Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting my ducts in a row, and some more snow

Last Thursday and Friday I took off to work on the house. I worked on a revised plan for the kitchen cabinets, bought my propane generator, and worked on the exhaust ducts.

Previously, we had run PVC pipes out into the overhang to allow venting the range, the bathroom fans, the radon vent, and the exhaust for the house ventilation system. I decided to start connecting them up to actual duct work. I started by looking at what it was going to take to run the radon vent out. For venting any radon from under the floor, a piece of drain tile was put down in the gravel under the insulation and the concrete. It comes out of the floor inside of a wall.

Here is the pipe coming out of the floor. Right next to the one stud.

Now looking straight up, I see where it would go. Right into a joist :-(

Ok, well that pipe will have to go over a little before it goes up there. The connector that I got, doesn't glue onto the drain tile, and I can tilt it over. I am going to use some of the scrap 3 inch conduit we cut, for the vertical part. Then I am going to switch to 2 inch pvc pipe. The 2 inch will be easier to work into the joist spaces, and this vent won't carry any real volume. It just gives gases a place to go, rather than into the house.

I had been looking over my kitchen cabinet plans, and decided to make some changes. I worked with a gentleman at Lowe's to redo the layout that I had previously worked out with them. I think the new arrangement will work fine, and will be a little simpler and less expensive.

While I was at Lowe's, I also checked into the generator that I wanted to get. They told me that they couldn't get quite the configuration the I had seen elsewhere for a couple hundred less, but they thought they could work the price down a bit. I like the fact that these guys know about the challenges of delivering to my place, and will deliver it right where it needs to be. The other place was going to have some unknowns. I told them I would think about the generator.

I picked up materials for my duct work and headed home for the day. Then Friday I headed out to see what I could install, and what other materials I would need.

I laid out the parts for the Radon vent, to make sure I had everything I thought I would need. It looks like I have all the materials. I have a couple things to do before I can assemble it. I have to cut the foam from the around the pvc pipe, since it was out of position when the sprayed the foam. Once I cut around the pipe, then I can rotate it, and run some caulk around it to seal it back up. I will have to cut the pieces of 2 inch pvc to shorter lengths, so I can fit them up into the joist work. I hate to have to cut material, just to join it back together, but I checked, and the 5 foot pieces will be almost impossible to get into position. But if I cut them to shorter lengths, I can slide them in place easily. It will take far less time to cut and glue the pieces, than to try to juggle the puzzle necessary to get them in position whole.

After looking that over, I worked on getting the flexible vent material laid out for the master bathroom ventilation fan. I am using flexible aluminum venting. It looks like it should work fine for this job, and it is easy to work through the joists. I want to put some material around it where it is sitting on the joists, to make sure the edges of the joist materials don't damage the ducting. Here is what the duct run looks like.

We had snow on the ground, and I decided to take a picture of the garage side with the snow.

I couldn't wait for us to be able to get siding covering that. However, when I looked at the weather forecast, it was not looking very promising for working on the house this weekend. So I took down some tools that I thought we might need for doing things like working on the vent house.

Friday afternoon I headed to my folks place for the weekend. That evening, dad and I worked on finishing up putting the outside Christmas lights on the bushes. Mom and dad felt that we could get some good work in at my house on Saturday, before the weather turned bad. They were predicting it would be 5-6 in the evening before things got messy. So we got up early on Saturday, with the intention of seeing how much of the siding we could get on the garage side.

We had previously cut all the pieces except the last one. I had put primer on the edges we cut, to seal them up and keep moisture from getting into the board material once it was installed. They were all ready to go on the wall. We started hanging the boards, and I wanted to get pictures as we went. Then I realized I had left my camera at mom and dad's house. Oh well, mom was always carrying a camera in her purse. What, she decided to leave it at home? OK, guess we won't have pictures of the work as we go.

We started on the right side, over beside the hobby room window. We put the first board in place, and used a scrap of lumber standing on the gravel to support it, while we attached it. We started out just standing on the ground, but soon we had to stand on the step ladder. I don't like standing on that thing when it is on gravel that can shift under the legs. We got that piece up though. Then we looked at the next one. We thought about bringing out the scaffold to provide a platform to work from. However, the scaffold can shift around on the gravel too. Also we would have to partially disassemble it to get it from where it currently was to outside. I decided to make use of the mobile scaffold we had brought up with us that morning. I got in the truck and dad stood by the house to direct me. I backed it up so that the tailgate and bed of the truck, were in the right position for us to work from. This makes a very stable platform to work from. However as we got up to the higher locations, it was not quite high enough. So there were times when we had one foot on the top of the side of the truck, and the other out on the unstable ladder. For working on the fasteners that were more centered on the truck bed, dad came up with a better idea. Use the step stool in the truck bed, to get enough height! Osha would have been proud. Actually, I think it was safer than that step ladder.

