Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Basement Shelving (Mechanical Room)

Who doesn't need more storage space?  The design was from a friends who did something similar.

I took two 4x8 sheets of MDF, built a frame around them.  Also built smaller supports in the middle to keep the middle from sagging (picture 3).  Support posts are designed to basically set the framed shelving on top of it.  The load bearing portion of the shelving is bolted tight with the frames resting on the bolted supports.  The posts are simply screwed into the frame to hold the whole thing together.  I could put another bolt in but that would probably be overkill.

As you can see the design is very simple and very large.  The 1st shelf is 2ft off the ground and the top shelf is 5ft.  This two 3ft tall storage areas and the lower section will be for storage bins.  If there is flooding, the bins on the floor stand a chance and everything above should be fine regardless.  I'm not expecting to get flooded out, but who knows anymore.

Future plans are for smaller shelves in the other unfinished portion of the basement.  We have a freezer there now and unorganized storage on the floors.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Water Issues (Follow up)

What's up party people?  Here are the updates on the water issues as well as some other neighborhood stuff.

Water Issues Continued...

Dishwasher - I took your advice and ran an empty load with a cup of vinegar.  This seems to have done the trick and the dishes are coming out clean again.  Thanks for the advice!  I was chatting with our PM today and the dishwasher came up, he told me about a product that accomplishes the same goal of removing the hard water deposits under an empty load.  I would like to find out what this is because I read other responses saying that vinegar isn't good for the dishwasher plumbing long term.  The other option would be a whole-house hard water treatment system, but I'm not ready for that yet.

Aquarium - Leaving the light off for a few days started clearing the water, but it doesn't do much good to have a dark aquarium 24x7.  Anyway, the UV Sterilizer came on Friday and it's been chugging for about 4 days now.  It is making a clear difference.  While the water isn't crystal clear yet, I can see to the back and see the fish.  The tank could use a good cleaning again so that's coming.  Found the sterilizer on eBay for about $25+Shipping.  Satisfied with it so far.

Radon Pipe - The idea from the Foundation Restoration people was to core a new pipe, move the pipe over & seal off the old one with cement.  Since the pipe is near the sump ditch, he wants to try drilling a hole from the pipe to the sump to relieve the pressure and send the water directly to the sump.  Another theory is that the water is coming from above where the radon pipe exhausts from the house.  We'll see how this latest theory goes.

Water Meter Leak  - Few days ago, we found a small puddle in the basement by the water meter.  So we called the customer service line, they sent a plumber out who knew instantly that the meter itself was leaking.  The township provides the meters so it would have to be fixed once they got the meter.   This has since occurred and the new meter appears to be happy

Association News

We received a letter from our Associations management company.  Since 25% of the community has settled, it is time for one of the owners to take one of the 3 spots on the HOA board.  I responded that I was interested and was the only one.  My wife and I were the only homeowners to attend the meeting.  Met the developer and a rep from the management company.  I'm not officially on the board, which won't have another meeting until 75% of the homes have settled, then the other 2 seats will be taken by homeowners.  Other than that, not much to do.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Water Issues (All different and non-related)

Hey all,

I guess you can say things are settling down.  Major projects out of the way.  Freak snow storm out of the way...

Dishwasher - We do have a few things going on.  The dishwasher is becoming increasingly annoying.  At 1st I thought it was me (being a guy running the dishwasher) and putting things in that I shouldn't be, but it's been getting progressively worse.  Our dishwasher leaves a white residue on almost everything, the residue can generally be hand-washed off, but don't get me started on  how annoying that is.  I heard a few of the neighbors complaining of the same issue, so I wonder if it's something in the water.  We use the ready-pack thingies where the amount of detergent is predetermined.  I've tried the powder style AND the Cascade gel style.  Have also tried using the Cascade rinse-aid and that sure didn't help.  If I slide my finger on the inside plastic of the door, there is a dusty white residue.  I'm getting very close to calling GE and requesting service.  Is it possible this is a hard water issue?

Aquarium - I've been having a heck of a time with Green Water in our 25 gallon aquarium.  I can do complete water changes and it comes back in a few days.  So green you can't see the fish.  It's essentially a form of algae but lives in single cell microbes (sorry bio folks....).  Long story short is that it lives everywhere, including in the fish.  I'm told it's a result of too much food and too much light.  I put up blinds over the sliding door which reduces 90% of the direct sunlight.  The rest is ambient, still not enough.  Apparently now that the green is here, I need to starve it away.  I can try leaving the light off and changing 2 gallons a day for a month, that 'should' starve it little by little.  To be honest, I'm not that patient, and I travel at least 2 of the next couple weekends.  The other option is getting a UV Sterilizer Pump which essentially vaporizes the green gunk as it passes through. This should clean up the problem as well as clear up (pun intended because I'm a dork) any future issues.  Waiting for the UV thing to show up in the mail!

Radon Pipe - This issue has been on-going since the 30-day Walkthrough.  It looks as if water is coming up through the radon pipe in the basement.  It's usually just a smaller puddle, and the pipe is a foot away from the sump so it's more annoying than anything.  I don't believe the finished basement is in danger.

Ryan had people come to seal it up, failed.  I think they came back and that didn't work out.  So now they're going to an outside company called "Foundation Restoration" and his guy couldn't figure it out, so the owner of the company came by.  He's been doing this for 17 years an thought he had seen it all, this is a new one for him.  His only 'out of the box' theory is that maybe there was water coming from the roof into the radon pipe from above and the leak is not actually ground water.  Jury is still out, they're talking about coring a new hole, moving the pipe and cementing the old one out.  I don't care, just want it fixed.

Other than those items, things are progressing.  I have plans ready to build 4x8 basement shelves but don't want to do that until the radon pipe issue is fixed.  Oh well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Northeast Snow

On Saturday we got hit with a freak snow storm.  My area received 8-10 inches which is normally not a big deal, but two things made it a unique problem.  The snow was the wet and heavy variety, not normally a problem.  The problem is that the fall foliage is just starting to change so the leaves are on the trees.  Add 8-inches of snow to that, and tree limbs started falling.  We lost power at 3pm on Saturday.

Here is where the gas fireplace was worth every penny spent.  I remember our PM telling us it has a battery backup during power outages so now would be a good time to test it out.  Nothing...ugh oh!  I pop the grate off the bottom section and find the control unit needs 4-AA batteries.  This was a quick fix and our fireplace was ablaze.  If it wasn't for this, I'm not sure what we would have done.  Some of our neighbors did not opt for this option and their houses were so cold they stayed with friends.

The 1st night, before going to sleep, I checked on the sump pit and the water was only slightly above normal, OK no problem.  On Sunday morning, the water level was 2-inches from the top.  Being an IT person, it never occurred to me to get out a bucket and manually bail it out.  So I went to the nearest auto store and picked up a 1,000 watt power inverter.  Ran an extension cord into the basement, attached the thing to my running car and ran the sump.  The temperature rose back into the 50's then on, so the snow started melting very fast.  I ran the pump 3-4 times a day to keep it well below level.  Turns out our neighbors had the same water issues, so it looks like the water table in our neighborhood is 8-10 feet below ground level.

The power finally returned on mid-day Tuesday.  I heard reports that other locals in more rural areas didn't get it back until yesterday or even today so we should count ourselves lucky.

We are thinking about getting a battery backup emergency sump pump system in case we are away and this happens again.  Also looking into a backup generator although that isn't really in the budget right now.