Gorilla Epoxy Glue Fix

The shark bite I used to connect the shower hose to the wall was too loose even though I pulled it forward to attach the holder and added a backplate. I tried using caulk to attach the holder to its backing gasket and it fell apart almost immediately. So I used Gorilla Epoxy Glue which was something I bought a while ago on clearance.

Gorilla Epoxy Glue

Gorilla Epoxy Glue

The glue is uncapped and a bit of the glue is forced to the top with the plunger. The idea is to get equal portions of each liquid to mix together in the clear package front which can be used for the mixing. It comes with a small wood depressor to mix with and the mixing time is 20 seconds. Then it is applied with the wooden stick to the area needing to be glued.

First I glued the plastic backer plate to the rear of the holder, after cleaning off the caulk. Then I applied it to the Venetion Bronze backer plate to take up some of the slack in the pipe. I used wood pieces to hold the backer firmly to the plastic back of the holder.

Glueing backer to holder base.

Glueing backer to holder base.

I let this dry overnight and then applied glue to the backer plate gasket and pushed onto the wall. I held it on with a cardboard tube that happened to be about the right length.

Backer plate glued on wall

Backer plate glued on wall

The glue seems to be sturdy enough to hold the pipe assembly firmly at the wall and the backer plate eliminates the gap that was at the wall. Seems to have worked out.

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A Place for the Internet Equipment

About a year ago I moved the internet modem to the living room from the hall closet. We were not getting a good enough signal at the back of the house. I have several types of monitoring systems that are connected to the modem and they need to reach from the garage to the back bedroom and to the hot tub on the front patio and greenhouse behind the house.
The shelf I used was cobbled together and mounted on the post that will be covered with manufactured stone.

Modem in Living Room

Modem in Living Room

I had in mind to buy a plexiglass shelving unit to enclose it. But they seemed to be very expensive and not exactly the size I needed. The backs were transparent and I would have to treat that in some way since the cabinet is mounted right to the 2×4 post framing. I wanted the cabinet to extend past the sides of the post enough to allow for the edges of the stone to be covered but not too much.

Extends about the right amount

Extends about the right amount

I found an inexpensive glass door cabinet on Amazon and ordered it. I put it together and cut openings for the power outlet and cable entry at the back. Unfortunately my measurements were a bit off but the extra opening came in handy later when I was connecting the power and modem cables.

Outlet located higher than my measurements

Outlet located higher than my measurements

I could only use one of the two shelves the cabinet included. Although there was not enough room for both shelves in the cabinet the bottom and one shelf provided enough space for the modem and the various hubs my systems use. I drilled a couple more holes in the back of the cabinet underneath the shelf to thread the cables to the modem.

Cables threaded through cabinet back

Cables threaded through cabinet back

Unfortunately while cutting the rear openings I did not protect the front of the cabinet so I’ll have to touch it up.

Marred the front of the cabinet

Marred the front of the cabinet

It still looks much better than the temporary shelf.

Internet cabinet

Internet cabinet

Now I can put on the rest of the backer board and eventually start the stonework.

Across the room

Across the room

The equipment fits in the cabinet and the signal still reaches the corners of the house. And the cabinet fits perfectly under and between the track lighting. A good solution for organizing the equipment.

Under the track lights

Under the track lights

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Shower Extras

Apparently I am good at making holes in the finished walls. One of the extras I put in the family room bath is a small rack for a wet washcloth. It seems that without a traditional soap dish there is no place to hang a wet wash cloth. So I bought a toilet roll holder in antique brass for this. I decided to put it in the bottom small niche. But I had to drill a hole for the screw holder. Because there are no studs near here I used a toggle bolt. This is the kind that tightens against the bolt as it is screwed in and makes a nice tight connection.

However I didn’t realize the bolt was longer than the wall here inside the niche!

Wall behind bolt has big hole

Wall behind bolt has big hole

I will cut that off with my handy multitool and patch the wall. I like having a rack for a wet washcloth in the shower. I need to buy one for the master bath shower. And hopefully avoid making a hole in the wall on the other side.

Rack for wet washcloth

Rack for wet washcloth


But the photo shows I didn’t get all the caulk cleaned off. If I missed it here I missed it elsewhere. I will have to wash the shower tile again.
Another project was covering the bright chrome light fixture with brassy looking paint. I already had some copper colored metallic spray paint from the kitchen sink project and some gold glitter paint that I picked up because it was on clearance. The gold glitter alone did not have the right shade of brass so I primed it with automotive gray primer for metal and fiberglass. Then I sprayed several coats of the copper paint first and finished with a coat of the gold glitter. The effect is that of a toned down brass.

Painted chrome light fixture

Painted chrome light fixture


These little extras customize the shower for us and at a very reasonable cost.

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Hot and Cold Switch

I mixed up the hot and cold piping to the shower. I had hot connected on the right side when it is supposed to be on the left. Fortunately the supply pipes are exposed in the utility room behind the washer and dryer. Here are those pipes when they were first connected.

Hot and Cold Connections

Hot and Cold Connections

I moved the heavy set of stacked washer and dryer just enough to squeeze behind them and then work in a very small space. I had to crawl in and out a couple of times to get the right tools. The water was turned off but I had a bucket to catch the remaining water.

