Problem with Hoppe Three Point Lock on ThermaTru Door

One of the sets of french doors was stuck closed. It appeared that the three point lock was stuck at the top of the door keeping it from opening. I thought I was going to have to take the door pins out to remove the door and fix the lock. That did not turn out to be the case though.

Instead I searched for information and on a couple of building forums I found folks with similar problems. Although the lock itself could have been broken, and I took it apart to see if I could pull the shoot bolt down from inside the lock. Unlike the Pella locks, this one did not have a manual release for the shoot bolt. But it also appeared that the lock itself was not broken. The mechanism was turning and the shoot bolt was moving. Just not enough to open the door.

On closer inspection I noticed that the door jamb was sitting right on top of the door. Another installation problem I supposed. I also read that when drywall is connected to the jamb, cracking and pulling the jamb out of place can happen. It is considered a poor job. But the drywall was not connected to the jamb at all.

I ended up using long enough 2 x 2 and 1 x 2’s to lever up under the door jamb to release the retracted bolt end. Once the door was opened, I had some thoughts about how to keep the frame from descending onto the door.

I consulted some older photos of the construction and could see the gap between the frame and the header.

Door jamb header gap

Door jamb header gap


I wanted to avoid extra nails or screws in the jamb so I just decided to take out the short screws in the metal guide for the shoot bolts and used longer screws to pull the jamb up into the header more tightly.

I also did the middle door but the end door did not have the same problem so I left it alone for now. Again the installation seems to be problematic. But luckily I have the time and inclination to figure out a fix for these issues so far.

Posted in Maintenance and Repair | Comments Off on Problem with Hoppe Three Point Lock on ThermaTru Door

Guests! An Ebay Scam and ERV Maintenance

We have had the pleasure of several recent guests who have stayed in the new master bedroom and bath. The new curtains have made the space more private and it has proved to be great to have another bathroom with more people in the house. Everyone seems to enjoy the space and the fancy Haiku fan.

My granddaughter took the first bath in the new tub today. She loved it. It is pretty tall and big but she could handle it. I was impressed by how long the water in the tub stayed warm. I left the water in and only had to add a bit more hot to take a bath myself. It has been years since my last bath in the steam spa I installed in the Arizona house! It did not keep water warm like this tub does though. The water was still warm when I drained it.

Unfortunately the sprayer did not work. I may have installed the back flow preventer backwards! I’ll have to take it apart and figure that out. But the shelf came in handy. Not sure if I want to get a tub spanning shelf or  build a little storage cabinet to hide shampoo and soap. Always looking for ideas.

First Bath in New Tub

First Bath in New Tub

Only small tasks have been accomplished in the last few weeks. Some have been just decorating, arranging, and making space for guest items. Plumbing connections have stayed tight, although the bed railing suffered a little bit from use and had to be reinforced with more nails from the nail gun.

I’ve cleaned up a few more of the track lights that were left hanging from the track during the drywall phase. It seems like so many of them that I just take them a few at a time. I have to take them down, clean the drywall paste and some paint off them and the bulbs, and then be sure they are dry to reassemble.

I was scammed on eBay. I should have known better. I was told the eBay payment did not go through and to cancel and pay another invoice. That happened once before because the user had changed email addresses but the second invoice was also eBay. This time I did not notice it was not through eBay and paid it. So the seller absconded with the money from both eBay and PayPal. I have been asking for a refund but neither company has returned an answer on my request. This is the first time in six years of using eBay regularly so I suppose I just got lax in my due diligence. I’m feeling stupid about it. UPDATE: PayPal honored their online purchase warranty and refunded the total that I paid for the Nest thermostat. So happy with buying with PayPal. I had a return they helped negotiate too and got a refund on that amount. I’m glad I used PayPal.

I was buying another Nest thermostat for the master bedroom. Somewhere I have a couple of expensive Honeywell thermostats but for the life of me I don’t know where. They would have been packed up for drywall and I can’t find them. So with buying the Haiku fan, I thought another Nest to help control the fan would be good. This is the third, so we are only using one of the original programmable Honeywell thermostats now. The Ebay price was good for a third generation thermostat but not great with the extra shipping charge. I wish I had gone for a few more dollars now with shipping included. Although I got a shipped email, it was not tracked and I waited the entire shipping estimate of time before becoming concerned. Then I got an email saying the seller had withdrawn the item and from Ebay. Oh oh. So I went though the eBay stuff about contacting the seller and then Ebay. The problem was that the seller showed my original purchase from eBay as refunded because they charged me directly through PayPal. Ebay says only to pay through them and this is why.

Having no response from the seller, I went to PayPal a few days later and registered there for recompense, but although the case was still pending after their 48 hour limit, eventually PayPal refunded the purchase. So disappointing but of course I am also at fault in this one since paying outside of Ebay is not permitted. I just did not notice.

At any rate I bought another Nest on Ebay and installed it today. I had a bit of trouble getting it to access the modem and had to restart the modem but it finally took. Then the family room thermostat seemed to go off the network and I had to restart it. I found out how by following the directions on the troubleshooting page that I was directed to from the application. It showed online at the thermostat but not in the application.

The weather here has gone from 80-90 degree days to the 40’s. We don’t need heat yet as the house has been staying at about 72 degrees. I also have the ventilation system running full time. I turned off the econocool mode which lets cooler air into the house at night.

I just changed the filters for the new season. The filters are pie shaped and ordered directly from the Ultimate Air company. The wheel that holds the filters does not have to be removed when they are changed. When the metal screens are out the wheel is accessible and I also washed the filter holder from each side with a bit of spray cleaner and a rag.

