Saturday, April 15, 2017

Working on the house....

It's been awhile since I posted anything!  And it's not that we haven't been busy, I just needed to sit down and write some stuff down.  So I'm going to just jump right in.

For the past few years, we've been living in a drought out here in sunny Southern California.  Which has resulted in a lot of challenges, but one of the ones that has becoming a bigger issue for us is the increased heat of the summers. When we move out here to Long Beach, we had that great experience of year round nice weather, not too chilly in the winter, not too hot in the summer.  But with the drought - and more likely, as part of climate change in general - it's been substantially hotter during the summer.  We went from having a summer that had maybe 2 weeks in the summer where we wished we had air conditioning, and managed through that with a window air conditioner in the bedroom, to a situation where it's unbearably warm for extended weeks, and last year, nearly the whole summer.  While that may lesson now that we seem to be out of the drought and back into a more "normal" cycle, realistically speaking, it's only going to be warmer, not cooler.  So we have been giving serious thought to installing central heating and air.

In the first 4 years here, we haven't had to really rely on our sub-par heating system. When we bought the house, the inspector told us that really the heater needed to be replaced, as it wasn't heating enough.  It's a radiant heater in the floor, in the wall between the hall and the living room.  Not attractive, not functional. This is what it looked like when we bought the house.

When I built the bookcases, I actually built around the heater and installed metal grates in the doors to let the (insubstantial) heat radiate out.   This is how it's looked for the last 3 years.

To get central air, we'd need to have ducts and a whole system installed.  So in the fall, we got an estimate from a couple of companies, and it was more than we wanted to pay.  So we thought about it, and this spring, we decided to see if we could do a little bargaining (use the lower estimate to get the company we liked better to price match, which they did, even going $500 below), and got it scheduled.

To get ready, Dale and I had to do 3 things: remove the old heater, and remove the water heater from its cabinet outside the house, so we could put the new furnace in there, and remove the catio so they could put the condenser unit.  All these things needed follow up, and that's what I'm going to show here.

First, removing the heater.  That was a chore! It involved Dale crawling under the house and disconnecting the gas, and removing some of the elements that he could reach from there, and then us removing the screws and parts and dragging it out.  No pictures of this process, it was loud, exhausting and filthy - but at the end, we had our old heater all taken apart and ripped out.

Here it is, sitting on the curb waiting to be picked up by metal scrappers.  It sat there for about an hour before someone loaded it up and took it away.

Then we were left with a hole to patch.  Dale was cracking up because I was sure some critter was going to come up the hole, and every noise I heard I was sure was a raccoon or feral cat or squirrel or something coming up.

That's the dirt under the house, y'all.  Gross.  We actually put the grates back over it but they were just sitting there and I've seen raccoons in our neighborhood.  Anyways....

Then we had to build this up, both in the hall here, but also within the cabinets.

I built new shelves inside, and replaced the metal grate panels with the original panels, which I had saved.  Then I repainted and got everything all installed.  That side looks good ---

Then we had to build out the other side, and patch the floors:

We had bought some flooring (unfinished) to match the original flooring, so I had to blend that in with the existing planks, after putting in a plywood subfloor.  We insulated the space, and then added some cement board, and now Dale has to build out the wall and plaster it over, and you'll never even know it was there.

So -- the other thing we had to do was take out the water heater from it's closet:

and install a tankless water heater on the outside. This was so they could put the furnace unit in that space. We ordered a tankless heater, and got started on the project, building a panel, getting the unit put on the wall -- and then......

We ran across 2 problems, just as the HVAC people came to get installation going.  We were going to pull the water heater, we had it drained, ready to pull out, and the HVAC people looked at the cabinet and said, "we can't put the furnace in there."  Not enough room in the attic for the plenum (air handler), and no route for an air return.  Great.  So we turned the water heater back on and refilled it, thinking, we can do the tankless thing in a day or two anyway, and then while we were looking at the tankless, it requires 3/4" gas lines, and we have 1/2".  We call the gas company, who comes out and says, "you need an upgraded meter."  Yay.

So we are STILL waiting on that (which is why the picture shows unconnected pipe), and using our old water heater.  We'll get this connected as soon as we get our meter upgrade (any day now!).

The other problem needed more thought.  We were not happy, our sales person had contacted the company and had done measurements before we signed our contract, and now they're saying, we have to put it elsewhere. They looked in the attic (too low, we have a low angled roof), maybe we'd have to use the guest room closet and move the closet into the water heater space (they are back to back), but they have to send a carpenter out to frame out the space and get it ready.  And that should be in a week or so. So we were pretty frustrated. But, it gave us time to think, and we decided we'd rather put the furnace in a different space - right off the entry where we have a door to the bedroom that we use as a studio.  This space, that open door (this is from a long time ago before I added a glass panel to the front door) :

Here's the space from inside the room.  It was a little jog and the only purpose of it is to have a place for the door.  it's about a 2.5 x 2.5 foot space that can't be used for anything, and if we close it off, it still leaves us one door into the room, from the hall.

It's kind of odd that this bedroom actually has two doors, one of them off the front hall.  We'd talked about extending the hall closet to use more storage space there - we'd been to an open house in the neighborhood, and that's what had been done there, so it was something we'd thought of before.  One of the problems with that room is that we always treat it as a hallway, and it was awkward, so closing off that space was a good use of the space.  So by the time the HVAC carpenter came out, we had a new idea, and they thought it was ideal.  So now it looks like this:

They moved the door forward, the door swings the other way, and the space has been insulated so it's quiet.  The intake is on the living room side behind the small tables, not even noticeable.

The inside of the room now looks like this.  we didn't ask them to smooth it out any further because we are building a bookcase unit over it.  this room now has a closet (that we are removing) on the left side of the wall, and on the right side is what you see here, the closed off space.  We are going to build a full wall of bookshelves and include a door to the closet and a murphy bed for our visitors.  On the other wall, across from it, I used to have two bookshelves, which I just sold this morning. This is where I am going to move my desks.

So next, we are going to demo the old closet. We've removed the doors and drawers, and we'll clear it out and get shelves built in for storing fabric and larger items.  Then we'll continue to build the walls out and then get some shelves and a bed built in.  Next post, I'll outline the plans!

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