Bucket to catch water in pipes

Bucket to catch water in pipes

I used the small step stool to get over the gas pipe and into the back corner. The connections to hot and cold are against the back wall. I removed the insulation which was on the cold side to get to the pipe connection. It was also fortunate that there was enough pex on each side to reconnect them. Of course using shark bite connectors meant all I had to do was separate the connections and switch them.

Confined space

Confined space with pipes disconnected

The pipe to the left side of the valve was insulated so I only had to replace part of it on the pex where it was unprotected. Then I added insulation to the copper hot water pipe. I left the insulation off the cold pipe. This is the finished job that shows the space I entered to get it done.

Tight squeeze

Tight squeeze

The shower is not on the hot water loop but is piped directly from the hot water heater with original 3/4″ hot and cold copper pipes that once supplied the laundry. So the shower is on its own supply that does not wait very long to get hot. The pipes to the diverter are also insulated to keep the water running hot.

Insulated Diverter Pipes

Insulated Diverter Pipes

Now that hot is hot and cold is cold it should be a very comfortable shower.

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Shower Fixtures

The fixtures for the shower are Delta Champagne Bronze. I think the color is a nice complement to the dark brown tile. The style name is Lahara which is a very plain style. I couldn’t find the diverter trim in Lahara so I bought the Classic style.

Champagne bronze hand shower

Champagne bronze hand shower

I purchased the faucets in August of 2016 which was a long time ago. When I was installing the diverter trim, I couldn’t find the knob. I looked all over and was pretty sure it should be in with the other pieces, but I didn’t know exactly what it looked like. After looking for some time, I happened to see a new set for $24 so I bought it. Turned out that I found the knob in with the shower trim and I didn’t need the knob but the extra base plate came in very handy. The hose connection did not fit flush against the tile wall so I used the second base plate to help fill in the space.

In order to get the shark bite connected for the hose spigot, I had to pull the loose connection as far towards the surface as possible. I looked up the photo of how the pipes were configured.

Diverter Pipes

Diverter Pipes

I was able to pull the pipe connection forward with a piece of hanger wire.

Hanger wire looped on pipe behind wall

Hanger wire looped on pipe behind wall

Then I had to hold the shower hose connector and it’s plastic backing, and the backplate from the extra diverter valve and push the shark bite on while the pipe was pulled as far out as I could get it. This was to get everything mounted as close to the wall as possible. It looks ok but it is loose so I’m thinking caulk will tighten it.
The next job was to install the main shower valve trim. I ended up leaving the wall guard on the shower valve when the tile was done and when trying to screw on the face place, the holes in the valve were covered up! It seems that the shield was just a little off center.

Black valve shield covering screw hole

Black valve shield covering screw hole

I used my handy multitool with a narrow blade to cut off the plastic covering the screw holes. Then I was able to attach the face plate.

Face plate and valve cartridge control installed

Face plate and valve cartridge control

I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to connect the shower valve. There are two inner plastic gears that control the temperature setting. The first is placed to meet the gear teeth in the volume control handle. The instructions say that this should be placed to not allow the hot water to get over 120 degrees. We have a whole house temperature regulator so I just wanted the piece to be set at the hottest temperature. But it wasn’t clear at first what part of the gear was up and what part made the handle stop at the hottest temperature.

Water Temperature Gear Diagram

Water Temperature Gear Diagram

The instructions skipped placing the gear inside the handle, then added this direction to control temperature.

If the water temperature is above 120°F, remove the temperature control knob (1) and rotate the limit stop (2) clockwise one tooth for every 4°F – 6°F (approximate) change in temperature. If water temperature is cooler than desired, rotate the limit stop counterclockwise.

Eventually I realized the center white knob could be rotated with a pliers all the way back and forth. So all the way to the left was hottest and all the way to the right coldest. The center of the cap fit over this knob. So to get the water as hot as possible the gear underneath had to have the limit stop in a position relating to the knob that allowed the cap to rotate to full hot. I screwed in the set and tried turning on the water.
Well, then I realized I had not opened the screw stops on the valve. That meant taking it all apart and taking off the face plate and opening the stops with a screwdriver. Nothing like doing the assembly all over again.
I first tested the hand held shower and found that I had left out a rubber gasket as it sprayed me from the bottom of the handle. After changing my shirt and finding the gasket and installing it, the leak stopped. Then I tried the shower head. It worked! But when I turn off the water it drips for a bit. I supposed that is from the long shower arm. The next task was to test the hot and cold water settings. I could not get hot water to flow from the hot side! I tested the hot water in the sink and it was definitely hot, then I realized that I may have connected the pipes the wrong way! I tried the cold side and the water got hot. This is a problem I seem to have frequently. So fixing that was another exciting adventure. But at least the faucet trim was completed.

Shower control and trim installed

Shower control and trim installed

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Caulking Mess

Have I ever mentioned I hate caulking? The family room shower is large and that meant lots of caulking. At the ceiling, at the floor, in the corners and inside the niches; all needed caulk. I used the same dark brown low voc caulk that I used in the master bathroom-Dynaflex 230 by DAP.
No matter how I try I cannot smooth the caulk with a wet finger as others do. Instead it gets all over the joint. I have tried various ways to clean up the mess this makes and so far pushing the caulk into the joint with a wet sponge works the best for me. It is not very smooth but it is also not all over the tile on each side.