ERV Filter Pies

ERV Filter Pies

I wondered if I could wash and reuse the old filter material but it is not recommended. It seems like it would work because the material is quite sturdy. I would rinse out the black dirt and then machine wash and dry. I don’t want compromised filters in the system though. I read that they can be vacuumed but these were far too dirty to just vacuum dust out. I also washed out the dirt from the metal filters on each side. This is about the third or fourth time I have washed them. It is a pretty easy project.

Posted in Bathrooms, Distractions, Maintenance and Repair, Ventilation | Comments Off on Guests! An Ebay Scam and ERV Maintenance

Family Room Bathroom Vanity Sink

It is a granite sink on a heavy and thick granite slab. I originally had the sink sitting on the logs of the vanity stand but with the addition of the slab I needed to figure out how to hold up the sink for the drain connections. I noticed sink rings as a plumbing supply for basin sinks that apparently do this, but a small ring would not work with a large rectangular sink. So I ordered a stainless steel tray in a brass color to set the sink upon.

I cut a hole in the tray and it lets the sink sit up about 3/4″ above the granite.

Tray Cut Out

Tray To Cut Out

Tray Mount

Tray Mount

I did not run across instructions to secure the sink to the vanity top after using a ring so I used a ring clamp on a rubber sleeve to keep the sink from lifting from the surface of the countertop.

Clamp to secure sink

Clamp to secure sink

With the sink installed I needed a box to mount the wall faucet. I saw the idea of building a box on another website. It was a bit difficult to figure out where to mount the faucet valve inside the box. I put in two cross pieces and then chose the lower one with the pipe about even with the valve. I realized that made the font too close to the sink. So I moved the valve up and changed the outlet pipe straight across from the faucet mixing pipe.

Three walls and a cover

Three walls and a cover

Then I used the hand sander to sand all the surfaces with four different grid sandpapers. I applied two coats of Waterlox and let them dry and the box was fitted behind the sink.

Sanding and Waterlox

Sanding and Waterlox


I want to use pine logs as trim in the house and I started with this box. The faucet is mounted at the right height over the sink. The valve is a little too low because it does not clear the sink rim but it can be shut off in either the hot or cold positions so I’m leaving it for now.

Box behind sink

Wall faucet mounted in box behind sink

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Another Leak Fixed

The Victorian style sink I’m using in the master bathroom was in the shed when my daugher and her husband bought their new house. There were a pair of them. I told her I wanted them and they said sure. Even after storing outdoors for three years, I cleaned off the old caulk and the sink is in great condition. With the powder coated metal vanity, it is a Victorian/Industrial style. Eclectic!

Victorian sink

Victorian sink

The bathroom sink faucet was purchased from eBay and either it was missing parts or I lost them. I didn’t have the below sink tightener and I had to improvise, although it is not tight enough and I ordered a Toto sink version that looks like the original and I should be able to tighten it completely.

I used an old bent up chrome supply trim and cut it to fit around the pipes with my Dremel tool and drilled a hole for the threaded rod. In order to get the fastener below the tight pipes, I used a section of drain pipe.

Improvised faucet fastener

Improvised faucet fastener

The supply pipes are so close to the threaded rod that holds the faucet that while I was tightening the bolt, I was loosening the copper pipe. It was just enough to have it start leaking. Unfortunately, I thought the leak was at the shark bite connector. So after lots of hemming and hawing around at the hardware store, I brought home a compression fitting that I didn’t end up needing. But the discovery of the leak meant I had to take the whole faucet out to tighten the pipes to the faucet.

Source of the leak

Source of the leak

The copper pipes have a threaded end and a small gasket to keep them from leaking. It is kind of nice because they could be replaced if they become too damaged. If I could find the parts. So the faucet leak was fixed and the faucet put back into place.

Faucet in place

Faucet in place

I also removed the toilet AGAIN. Although the foam gasket allowed me to install and remove it several times, it also worried me that the flange was over a part of the drain area. If waste was restricted there it would be a mess to take care of later so I decided to cut a portion of the flange away to allow for a more open waste area.

Cut opening in toilet ring flange

Cut opening in toilet ring flange

Then one more time, I had to align the toilet over the bolts just right to set it. I fiddled with the bolts two or three times before I got it right. I also noticed that the bolts I used are kind of short and really are meant to be broken off. So there is a stripped area on the bolts that was keeping me from tightening the toilet. I struggled with that for awhile until I realized washers would move the nut up enough to use the normal threads. Sometimes it takes awhile to really see a problem that is occurring.

Final toilet install

Final toilet install

So these two pieces are now ready for my sister’s visit this week! I wanted them done for visitors in late August but DIY often takes a longer time than planned.

Two piece bath ensemble

Two piece bath ensemble

And thinking to figure out what I could use for storage underneath I checked out craigslist and found a brown former medical cart that I liked and took a ride over today to buy it. It just feels good to add this touch.

Storage cart under sink cabinet

Storage cart under sink cabinet

Posted in Bathrooms, Design Style, Plumbing | Comments Off on Another Leak Fixed

Leak Central

It seems like no matter what I’m installing in the master bath, I’m having an issue with leaks. I had to install an offset toilet drain because the original drain position did not account for the extra insulation we decided to use on the wall. I installed the toilet as usual but the wax ring didn’t cover the rim of the toilet flange well enough and the toilet leaked at the floor when it was flushed.

First install--leaked

First install–leaked

I un-installed the toilet and had to clean off all the yucky wax from the ring. It didn’t look like it was on crooked but it was flatter on one side. So I decided to try a non-wax ring. The plumbing inspector had recommended them when he learned I had radiant heating pipes. Although hot water radiant does not get hot enough to melt wax, nevertheless, he gave me the idea. So I bought a foam rubber type of toilet ring. But I also tried a new type of bolts that really didn’t work for me so I took that toilet off and on the foam ring about three times.

