Sunday, November 21, 2010

I have a pumper truck

I have been having people ask, when are you going to post? Why haven't you posted in three weeks? Well folks, I have been a little busy. Work has been rather hectic, and have had some late evenings working on the house. Some things have gone quite well though, so I guess I should be thankful, and fill you in.

Ok, for the summary, at this point:

1) pipes have been fixed
2) well pump is in
3) spray foam has been applied to the underside of the roof deck to seal it up
4) pieces of the siding have been cut for the garage side

Now, for the details.

Adam had told me that he was going to be out of town, and I thought he meant for about a week. However, I got a call from him on the Wednesday after I found I had broken pipes. He had run a marathon delivery job, going from here, to Texas, to Florida and back home, in about 4 days. He said he was tired. I couldn't blame him. I filled him in on what I knew, and he told me to check to see if we could get the excavator for the following weekend. So I called up the rental place and reserved the excavator for the weekend, and let dad know that I expected we would be spending the weekend fixing the pipes. I also ordered a truckload of gravel. This time we were going to put gravel in around the pipes, before we backfilled.

Adam picked up the excavator on Friday afternoon, and we met him early on Saturday. He had already done some digging where he thought we needed to be. We took a tape measure and checked. We needed to work over a bit more to the east. We also checked some of the photos I had taken when we had originally put the pipes together. We dug down next to the pipe in the well trench, and found where it had broken. Then we worked next to the house. That was much more challenging. We had to go down around 9 feet to get to where the pipes were coming out of the house, and we had a mixture of stuff that was all dry and just collapsed as it was dug, and wet stuff that wanted to stick together and was awful to dig. Well, we got the problems uncovered. In both of the breaks next to the house, it was at a coupler. Adam recommended repairing them with a rubber coupler, since that would have some give and not just break. I looked at what we had done with the communications pipe originally, with its curves it was going to be a pain to push wire through. I thought, while we have the excavator there anyway, lets dig a new trench, and just lay a whole new conduit. Adam agreed that that made a lot of sense. So he dug a new trench for that. While he had the excavator, he also dug more dirt up for backfilling the house.

New trench for the communications lines doesn't bend as much.

Mom, dad and I went and got lunch, and fittings to do the repairs. We got back, and spent the rest of the afternoon, getting the fittings put in place. It took quite a bit of battling with the fittings to get them on the pipes, but they should have good tight seals, especially after we tightened the clamps on them.

New fittings in place for the solar thermal pipes.

We went out early on Sunday, and worked on putting the new conduit sections together for the communications line. We got it mostly done before Adam showed up. Adam worked with the excavator, and the Bobcat to put gravel down around the repairs and to backfill. Later, he used the excavator to dig up some more dirt. He said, after things settle this winter then he will need to add more backfill, and so he got a pretty good pile loosened up, so he can work with just his Bobcat in the spring for backfilling.

Meanwhile, dad drove Adam's Bobcat a little, and got some gravel spread around where the generator will sit.

Ready to set a generator.

Adam had recommended that I not bother cutting the pipes for the future solar thermal, until after we finish the grading. That way they wouldn't end up too short. Right now though, they look like a couple of gun barrels sticking out of the ground.

I have the Bobcat in my sites!

Well, that took out that weekend as far as making progress. I decided that I needed to get the well in and get with the spray foam guys to find out when they could take care of my job.

Dad decided to take Friday off, and I thought I would to. I actually got a call from the well driller, and he was wondering if I had gotten the pipes fixed. I told him I had, and that I was interested in trying to get the pump in. He said that he was open on Friday. I told him that would work fine. Then I found out it wasn't going to work for me, but dad said he could be out there to work with the well driller to get it taken care of. OK, so that is set up. We will do the well on Friday, and spend the rest of the weekend working on the siding. Dad said he could also take Monday. So I scheduled to take Monday. We had things sheduled that meant we wouldn't have all of Saturday or Sunday to work, but I figured that would give us enough time to finish getting the place cleaned up, and that we might get the siding done on the garage side.

Then the guys from the spray foam company called. The were wondering when I might be ready. I told them that I had planned on having the place cleaned up that next weekend. They said they had a slot open on Monday. I told them that we would be ready. Then I told dad, plans changed. Now after the well pump was in, cleanup was going to be the top priority.

When I got out there on Friday afternoon, dad had a few things to show me. He had worked on countersinking the screws in the Trex furring strips on the garage side. We had done that side, before I thought of the fact that the screw heads sticking out of the Trex boards would cause problems in attaching the Hardie panels. He had also used his nail gun, and attached the pieces of foam insulation I had cut for the garage wall that week.

Now the foam boards are floor to roof.

He had gotten that all done after the well driller left. Dad showed me how the driller had connected the lines coming out of the conduit, into the side of the well casing. There were pieces of the casing, wire, and well line taped onto the well. He had left those, in case the county officials wanted to check what had been done and used. It was already almost dark when I got out there, so we didn't do much other than plan out Saturday before we left and got some dinner. The well driller had suggested burying the connection to the well, in sand, before we put gravel or backfill in. So we picked up some bags of sand to take out, and a couple other things we would need.

Saturday morning we got out there and the first thing we did was test the pump. This well pump is designed to run on 24 volts DC, not 120 or 240 volt AC. However, it will also run on 12 volts DC. That meant, I could just hook it up to my truck battery to see if it would run. I took out a meter to watch how much power it was drawing from the battery. I wanted to make sure it looked to be operating properly. I hooked it up. We watched the power usage climb as it pumped the water up the well and had do work harder to pump it higher and higher. I couldn't hear any thing from the end of the well line, but I could feel cool air coming out of it. When I put my thumb over the end, and then let go, there was a gentle whoosh as built up air pressure was released. I knew it was pumping. We kept waiting. Then...

