Monday, January 27, 2020

New Rugs for the Garage

Linda complained that the rugs we had in the garage smelled "musty" after they were flooded by the washing machine.

Luckily just after we got the washing machine replaced, the City of Austin had one of their twice-a-year "bulk pickup" days, where people put out large objects (too large to fit in the normal trash bins) and the City picks them up.  In our neighborhood that can mean a wide variety of things, but many of them are often in relatively good shape.  In particular, people throw out room size rugs, because they are dirty?  Or stained?  Or just not the style they want now?

So I checked around and found two new rugs to replace our old ones.  Unlike the older ones, they are not the same size.  The smaller one is 8x10.

and the larger one is 8x12.

but the fit nicely in the garage.

The larger rug has a label on the back saying it is polypropylene, made by Orian Rugs (only 94 inches wide, not quite 8 feet). Torello Ivory.

Update May 2022:  Another bulk pick-up day for the City.  One of the neighbors put out a nice looking rug, so I used it to replace the one on Linda's side. 

This new rug is 8x10.  A tag on the back says "Talya Ivory Blue Area Rug" from the Home Decorators Collection, Home Depot.  Model 54067.  Made in Turkey of polypropylene and polyester. $201.74


And we have previously replaced the rug on my side.


This is called Paradise or maybe Capri.  Design CPR1003.  It appears to be from Walmart.  Made by Tayse. $169.64.  Again, made in Turkey.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Minor fixes to the Front Yard Retaining Wall

When the Front Yard Retaining Wall was built, I first put all the stones in place, to make sure that I had enough stone, and that my levels were right -- to be able to see what it would like, roughly, before it was fixed in place.  It was just meant as a proof of concept, but the masons took it as literal and tried to use the same stones in the same place, taking it apart and putting everything back where it had been.

Unfortunately, I didn't pay that much attention (well, no attention) to exactly how it looked.  And the result, after it was all in place, was that three of the stones on the top had a backside which was less than perfect.

This would not be a problem except on the top course of stone, where the top edge of the back side of the rocks shows.

It seemed to me that the easiest way to fix that would be to replace these stones.  So I measured them, and went to Whittlesey Landscape Supplies, where I had bought the original stones, and got stones that were just the right size for these 3 stones, and placed them on the wall above the stones they were to replace.

Months later, when there was basically nothing else that needed to be done, on a dreary day,  I had the guys come back and replace the stones.  $350.

They started with the new stones.

and broke apart the old stones to get them out of the way, chiseling the mortar out to get a smooth place for the new stones.  Then they spread the mortar and put in the new stones.

This gives a much smoother inside line.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Washing Machine Water Supply Valves

Our washing machine died a violent death.  We had noticed puddles of water appearing in the machine when it wasn't being used, but on Friday while washing a load, the door (it's a front loader) burst open and poured water out onto the floor of the utility room.  I quickly closed the door to limit any more water on the floor but after a few minutes, it burst open again.  Turning the washing machine off did no good; water continued to come out full force.  I tried to turn the water off behind the machine, where the hot and cold faucets are, but the faucet handles would not budge, so quick out to the street and turn off all the water for the house.

Then two hours of bailing, sponging, and wiping down the floor to get all the water cleaned up.  Plus, the water went thru/under the wall between the utility room and the garage and flooded it too, so it needed to also be cleaned up.

Then we could take the time to make the hot and cold faucets work, and turned the water off at the wall.  But just as with them not wanting to turn off the water at all, they also were not able to turn the water off completely -- they still leaked water at least a gallon every 2 hours.  So I capped them off, temporarily and called a plumber to replace them completely.

Allstate Plumbing was able to get someone out here on Tuesday, between 10 and 12 AM.  I moved the washing machine out of the house into the garage, so he could get to the wall behind it.

We wanted to replace the old style fixtures that required many turns to open or close with the newer ones that just take a quarter turn to turn on or off.  The plumber determined that he could not just detach the current fixtures and replace them with new ones -- the thread and pipe sizes were too different, so he cut open a section of the wall, to get at the raw copper pipes.

Then he was able to remove the old valves and solder on a new set of quarter turn valves.

That was $281.97 for parts and labor, and he was done by about 11:45 AM.  I think he did an excellent job.

Once he left, I was able to re-insulate the wall around these pipes and put the sheetrock back together.  There was another patch to the sheetrock wall down closer to the floor where it was cut open decades ago for a termite prevention treatment, so I'm fixing that at the same time -- again boosting the insulation and patching the sheetrock itself.

The pieces of sheetrock that had been cut out were glued back in place, using the "Great Stuff" foam insulation.  Great Stuff is a urethane based foam, and urethane is a good glue, so I foamed around the edges and pressed the pieces in place (and keep pressing to avoid having the glued-in pieces pushed out as the foam expands.)

Once that dries, sand off any excess, then apply sheetrock compound to fill any holes and level it out.  Not too carefully, since we want a texture.  Again, sand and apply after that dries.

Finally mask off anything that should not be painted and paint.

And once that dries, we are ready for the new washing machine.

The paint used was some leftover stuff from Home Depot, and it seems to match pretty well.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Excavating the front yard, to the street, Part 2

We keep digging towards the curb.

The top layer (of dirt) comes up pretty easy, but the next layer (of rock) is more difficult.  It was suggested that this was road base from the original construction of the curb.

But the technique is the same -- separate the rocks for disposal, mix the dirt with the rock dust and lots of leaves and keep going.  Eventually this gets us all the way to the curb at least 24 inches down.

Doing so exposes the question of what to do next to the sidewalk itself.  The "dirt" under the sidewalk is a mixture of rock and dirt and roots and the roots tend to raise the sidewalk.

We would like to discourage roots from going under the sidewalk.  So we decided to pour a cement wall along the sidewalk and continue the 6x6 limestone blocks from the end of the retaining wall to the street.

Pouring the cement wall requires framing it up, as before.

We used some left-over rebar in this section of concrete, since we had been unable to get rid of it any other way.

Then, once the concrete is poured, we mortar some of the remaining 6x6 limestone blocks from the retaining wall onto the top of the cement wall.

For this section of the  6x6 limestone blocks, we mixed up our own mortar, from sand and white masonry cement, using a 3 parts of sand to 1 part of cement ratio.  This seemed to work okay, but despite wearing gloves, it created severe chemical burns on the backs of my hands.  After two weeks those were pretty well healed.

Once the sidewalk wall was in place, the remaining job was simply to move all the dirt that we dug out back into place, mixing the different types of dirt and lots of leaves as we did.

This fills the area, but leaves a wall edge of 4 to 6 inches all around the yard, so we need to bring in about 18 cubic yards of new dirt to fill it up.  More as things settle.