Posts from the ‘painting’ Category

Starting again… Some HVAC work

It’s been almost 10 months since I’ve posted here. I did get moved into the house and have had a number of time issues crop up which necessitated putting off work on the house.  A few other issues have cropped up as well, but the biggest one is money.

As I mentioned previously, I’m on disability, so it takes some time to save up and tackle jobs. One thing I did not really factor was that living here was going to be more expensive than I budgeted for. This is the first time I have lived here on my own since I was approved for disability. So, economically, it was a whole new ball game. And it’s been tough.

Nonetheless, I was able to work a few odd jobs here and there and get caught up on a few bills. Medical bills are the ones that kill me, pun intended.

So, as cold weather has arrived and I take stock of my needs, here is what I have done, and still need to do.

1. Landscaping. This is a huge issue, as the previous owners planted all manner of bushes and shrubs and a ton of plants and vines. It was so overgrown this summer I knew I could never take care of it myself. So I hired two guys to come with chainsaws and trimmers and $600 later I had all the bushes around the house cut down and removed, and the hedges bordering the property cut and trimmed. But I have yet to do anything about putting new bushes or mulch in place, so that is upcoming…

2. HVAC work. More on this below.

3. Kitchen and bath. The kitchen needs all new paint and a new floor, and I would love to redo the cabinets or at least get new counters.  The bath needs to be completely gutted and redone.

4. Back porch. Roof is leaking and must be replaced, including rafters. It’s a screened porch, and I would love to convert it to a bedroom since it has a full foundation, but that will be quite costly.

5. Dining room. This was orginally the back porch for the house, closed in many years ago. It has ugly paneling for both walls and roof. I want to gut this also and sheetrock it and paint it.  And the laundry room is off to the side of this room and also needs to be gutted.  There is ample room for a toilet and sink there so a nice half bath/laundry room combo makes sense.

That’s where I am.

Currently, I have been working on the old oil furnace that sits in the middle of the house. I’d never seen one like this, just a single large floor vent that blows the air straight up into the living room.  But it gave a warm, marvelous heat, and nothing felt so good on that first cold morning of winter when it kicked on for the first time. But it was partially submerged in a flood a few years ago, leaving it useless. In the meantime, I bought a used heat pump/AC to use. Works great, and I installed it myself, but it’s mega expensive to operate. My power bill jumps from about 96.00 a month in winter to about $225.00. So, I wanted to get that furnace up and running again, if possible.

Old oil furnace, minus grate. 

I went under there a few weeks ago to assess the damage. The flue pipe was completely rusted away, and the primary control board was toast. I replaced the board and got it to fire, briefly. So I then assembled a new flue pipe and screwed and attached the sections together, and fired it up…

And it would not work. Even with new fuel. At times the flame gun’s blower wouldn’t even turn. And after multiple attempts, the unit locked up completely, telling me either the motor or the pump had broken entirely.

I have ordered a good used burner with a new nozzle and a new pump assembly  ready to hook up and install. As soon as it comes, I will post pics and update….

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Thirty-One to Thirty Three.

It’s time to break out the bubbly! No, it’s not New Year’s yet, but at long last, I can move into the house again. The last job, installing and painting the quarter-rounds is done. This is a big day for me, something I’ve waited for for a long time. I have much, much more to do, mind you, but at this point, at least, I can breathe a bit easier; the hardest, toughest job is done and I can move back in and tackle the rest of the house while I’m living there.

Let’s see what I have so far…

This is the living room extension, I had just started and had this corner done; you can see the small pieces I cut off on the floor.

Above is the back bedroom, and below is the living room at the front door and coat closet.

Like every job in this house, it has had a few difficulties. One of them is a perplexing filing job some worker did to mate the baseboards to the door frames. The baseboards were apparently wider than the boards used in the door frames, so they were filed down at the ends so they wouldn’t protrude. In some cases this was more pronounced than others, but it meant laying the shoe molding (quarter-rounds) was a headache. Here’s how I dealt with it:

This shows how the baseboard was filed down just before it ends in contact with the door frame, and making a straight line to the door is impossible. So, I cut a slight angle on the end piece of quarter round and nailed it in place.

These pics were taken before I put the paint on, so it looks “unfinished” but my phone was dead when I did the painting, and now the paint has been applied and the lines and nail holes are mostly filled in. You can also see a lot of sawdust on the top of the baseboard; I had to go around with a vacuum and damp rag prior to painting the quarter-rounds. I also had a lot of gouges from the hammer and the sander to deal with, plus some stain which splashed up when applying that to the floor, so I basically gave the baseboards another coat of paint while I was at it.

I will go back and take my expensive Nikon camera to shoot the house in more detail as soon as I do some final cleaning and touch-ups.

I’m still looking for those missing receipts; I will have to guesstimate if I can’t find them!

