Monday, February 28

Water Woes

I am writing to tell you about my 'water woes' - this is no DIY post, but I felt it was necessary to share this especially with my clients who are first time home buyers :)

Last Thursday I found a pool of water in my basement.  It was right after heavy rains in Halifax so I was convinced the basement walls were leaking.  As the day went on and the temperature dropped (no melting snow) more water kept coming in.  After a thorough investigation in the basement it turned out the culprit was the hot water heater.  What a relief! (From a home owner's perspective)

Below you can see where pressure was causing it to burst open at the seam on the left side.

I called my dad in a panic, who explained how to shut off the water and power...not a good combination.  As you can see there aren't that many valves but I highly encourage everyone to be familiar with their plumbing and know where the water and power shut-offs are.

Luckily I had a slow leak.  I would have noticed the water squirting out sooner if it wasn't for the damn energy-saving blanket smothering the tank.  Due to the telling of this story, I've since been educated on thermodynamics...the heat will still escape blanket or not.  Unfortunately it's another piece of garbage to add to our Earth's landfills...not impressed with myself.

Anyway, in North America traditionally we have used energy-hungry water heaters and replaced them (ending up in the landfills once again) with new ones every 15-20 years.  I've found that what used to be a choice between buying a 40-gallon tank or a 60-gallon tank has expanded to tank-less!  The tankless water heater system has huge energy savings and saves valuable space for us city dwellers.  Tank-less water heaters are capable of providing an instant, endless supply of hot water.

These systems function on an on-demand basis; therefore they don't store pre-heated water.  No storage of water means that tank-less water heaters have a life span twice as long since there is less risk of rust and corrosion.

After many phone calls and research on Friday...I didn't get the tank-less version :(   The catch was in my electrical panel needing to be minimum 200 amp service.  When hot water is in demand the tank-less heater can use 120-150 the math - not much else can be running concurrently.

Although I have a 200 amp service coming in, my electrical has been split into 2 - 100 amp panels, 1 for upstairs, 1 for downstairs...gotta love old homes.  I suspect that mine was an over/under at one time.  If my panel wasn't split I would have 100% gone tank-less.

Tank-less water heaters and combi-boiler systems are the norm in other parts of the world. A natural gas tank-less water heater is an option for me however the cost plus installation is off the wall.  I'm disappointed I couldn't have tank-less but at least I tried.  You live, you learn. 

P.S - Thanks to all my friends who offered their ablution facilities!

Saturday, February 26

Renovation Nation

Check out renovation nation - an article about my life as a DIY'er published in the Homes Etc. insert of the Chronicle Herald!  Click here to view it.

Sunday, February 6

Archway Project

A lot of you have been hearing about this project for ages.  I don't want to keep you at 90% finished here it is: my post on the perpetual 'Archway Project' that started last fall.  There is a catch:  If you read this please help me out by making a suggestion for the finishing touches - what color am I going to paint it??  Read and then comment, please!

Interior archways are a great way to add architectural detail to any home.  In my case I’ve improved the archway between my living and dining room.   I felt the archway was a bit boring and the shelving in it dated. I started my search online (last spring) for mouldings on archways and along came this beauty:

Stacey Branford Photography
Bingo!  That was my inspiration.  I decided to re-create the above, but with hidden storage. Yes, clever it seemed, but quite the task it turned out to be. 

I took before pics myself but this pic of the archway before we took possession seems to be the best view overall:

Notice the open shelving.  Opposite the shelf facing in is a wall but it also has storage...accessible from the kitchen on the other side.  I wanted both sides to be identical.  The shelving always seemed cluttered and was collecting dust.  

I hired a carpenter to help me with the curved mouldings to create the panels. We thought we'd be able to bend MDF but who were we kidding?  Normally, from what I've learned, curves are cut out of plywood and then applied.  The trick was to cut strips of 1/4" plywood and apply layers of them:

In between the plywood we used 3/4" MDF.

Inside the 4 square panels you'll notice smaller decorative mouldings.   I tried the plastic moulding at home depot (normally used for bathrooms) but it wouldn't properly bend on the curve.  Next attempted to bend snapped.  I even put slits in the back of it to help it dice.  While describing the project to a friend I was told that a product called RUBBER WOOD existed!  Vintage Mouldings in Burnside sells this rubber wood.  It's made in Truro and needs to be custom ordered.  I will warn its very expensive, but lucky for me, I only needed 10 feet.  On each side of the arch there are 2 curves - each 2 feet - wich are rubber wood.  The rest of the moulding is identical MDF.
The doors proved to be complex, given we had to determine how they would fit.  Would they set in the openings, etc?  Finding the proper hinges locally was impossible, they had to be special-ordered from out west.  There is a door on each side of the archway. 

The doors (as seen above) still need to be hinged, chair rail finished and the inside shelving completed.  You'll see those pics in the next post.  I've done about 4 rounds of filling and sanding.  What a relief to be finished that part.

The project is near completion.  I just had to share it with you; it really is wonderful!  So any paint ideas?  I've only applied white primer, so far.  Should I paint the trim a different color from the inside panels?  (To give you an idea: I've got white, black and empress teal in the living room.)  The dining room is also still open for ideas...I was thinking of an accent wall behind the mirror in the above pic.  Tell me your thoughts! 



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