Sani-seal waxless toilet gasket

Sani-seal waxless toilet gasket

The bolts were “zero cut” and I liked the flat bolt covers.

Zero cut toilet bolts

Zero cut toilet bolts

But I could not get them to tighten enough to hold down the toilet. They kept slipping and turning under the rim. I finally gave up and went back to old fashioned bolts.
I also had a difficult time finding the shorter bolts in the foam ring. They came with plastic locaters but I promptly broke one trying to locate it with the heavy toilet.

Multiple tries to set toilet on bolts

Multiple tries to set toilet on bolts

It was the Sani-Seal gasket that allowed me to place and lift the toilet multiple times. The gasket comes with a rubber “throat” that goes into the pipe. I hope since the pipe is offset, that the rubber flap won’t restrict the flush.

Foam and rubber toilet ring

Foam and rubber toilet ring

After I switched back to the long bolts, I was able to tighten them and get the toilet re-installed without leaks.
Next try the sink. Hmmm.

 

 

Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Plumbing | Comments Off on Leak Central

Master Bath Decorative Trim Tile

I noticed these decorative tiles on Craigslist in early 2016 and they were reasonably priced leftovers. They were not far away and I bought them. I love these thick relief tiles with the western animal scenes and I had just enough from the purchase to trim over the tub and sink in the master bathroom. I paid $40 for them. Normally these tiles would cost at least $15 each.

Decorative Tiles

Decorative Tiles


First I caulked behind and around the sides of the beam. There are two coats of Waterlox which turned the wood rather dark so it is a great contrast with the white tile.
Caulking the edges of the beam

Caulking the edges of the beam


I had to caulk the back of the beam because there was about a 1/4″ gap and I needed to have a surface to rest the tile on.
Full beam caulked for tile

Full beam caulked for tile


The white tiles lined up to the exact width of the beam using 1/4″ tile spacers.
Decorative tile with spacers

Decorative tile with spacers


The remaining three tiles also fit perfectly over the sink tile with two of the brown animal tiles. The third one unfortunately got a corner broken off, but it was not needed for the space. I used tile adhesive for the wall tiles, back buttering each tile, as it is easier to apply than mortar.
Gluing the sink tiles

Gluing the sink tiles


The decorative tile over the sink with the five animal relief tiles are mounted with sideways 1/4″ spacers or about an 1/8″ space between the tiles.
Master bath sink tile

Master bath sink tile


The next step will be applying the epoxy grout to this half of the bathroom. Then it will be ready for fixtures.

Posted in -Chronological Recent Posts, Bathrooms, Design Style, Tile | Comments Off on Master Bath Decorative Trim Tile

Haiku Energy Star Ceiling Fan

I have already replaced the craigslist ceiling fan that I installed for my brother’s visit. There is a LEED requirement to install Energy Star ceiling fans and I was hoping to find a deal on a Haiku L series for the master bedroom. The Craigslist fan only had one speed because it did not have a pull chain or a remote. Soon after I installed it I found an L series in an eBay ad. I made an offer that seemed reasonable given that a new fan from the company is $575 with free shipping and a new fan from Amazon is $600 in black. However the company site does not offer the dark brown blades and Amazon charges $675 for the black/cocoa combination. I saved about $250.

Ebay ad for Haiku fan

Ebay ad for Haiku fan

The ad didn’t show all the components but it listed them as included. The only thing not listed was the wifi module but one did come with the fan. I read a review that explained fans from the manufacturer do not include the wifi module unless the Sense Me wall control is ordered but fans from Amazon do include the wifi module.

Box contents

Box contents

The Haiku L series is not an Energy Star “most efficient” for 2017, however it is among the top performers on the Energy Star list. It comes in just under the other Haiku models H and I and there are only four other 52″ fans that have a medium speed of more than 400.

Haiku Fan Efficiency

Haiku Fan Efficiency

That puts it at about four times the 2012 Energy Star standard. At low speed it is just under 4 times the base for energy star efficiency. The Energy Guide lists the fan at 17.7 watts per cfm at high speed. Airflow at high speed is 5276 cfm. It is also the most energy efficient fan rated with an LED light. The light efficiency is 105, the highest of the LED fixtures. It is rated at 20 watts.
The fan took some time to put together but the instructions were clear and the only part that didn’t work for me right away was a plug for the light diffuser that needed to show up in the canopy for the diffuser ring to plug into and snap on. I had to undo the screws a couple of times to get the plug lined up correctly. It seemed odd that the screws in the canopy were square end screws instead of phillips. All the tools for installation were included with the fan so I used the allen wrench provided but they were more difficult to align and install. It must be some security issue.
For our ceiling height and angle, I used the longer of the two rods provided with the fan. There is a choice of hanging rod, either 6″ or 11″. The fan was much lighter than the romanesque one. At only 11 lbs. I was able to lift the fan body into the hanger myself. Wiring was very simple except that I have two hot wires and two switches to control a separate fan and light. But the electronics control the light on the Haiku so only one switch is needed and I just capped off the extra wire.

Fan at rest

Fan at rest

Once it was installed, I used the remote immediately to start the fan and turn on the light in both dim and bright modes. Both the fan speed and light brightness are variable with plus and minus buttons to set them.
The modern style looks fine with the ranch style furniture. I like the airfoil design and the fan is very quiet except for the noise of the air movement on high. I turned the speed down and the high speed is probably not ever necessary in our bedroom.

Airfoil blades

Airfoil blades

I installed the Haiku OS app and was able to update the firmware right away. Then I worked with some of the settings. I can also pair it with the Nest thermostat and the Amazon Echo to give it speech commands to turn on and set up the light and the fan.
The fan is extremely quiet except for the rush of air on high speed. I have used the “Whoosh” setting that varies the speed of the fan for a more natural breeze feeling. I’m impressed with the fan and don’t mind all the plastic parts. These are made in Kentucky which seems like an anomaly among such products and another great feature.