Caulking mess

Caulking mess

For this large caulking job I used the tool I bought for the huge caulking job in the crawlspace. I had a half used tube of caulk that I couldn’t get to flow again with a hand caulk gun and the battery powered caulk gun was just the ticket. I had cut the caulk spout with a small opening and set the gun on its lowest feed setting which worked well for most of the caulking until I smoothed it out with a wet finger while wearing a surgical plastic glove. By the time I got all the joints trimmed back with a wet sponge and scrubby for the excess, I had let the caulk in the shower niche dry too much to scrub off!
Luckily I had some Goof Off which works on tar and caulk!

Goof Off cleaner

Goof Off cleaner

I sprayed it and let it work for about an hour and then came back and it made short work of cleaning off the excess caulk.

Shower niche after cleanup

Shower niche after cleanup

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Setting the Granite Shower Bench

I had a nice piece of dark brown granite already cut for the bench. Originally I wanted to use left over granite from the sink top but it was not wide enough to completely cover the bench, and the narrow pieces I had cut for the master shower were too difficult to install. So Bill had me go out and get another granite remnant to cut one wider piece for the master shower ledge and have enough left over for the bench in the family room shower.

Although I had the bench seat cut about to size already, after fitting it over the tile edge of the bench I decided to trim off another half inch using the wet saw so that the bench didn’t overhang into the bathroom. Then I had the arduous task of polishing the edges. I have a series of diamond sanding wheels and the roughest one can round the edges of granite. Then it takes about seven more grits to get a polished edge. If one grit doesn’t do its job then it is necessary to back track and try to move from the lower grits again to the higher. I don’t have enough patience for this so I left the edge a bit marked up. I’m hoping the sealer will cover it.

There was waterproofing at the bathroom edge of the bench, but the handyman had a problem with the corner of the bench so to fix that I added a piece of cement board to the end. That meant a gap between the waterproofed bench and the tile. So I filled that with caulk.

Bench with caulking over hardboard edge

Bench with caulking over hardboard edge

Bill had bought special mortar to set the master shower ledge.

Natural Stone Mortar

Natural Stone Mortar

There was plenty left to mix up a small bucket of it for the bench. Just in case there was something special about setting the granite, I looked up instructions on the internet. But there was not more information than just coating the bench and the granite with mortar spread with a 3/8″ trowel.

Both bench and granite coated in mortar

Both bench and granite coated in mortar

Then I picked up the granite and laid it on the bench. A bit of settling it into place by shaking it back and forth to get a good set. And cleaning off the excess mortar provided a nice preview of what the finished product will look like.

Bench set in place

Bench set in place

I didn’t plan ahead and I had to wash that thick layer of mortar off the overhang which was messy and kind of a pain.

Bench overhang

Bench overhang

I also checked the slant of the bench with the plumbing level and it was good. Setting the bench was a short job that made me feel like I was getting close to finishing the project.

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Grouting the Shower

It took me several days to get the family room bath shower grouted. My right arm got really sore. But after a few days it was back in shape. This shower took a lot of grout. I mixed seven batches of the epoxy grout. The batches are each 1/4 of a professional pack. I described measuring and dividing the grout packages when I first started.
It is a bit difficult to estimate the correct amount of the colored powder when mixing the grout. I tried weighing out 2 lbs of the stuff but that tended to make the grout too thick, so I finally just mixed in the powder until the right consistency was achieved.

Grout Mixed

Grout Mixed

The grout goes on like putty and is pressed into the tile joints. It takes a firm hand on the trowel to get it pressed into place.

Putty-like grout

Putty-like grout

Then the wet grout is scraped across the joints with the rubber grout float. I bought a handy half sized float for this. It was easier to use than the full size float.

Grout scraped with float but still dirty

Grout scraped with float but still dirty

Pressing the grout into the mosaic tiles at the rear of the niches was one of the more challenging parts of the job.

Niche grouted

Niche grouted

The grout is washed with a vinegar solution within one hour of mixing it. It typically takes me a little longer to use a batch but the first wash is still not difficult. I used a flat razor blade in a holder and a new 3M white scrubby for each batch. The white is a finer grit than the green pads. I cut each pad into eight sections. Scraping off the grout with a razor is easier than scrubbing when the grout left is thick. Then a couple of hours later a second wash is required with more vinegar. It is important to rinse the sponge often to remove the slightly sticky film that is on the tile. The professional batches come with some powdered wash solution but not enough for the whole kit. I just used it up and then used plain vinegar in water and that worked just as well.

I liked doing the difficult parts first and then returning to the field tile. I started above the shower head with the trim tile up there and next grouted the  field tile in that space. Next was the trim tile surrounding the shower. And the niches were done in two sssions with the trim tile.

Decorative tile grouted first

Decorative tile grouted first

Then I worked from top to bottom but in sections so that each batch was not all upper tiles. I saved the bench for last. Good thing because I had to cut another corner tile as the one that was installed was short about a half an inch.

Walls and bench grouted

Walls and bench grouted

I also had a double accident with one particular tile. Once I kneeled on it and then I stepped on its replacement.

Broken trim tile

Broken trim tile

I had to use a non-edge tile here but the edge is buried in this spot where it meets a tile that sticks up a bit too much on the floor. Ah amateur’s work.

