Thursday, July 24, 2014

LED Color Temps

Urgh, so I obviously don't know anything about LED lights. I had picked out some to try, but picked a "daylight" spectrum, thinking it would be warmer. I don't know what the heck I was thinking. I obviously don't understand the color temp numbers. I just received my solar motion light to try out, and the box clearly explains the color temps:
2700K-3000K = Warm White
3000K-4500K = Bright White
4500K-6500K = Daylight

Sure, I should remember color temps from film school, but that was a long time ago, and I wasn't listening.
So, what am I working with here? Looks like I requested 5000K bulbs. Yikes, it's gonna be like the climax of Close Encounters of the LED kind in here. Or, "Interrogation City"
There is a 2700K bulb, but I don't think it was being offered for trials. Yes, had I'd seen some labeled, "soft white" I would have chosen them, I think. The incandescents in my 8 recessed lights are "soft white", but 2 are like having the sun 3 feet from your face. I'm just like, "What's up?!"
Dimmer switches would be nice, but be advised for LED and those hotter than hell CFL lights, you need a special, and pricey dimmer.
At this point, from what I've seen, it seems like the wealthy are the only ones who can afford to offset their HVAC and electrical bills and implement green technology. Which led me to a scary thought. What if soon only the wealthy will have power, via solar and expensive tech, and the rest of us will be back to oil lamps and outhouses?
That would stink. Get it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Case of the Swollen Door(s)

So we've been dealing with an interesting, or annoying phenomenon, pretty much since we bought the house. The front door and master bedroom door sticks. But about a month or so ago, the front door swelled so much that I almost couldn't open it. I've sanded both doors down, but they would just start sticking again. Then, a couple weeks ago, we got an estimate on our ductwork, while the tech was in our crawl, he noticed that we had a broken pipe, and a large pool of water.
Basically all the water from the house, accept the toilet and washer, was pouring into the crawl.
So, my husband donned my hazmat suit and shimmied under the house and re-cemented the pipes together. One pipe is a little too long and needs to be trimmed, because it's causing the joint to not fit properly. It could come apart again. This is why I'd rather do this stuff my self, look at the results when you PAY supposed PROFESSIONALS? Well, I didn't pay for the pipes, the previous owner did. I'm not sure how long the pipe has been broken, but we noticed a month or so ago, that the drainage fields had long deep cracks running their entire length. We thought it was maybe because of the hot dry weather. But it was most likely because there wasn't anything draining out into the field.
Also, a few days after my husband fixed the pipe, the front door now opens and shuts like a normal door! And the master bedroom door isn't sticking as much now either. My mom thought maybe it's because he fixed the pipe. There was literally a small pond under our house and that's a lot of moisture. There's already a moisture issue because of the sweaty ducts. But nothing like having around 150-200 gallons of water a day. That's a worst case scenario of 3 showers @ 40 gallons each, 1 dishwasher load @ 15 gallons, using the sink to wash dishes, and my daughter having a bath. I didn't include tooth brushing. I found a chart here: How Much Water? Basically, there was ALOT of water dumping into the crawlspace. It was as if our crawl had become a gray water holder, which I have thought about diverting gray water for using in the garden. But not like this. Really puts water usage into perspective.

Summer Slump

I don't know why, but I've hit some sort of summer slump. Maybe it's because you need money to do anything and everything. Maybe I'm being too thrifty. I don't know. I feel paralyzed, when it comes to money for some reason.
Anyway, It's July, it's pretty humid, and I have all these incomplete projects all over the house and yard. ADHD, and low energy anyone? I'll go out and toil for a little while, but that's about it. All the stuff that I feel "needs doin'" is getting to me. I can't even pick out paint colors without agony. Will I make the bathroom feel too small? There's pros and cons to this layout. It's openness helps the house feel a little larger, but that means you can see all the rooms all at the same time. So individual colors per room can start to looks wacky. I have no clue.
My current, large project, is coming up with a patio scheme to give us additional living space outside.
I've already trimmed down the ALL the shrubs that are next to the house. When fall comes, I will attempt to dig them up and move them to a better location. I don't want ANY shrubs near the house and I need to grade the dirt away at 10% for 10'. Or 1 inch every foot. PLUS we need gutter, ASAP, all the lower boards on the exterior are rotting. Add that to the laundry list of "needs" and I really feel the fool for purchasing this tiny money pit. I really think I over paid. The furnace needs to be replaced and the duct work needs to be either repaired, rewrapped, or replaced. Plus, to bring the home up to date it would be best to convert it to a heat pump. But the previous owner put in a new AC but kept the 29 year old furnace? We had no representation. Honestly, when buying a house you really can't trust anyone involved. It's sad. But that's the truth. But here we are. So I need to run 85' of gutter, need maybe 6 downspouts? There's so much reading to do, from how to put in a patio, to how to install downspouts. It's more than I'd care to know right now, but there it all is, staring me in the face. I need to vent the bathroom out the roof too, now that I'm looking at this photo. More reading. 
So, imagine if you will, this back part of the house with out these scraggly gardenia's. It's actually made the space feel pretty huge. I just saw a pergola idea on "I Hate My Yard", that was attaches to a house with a similar shape. I am thinking a pergola, either in the middle, or the entire length of the back. The patio shape is still evolving. It started as a simple square in the middle, but now I think it should span the entire length. Do I want to continue the formal rectangular language of the house? Or do I want it to kind of soil lout into the yard, and implement the river stone. 
My hope is to make the landscape mote cohesive and united. Flowing from front to back, inside and out. I'm pipe dreaming big time. Considering all I have to work with is a shovel, and myself. I will need to rent a bush hog, or bobcat this fall to remove some stubborn brush and stumps. 
It could be that having a house and property is too much for me. It's causing me a lot of anxiety and gives me a helpless feeling. Here a list of needs doin' :
SW corner needs jacks
Vent Bath outside
rewrap, repair, or replace ductwork
replace furnace
replace 20 missing feet of drip ledge on the back soffit 
remove bradford pears and replace with pine or native hardwoods 1-4 acres
bushhog brambles and Japanese honeysuckle patch .25 acre
remove dying pine trees 2-3 large dead loblollies 
grade the dirt around the house to 10% extending 10 feet
fix the weird wiring situation for the pump house
Contact Ag Department about land stewardship options
Contact DNR about the ever growing gully behind the property
Prep large garden and fence it in
Build a hoop tunnel
dig my own pool
dig my own grave
Repair walk cracks in kitchen and living room and repaint 
And then there's the shed 
What to do about the shed?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Small House, Big Problems