Fan in Motion

Fan in Motion

Posted in Design Style, Electrical, Energy Efficiency, Master Bedroom | Comments Off on Haiku Energy Star Ceiling Fan

Master Bath Medicine Cabinet

I wanted a space left open in the drywall to reuse one of the original medicine cabinets in the master bathroom. The wall had to be built out due to the plumbing run below and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to install a recessed cabinet. The drywall installer offered to put in the cabinet for me. But the problem was that he lined it up with the 2 x 4’s instead of the finished drywall.

Drywall space for medicine cabinet

Drywall space for medicine cabinet


There was a half hearted attempt to keep the cabinet clean and the texture got sprayed inside the box. So it was streaked with white even after cleaning it. Because the cabinet was recessed 1/2″ there would be a gap between the box and the cabinet facing. So I had to remove it and reinstall another box from the original house. It was identical to the first and I didn’t have plans to use both so I didn’t have to use the dirty box.
Cutting the cabinet out of the drywalled area was difficult however.
Cutting out the cabinet

Cutting out the cabinet


It was screwed in at the top and bottom corners and I had to use the multitool with a metal blade to cut through the screws. I finally was able to pull it out though and after cleaning up the inside of the wall, I put the clean one into the space. It had to be flush to the outside edge of the drywall but I just used the nail gun to fix the top and bottom into place after shimming it level.
Then the face trim that also holds the door with the mirror was screwed into the box.
New cabinet installed flush

New cabinet installed flush


The new cabinet was cleaned up a bit and the mirror washed and it looks like the authentic rustic style I am working to create.
Cabinet with tile

Cabinet with tile


Not a major task but really good to get it finished and checked off the summer list.

Posted in Bathrooms, Design Style, Reduce Reuse Recycle | Comments Off on Master Bath Medicine Cabinet

Granite Slab Cut

It was a perfect late summer day. My brother and his wife were visiting from the Chicago area and he always enjoys completing a house project. I have had a heavy piece of granite by the side of the front door for two years and really wanted to get it cut to fit the vanity in the family room bathroom. I just had to ask John if he would help with the cuts and the project was started.

Moving the granite slab

Moving the granite slab

We put the granite on the rolling carts that I bought as solar heater stands. They have proved to be great as work tables. I have a granite wet saw from work I did in Arizona. It is a 4″ saw blade and just deep enough to cut the thick granite slab.

Granite cut on rolling cart

Granite cut on rolling cart

There was mesh on the back of the slab that helped hold the cut sections together and we sliced through this with a razor blade and then a serrated knife to separate the cut pieces.
I decided to cut the slab to fit all the way to the wall on the left side of the vanity stand and just over the edge of the stand in the front and on the right side.

Cutting the slab

Cutting the slab

Once the slab was cut it was not quite as heavy to carry in and place on the vanity stand.

Carrying in the slab

Carrying in the slab

The slab was placed on the vanity and shifted a bit to fit. Some shimming could still be done. It is heavy enough to sit on the stand without adhesive and the granite sink will sit on top of the slab.

John placing the slab

John placing the slab

I ordered a few diamond core bits to cut a hole for the sink drain and the water pipes. Now it shouldn’t be long until the sink is installed on this vanity top.

Family room bathroom vanity granite

Family room bathroom vanity granite

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Tilting the Tub

The phrase “tilting at windmills” comes to mind after multiple attempts to fix the leaking tub drain. The solution seemed elusive for a long time. We had to tilt up the tub on its side to get to the drain. For some reason I was convinced that the piping under the tub was the cause of the leak. Especially after tightening the metal washer on the drain part as far as Dave’s strength could do it. I even replaced the plumbers putty once the leaking drain was disassembled. But I concentrated on the piping below the drain believing that the tub shoe was not able to get tight enough because the drain threads did not extend below the tub bottom.

Tilted tub with tub shoe drain

Tilted tub with tub shoe drain

My first attempt was to extend the tub shoe below the bottom of the tub.

Extended tub drain

Extended tub drain

The new configuration leaked as much as old. Plus it was so long that I lost the slope of 1/4″ to a foot of drain.

Leaking drain with extended pipe

Leaking drain with extended pipe

So I thought to try a shorter extension pipe and a regular 90 degree angle. In theory it would gain a 1/2″ of space underneath. In practice the slope was still gone.

Ninety degree elbow below drain

Ninety degree elbow below drain

I gave up on extending the drain and decided to try replacing the plumbers putty under the lip of the drain and at the rubber washer underneath with 100% silicone caulk. That was finally the solution to stop the leak. I did try the extended pipe one more time but could not get it tight enough to allow for the required slope. I even put the tub up on 1/2″ plywood to gain a bit of height. But I finally gave up and went back to the tub shoe connector.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to find another tub shoe since I had cut the pipe and the shorter pipe required a straight connector that made the pipe a bit wider just under the tub. My hunt for this usually common part was unsuccessful. Home Depot, Lowes, Ferguson Plumbing. Nobody had the full size pipe for under a tub. Amazon had a non-prime offering where the shipping was almost 8 times the cost of the part! I could only find kits that included an overflow and that type of drain pipe is a different width from regular schedule 40 plastic pipe.

Tub Shoe

Tub Shoe


I gave up and used the one I had with the connector that made the pipe wider, but with the silicone on the drain itself, the shoe did not leak anymore and the fact that it could be tighter no longer mattered. Whew!
No leaks now

No leaks now

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More Tile

Unfortunately the tub drain still leaks but I decided to tile the second half of the bathroom instead of taking it apart again first.

