother helped cut about a foot off of the tracks and repaint them black.
For the family room I hung one door on each side of the opening because the doors with the cross pieces were too wide to slide toward each other. But I got the brilliant idea to remove one side of the cross pieces to allow for both doors on the same side of the room. The master does not have enough ceiling room to hang a barn door on the inside. I had new bolts for all the doors that were more decorative than the bolts that came with them but removing one side of the cross pieces meant that they were too long. My brother cut each bolt to the correct length for a single cross piece.
He also spent quite a bit of time trying to sand out the doors where they were faded from the cross pieces and he sanded out all the water marks. I told him that I had intended to mar the wood and stain them to look antiqued but he is a perfectionist beyond my skills. While he was working on the doors I installed the track.
All of the boards for the frame and the track were reused from the trim work on the original house. The track was installed on a wide board as in the family room. This allowed for the bolts to be inserted anywhere along the top and not have to hit a 2×4. I had to use the bracket for the second track in a U shape instead of an L shape because I didn’t have enough room to attach it above the board. The track needed several adjustments to get the hangers on the door so that it hung below the opening. The bolts for the U shaped bracket interfered with the sliding J hook so they had to be turned around. The track has to be level so there were several adjustments to level it.
Testing the door for height and the cross piece side, I decided to use the cross pieces facing the living area instead of the bedroom. That copied the look of the family room doors. One idea was to install small casters below the doors so that they would not swing because installing a guide on the concrete floor would be difficult. However the wheels made the doors too tall for the hanging brackets so I had to remove them.
Another issue was that the floor is off level by at least 3/8″. So the bottom of the doors scrapes the floor on the shallow side.
Although the first door was hung high enough to slide across, the second door pulls on the track down enough to eliminate the same space below allowing it to scrape. I tried installing the J brackets just a bit lower and adjusting the bolts of the track to push it as high as I could but the door still scrapes. So I will have to cut off the bottom to fix it.
These doors are extremely heavy even without one set of cross pieces. So I need help carrying them outside to cut. My back got sore just maneuvering them around.
One tip I used for drilling straighter holes than I did on the first set of doors was to use a piece of 1/2 pex pipe to keep the drill bit straight on the door. Although the article recommended metal I just used what I had and the holes stayed straight and true.
I also dented the center of each hole with a dart that was laying around to give the bit a start in the correct position.
It turned out that the doors did not have to be trimmed. The weight of hanging the doors pulled the header board away from the wall. My brother noticed and helped install some long lag bolts into the 2×6 over the door frame. That held the board against the wall and the doors cleared the floor.