Finally there was a marathon two batch grout job to finish the mosaic tile on the floor. I worked all day from early morning to evening. I was so tired when it was time to do the final wash on the second batch that I forgot a little spot that I filled because it was forgotten once before-the top tile under the lower short niche  I was able to scrape and scrub the excess grout off the next morning.

What next? Set the bench top, caulk the edges, and install the fixtures. Whew.

Grout in mosaic tile floor

Grout in mosaic tile floor

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Shower Floor is Mortared

The shower is getting closer to being finished! The floor layout has finally been mortared into place. I mortared the mosaic tile first, then waited a day to mortar the trim tiles. That way I could adjust them to the space around the mosaics.

If you are paying attention, you can tell that the trim tiles on both edges of the drain side of the shower get narrower. This is due to the wall on the right not being exactly square. Oh well.

Drain end mortared

Drain end mortared

The left corner L shaped tile is one piece because the corner was so uneven that it was easier to mortar in one piece than two.

You can see some of the wall tiles put in by the handyman were not pressed even. Or they were and they sagged out of alignment. That just meant I didn’t feel so badly about my uneven tiles. The back wall tiles show the taper to correct about half of the slant in the front of the shower.

Floor along back wall mortared

Floor along back wall mortared

I don’t think the taper is jarring here. The trim tiles at the rear along the bench seat are a bit tapered but it is much less noticeable. And the tiles against the shower opening also taper but not as much as at the partial wall near the drain.

Bench side tiles mortared

Bench side tiles mortared

The few remaining bathroom floor tiles were cut and mortared into place. I had to recut two of them because I left them tilted up against the doorway and they fell over and broke! The box was just to remind us not to step on the newly mortared tiles.

Last bathroom floor tiles mortared

Last bathroom floor tiles mortared

Luckily the rest of the tile was mortared into place before the weather turned snowy.

November Snowfall

November Snowfall

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Shifting Tile Layouts

No matter what I do the tile in the family room shower is not going to be square. The walls are off square and my job is to figure out how best to hide the tapers.

All mosaic floor

All mosaic floor

Of course I asked my friendly family tile guys, Bill Boyd Tile in Sebastopol CA.and he said the wider the tile around the perimeter the easier it is to hide a taper. So I tried an alternative tile type I have laying around as a border.

Sample border tiles

Sample border tiles

I couldn’t use the dark brown field tile because it is porcelain and thicker than the mosaic tiles. But I didn’t like the look of a wider border. He said about six inch wide tiles would hide the off square the best but that took too much away from the mosaics.

Border tiles with edging

Border tiles with edging

I tested using the remaining border tiles on just one side of the shower but after looking at that for a few days, I decided it didn’t look right and I don’t have enough of these full border tiles to use around the entire shower. But I do have several partial tiles left over from cutting the edge tiles for the shower niches. These average about two inches wide. Since the border has to taper anyway, I thought I could use these and both halves of the edge tiles that I will cut for the shower opening to have enough for a border.

Shower edge tiles

Shower edge tiles

In order to make the two side edges close in width I moved the tile around the shower drain several times to get the best fit around the drain and at the edges.Then I removed the last row of mosaics and laid out the partial border tiles. I like this look the best.

Shower drain side with border layout

Shower drain side with border layout

With the tile moved a bit off center with the drain, the edges are about equal and the taper on the trim tile should be less noticeable. The tile border will be about the same size at the rear of the shower too.

Rear of shower with narrower trim tiles

Rear of shower with narrower trim tiles

If the tapers are noticeable, Bill and Kristen recommend embracing the uniqueness.

I have the mosaic tile spaced and laid out. I also cut the rest of the floor tile to meet the shower, The next job is to mortar it and then cut the trim tiles to fit.

Shower mosaic and floor tiles

Shower mosaic and floor tiles

The days are cool but sunny so I can mix mortar and cut the trim tiles outside but I need to use Bill’s trick of putting warm water in the tile saw!

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Replacing the Oven

This is our third oven. Fourth if we count the temporary countertop model we have used when in between broken ovens.
First we used a fun technology with the purchase of an Advantium oven. A combination microwave and halogen heating element baked cookies in 8 minutes. But it overheated and went dead. I bought the part to fix it but broke the control panel taking it apart.
I replaced the Advantium with an Ikea model from Craigslist. This one arrived extremely dirty. So I took it apart and cleaned it. That took about a month!
When my brother was coming for a visit and I was trying to get the house clean I used the self clean mode. That was the end of that oven! The control panel went dead. Apparently this is a known issue with self cleaning ovens. They overheat and in this case blew a safety fuse. Typically this is due to a malfunction in the exhaust fan or temperature control. In any case it is common. I could have bought the parts and tried to fix it but I also ran the risk of spending more money on it and not getting it fixed.
So I started watching Craigslist for an inexpensive used oven. I enquired about several but they were often more expensive than what I was looking for. In the meantime we still had the countertop model I put on the bar table and great food including a few tasty pies were made in it.
As Thanksgiving draws near I started thinking I needed a replacement oven large enough for a turkey. So I looked up craiglist offers and found several whose owners forgot to take their ads down after a sale.
I wasn’t thrilled about the drive but I decided to purchase a stainless steel GE oven of unknown age and exact model. It is a GE Profile series and the owner was willing to negotiate.