Rows of tile in master bath

Rows of tile in master bath

The wall near the sink plumbing was not square. Squaring the tile with the brick wall meant cutting partially diagonal tiles to fill the narrow space.

Back edge of tile to fill in

Back edge of tile to fill in

I think the sink and the wall tile will camouflage this area though.

Slanted narrow tiles

Slanted narrow tiles


I had extra mortar when I finished the tile in the bathroom so I started the tiling on the edge of the slab.This area is xps foam with an air barrier made of painted roofing tape. I used Kerdi membrane narrow banding mortared to the top of the air barrier. and I laid tile over that. I will use the epoxy grout here. The grout was specifically purchased for this border as I read that it is a good grout to use over foam.

Tile at front door

Tile at front door

When I turned the corner I did not recognize that I hadn’t laid the Kerdi there yet. So several tiles were installed without the Kerdi then I finished using up the mortar laying a strip of Kerdi again. I will be able to see if there is a difference in performance for the area that is missing the Kerdi underlayment.

Air lock entry tile at edge of slab

Air lock entry tile at edge of slab


It will be a big job to lay these tiles all around the border of the slab where it meets the foundation wall. But it was worth it to have the foam insulate the sides of the slab all the way to the top.

Posted in Air Intrusion/Thermal Envelope, Bathrooms, Tile | Comments Off on More Tile

Finding a Ceiling Fan

I saved a relatively new ceiling fan from the Arizona house. Before we sold it the real estate agent recommended that I replace the old antique brass fans with something more modern, i.e. oil rubbed bronze. But I could not find the box with the fan inside it until I went through every box in storage in our garage. I finally found the fan body although not the light cover or the blades.
I also wanted to find the copper light fixture I saved for the dining room but did not see it in any box out there. Climbing over boxes and furniture was quite a sweaty and dusty feat and I would love to bring things in and find places for everything before winter arrives. I did find the lamps and candle pieces to a wrought iron chandelier I also saved so installed that in the dining room instead.

Dining Room Chandelier

Dining Room Chandelier

Even though I didn’t have blades or the light cover for the fan, I forged ahead hanging it in the master bedroom. I went to the Restore and bought a $2 light cover that fit and I ordered fan blades from eBay although they were not wide enough. I couldn’t find the blades to the living room fan either and bought new ones that did fit that fan so I thought I could do it again. Nope.
The master bedroom has a bit of a slant to the ceiling and the fan is a ceiling hugger so it installed at an angle.

Hugger Ceiling Fan

Hugger Ceiling Fan

I was willing to accept this for the time being but also looked on craigslist for a possible cheap replacement and found this one not too far from home. The seller took $30.

 

Craigslist Ad for Fan

Craigslist Ad for Fan

I picked the fan up and installed it right away. I was not happy with the tiny halogen light bulbs that the light kit used so I cannibalized the hugger fan light kit for the medium bulb holders and screwed them into the new fan’s light fixture. Then I could use a couple of LED bulbs in the reassembled light.
The fan has an interesting shape. It reminds me of a Romanesque style with the edging.

Rustic Venetian Style

Rustic Venetian Style

It hangs from a ball fitting so the slight angle of the ceiling still allows the fan to hang straight.

Fan in Master Bedroom

Fan in Master Bedroom

I believe the fan was meant to be controlled by remote as it has no pull chains to set fan speed. Only one speed, but it is quiet and does not wobble. It is a DLG model from 2003/2004 but I can’t find any information regarding the model number, except that maybe it was a Home Depot brand.
The fan’s light is a reasonable brightness for the space, however, the smoked glass shade gives off less light than the white one I bought at the Restore.

Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan with Light

Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan with Light

I also looked for a new more energy efficient fan and found the one I really want for the room. It is a Haiku from Big Ass Fans and is lightyears beyond the efficiency of most ceiling fans. The least expensive model is about $600 though and that is a bit pricey.

Haiku L Series Fan with Light

Haiku L Series Fan with Light

I’m very tempted to order one except that I would prefer the wood look blades to the all black fan and that combination is almost $100 more expensive in the L series and even more in the H or I series. I’ll have to think about it. But it would sure be great for LEED energy efficiency.

Posted in Electrical, Master Bedroom, Reduce Reuse Recycle | Comments Off on Finding a Ceiling Fan

It’s Curtains

I have several bolts of cotton/polyester and vinyl material that I purchased at auction from Repurposed Materials. I had in mind that I would sew window quilts because the house originally had them as extra window insulation. I also wanted to have plenty of material to sew outdoor cushions and to cover the dining room chairs, etc. Believe me I have more than enough!

We are having guests next week and now that the master bedroom is set up, I am going to have them stay there. However the bedroom does not yet have a door and the room faces the street and I thought they might be self conscious to sleep without privacy.  I decided to use the material I have to make a few curtains. I started with some rough burlap like material, but I was not too fond of the flaws in the weave. It is a cool material just not for curtains. I put a piece over an outdoor chair and found it is waterproof!

I switched to a roll labeled pack cloth. From the way this material behaves I believe it has a lot of cotton in it. It is a heavy shirting type of material in a bright white and I think it made really nice weight curtains. I have a relatively new sewing machine, a Singer Quantum Stylist 9960. It is a very nice machine and has several stitches to choose from. I even experimented with some of the decorative stitches but the curtains seem too large to decorate with the small stitches. With the family room furniture in place, I was able to use the new table as a sewing table.

Sewing machine

Sewing machine

Basically I wanted something simple that I could hang from shower rods. I bought some snap together cut out rings for the window curtains.

Window Curtains

Window Curtains

I had some clip on rings that I used for the outside door curtain. I just hung this one from four small brads nailed into the trim above the window pane.

