This Old House, Glaser Edition

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spain or Striped Bass?

Steve made a difficult choice this weekend: stay in town for the 29th Annual Striped Bass Festival or run a marathon in Madrid, Spain. For the first time ever, the festival will feature carnival rides. Who cares if Pamela (our autistic sweetie pie) is the only member of the family who can stomach them! Local beauty queens grace the parade as well as dancers, marching bands, motorcycles, and politicians. Everyone turned out, including a few, lone Republicans who thought entering a parade in yellow-dog Democrat country might earn a few votes. This festival is so popular another blogger beat us to the blogpost! Even a few lone Republicans running for office in yellow-dog Democrat country entered in the parade.

Did Steve stay home for all of the fun and festival? No! Tomorrow, he will be sweating it out in Madrid for 26.2 long-hot-weary miles. Tammy put together this short video clip, so that Steve can see what he missed! And, say a prayer for him, folks!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Retrospective on Windows and Door

We have worked hard to give the front of our old house a facelift. Before revealing our most recent exciting look, we need for you to ketchup on everything so far. The first thing Steve did back in July 2006 was tame the hedges and gut the tree next to the house. He also JOMAXed the daylights out of the front steps which were covered in mold when we photographed the house in April 2006. In August 2008, Steve and Tammy's father handled the azaleas gone wild and hired a mason to work on the foundation and replace the old basement vents. In September 2006, our electrician installed new porch lights. In November 2006, the mason returned and gave us a lovely red brick walkway. In July, the electrician returned and put in an old-timey limy doorbell.

For many, many, many months, Tammy's father showed his metal as a real glazier by restoring the windows, redoing the framings, and topping them with storm windows for better insulation. Steve found it tricky to order the right windows because nothing in an old Victorian house is square or standard. He also worked really hard on the front door which was in sad shape. Here are extreme close-ups on the before shots:

We hope you enjoy these before and after shots of the windows of the house. Be sure to double click any photographs for higher resolution! We want to point out a couple of details in the before shots taken in April 2006: the ugly screens on the doors and windows, the moldy steps, the junk all over the porch, and the ugly plastic roof awning thingie, hanging from the side porch.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spic and Span Basement

The day after the flood disaster (Part I, Part II, Part III) Steve and Tammy's father installed a new relief valve on the water heater. Ain't it perty?

A gentle reader asked in the comment section of the last post if our basement is spotless. I will let you be the judge. Steve JOMAXed and bleached the daylights out of the basement. He also made sure the sump pump was in working order in case the water heater decides to commit suicide by drowning again!

What is that little blob of dirt in the middle of the basement, you ask? It is not dirt! Even the palmetto bugs die from the excessive cleanliness of the basement!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Corollary to "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!"

In Part I of this episode, Steve opens a file on the case of the broken heater and expanded it to the case of the broken water heater in Part II. The episode closed with the ecstatic Glasers pumping out the remaining water in the basement. In the next episode, an unexpected plot twist dashed all of their hopes, and David's victory sign quickly disappeared.

What happened, you ask? A person who shall not be named worried that the sump pump might be overheating. So, we shut it off and pulled the plug from the extension cord. A second person who shall not be named dropped the plug into the flood waters of the basement. We did our best to dry it the plug, but the blasted sump pump short circuited every time we restarted. We finally gave up and went back to the buckets, hence, the corollary, "If it's running, don't stop it!"

After we finally removed the majority of water from the basement, we waited for the heating unit condensation drain sump pictured left to dry. Steve started that up, and the downstairs heating unit worked like nothing had ever happened. Thanks to Steve's persistence and eagle eye, we saved a visit from the A/C repairman. He set his sights on the hot water heater.

The next problem he solved was the hot water heater relieve valve. With the help of Tammy's dad, Handyman Howard, they rigged up a way to stop the heater from spewing hot water so that Tammy could coif her curly mop of hair for church the next day. A couple of times, they failed which resulted in the steamy shots pictured below.
The next day we had plenty of hot water to get spruced up for church. Then, we faced this mess in the basement. The sump pump with its nice, dry plug cranked up immediately, Steve removed the rest of the water from the basement. He hauled all of the trash to the curb, including the Christmas tree, which came with the house and had just soaked in the nastiest water imaginable.

Steve took this opportunity to clear all of the debris out of the hole that houses the sump pump. He dumped most of the disgusting mess into this trash can. Then, he swept the basement and washed it down . . . and swept it and washed it down . . . and swept and washed some more.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Monk and the Broken Heater

We apologize. This Old House, Glaser Edition, has been on hiatus for the past three months. There was no writer's strike. None of them were asking for more pay. Any pay would be nice, actually. It just happened. Get over it!

Last January, Steve began investigating the case of the broken heater and ended up solving into a much bigger case than originally thought. While Tammy sat glued to the one-eyed monster, watching episodes of Monk, Steve lived it! He put all the seemingly unrelated pieces together in true Monk fashion.

Here's what happened!

In our last episode, Steve noticed that the downstairs heating unit was not kicking in, which he thought was strange. It was the coldest day of the year on a Saturday night. So, he went outside and checked the breakers. They were all fine. So, he figured he would have to call the A/C repairman on Monday. So then Steve, who loves doing chores at odd hours of the day (sound like Monk?) went to wash the dishes. And, he noticed there was no hot water. And then, Steve knew there was a connection. He didn't know what, but he knew these events were somehow connected.

So, once again, he went outside and checked all of the breakers and found everything working normally. So then, Steve realized it was time to look at the hot water heater in the cellar. Steve cranked the comely winch to the cellar door, headed down the steps, tried to the defective light, and turned around to get a flashlight. To his great horror, he encountered an underground swimming pool with about two feet of water, quickly in danger of becoming a skating rink. Did we say that it was the coldest night of the year?

Steve realized that the relief valve to the hot water heater had failed, and water was gushing out of it as if it were a fountain. He ran outside to the sidewalk and shut down the main water line. Then, he knew what had happened. The relief valve failed and flooded the cellar, which in turn covered the heating unit condensation drain sump and automatically shut off the heating unit to prevent water from backing up into its coils. We ran out of hot water because the tank emptied itself into the cellar. So there we were on Saturday night, faced with no access to plumbers, pumps, etc. All hardware stores in the area were closed because of the lovely blue laws, so we had no access to bilge pumps or even boat pumps. We tried Plan A, better known as the wet-vac, to empty out the basement!

Did you hear that giant sucking sound? That was Plan A, which failed miserably. Nobody liked it, but we turned to Plan B. You already know it was the coldest day of the year, and the stores were all closed. The water was near freezing. And, there we were . . . the bucket brigade . . . breaking our backs, freezing our buns, emptying out the basement.

Several hundred gallons later, Steve, with his Monk-like vision, noticed an ancient sump pump sitting in a corner, hard-piped to a discharge line to the backyard. Steve said, "Let's give it a try!" Taking every precaution to not get electrocuted, he got out of standing water and stood on the wooden steps. Tammy held a towel, ready to wrap around Steve's rib cage and yank him away if he started to smoke. (In a former life, we were both Naval officers and gentlemen by an act of Congress and knew how to handle electricity and water). Miraculously, this pump came to life.

We danced for joy as the water flowed out of the basement through this discharge hose at a rate of several hundred gallons per minute. The water level in the basement dropped dramatically. Our hearts soared. Then, the unthinkable happened. . . Tune in for the final episode, tomorrow. Unless it takes another three months to write!