Craigslist ad for oven

Craigslist ad for oven

It was a 45 minute drive in the truck to reach the guy remodeling a home in Aurora. The owner also had an older Advantium for sale but I wanted s turkey oven. He told me he had bought the home in 2001. So I’m guessing the oven is about that vintage.
This oven was much cleaner than the Ikea and it only took a day to take it apart and clean it. The shelves are not shiny but a gray porcelain so it appears they can be left in the oven when it is self cleaned. The owner told me he self cleaned it before removing it for sale. The oven is a bit smaller than the Ikea. A little less wide inside as it is probably better insulated. I has “true convection” and instead of just a fan to blow warm area around the interior like the Ikea, it has an element surrounding the fan. The bottom heating element is also protected by a porcelain false bottom that can be taken out and cleaned.
It was a puzzle to get the Ikea oven out of the cabinet because the latch was stuck shut. All the online info said to move the latch with a coat hanger to open it but I couldn’t find the latch. Finally I pulled the door out just enough to take off the front panel of the oven. Then the latch was accessible and I could open and remove the door to unscrew the oven from the cabinet. I used the island table with cardboard protecting it to slide the oven onto. Then with a helper it was easy to lift it down to the floor for disposal.

Ikea oven ready for disposal

Ikea oven ready for disposal

The opening in the log cabinet was exactly the right size for the new oven. It even slid in a bit further and was easier to screw into the sides of the cabinet. I forgot to put in the shelf above it so I had to unscrew and pull out the oven to fit the shelf back in from behind the cabinet.The shelf actually sits a bit lower with this oven than on the other so there seems to be room for a short microwave above it, about 10″. It will be nice to clear off more countertop if I can fit a microwave up there. Ours is quite old and dented and even a bit burned inside but it works. Although it is small it doesn’t fit above the oven.
Even though the oven is an older model, it has many electronic functions that seem to work fine. Dave roasted a chicken in it with convection roast and it was very successful. The fan that cools down the oven is not very loud although it seems to run much longer than the Ikea did. It makes sense that a better insulated cavity would take longer to cool.

New/used GE Profile oven

New/used GE Profile oven

It didn’t come with a meat probe as it should have so I ordered one and I’m looking forward to roasting with a probe that will measure for doneness; a convenient gadget for the Thanksgiving turkey!

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Wood fired boiler!

Nice fire in stove

Nice fire in stove

It works! I’m so pleased with the wood boiler system. This fall it was easy to start up. Just a few steps and it was all working as designed.
I recorded the steps I took to get the first fire for the season started.

Pump switch and system instructions

Pump switch and system instructions

Before firing up the stove it’s a good idea to check and empty any ashes from the ash drawer. I also cleaned the glass front of the stove.
Then I uncapped the boiler drain and hooked up a short hose to the spigot. Running water through the system with the end of the hose in a bucket will release air that may have entered the pipes. To get the water moving in the system the stove pump switch is turned on. I also checked that the automatic fill valve was open. There were very few air bubbles. Once the water stops bubbling in the bucket, the drain is closed and recapped.
After that initial step, each fire of the season is the same.

  • Turn on boiler pumps with switch in laundry room. Be sure the primary pump is running.
  • Check that all valves that control the flow to the boiler and heating system are open.
  • Plug heating system pump into the power strip. This separates it from the thermostat controller so it runs all the time.
  • Open all stove air intake valves. There are three. One in the ash drawer, one on the bottom right controls the outside air flow, and one on top controls the chimney damper.
  • Open a couple of zone valves. There is not enough heat to open them all and just a couple will warm the house.
  • Start fire.
  • Once fire is going close the ash drawer intake. Then manage the outside air and damper with the other intakes.

The water temperature and internal pressure can be monitored with the gauge at the top of the stove.

Pressure and temperature gauge

Pressure and temperature gauge

The red marker is set at approximately atmospheric pressure. If the water gets too hot the pressure release valve will open and relieve the pressure and send overheated water into a stainless steel milk can.

When the water gets to 90 degrees the second pump turns on. That sends the water to the heat exchanger. I check to be sure the secondary pump is running at this point. If not, the fire would need to be separated and stop burning so the stove would not overheat.

Heat exchanger

Heat exchanger

In the exchanger the warm water from the stove runs next to the water from the radiant system. The heat transfers from the stove to the system water which is pumping through the open zones.

Transferring the heat from the stove to water means that the stove does not get hot like a normal wood stove.

Stove is warm not hot

Stove is warm not hot

Having a fire in the evening is quite lovely on a snowy day. This is the first snow we’ve been home for. It snowed while we were out of town but it melted before we got home.

Late October snow

Late October snow

And inside the fire is so delightful.

Winter ambiance

Winter ambiance

When the fire dies down and it’s time to turn the heat back on, the system pump is plugged back into the thermostat controlled outlet and the switch to the wood boiler pumps is turned off. The house is cozy and the heat is unlikely to come back on before morning.