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Twenty-three to Twenty-five

After the Thanksgiving holiday layoff, I got paid again and resumed work. This kind of hurt, because the funds I had designated for it went partially to the rental of the sander that didn’t work, and then I spent money for gas to get home on.

So, I had to rent a second sander and purchase paper.

Anyway, I didn’t get it picked up until 5:00 pm on Monday, and spent all evening and all night sanding the floors. Let’s take a look.

As you can see, this sander, using a 20-grit paper, cut quickly through the old finish and got right to the wood. It is a lot more labor intensive. With an orbital sander, the unit can stay in one place without too much danger of gouging the wood. Not so one of these. You absolutely must keep it moving at all times, as the drum will quickly gouge out a trough in the wood.

A few problems ensued, natually!

For some odd reason three of the sheets of paper just shredded. I know I got all the nails and things off the floor, so this had me puzzled. After those three sheets, I had no further problems.

Except for the dust collector. I noticed the bag wasn’t filling with sawdust, so I had take apart the unit to get to the clog.

This happened using the 20-grit paper; it really rips up a lot of floor in a short time, so the sawdust is heavy and sticky with old varnish. (Safety note: NEVER leave piles of sawdust in a closed bag, they have a tendency to go up in spontaneous combustion!) I just shook the sawdust out in the yard.

Finally, I got all the floors sanded. Here’s what it looked like then.

I am not sure why there is a darker area from the wall to about 3 feet out. This machine operates by turning it on and walking backward as you sand, so you have about 3 feet you don’t get on the first pass, and then you have to turn around and go the opposite way. Perhaps it has something to do with the direction of the grain; trees grow upward, so perhaps going in the opposite direction creates a different “cut.” No other way to do it, though.

Obviously noticeable is a larger gap where the sander couldn’t reach, about 4 inches wide.

To get to that I used my trusty belt sander, with a 50-grit coarse paper.

I could have rented an edger, but as seen here, this does a great job. I went out to Wal-Mart last night to round up all the 50-grit paper they had in stock.

And here’s the wall after sanding the edges.

The quarter-round molding will cover up the remaining lines, for the most part. And the stain I plan to use will hide the leftover, visible areas if all goes according to plan.

Old total: $284.83

New total $369.96 (cost of renting sander plus paper)

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Seventeen Through Twenty-One

Well, the biggest milestone has been passed. All the painting of the front and sides of the house has been done. That is, the living room, the living room extension, hallway, and the two bedrooms have been completed.  I can’t begin to tell how relieved I am.

There will be a good many touch-ups to do, and things to correct and redo later, but the main job is done.

A few pics…

This is the back bedroom, with the double window facing the backyard. This window is in the roughest shape of all. Will need to be completely redone at a later date.

This is the closet of the back bedroom. Only bad thing about this door was someone painted it with a roller brush at some point. Ugh!

This is the closet door of the front bedroom, with a part of the doorframe and edge of wall that protrudes forward a bit. The windows and doors of this room were in the nicest shape of anywhere in the house.

Tomorrow is the big day: floor sanding.  I dread that…

Old total:  $284.83

New total: $284.83  (no new purchases)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day 16

I’m scratching my head this evening, but I think one mystery about my house has possibly been solved. Several features about this house have always puzzled me, such as why the ceilings and doorways are lower than most houses, and why the walls don’t seem to mate up just right in places.

I have come to believe my house is actually one of the post-war kit houses that could be ordered from Sears and other places and were shipped by rail and assembled on site. The ceilings, for example, are about 7’6″ high, and the doorways are lower, about 6’6″ or so. And many places such as corners don’t seem to have been mated together properly, with a few gaps here and there.

Another thing: all the corners in the house have small 1×1″ trim boards attached where they join, but in some places 1×2″ boards were used. Very odd, since most houses use joint compound and drywall tape, or plaster, to form the corners.

This is one such corner. I hate that the camera really struggles to translate the color, but anyway, every place where there’s a joint you have this kind of mating: wood strips to close the gaps in the walls.

And then there’s this curious place in the hallway floor. This was discovered after the old carpet was ripped up. There’s this line where it looks like the floor was just cut. At first I thought it was done to install the old furnace, but then I noticed the line is on a direct plane with the center of the house, directly under the roof peak.

It was odd to me they would cut the floor like this, and even seasoned HVAC guys don’t generally do sloppy work like this. But it makes a lot more sense if this is actually a seam where two halves the house are joined together.

I will need to research these old houses some more and see if I can find what model it was, and where it was sold.

In other news, my bedroom door is done and both bedrooms have received the first coat of paint.  Her’s a quick view of the back bedroom.

Oddly, this back bedroom has a small chair rail. I’m leaving it, will just be a new challenge when it comes to painting it.