Curtain on outside door

Curtain on outside door

I bought more rings to hang a curtain at the interior door to the bedroom too. One of the hardest parts was ironing all that cotton! It required a hot steam iron and elbow grease.

Ironing cotton!

Ironing cotton!

The material is 56″ wide so one width worked fine for this doorway.

Privacy curtain closed

Privacy curtain closed

The rings allow the curtains to open and close quite easily.

Privacy curtain opened

Privacy curtain opened

I will add a curtain to the family room bathroom too. That makes it easier for guests to use.

Posted in Design Style, Master Bedroom | Comments Off on It’s Curtains

Tub Leaks!

The master bath tub had a couple of leaky places. The plumbing under the tiled step was oozing water and the drain was leaking worse.

Drain leak

Drain leak

The faucet hookup was leaking at the brass elbow couplings. These were too close together to tighten properly as the elbows touched when they were being tightened. I wanted the connections to be stable but decided to change from brass to shark bites because they rotate easily and I could connect two elbows side by side. That meant taking the whole assembly apart and removing the brass elbows and connecting pipes.
Luckily the tub supply has shut off valves installed and shark bites that make it easy to move piping out of the way. There is a fancy water balancing valve installed for this faucet. It was required by the plumbing inspector although the whole house water is tempered so that it would not be hot enough to scald anyone. The water balancing valve prevents that by tempering the water if another faucet in the house pulls hot or cold away from the faucet. The valve is impressive although it is behind the access door and not in plain sight.

Tub faucet piping cover

Tub faucet piping cover

The replacement shark bites were relatively easy to install and I used copper instead of Pex to stabilize the hot and cold “arms” that connect to the chrome stand pipes.

Chrome standing pipe connection

Chrome standing pipe connection

The chrome had been scratched badly when I got it and the scratched part is under the step now so it doesn’t show. I used drop eared Sharkbite elbows even though I didn’t end up fastening them down, they have little legs that help stabilize the connections.

Drop Ear Sharkbite Elbow

Drop Ear Sharkbite Elbow


The rest of the supply piping went back into place relatively easily and I replaced the access door cover.
Tub faucet supply piping

Tub faucet supply piping


The faucet is now installed so that it does not leak.
Reinstalled tub faucet

Reinstalled tub faucet


Notice the can of Waterlox on the mantle shelf–still need to apply that. Also I need to tackle the tub drain leak which may prove more difficult than the faucet due to accessibility.

Posted in Plumbing | Comments Off on Tub Leaks!

Tub Shelf

We are using an old barn beam as a shelf over the soaking tub. It needed to be installed while I could still stand behind the tub. I bought the beam from another very nice Craigslist seller. Amazingly the beam was exactly the right size for the space.

Beam shelf in place

Beam shelf in place

We thought the grain of the beam looked like oak but it was much too easy to drill into to be aged oak. So it may be poplar or even pine. I am not a good enough woodworker to know.
I originally thought I would drill all the way through the beam to mount it. But the 3/8″ bolts I already had were too short. So I thought I would hang it from a cleat, although routing the back for a cleat seemed difficult. Then the Internet revealed this method. The recommendation was for 1/2″ bolts or steel concrete stakes but only two were used in some cases. I decided to use what I had and sink them into every 2×4 in the wall.

Bolts in studs

Bolts in studs

The bolts were inserted a little more than half their length into the 2x4s. That put them almost all the way through the wood for good stability.

Depth of bolt in stud

Depth of bolt in stud

The protruding bolt is about 2/3rds of the width of the beam. Just what was recommended in the instructions. After the bolts were set the heads were cut off with a grinder.

Cut off bolt head

Cut off bolt head

Then I used the burred head to smooth the rough ends of the bolts.

We held the beam up to the bolts and marked them with a sharpie. But the first holes I drilled were a little too low and the beam hit the tile and that created a large gap between the beam and the wall. So I had to drill a second set and these were a little high to have the beam meet the tile underneath exactly but it won’t be very noticeable. The beam is nice and level and I’ll just caulk the gap. Luckily the Liquid Nails takes some time to set.

Liquid Nails adhesive on bolts and wall

Liquid Nails adhesive on bolts and wall

The beam is shoved onto the bolts and the holes and bolts lined up well. Some instructions say the adhesive is not even necessary. I ordered some expensive low VOC formula sealer (Waterlox-a mixture of tung oil and resins) to protect it from the moisture of the bath.

Waterlox Low VOC

Waterlox (Low VOC can is green)

The next step was to move the tub into place and hook up the drain. My son who is visiting from California helped with this task.

Tub installed with beam shelf

Tub installed with beam shelf

And before the end of the day I was able to install the tub faucet. I also did a passable job of cleaning out the poor construction dirty tub.

Tub faucet

Tub faucet

Posted in Bathrooms, Trim | Comments Off on Tub Shelf

Master Bath Tile Started

Before tackling the tile in the master bath I put the thin Schluter membrane over the foam edges of the floor. This is installed with unmodified mortar. The east side strip is narrow because we used 1.5″ polyiso over the concrete foundation to hold in more heat.

Narrow edge treatment

Narrow edge treatment

The plan for the master bath tile is to finish under and behind the tub and the faucet step. Then after putting the tub in place the toilet and sink side can be tiled. With the tub about in the middle of the room there was enough space for two rows of tile.

Two tiles wide behind tub

Two tiles wide behind tub

With only two rows of tile I would end up trying to tile and grout under the bathroom edge of the tub. That would not work very well. Instead we moved the tub as far as we could toward the sink and toilet side and added another row of tile so that the tub will sit on three rows of grouted tile and completely cover under the tub.

Three tiles wide behind tub

Three tiles wide under tub

I screwed the stand pipes for the freestanding faucet through the plywood cover of the plumbing step. The seem to fit well. I have to remember to put on the connector and the floor flange when they are installed.

