Sunday, February 28, 2016

Toilets and 2000 Flushes

2000 Flushes is one of those "drop in the tank" tablets that turns the water in the toilet blue, and is supposed to make it easier to keep the toilet bowl clean.  But, for us, it doesn't.

There were initial problems where it turned the water red, brown, purple, but these went away after a couple of days.  The company said that the color balance "can shift as the product settles in the toilet".

But the real issue is after things have "settled".  The product does nothing.  The reason is an interesting mixture of the product and the toilet design.  The following is after using the product for about 2 weeks, and not seeming to get anything from it.

This toilet is an American-Standard Champion 4 model, designed to be low-flow and water saving and all that, so it doesn't have the standard "flapper" design to the water closet part of the toilet -- the tank above and behind the toilet seat.  We put this one in in 2013.

If we look in the tank, we can see the tablet has crumbled, and is tinting the water blue.  The longer it sits there, the blue-er the water.  But it's always at the very bottom of the tank -- the blue tint is heavier than water.

The problem is that the flushing mechanism only drains the top 3/4 of the tank, meaning that the bottom part of the tank, where the blue tint is, is left undisturbed by flushing.

The result is that the toilet bowl itself then has none of the blue tint, but is almost completely clear water.

Now this may, or may not, be true of other blue-tinting toilet products, but certainly seems to be the case with 2000 Flushes.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Excavating the West Lawn Bottom Zone, Part 4

Excavating the West Lawn is just more digging.

Which exposes more of this big rock.  The dirt is mixed with leaves and put back further in the Bottom Zone.

More digging.

A day with the jackhammer reduces these two rocks to

and then a day getting the rocks out of the pit gives

Another day of cleaning up the debris, and moving the dirt that was under the rock out of the way.

Extending the River of Rocks

Once the ground level has been settled, and the Retaining Wall mostly done, we can outline the River of Rocks.  Then we can bring the rest of the rocks over and fill it out.

Then we need to settle the rocks down, so that they are level.

And Linda and Lauren believe that the River of Rocks looks better if it flows on both sides of the group of small oak trees.

and we can then settle these.

We borrowed the Pick-up to get 3 cubic yards of dirt (Professional Mix from Whittlesey Brothers) and poured the dirt over the River of Rocks.

We worked it down into the spaces between the rocks, leveled it off and swept the rocks to finish up the placing of the rocks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Nest Smoke and CO Detectors

The fan for the Heating and A/C system died and had to be replaced ($1032).  That should keep the system going for awhile, but it is about 12 years old, so we should be prepared to replace it.

The Lennox system we have has had a number of problems, so I'm inclined to switch brands.  Consumer Reports suggests that Trane is a reliable brand.  I contacted 3 local Trane dealers and got estimates for replacing our current system with a new one.

One comment by at least two of the three people who came out was that we would need to upgrade to meet current City code.  And current City code requires both smoke detectors and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors for the bedroom areas.  We have smoke detectors, but no CO detectors.  So we will need to upgrade.

We could get just standard smoke/CO detectors for around $60, but the top of the line would probably be the Nest units at $100.  We have one Nest that we got with hotel frequent flyer points, and it seems to be working well, so we will go ahead and get two more.  This will replace the previous units, installed in July 2012, replacing the ones put in when the house was built (1986).

The two units near the bedrooms are wired, so we bought two Nest Protects for wired installation.  Circuit 25 for one and Circuit 35 for the other.  Turn the circuit off, take out the old detector, wire in the new connector, install the base for the new units, plug them in, and switch the circuit back on. 

One outside the master bedroom.

And one in the hallway outside the computer room and other bedrooms.

The Nest units themselves are a bit more complex to make work since they connect with WiFi and an app that runs on an iPad or iPhone.  Since our WiFi is limited to devices whose MAC address is on our MAC address list, but it seems we have them working.  They show up as working correctly on the web site when I log-in.