Cracks in the Mortar

This morning, I woke with a headache at 2:30am. This was one of those “back of the head” headaches, so I did what usually helps: sat under a hot shower. It went a way for abit, so I tried to go back to bed, but that wasn’t working. So back to the shower it was… when I got the idea to actually soak in the hot water itself. That helped a lot… it got it down to a dull roar that I could live with all day. I think it was due to the pressure change over night: we were back to cold winds.

So what does this have to do with the title? Well, a few weeks ago I got fed up with the grout around the tub. It had gotten cracked and yucky over the year, and none of my repair attempts had helped. Further, it appears to have seeped through the wall, causing wall damage on the other side. So we called out The Grout Medic, who replaced the grout with sanded grout. We also discovered that whomever installed the tub hadn’t put green board behind the wall, and hadn’t done the tile lip right. In any case, we got the grout replaced, and had one treatment for hairline cracks. How does that relate to this morning? This morning, I discovered that the new grouts is also cracking. This time we’ll get some sanded grout of our own, and I’ll keep applying it until the cracks stay full.

This house seems to like cracks. We have plaster based drywall, and I’m constantly getting cracks that I’m spackling up. It drives the family crazy how I’m obsessed by the cracks. But one day I’ll get them all.

Hopefully, tonight I’ll get a good night’s sleep, and do better tomorrow.


HVAC Update

Ahhh. Air conditioning ducts (except for the laundry room) are all reconnected. Tomorrow they come back and seal and insulate everything (and fix the orientation of the plenum grate in the office) so it will pass the pressure test required by code. They will leave, with us $4200 lighter, but much cooler and with hopefully lower electrical bills in the future. Oh, and the thermostat problem… turned out to be that vibrations knocked the door off the fan, triggering a safety. Its now fixed.

Oh… it’s currently 94°F outside, and the pool is 73°F.


Hot Under the Collar

A few days ago, I wrote about how our air conditioning problems at home were due to a crushed duct. While investigating the repair, they discovered we had asbestos ducting. This let to our getting a quote for remediation work (under $1K). I though I would bring folks up to date on what’s happening.

The abatement folks (who are coming on Tuesday) are going to pull out all the ducting to play it safe. Our HVAC Contractor will be coming the next day to put in all new ducting, fix the blower motors for the attic fans, and fix the drain pan under the unit. This work will be about $5K on top of the remediation (all together now: ouch!). There is a saving grace, however. There are new HVAC code requirements from the California Energy Comission that require insulated and sealed ducting that can pass a pressure test. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency estimates that quality installation of HVAC systems can reduce energy consumption by as much as 35% and peak demand by as much as 25%. In our case, our contractor is estimating that this should cut the energy costs for cooling in half. Given that last year we had DWP bills over $500/month, the work will pay for itself quite quickly.

We discovered one other oddity. Wednesday night, one of our thermostats went wonky. It was showing the system as on, but it wasn’t kicking the system on. I even tried turning the fan on directly, and nothing happened. We called out our contractor. Turns out there is a software bug in the thermostat, and it sometimes goes out to lunch. The only way to reset it is to raise the temperature set point manually, and then lower it until it kicks on. This activates a safety override. In our case, it came back to working once the house cooled down.

Folks may notice I’m not overly upset about the expenditure. First, that was savings accounts are for. Secondly, I’ve learned (over time) that with houses, there is always something you miss in the inspection that comes to bite you, to some extent, in the first year. That’s just how life goes sometimes, and you have to roll with the punches.