I have water!
I have a pumper truck!

We sealed up the end of the conduit with spray foam and plastic, before we poured sand in the pit next to the well.

Ready to load sand in the hole.

Sunday, we had prior commitments, so it was almost dark before we were able to get out to the house. We had picked up some subs to have for dinner. Dad and I started to work on finishing up the cleanup and mom sat in the car and read her book. After a while, we decided it was time to eat. It had gotten pretty cold outside, but was just chilly inside. We lit up a portable heater dad had gotten to warm his garage in the winter when he is working out there, and used the box from the generator as a table. It was chilly, but much warmer than the car.

The first dinner eaten at the Hobbit Hole.

After dinner, we continued the cleanup for a while, but as it got late, we decided we were going to have to finish in the morning.

We got out there early on Monday. There were a few things left to do. We still had tools that needed to be moved into the garage, where they were not going to be spraying. We need to finish stuffing material in the joist spaces on top of the garage walls, so they wouldn't have foam spraying into the garage. We also needed to cover over the ends of some of the pipes, so they didn't get foam in them. Dad and I scrambled to finish, but then the foam guys drove up. I had expected a call, but there was no warning. Well, we weren't done, they would just have to wait a bit.

They didn't have to wait long, and they were able to get started. I found out that the job would have to be done on more than one day, since the fire paint couldn't be applied until at least 24 hours after the foam. They started to spray the foam, and dad and I worked on cutting more of the siding pieces for the garage side.

 They spray...

We cut.

We ran into two problems. First with the foam. When they bid the job, a guy came out, looked over the situation, and gave me a price. Well, that was for a certain thickness. The installers talked to me. They said that with that thickness, they were not going to be able to seal the roof, because they were not going to be able to seal around where the joists ran across a valley in the steel decking. Dad and I had suspected there might be a problem with that when we watched them start. The installers wanted to do the job right. So they said it would take more time, but they could apply it thicker so that it would be sealed. I told them to go ahead. I figured that since they had mis-estimated what it would take, that was their issue, not mine. I gave them a duplicate house key, so they could get in on Tuesday.

The second problem, was that as we were cutting one of the Hardie panels, dad's saw stopped. It would no longer run. It had given me troubles a couple other times, but this time it did not seem that it was going to work again. Well, the thing is around 40 years old. I went and got about the least expensive one I could buy. If it survives the house construction, that will be good enough.

Tuesday, we had rain all day, so I didn't go out. Wednesday, I ran out to see how things had turned out with the foam. The foam was done, and looked pretty good.

Foam is all in place, they got it well covered.

I didn't find my house key where I was expecting it though. I called the company to find out about when the spray painting guys would be going out. They said that the spray guys had already finished. They said the paint was light gray. Hmmm, I went back out, and looked. I noticed that some of the bar joists and studs now had paint sprayed on them. The foam was also a lighter color than I had remembered from Monday. OK, but where is my key. I talked to the company again and they checked with the crew. They told me where they left it. When I went out again, I found it. I went and payed them the rest of the original amount. They marked it paid. So looks like I got a bit more foam than they originally priced it for.

Now I need to find some drywall installers. Some of my walls need to be drywalled before I do my plumbing and electrical work.

Well, have a happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Having a bad day...

Well things were going well. We went out last Saturday, and worked all day, and got the overhang ready for the soffit material. We got the foam in place, and all the Trex boards were attached where they needed to go. Exhaust pipes are in place. We have wires run through the insulation over the wall to provide power to the front door lights, and the outside outlet.

This evening we were going to start putting on siding on the front. I got a call from the well driller as I headed out to meet my folks. He was wondering if I was ready for him to install the well pump. I told him that I was. He said he would need to know how far it was from the house to the well. I told him I would run a tape measure through the conduit so I could get him an accurate number and would let him know tomorrow what it was. Well dad and I started to fish the tape down the conduit from the well toward the house. It didn't go very far, before it seemed to get stuck. I figured it was just getting hung up trying to get past one of the joints. We went inside, and dad had the idea to take some wire I had bought and try to push that through, since it would be stiffer, then we could use it to fish the tape, or a string or whatever through the conduit. Ok, so we started pushing that in from outside. It seemed to get stopped a short distance in.

Ok, lets try pushing from inside. We had to move a couple things out of the way, and I got down, and started pushing the wire through, as dad fed it to me. It went quite a ways then it seemed to get stuck. Uh, oh, I was getting a bad feeling. I asked dad to go outside and see if the wire had gone all the way through. I told him if he didn't see the wire sticking out, he should try calling down through the pipe to see if it was still open. While he was head out, I noticed the pipe for the future solar hot water had a little mud sitting in the bottom. Dad had been gone long enough that he should have called to me by that point. I looked at the pipe for the communications conduit. It had a lot of mud in the bottom of it. This was not looking good. Dad came back in, and asked if I had heard him. At that point, I knew the well line was blocked. Most likely it had broken, and mud had seeped in and filled it up.

We got a flashlight, and looked into the pipes. I couldn't see a problem in the well line, but I knew it was well blocked. I could see water sitting in the fitting for the solar thermal and there was mud on the floor below it, so I knew it was broken somewhere. I not only had mud all along the bottom of the communications pipe but I could see where the pipe transitioned to the grey conduit, it was shifted out of place.

So my pipes have breaks in multiple places. We will have to go in, dig them up, replace the pipe, and bury them again. I have some ideas on ways to reduce the chance of another break, but this is going to be time consuming to fix and cost more money to redo things that I thought were done.

I was still going to pick up the well pump, so I could at least talk to the well driller about the sort of connection that would be needed. I stopped at my storage unit, and went to unlock it, and found that the key was missing from my key ring!

Mondays suck!!