Freestanding faucet on step

Freestanding faucet on step

I started tiling the wall even though the third row of floor tile wasn’t dry. I decided to glue the tile to the wall with tile adhesive as it is very sticky and does not slide down like mortar can. The adhesive recommended using up to 6 inch tiles but it is possible to use with up to 13 inch tiles if more time is given to dry before grouting. The adhesive dries slowly and the middle of larger tiles don’t get enough air to dry quickly.

Tiling the wall behind the tub

Tiling the wall behind the tub

I tried to square and level the rows of tile but didn’t get them exactly straight. Most of this wall is hidden behind the tub so I’m not going to worry about it.

There are only a few boxes of edge tiles but I decided to use them on the step to overlap the tile on the sides and create a more finished edge for the step. It was also easier to cut holes for the stand pipes in the narrower tiles as all the holes were at the edges of the tiles.

Tiled step

Tiled step

Cutting tile for the step took far longer than laying the tile on the floor and the wall. The job is a bit sloppy but after grouting it should look fine.

Back wall and step

Back wall and step

After cleaning two times with the Spectralock solution and once with a vinegar solution, the wall, floor, and step are looking pretty good.

Step mostly finished

Step nearly finished–need to complete the back side.

Now this side of the bathroom is finished and ready for the oak beam shelf to get installed. Then the tub can be moved and the drain connected.

Back wall finished

Back wall finished

Posted in Bathrooms, Tile | Comments Off on Master Bath Tile Started

Family Room Furniture

I decided that we really need the space in the garage that the family room furniture was taking. We moved the cabinets into the room so they will have to be removed when I can get to installing the perimeter tile.

Cabinets

Cabinets

We brought in the big couch. This makes a reasonable single bed for an extra guest. I used the leather seat cushions from this couch in the living room so it has the seat cushion from the old hickory couch. It all matches pretty well.

Family room couch

Family room couch

On the other side of the room we have an antique chair from my mother that I had recovered probably twenty years ago. I was curled up in this chair when it was covered in gold brocade with a  fluted back. I was snuggled under a heavy knit afghan burning with fever and waiting for the doctor’s home visit to treat me for a case of measles.  That memory of a doctor’s home visit sure shows my age!

Plus there are more black cabinets. These cabinets were in two rooms in our AZ house. It seems like this room is now dominated by them! But there is so much storage for sewing and craft work and other hobbies. Perfect for a family room.

Bathroom side

Bathroom side

Ideally I would like to have a work table and chairs in this room but I’ll have to get something and I’m not sure what will fit.

I checked on Craigslist and found this small table that should work great for games and sewing. And it is a nice match between the pine couch arms and black cabinets. It will do.

Small folding leaf table

Small folding leaf table

Posted in Design Style, Family Room | 1 Comment

Do I Need a Summer List?

I just realized I have not made a summer list. I’ve been thinking in terms of cleaning up from the drywall and setting up for guests later this summer instead of progress on the house.
But as summer rolls around, well has been here for a few weeks, I think I need a list of imminent projects to make headway on the completion of the house.
Turns out many things depend on others to be completed.

1. Move more furniture back into the house to clear up working space in the garage.
Before the drywall the furniture in the family room was sitting on the foam area that needs to be prepped for tile. Should I move it back and then have to move it to do the tiling or should I do the tiling first?
2. Set up master bath.
This requires finishing the wall paint job, I did clean the medicine cabinet but I might need to just remove it and reset it.
3. Paint master bath brick wall.
4. Remove and reset medicine cabinet in master bath.
5. Lay tile in master bath.
6. Hook up tub drain and faucet.
7. Find ceiling fan and install in master bedroom.
8. Install header over window in master bedroom. Seal with polyiso and siga membrane.
9. Bring the doors and trim wood into the garage for storage.
10. Install more light fixtures.
11. Finish family room outlets.
12. Arrange furniture in family room.
13. Install family room bathroom sink and new faucet.
14. Install safety bar by guest toilet for Mom.
15. Put rug in second bedroom and place futon against wall with pillows.
16. Reinstall trombe wall glass and solar panel.
17. Hook up mini split air conditioner

That is enough because we are also going to take a couple of small RV trips and have visitors in late July and August so time (and lists) keep on slipping into the future.

Posted in Planning | Comments Off on Do I Need a Summer List?

Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Epoxy Grout

Spectralock Contents

Spectralock Contents

Epoxy grout has several advantages over cement grout. It is stain proof, the colors are consistent, the grout is crack resistant, and it is easier to clean than cement grout. Its disadvantages are that it is expensive and gives limited time to work before it sets up especially in warm weather.

My brother used epoxy grout in his shower and he thought it was great stuff. I needed grout that was resistant to cracking especially for the tile on the perimeter of the slab where it is over foam insulation.

I purchased 500 square ft of brown porcelain tile through a craigslist ad and I figured that the commercial size of Spectralock grout would be adequate if I used it all. These boxes contain four full sets of part A and B and four containers of the fine colored sand used in the grout mix.

Because the epoxy grout sets up so quickly, a beginner definitely needs to mix only a small amount at one time. The Laticrete site has a spreadsheet calculator for various sized tiles and grout lines. I downloaded it and a full unit of Spectralock Pro would cover about 176 square ft of 1/8″ grout lines for 13″ x 13″ tile. A mini unit of grout covers about 44 square ft. which is perfect for the bathroom.

I found a website that explained how to split a full unit into four mini units. So that is what I did. It was important to weigh the material to ensure an exact amount of each part. I used our kitchen scale.

Spectralock Part A

Spectralock Part A

The epoxy parts are not easy to work with as they are sticky and don’t ooze out of the packets that easily, especially part B.