Lastly, this little scraper is worth it’s weight in gold: I think it was about $5.00 at Lowe’s. With several packs of scraping material or sandpaper, it cuts right through old paint fast. Definitely a good investment.

You can see the attached scraping material on it, it’s some kind of very rough mesh. You can even use them to scrape small items without the handle tool.

Had to buy more paint this evening. So, new totals are in order…

Old total:  $216.50

New Total: $284.83

Home Repair on a Budget: Days Eleven-Fifteen

I combined several days of entries into this one this time, simply because the work was repetitive: no need to repeat “I painted trim today” for four days straight. On the plus side, I have good news.

All the paint and trim in the living room and hallway has been done. Four straight days of marathon sessions resulted in completion of one LONG project. The living room, as I believe I mentioned before, has eight doorways, three windows and crown moldings and baseboards. So the vast majority of the work was trim work.  I didn’t take pics: the room is still full of the detritus of a major paint job. Tomorrow I will clean a lot of that up.

I did start on the bedrooms tonight. The first thing was to paint the front bedroom door and remove the hardware from the closet doors and second bedroom door.

One thing I had forgotten about: this old house has two old-fashioned box locks, the kind that uses a skeleton key, on the closet doors.

I doubt these locks have ever been used, they’ve been painted over many times.

I got the paint off the screws and removed them, then the lock slides right out.

Once the lock is out, it’s time to get the paint off and free the deadbolt. There was so much paint that seeped into the lock and dried it was stuck solid. Had to take it apart (VERY CAREFULLY) so I didn’t get the cams or springs loose. Here’s the inside, with the deabolt removed for cleaning.

The deadbolt fits directly beneath the brass striker, and it’s also solid brass. After I cleaned the mechanism I oiled it with a touch of transmission fluid and wiped it clean, then put cover on.

Then it was time to clean the paint off the outer face of the lock.  Once I’m finished with the doors I can get a buffer and polish the lock face, which is solid brass.

Lastly, the house has these neat crystal doorknobs, definitely an item you can’t find anymore. This was installed on one of the hall closets this evening as I got the hardware re-installed in the living room and hallway.  Gotta love this old stuff!

Previous Total:     $216.50

New Total:             $216.50  (Still no new purchases, but will have to spring for more paint, soon!)

Home Repair on a Budget: Day Ten

Today marked a milestone of sorts: all the trim, windows, doors and door frames have finally received the final coats of primer in preparation for painting. The baseboards have long been done, but the door frames and windows, and the doors themselves were taking some time. This is all focused on the living room and hallway for now, which is the main living space.

The living room and hallway have eight doors total and three windows.  Front door, coat closet, kitchen door, bedroom doors (2), bathroom door, hall closet one and hall closet two.  And two windows on the front of the house and one smaller one on the side.  That is a LOT of trim  work. Nothing to do but keep plugging along on it.

One issue, as stated earlier in this blog, was my earlier over-extending myself and subsequent exhaustion. I’m learning to slowly pace myself, keeping in mind Wyatt Earp’s famous quote on gunfighting: “Take your time, but quick.”

Here is where I am today.

This is the front door and the hall closet, masked, primed and ready for paint tomorrow.

I forgot the pictures of the windows, but it’s nothing new, and same old stuff.  I am actually not sure if I will even paint the windows themselves; I may replace them entirely in the near future, depending on funds.  We’ll see. If not, I will tackle that a bit later.

This is the hallway, with the twin closet doors and the bathroom door. The primer is still wet in the picture; when it dries it is flat and non-reflective.

The two bedroom doors are opposite these doors.

This is one VERY tight space to work in. Back in the day, there were minimal (if any) code requirements regulating the size of hallways and widths. To give you an idea of the size, that bathroom doorway measures exactly 24 inches wide, so the hallway isn’t much wider than that. Bending over runs the risk of brushing against a newly painted surface, which I did today!

Lastly, this is a bit of a mystery to me. This is the front bedroom doorway. Notice the door jambs.  They only go about two-thirds of the way down, and are neatly cut off.  This is true for both doorways.

I’m at a loss to explain this, but I have one possible idea. If anyone knows otherwise, shoot me a comment.

My guess is it was not closed completely to allow for better air/heat circulation. Back in the day, this house was heated with a wood or coal or oil stove, with a flue opening in the living room. And later, an oil furnace was installed in the living room floor, with a single large vent blowing the hot air upwards.  So there was no heat flowing to the rooms. Having a slight opening in the doorway would allow for some heat to come in, I guess.  In theory anyway. In the winter, you’ll freeze your hiney off if you leave the doors closed.  Of course, now the house has a fully central heat pump system, so it’s no longer an issue.

Tomorrow’s job: painting all that trim with the final coats of latex trim paint.

Previous Total:    $216.50

Today’s Total:       $216.50    (Again, no new purchases.)

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