Thursday, October 18, 2001

Trim trees

 The trees are growing.  We contracted with Arbortech to "Raise canopy on all trees" and clear them back from the house and the roof.  $450.

Saturday, July 28, 2001

A Ceiling Fan for the Dining Room

In it's original design, the room next to the kitchen is the dining room. As such we had a large dining room table, and over it a chandelier. But the table went away with the divorce, and the room is being used more as a TV room, with couches and all the electronics for the TV -- VCR, DVD, cable box, and so on.

With this new use, we really need a ceiling fan to be comfortable in the summer. So I took down the old chandelier and we bought a new ceiling fan. $746.96 from Texas Ceiling Fans for a new Hunter BN Original, with Walnut blades and a 4-arm BN light kit.

I reinforced the light fixture from the attic, and installed the new ceiling fan.

Sunday, April 22, 2001

Roof Ridge Vent

A major problem here in Texas is the heat in the summer. The sun beams down onto the roof of the house, heats up the attic, and that attic heat is passed down into the house. Insulation helps to reduce the transfer from the attic to the house, but lowering the temperature in the attic will also help. 

We have vents in all the gables, but that only allows a small amount of heat to escape the attic. From what I read, the best scheme is to have soffit vents in the bottom of the roof, around the first floor of the house. This lets cooler air into the attic from the outside. This cooler air, as it heats up, will rise and then exit the roof thru a ridge vent that is put along the peaked ridge at the very top of the roof. 

We contracted with Roofcrafters to install both the ridge vent (to let the hot air out), and the soffit vents (to let cooler air in). This costs $1200. Installing the ridge vent means taking off the roof shingles at the very top of the roof (along the ridge) and then using a circular power saw to cut the roof decking to provide an opening about 3 to 5 inches down from the peak of the roof, all along the ridge. Then a plastic ridge vent is put over this opening, and roof shingles reinstalled on top of the ridge vent. This prevents water from leaking thru the roof, but allows air out. 

Then down at the soffits, a similar opening is cut all around the house, and a grill put over it -- to keep out bugs and such critters. Effectively this is just a screen, letting air into the attic.

 Update: 23 June 2001.  Now that we have a roof ridge vent, we don't need the turbine vent that was originally put into the roof.  We had one of the wind driven ones, and then replaced that with a thermostatically controlled powered vent.  We paid Drury Roofing $400 to remove the turbine, plug the hole and then roof over the top of it.


Tuesday, February 20, 2001

A raised garden

Linda wants to plant a garden -- tomatoes and squash and lettuce and such. We really have no soil that is good enough for that. So we will put in a raised bed, using used railroad ties for the sides. A railroad tie is roughly 8 inches by 8 inches by 8 feet long, so if we put 2 ties end-to-end, we can create a bed that is 16 feet by 10 feet external measure, and 14 feet by 8 feet internally. Stacking them two high gives 16 inches of depth, enough for most crops.

Before putting this together, we mark out the space on the ground and dig down. Although at the moment we are expecting only a vegetable garden, it seems to me to be prudent to dig as far down as we can and get the rocks out of the ground under the garden. We rent a jack hammer to break the rocks into manageable size pieces.

Then we put the railroad ties in place to form the garden form and fill it in with some real good compost dirt (Growers Mix) from Austin Landscape Supplies. The total cost comes to $427.59. Later we need more even more dirt for the garden, another $271.71. We used 16 cubic yards of growers mix plus 12 #1 railroad ties.

Friday, February 16, 2001

Replace the Oven

The oven in the kitchen stopped working, so I replaced it.

Linda picked out a 27 inch GE model (JKP15BABB) that is the same size as the previous one, so I can just pull the previous one out and put the new one in.

Unfortunately, the mechanical controls that the old one used are no longer available; now we have electronic controls. The installation instructions say that the circuit boards can overheat if there is not enough outside air flow, so I had to cut an opening under the oven into the drawer below the oven. $660.27 from Bettis Appliances.

Update:  June, 2019.  The top (broil) heating element burned out.  Spectacularly.  We were trying to cook some salmon, and suddenly there was a burst of light, sparks and flames.  The element burned for some time, and eventually a section about an inch long fell off.  Turn the power off (at the circuit breaker).  Let it all cool overnight.  Then remove two screws, unplug the broil element, go get a replacement piece -- WB44K5009 Broil Element $61.11, plug it in, put the two screws back that hold it in place, turn the power back on, and everything (seems) to work again.