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Kerdi Shower Floor Installation

The Kerdi shower floor is made of sloped pieces of EPS styrofoam that are fitted and mortared to the floor with a non-modified mortar. I had to trim the pieces of shower floor to fit my shower. The floor pieces are 32 inches wide and this shower is about 30 inches wide. I purchased the floor that sloped to one side for an offset shower drain. This is similar to a typical tub to shower installation except that mine is longer. The area is 73″ long to the shower bench.
Unfortunately I cut the wrong end off of the shower drain piece and had to move it over, cut again and piece in the other side. I also added a piece of Kerdi floor that we did not use in the smaller shower in the master bath to fill the extra foot or so near the bench. I started cutting with a plain handsaw and I ended up with a crooked edge. Afterwards I used the multitool which cut the Kerdi straight and easily. I used the trim to fill in the side gaps. Although the directions do not call for it, because of the ragged cuts, I caulked the edges with Kerdi-Fix.

Kerdi shower base drain side

Kerdi shower base drain side


The extra piece was slightly higher than the rear of the larger Kerdi piece. Not sure why because it should have been higher only at the edge and sloping from there, And the edge of the 60 inch piece should have the the high point But the side I had to trim was on the extra piece.
Kerdi shower base fitted at bench side

Kerdi shower base fitted at bench side


I lifted one piece to be sure the mortar had even coverage as recommended. Walking on the base a bit helps it to settle in place on the mortar. The system allows the application of the waterproofing membrane right after the floor is mortared in.
I used a fresh piece of membrane instead of the piece that came with the shower base so that it would not have a seam. I have quite a bit left on the roll that I purchased. The shower is a little narrower at the drain end where the wall is located and I just cut about an inch away from the drain side of the piece to fit it around the wall.
I used the same mortar to place the membrane. But I had a problem at the drain end. I cut away the entire drain cover of membrane to fix the gap created around the drain. I installed the drain way before the I put in the leveling cement. So the drain was recessed too far into the Kerdi base. I tried to mortar the extra base piece that goes under the drain on top of the original to raise the drain. I spent a lot of time trying to trim the piece to the exact level that was needed.
My attempt to raise the drain to be level with the floor

My attempt to raise the drain to be level with the floor


I could not get the mortar to hold the piece firmly so I gave up and decided to find a piece of pipe to keep the drain open while I filled in the gap with mortar. I had a couple of extra toilet bases and the one with the metal rim sat higher in the hole. So I used it and poured some mortar around the pipe.
Mortar poured to raise the drain area

Mortar poured to raise the drain area


I spent a lot of time trying to smooth out the membrane. Including lifting the membrane to carve away the lip that the back portion of the floor had. I used a multitool to shave off the styrofoam to meet the piece next to it. The idea is that all water should run down the base to the drain. The membrane tended to be lumpy where the mortar was a bit uneven. I applied the mortar with a V notched trowel and I was surprised I had so much work to smooth out the membrane. I thought I spread the mortar evenly before I put the membrane on. But smoothing it out was still time-consuming.
The mortar on the floor and membrane have to dry 24 hours and then it will be time to lay the floor tile.

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Leveling Cement on the Shower Floor

I was fortunate to pick up a couple of free 50 lb bags of Mapei Novoplan 2 self leveling cement compound for free. I needed it to level the shower floor. Although some filling had been done with mortar, specifically a big hole in the corner near the wall, the Schluter Kerdi shower base installation requires a completely level floor.

I read the instructions on the Mapei website and then looked around the internet for installation advice and for my small area most of it didn’t pertain. Except I did decide to apply the Mapei primer. So I had to make a trip to buy that. For porous cement as in this shower which had never been sealed, the instructions recommended thinning the liquid 1:1 with water. So I did and spread it with a paint roller as recommended.

Primer spread with felt paint roller

Primer spread with felt paint roller

Some of the primer remained a bit white as it foamed a little when I mixed it with water. I tried to thin out the white areas but then I just left them and one coat seemed to dry very well giving a slightly shiny cast to the cement. The white spots went away after the primer dried overnight.

Mapei primer spread on shower floor

Mapei primer spread on shower floor

The next day I mixed the leveling cement. I had a partial bag to use up first. It was about 3/4 full so I used about a gallon of water instead of 5 quarts. It was easy to mix, pouring half of the bag into the pail of water and mixing with my good 1/2″ drill and cement paddle and then pouring the second half in and continuing to mix. The final product is quite soupy and I knew the consistency was right from watching videos of others pouring.

Mixing the Mapei Novoplan

Mixing the Mapei Novoplan


The advice was to mix the cement where you would be using it and I found out why when I carried that five gallon bucket into the bathroom from outside. Boy that was heavy.
The pour was pretty easy. I used a wooden float to smooth it out and push it together. The internet also said to keep the edges wet and mix and pour quickly. With such a small area that was no problem.
Leveling cement pour

Leveling cement pour


After pouring around the drain and getting it to flow evenly there, I poured the other end and worked it into the corners, then the pour met in the center. Unfortunately I only needed a little more than half of what I mixed. So a lot was wasted. I didn’t have another use for it so I just mixed water into it and dumped it on the outside gravel patio that we will eventually cover. The setup time was only 15 minutes and the slurry was workable most of that time. I tried smoothing a spot with a metal trowel but the cement just stuck to it and left a divot. In that one spot when I went back over with the wooden trowel I could tell it was starting to set so I just left it alone. The small divot the metal trowel made magically came back together through its self leveling power.
Wet poured leveling cement

Wet poured leveling cement


I didn’t try to alter the depth of the slurry, I just poured a bit and spread it around. I really wanted to maintain as deep a depression in the floor as possible so that the styrofoam Kerdi would meet the edge of the cut out in the cement. When pouring the floor I used some old panel doors from my daughter’s house to create the cut outs and those doors were just about the right depth for the Kerdi shower base.
Twenty four hours later I could have mortared in the Kerdi shower base but it took me awhile to cut the base to fit so that is the next job.

