Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Little Closer To Having Heat

As I write this I am sitting on the floor in front of our little electric fireplace. Why? Because the rest of the house is 62 degrees. We are still working on getting the heat installed. The last five days have been spent in the crawlspace running pex lines and transfer plates. For those of you not familiar with radiant heat here's a quick summary of how our system will work. Water is heated to 130 degrees by our tankless heater and is circulated through flexible plumbing lines run between the floor joists. Aluminum plates help to transfer the heat through the floor to heat the house.
To do this we have to run two lines in each bay. Since 2/3 rd's of the house is over a crawlspace this means spending a lot of time crawling on our hands and knees, contorting around supports, compressors and random piles of concrete. I've spent most of the last few days looking like this.
 We've now run five of the eight circuits needed to heat the house. We're able to finish about one a night after I get off work. Once all the circuits are in we will still have to install the pumps, manifolds and heat exchanger. We are hoping to have working heat by the end of the month.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In Hot Water

We've been in the new house for a month now and the only hot showers we've had were at my parent's house. The old water heater was barely able to keep the water luke-warm. Combine that with a bad shower valve and it took me longer to get the water temperature adjusted than it did to shower. And the house still has no heat so stepping out of the tepid shower into a 60 degree bathroom is rather unpleasant. But this weekend we finally did something about it. We said goodbye to our seventeen year old water heater
and welcomed my new best friend, a Rheem ultra-efficient condensing tankless heater that cost as much as our F-150. I'm not kidding, it was $1200 on sale.
But we didn't spend all this money just to take hour-long hot showers. This unit was carefully selected because it will also be running our radiant heat system instead of using a traditional boiler. Unfortunately for us the company that we bought our radiant system from screwed up and we had to order more parts that will not arrive until next week. We're really hoping the weather holds until the heat is in. Until them we can work on other projects, like installing a condensate drain and maybe even plumbing in the washer and dryer.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Wide Load

Adding a set of stairs in the dining room is not the last of our changes. The stairs are blocking the doorway between the living room and dining room. To remedy this situation we are getting rid of the arch and creating a 9' wide opening. After removing the cabinets on the dining room side we starting demoing the walls.
Because this is a load bearing wall we need a strong header. We decided on a 10' glulam. To support the roof while installing the new beam we built a temporary wall. (Yes, we were watching LOTR while working.)Looking a little better with the beam in place
Just for comparison, here's the old doorway from the living room
And the new opening
From the dining room you can see the old doorway and laundry area
And the new opening
Now that the stairs and doorway are in we can turn our attention back to the basement. There's still a lot of work to be done before the weather turns.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Garage Repairs & Plans

Our garage has problems, to put it mildly.
The roof is so bad that you can see daylight between the shiplap.
Why is it leaking? Perhaps because the roofing should have been replaced fifteen years ago. Not to mention flat roofs do not belong in Montana.
Can you tell what what areas were completely exposed?
Our building permit allows us to put up trusses but we don't have time for that this year. As a temporary measure to keep our tools dry we rolled out 6 mil plastic and anchored it with lath strips.
 We still had a little water getting through so we added a 20x30 heavy duty tarp for an extra layer of waterproofing.
Then we turned our attention to the interior. The garage was built with a support port for the overhead door. At some point the post was cut out and the garage door opening has since sagged over 2". We jacked up the door opening until it was level and put in a temporary post. It blocks one side of the garage but it's only a temporary measure until we replace the header.
The beam across the middle had also sagged when the support posts were removed. The new post is another temporary measure. We'll be able to get rid of the entire beam after the roof trusses are installed.
Next year we'll also be addressing the power for the garage. We wired in a few outlets and lights but we plan to install a subpanel and wire the whole garage. We'll also want to do something about the wire that feeds the garage.
The wire is rated for direct burial but it's not intended to just lay on the surface where it could be nicked by the lawnmower. For now the garage is functional. We'll worry about finishing it when the house is a little more put together.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Stairs!

Now that the hole for the staircase is cut it's time to start building the actual stairs. Our plans called for 13'8" stringers so we bought some 2x12x14' and made our cuts. We bought our treads in 12' lengths and cut them down to size which saved a few dollars over buying individual treads. We also cut our risers out of a sheet of osb instead of buying precut ones from the big box store.
Risers in
And then we had real stairs
It's so nice to be able to go downstairs without having to outside and around the house. And the big window over the staircase brings some much needed natural light into the basement. While Luke was cutting the stringers I started demo on the wall between the living and dining rooms.
This weekend we will rip out the rest of the framing and install a beam. Even with the studs still in place the house feels very different from when we moved in three weeks ago. I can't wait to see what it's like this time next year.