Spectralock Part B

Spectralock Part B

The grout is sanded but the sand used is very fine. It is combined with the color in an exact mix so that from batch to batch the color is consistent.

Spectralock Part C

Spectralock Part C

After dividing the full unit into three smaller parts to keep and one to use which I left in the original packages, I was able to mix Part A and Part B from what was left and then add Part C, the sandy part. The website that I read said to mix well only about 75% of the dry sand and then add the remainder to get the final consistency.

Mixed Epoxy Grout

Mixed Epoxy Grout

The mix seemed on the dry side so I didn’t use all the Part C. But I used most of it. The texture is supposed to be like peanut butter but mine was a little stiffer. The instructions say to dump it all out on the tile but I thought that would be difficult to move around, also it is supposed to be applied with the rubber grout float but I found I could squish it into the grout gaps easier with a trowel and then cleaned the excess off with the rubber float.

After the grout lines are filled, it is a 15 minute wait to wipe off the excess. Another way to measure is from the time the process started, so the first wash should be within an hour of mixing the grout. The wait time is longer if it is colder, but these days are warm at 85-90 degrees so I waited about 10 minutes and started the first wash. I used the included cleaner for the first wash but instead of using a sponge, I used a blue microfiber pad. It was easier to rinse out often and I could feel the excess grout through the pad when I could not feel it through the sponge.

First Wash

First Wash

During this wash the grout is still malleable and if there is a gap in the lines extra grout scraped from the tile or from the original mix can be pressed into the empty spaces. I just did this with my fingers and then wiped the grout line to make it look even.

This is the grout that was left over after I finished the tile. I just discarded it. The instructions say to count on at least 10% waste and that looked about what I had left over.

Left over epoxy grout

Left over epoxy grout

I cleaned the floor the second time with just vinegar and water and a white 3M pad which scraped off the grout that stuck to the tile followed by wiping with the microfiber pad. I had to rinse the pad often and I felt it start to get gummy before I was finished. When a sponge gets gummy they say to throw it away and use a clean one, but I was able to soak the pad in a bucket of vinegar and warm water and the gumminess rinsed away.
I used the sponge on the final vinegar and warm water rinse instead of the pad and the water stayed very clean, one of the ways I could tell it was finished. The floor looked great without any epoxy haze left on the tile.

After third rinse

After third rinse


With the toilet installed again. Finally a two toilet home again.
Guest bath toilet

Guest bath toilet

Posted in Bathrooms, Tile | Comments Off on Laticrete Spectralock Pro Premium Epoxy Grout

Floor Tile in the Family Room Bathroom

I ordered the Schluter Ditra underlayment through ebay and it seemed to take a long time to arrive. But it finally did and I cut it to fit the guest bathroom and mortared it down. The Ditra might be super expensive but the unmodified mortar that it requires is the cheapest that can be bought, it was only about $7 for 50 lbs. The type of mortar is called thinset but the actual way to tell if it is the right type is if it meets the ANSI standard 118.1. I read this on the Schluter website and in the Ditra installation handbook and the description of the mortar at Home Depot includes the standard. Modified thinset is standard 118.3 or 118.4.
The Ditra is made from a stiff thin plastic grid that is backed by what they call fleece but reminds me of interfacing material.

Ditra on bathroom floor

Ditra on bathroom floor

It cut easily with a box knife. I would have used scissors if I could find them quickly but the box knife was closer to hand. The mortar is mixed by adding the dry powder to water. I used a 5 gallon bucket that I had to clean dried paint from first. After filling the bucket about a third, I added mortar until the mixture was fluid but held a notch. Fortunately I have all the tools for this job. I tiled quite a bit in Arizona and have a 1/2 inch electric drill that can easily mix concrete with a spiral metal mixer attachment and the 1/4 inch v notch trowel for laying the Ditra and a 3/8″ square notch trowel for laying the tile. So these were tools I didn’t have to purchase again.

I let the mortar sit 10 minutes and then spread a generous amount on the bathroom floor and pressed the Ditra into it with a small steel roller that I also already have on hand.

Ditra with mortar bucket

Ditra with mortar bucket

I had enough mortar left over to begin laying the full tiles on the diagonal pattern. I both spread the mortar on the Ditra and back buttered each tile as recommended in the Ditra installation instructions.

Laying tiles

Laying tiles

The next day I cut the rest of the tiles to fit and laid them out. It took all my work time to just cut the tiles, so it took another day to get them laid. The mortar mix was a bit less stiff this time. I like it a bit stiffer but this worked. It is supposed to be wet but firm enough to take a notch and this was.

Soft mortar mix

Soft mortar mix

Then it took about two hours to lay the odd shaped tiles in place. It took a little longer because where I was sloppy at the edge of the tile with mortar, I had to chip it out to lay the tiles next to the ones that were already installed. I chipped it with the box knife and vacuumed the edges before applying more mortar. Otherwise the mortar kept the new tile from laying flat against the mortared tile. I was more careful not to leave mortar at the edges for the rest of the install. I ran out of mortar towards the end and had to mix a little more.

Bathroom floor tile

Bathroom floor tile

Since I completely used one bag of mortar and needed more to do the job, I decided to wait to lay the door trim pieces. I have epoxy grout for the tile so I will have to learn to mix that accurately and apply it before we can reinstall the toilet.

Unfinished tile near shower and door

Unfinished tile near shower and door

I may need to ramp the tile a bit at the door and at the shower to minimize the change in levels. I left out the tiles nearest to the shower and I didn’t mortar the Ditra at the shower edge so I can place a waterproofing layer at the transition. I will have to figure out the shower tile later.

Posted in Bathrooms, Tile, Tools | Comments Off on Floor Tile in the Family Room Bathroom