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Monday, October 10, 2005

October 10, 2005

Not Quite a Month...

...since the last post, which is a Good Thing.

Much has transpired in the last few weeks since the September 24 post. I'm very happy to report that many of the issues mentioned in the previous post have been taken care of. But more about those below...

A new TWiki Version

After the news of a recent 'breakin' to a TWiki installation I'm familiar with and happen to be a user on (although I've not done anything there since my UMM days), I decided that it would be a Good Thing to do some patching and upgrading to the installation here at MZ Online. I finally took the opportunity to do so on Saturday and Sunday evening (October 8-9). The bulk of the upgrade had been done on Saturday evening, with the new installation in place with existing data. Sunday evening's work pretty much entailed adding and customizing the new installation to match the features I'd had in the previous installation. For instance, the addition of CLEARSPACEDTOPIC (ex. %CLEARSPACEDTOPIC%) which is a slight modification of SPACEDTOPIC (ex. News%20*October%20*1005) which I use in the header/display information of the main MZ Online website (which is powered in part by this TWiki installation.

Fortunately, there was an upgrade 'patch' available for this process which, while it didn't make it completely trivial, made the process go much quicker if you ask me. At least since I hadn't worked on the mechanics here for some time.

So, as I write this now, we're using the most current TWiki installation. I have a few more installations around the intranet both here at home and at work which need to be updated and another semi-public installation which needs to be updated, but those should fall into place much better than this installation as there's no custom additions/modifications to how TWiki works for those.

Outdoor projects

House Washing

I have to say that I love the powerwasher. I definitely need to get one of these for myself at some point in time! While it still took a fair amount of time to do all the washing I needed, it went much better than doing it completely by hand. Combined with my 12' articulated ladder, I was able to make fairly quick work of the job, although it still took an entire afternoon to accomplish. But, the house looks much better now and should be good for another year or better.

Storm Window Project

Well, I have to admit that I've been a bit of a maniac in the last few weeks. Namely in regards to getting this outdoor stuff taken care of. First and foremost was the completion of the storm window project. This was a bit of a nightmare (in the amount of work and time involved), but now that it's done, there's minimal work involved in maintenance from here on out. The primary problem behind this entire project is that (due to many reasons far out of my control -- e.g. we've only owned the house for less than a year-and-a-half) the semi-regular maintenance which could have been done on the storm windows had been badly neglected, which only made the problem worse.

On the plus side, the job is now complete (at least for the winter) and there's only one window I absolutely will need to take out in the spring to fix. As it turned out, I was trying to be quick about one window in particular and didn't take enough time to get all the old glazing compound out of the rim. What essentially happened (as I was installing the window) is that the slight resulting bend in the pane of glass proved to be too much and a crack formed. It's on a window that's not particularly visible from the front of the house, so it worked out alright and will work alright for the winter. It will, however, need to be replaced and fixed sometime next year.

One of the main things I did when installing the refinished storm windows was to leave a weep hole in the bottom of each window. The rest of the storm was thoroughly caulked to seal it off properly. One of the primary problems I encountered on a few (namely the windows in the front of the house) of the storm windows was related to water problems. Not water leaking into the window, but rather the effects of trapped moisture between the window and storm window. The storms had been sealed up so tightly that there was no place for any additional (regular) moisture to go. This was the primary reason most of the paint and glazing on the four front windows had been failing. In fact, one was in such bad shape that I had to use a replacement (extra) window which wasn't rotten on the bottom.

But anyway, they're all in place, re-glazed, and should be in much better shape than before. We'll see how they fare the wintertime and if there's anything which needs to be addressed next spring related to them. But, that's one (major) project down...

Winterized Lawn...

I took the time one evening to spread out the lawn winterizer I'd bought. This really didn't take that long to do, and we'll see how it helps a few portions of the lawn (there are a few places where it doesn't grow as nice as others) next year.