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Wall Tile in Shower Completed

The final wall area was around the shower head and under it on the bit of ceiling that has the shower light.

I didn’t mix mortar for these two areas but used the acrylic mastic. Plain unmodified mortar is specified for Kerdi and that was used everywhere but on the baseboards and this area. I needed a more sticky mortar here and I decided it would be easier to use mastic. My guess is that it will last just fine.

I did not have enough dark brown trim tiles left to do this edge. So I considered using the floor and niche tiles instead. I have several of the lighter brown trim tiles but they are thinner than the dark brown tiles.

Fortunately a friend who does remodeling was visiting and I asked her. She said using the marble trim would be a better match.  So I found one non matching tile that was close to the trim tile I had left. I just needed one more piece! But the one I bought was thin and brittle and it broke as I cut it.

So how could I solve the problem of this edge? I went to the Home Depot fully prepared to drive further to the tile store if I couldn’t find anything. But by standing in front of the tile and considering various non-starters I found tumbled marble pencil tiles. I only needed three so the stiff per piece cost was a necessary evil.

Trim tile on shower head wall

Trim tile on shower head wall

To hold the edge up during the install I cut a piece of leftover drywall and held it up with a leftover plastic pipe because I didn’t have a 77” piece of wood or a 96” piece I was willing to sacrifice. There were two tile pieces under the drywall to space the tile edge correctly.

Plywood may have been a better choice. Or perhaps I could have cut a second support. The drywall bent a little and I had to shim the edge tile to make it approximately level.

I was able to use the diamond edge hole saws I bought for the granite to make an almost perfect hole for the shower head. Although expensive it is lovely to have good tools that work. But I did cut the hole into two different tiles because the first was slightly off.

Above the trim there were just a few more tiles to cut and install.

Shower head wall tiled

Shower head wall tiled

The next area was the small ceiling under this wall. The hole for the light was cut with the grinder wheel. The light trim will cover the unevenness. I also had to cut this tile twice because I put the hole in the wrong corner of the tile the first time. It was the mirror image of the correct placement. Ah amateurs.

First tile on ceiling

First tile on ceiling

Just to make the job easier I only installed one tile at a time on the ceiling and held them in place with the pipe until they dried. I did one towards late afternoon and the other two the next day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Completed ceiling

Completed ceiling

Progress on this project feels great. Now I need to tackle the shower floor!

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Shower Niches

Just before we left on our extended trip away from home I tiled the shower niches. These are Schluter Kerdi preformed styrofoam covered with the orange waterproof membrane.
The niches were an area that the handyman who tiled most of the shower didn’t get to.
I had in mind to use the floor mosaic for the back of the niches. The tiles are left over from a project at my daughters house. Although I found extra tiles to match I was glad I could select the tiles to use myself. I ended up using pieces of the mosaic that were not in full sheets which worked well for these small spaces.
The shelves are covered with pieces of travertine with the edges rounded using diamond pads on my polisher. I tried using a grinder with a 3” Velcro holder but the pads flew right off at the higher speed. The polisher has an adjustable speed that worked better.

Shower niche with short shelves

Shower niche with short shelves

The short shelves are in the front section of the shower near the control. I noticed the tile did not align with the top of the niche so I had to add a narrow piece. I don’t think that error will be too obvious.

Shower niche with tall shelves

Shower niche with tall shelves

The tall shelves are at the back of the shower over the bench. The tile on this niche aligned correctly.
I had not yet cleaned the grout off the tiles when I took these photos. But I got them cleaned the morning of the day we left for the airport for our trip.

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Almost to Dead Center of Fall and a Revised List

I started this list before the fall equinox but we had distractions happen! There was no summer list. We worked to help our kids move to Germany and visited family. My elderly mom lived in assisted living not far from us for almost three years and I visited her each day until mid-July when she passed away. We had all her funeral arrangements and a new grandchild to visit. Plus some illness that was temporary but annoying. It’s a wonder we get anything done.
But maybe we can get back to serious accomplishment this fall. That is after travel to a family wedding, a mini reunion for a week, and my granddaughter’s 100th day celebration. We were away for almost a month.

First the spring list accomplishments.

Finally when cleaning to get ready for a going away party in May!

  • Vacuum ERV vent shaft and replace vacuum bag
  • Clean beam
  • Fix kitchen sink drain
  • Foam gap at floor in storage closet

Each of the following items was partially completed.

  • Level shower floors-in just the master bath
  • Get showers tiled- master bath
  • Hang doors in the master bathroom and bedroom closet-in master

The bedroom closet needs the same widening at the bottom as the entry closet door

  • Install tile on perimeter of house floor-in most of entry.
  • Wire thermostat and dimmer switch to ERV

I have worked on this off and on for months. Every time I think I’ve solved the variable speed problem I find a glitch. It’s been very frustrating.