We got all the pieces put up that we had cut. Then we worked on measuring and cutting the last piece. We were going to cut it, and then prime the edges, and while they were drying, we would work on putting the drip edge on. It took us a little while to get the piece cut. The we took it inside, and about that time, I remembered. The primer was sitting back at my apartment, since I hadn't thought we would be working out at my house this weekend. Oh well, we couldn't hang that board, but we could get the drip edge on. It was now overcast, and I was wondering how long the rain would hold off.

We had quite a time getting the bags of dirt moved away from the edge so we could put up the drip edge. All of them were frozen solid into probably 50 pound mud bricks. A number of them were also frozen to the drainage material. We got out a shovel, and using it as a lever we were able to dislodge the remaining bags. Then we positioned the first part of the drip edge. Then we scratched our heads. We needed to drive screws in through the front of the drip edge and into the furring strips. But if we worked from on top, it was going to be very awkward. Remember the "ladder" from the spring time? The one in this picture.

Marcus loved the ladder that is in front of the garage.

Well, while I sat up on top providing guidance, and assistance, dad stood on the the "ladder" and ran the screws in. We got the pieces attached and put the dirt bags back in place. Then we packed up and headed out as it was just starting to sprinkle. It had been a very productive day. Now I need to get the last board for that side primed, so when we are able, we can slide it up under the drip edge, and fasten it in place.

We had quite a bit of rain last evening. Then overnight, the snow started. There wasn't too much this morning, but this afternoon it picked up. I wanted to check on a couple things at my house, and get some pictures. So I headed out this afternoon. Here is what it looked like.

Heading up the driveway

 The house from the driveway

Looking back down the driveway

Things were getting very well covered

The garage siding, almost done

Now I will have to see how the weather and work goes this week, to see how much I am able to get done out there.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Air, snow and solar

December feels like it is going to run by like a frightened deer! Thanksgiving was good. I ate too much, slept in, and enjoyed spending time in front of the fire at my parents place. My dad and I also continued to work on items for the house.

We worked on constructing the parts of the vent house. We got all the sides fabricated. The east and west side have a slope at the top for the roof to sit on. The south side will be solid. The north side will have the air intake.

West side with vent grill sitting in front of it.

North side, with the hole cut for where the air intake will go.

Later in the weekend, we went out and did a little patching. The ground has been settling around the house. On the north side, it was pulling the drainage material down the wall, and exposing the waterproofing. I wanted to keep the waterproofing covered. So we put in a scrap piece of the drainage material. The ground will probably settle more over the winter, so we will have to make some adjustments to keep things properly covered.

 Ground is settling.

Out where Adam had dug out dirt for backfill, it was becoming a pond.

We have been having quite a bit of rain, and trying to not track in great gobs of mud on my shoes, has become a challenge. I decided that since I was going to want a path around to the front from the driveway anyway, I may as well start putting down materials which would also help keep the mud off the feet. I put down weed fabric. This will get covered with stone in the future, but for now, it helps reduce the mud on the shoes at least.

A path begins.

This weekend we had a small snow storm move through. It was enough to cover things fairly well. Today though it got above freezing and started to melt and make things even messier. At least I got some pictures before that.

 Looking toward the solar array piers.

The view from the front yard.

The roof had a pretty good cover.

This afternoon, I started installing the aluminum for the solar array. I attached the base pieces on to the piers. Dad and I were going to install them last weekend, but found that the piers had move enough that the holes were not going to line up. So yesterday, we did some drilling and made the back hole, into a slot on each piece. I was able to install the base pieces today. However I did find that some of them are no longer level. I am not sure if we will have problems from that yet.

Aluminum bases bolted down.

I also am getting quotes on the drywall work for inside. The first contractor sounds like he has good experience for working with my house. I will have to see how expensive this is going to be though. Another contractor I was going to meet today, was having trouble with vehicles. Including the one he borrowed to come up to my place this afternoon. So, I will have to try to meet with him early this week. I am hoping that I might have the drywall hung on the outside walls, and in the garage before Christmas so I can start work on my electrical.