Heating Time! frown

Well, I finally bit the bullet and had a local company deliver some fuel for the heating season. I also got signed up for a program they offer so they keep things full (which means I won't have to pay out the ass for being stupid and waiting forever). For the time being, I got enough fuel to last (if it's an average fall/winter) into late December or early January. That (half barrel) of fuel cost more or less what it cost to fill it completely last year. frown

One thing I can definitely be glad about is that this house is relatively efficient, specifically given the fact that it's nearly 60 years in age. In talking to other people, they're in a much different boat than I am related to what fuel will cost them for a season. I don't recall right off hand (the numbers are in the file cabinet), but last year it cost about $800 to heat the house for the entire season (October - April). My guess is that it will cost anywhere between $1200-1400 to do the same thing this year.

Although, I'm doing/have done about as much as I can think of off hand (on the cheap side) to prevent POTA (Paying Out The Ass). I reglazed and re-set the storm windows downstairs (which should help somewhat significantly), I installed foam gaskets on the outside wall switches and outlets, did the programmable thermostat thing (which I mentioned in the last post), and have had the furnace tuned up. I figure that for a few of the windows upstairs (and maybe the one window downstairs in the kitchen which doesn't have a proper storm window) we might end up doing some plastic insulation kits at some point in time.

And speaking of the furnace tune-up, I was quite happy to see those results. It turns out that the furnace (with a dirty air filter, I might add -- I didn't change it until after the tune-up due to the fact I wanted to see the result at its worst and we were also wrapping up some stuff in the bathroom (which was causing dust to be stirred up) runs between 82-85% efficient. Considering it's a few years old and an oil furnace, that's about as good as it gets. The information I've read basically implies that anything for oil over 80% is high efficiency and anything over 85% is pretty amazing, so I figure it's about as good as it gets. Combined with the lack of carbon monoxide and good oxygen circulation, it should be in good shape for another season.

Bathroom Status

As I noted somewhere above, I've been a bit of a maniac these past two weeks. What I can say about that is many projects have been completed in this time. Both outdoor and indoor.

Most notably indoor is the relative completion of the bathroom project. As of this last weekend (namely Sunday, October 9), we have been able to take showers and baths in the upstairs (main level) bathroom. I fixed the bathroom window which had been cracked and in bad shape, then replaced the window trim. After that point in time, it was a matter of doing some painting (thanks to Beth) and then the installation of the tub surround (which took a few days to complete due to the glue setting and trim kit, etc.). Once the tub surround had been installed, it took a day or so to set and cure after the sealant had been applied to all the joints.

In the meantime, I installed the piece of paneling which went behind the toilet and on the other side of the window from the tub surround. It was amazing to see how 'real' the bathroom looked after all that work had been done. Here again, now that it's been sealed up and whatnot, it's ready to be used.

I also took a few minutes to deal with the ductwork (cleaning what had fallen into the duct during the demolition phase a long time ago) and got it ready to accept [the bathroom's] new register. After that got all sealed up, I was happy to announce that we could control the amount of heat entering the bathroom (the previous register had no louver controls and made the feet quite uncomfortable while at the toilet while the furnace was running).

Of course, one of the main things that really made the bathroom 'real' happened to be the installation of the towel bars and robe hook. It's amazing how the entire room actually seems to be usable instead of just another project in mid-completion. The actual end is finally in sight!

At this point in time, there are a handful of things which need yet to be done. The flooring still needs to be installed. We've already got the floor tile, but I need to go get a piece of appropriate subflooring which will smooth out the existing surface. That's the last major piece of the puzzle. The existing flooring is currently still in place. There's some paint work yet to be done, namely wih balancing out the two wall colors on the long wall. There's also some window work to be done, mostly in the paint and touch-up department. The sink needs to be glued down on the vanity and sealed up around the edges, and the bathtub needs to have the flaking paint scraped down a bit and then be re-painted.

At that time, the bathroom will actually be complete...and it will be on to the next project!

It's only taken damn near a year! The rest will depend upon schedule and other stuff.

Miscellaneous To-Do

One of the things I now want to get done outside (probably one of the last things) is to powerwash the garage and tool shed. They're in pretty ugly shape like the one side of the house had been, and since these buildings aren't insulated, I can be a little more liberal with how I go about washing them (I don't have to be quite as careful in keeping water out from underneath the siding, for instance). Of course, these buildings are smaller, so this shouldn't really be a problem anyway, but amongst that and wrapping up those smaller bathroom projects, I should have a few weeks of random work left before moving on to the next project.

So...

...that's about all for now. Thought I'd bring things up-to-date here, so until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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