I did not have on the list to put shelves and poles in the master and entry closets but that got done so I guess it could be the first thing on the fall list.
None of the other items on the spring list were done. It’s discouaging to say the least.

  • Install corian on top of vent shaft
  • Make corian tub tray for master bathroom
  • Install new calcium filter on boiler supply
  • Install new TDS monitor on water supply

But the number one thing on the list and needs to happen by February.
Pass Final Inspection!
So I will limit the fall list to this one item. If others get done so be it. But I HAVE to finish tiling the shower in the family room bath. That is the last item on the inspection list.
It WILL get done!

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Kitchen Drain Fix

One of the items on the spring/summer list was to fix the kitchen sink drain.
I stuck a bucket under the kitchen sink drain because it was dripping when the sink had water in it, and I thought the leak just stopped. I was wrong. Over time it got worse and worse. Finally I decided to take it off and try to retighten it. I bought a special tool to loosen the nut but it didn’t budge it. So we had to remove the whole kitchen sink.

Taking out the drain

Taking out the drain

After beatinmg on it and trying all kinds of twisting, it was obvious the nut was cross threaded. Even with the sink out I could not remove the nut. I had to cut off the drain tightening ring with a dremel tool to remove it. No wonder it leaked!

Sink removed

Sink removed

I bought a new basket assembly and paid a little more for a brass hardware connection for the chrome drain. The last one was stainless but this one only came in chrome and it matches the sink faucet.

Old sink drain

Old sink drain

New sink drain

New sink drain

Having the sink out allowed me to touch up some of the rubberized paint that had been knocked off and peeled so that the sink doesn’t have any blemishes under the counter now.
I also replaced the trap and related pipes with a black version that I had as on hand. The white was stained and the trap was gross so new stuff seemed much nicer.

New drain plumbing

New drain plumbing


This was the last project before we left for a three week trip to visit family in far-reaching parts of the country. Now that we are home, more progress must be made.

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Tile Handyman

When I hadn’t finished all three tasks from the final inspection list in April by the August 28th deadline I got to feeling desperate that I would never finish the building permit so I looked around for a tile installer. The only thing left on the list is completing the family room bathroom shower.

Tile Guy

Tile Guy-Tim King

I contacted a few tile installers and consulted the Nextdoor app to see if my neighbors had any recommendations. I don’t know what it is about my jobs but it is difficult to get someone to return my calls, or be available, or do estimates. Tim King who used to be a part time handyman but has started working at it full time made room in his schedule for the job and started in two weeks instead of two months.
I was very happy that he showed up on the scheduled day and got to work installing the tile.

Shower wall tile install

Shower wall tile install


Originally I was going to create a mountain mural and put it centrally in place of three regular tiles.This was my inspiration after downloading several examples.

Sample mosaic

Sample mosaic

My imitation still needed work (lots of it) when Tim arrived.

My attempt at the mosaic

My attempt at the mosaic

After toying with the idea of just leaving out three tiles and filling them in with the mosaic later, I gave up and had Tim install a trim feature instead. I got some 4×4 tumbled marble tiles when my kids moved to Germany. They were their leftovers and the tumbled stone looked great with my tile. I cut all the triangle tiles but it was a little tricky to install and took longer than anticipated.

Tumbled marble design

Tumbled marble design

I like the look of the tile trim though it is a bit rustic due to varying sizes of the tile triangles.

Trim tile at back wall of shower

Trim tile at back wall of shower

Trim tile at front of shower

Trim tile at front of shower


In the time Tim allotted for the job, all of the walls to the ceiling and the trim tiles were installed. I still have the shower head area, a bit of ceiling, the niche tiles and the Schluter Kerdi shower floor system to install and tile. I’ll be using 2×2 mosaic tiles for the niches and floor. I’m thinking about a row of trim tile at the shower head wall. Hiring at least part of the job out helped to make progress so thanks to Tim King! Now I better get going on the rest. He might have time to return and help finish in a few weeks. I’ll have to see how the project goes.

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Hanging A Painting

Country side painting

Country side painting


We need to get the last of the decorative items out of storage and decide what to do with them. I have always liked this serene painting that I bought at a second hand store in Indiana years ago. It has been in our houses since then and I wanted to keep it. The frame was a bit the worse for wear so I sanded it and polyurethaned it and looking much more spiffy I tried to hang it in the living room.
I have been using the ramjet and power nails to create hanging hooks on the brick and stucco walls. When I sent a nail into the stucco wall about where I wanted to hang the frame the nail went right through the stucco. That surprised me but I didn’t stop to think why that happened.
Instead I tried a metal butterfly bolt in the enlarged hole. It wasn’t seating well so I used a hammer to send it deeper into the hole and a huge spark rang out!
Unfortunately I had hit a power cable going to the outlet below. It seems that the chances of hitting a cable, the only one in the wall had not occurred to me. With the breaker off I took out the bolt and had to enlarge the hole to repair the wire. Luckily I only pierced one wire and didn’t short it.
So now the painting hides a huge hole in the stucco!
Hole in stucco wall

Hole in stucco wall


I should be able to repair it eventually with the acrylic stucco and caulk. But I also found out that a hammer easily breaks the stucco off the wall in case someday it needs to be removed.

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