How much could maintaing a 1082 sqft house possible cost us. Uh, a lot. Our realtor was anxious to get her Christmas Money, and our home inspector was a joke, add to that our ignorance, and viola! We bought the house knowing the furnace was old but didn't think to much into the duct work in the almost un-navigatable crawlspace. We've been trying to get estimate to replace the furnace with a heat pump or HE furnace, plus rewrap/replace the ducts. Either people come out and never call us back, or just plain don't show up for the appointment at all. One company that had the nerve to come out for an estimate and didn't call us back, claimed to be a "Christian" organization. I hate when people use Jesus to sell stuff. I guess we're out in it now, aren't we.
So I'm brain storming. What are some creative, perhaps off-grid options for us? Our current AC unit is only 3 years old, so getting rid of it to convert to a heat pump might be kind of wasteful. The issue is with the furnace, it's 31 years old and has a cracked heat exchange and is leaking carbon monoxide into the house, just a tad. I don't think it's fixable.
This post is mostly brain storming options.
1. Just use the fire place
Well, it was built without a permit and cellulose has drifted into the fire box. I can dam it off and get the cellulose out. That's a easy fix. Fire places are smoke, dirty, and inefficient. Is there a better way?
2. Space heater?
3. Window AC unit only?
4. re-wrap and mastic/seal the ducts ourselves.
Just need a babysitter, or a little hazmat suit, and mask for our daughter

In thinking about not heating and cooling the entire home, I wonder if this would aggravate the failing paint situation I already dealt with this past winter. I think the seller did not live in the house for the 6-8 months it was on the market, and therefore did not run the HVAC system. This causes wide temperature and moisture fluctuations, which can cause paint to peel, for one thing.
So maybe going backwards with the HVAC setup isn't what I want to do. Plus, I want to improve the resale value, if I can, not turn this place into a hobo shack. Yes, my current, and slow paced landscaped projects might suggest otherwise. But I want to make this place better than how I got it, AND eliminate any trace of the previous owner. Since he pissed me off so bad.
So that leaves getting under the house and rewrapping and sealing it ourselves. Not the most pleasant idea, but there it is. My husband just had to go under there to re-glue a pipe that popped apart from a joint that wasn't glued right, or has to much pressure on it. Basically, our crawl was a grey water space for some time. The drainage field dried out and began cracking too. Derp. We thought it was the drought, no, there was no water going into the septic. Oops.

Well, here's hoping we get the HVAC squared away by November.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Big Dreams of Tiny Houses

Maybe it was just PMS, but I got really emotional over the Tiny documentary last week. I had originally watched it with my mom a few weeks ago, and found myself re-watching it a few times last week, and really, "getting it". I'll probably watch it again. I think for me, I just really like the idea of building a completely self sustaining, mobile, little house. Plus, the style that Shafer designed are just so darn cute. Like tiny little slices of Scandinavian bliss. I have no design ideas, so I need I'll most like copy one of his, to avoid building an ugly shed on wheels. I already have two ugly sheds staring me in the face every day. I don't need another one!
The tiny houses also remind me of when I sued to live out of my sleeper cab as a trucker. Only I didn't have lovely finishes, a sink, a stove, a shower, ect. But I do know how it is to live simply, out of something not much bigger than you. And it can be cozy, and it can be claustrophobic. When living in a truck, you're usually parked in an area that would make wandering off for a walk, a little tricky, or down right dangerous. Or, I often would drive past life happening, like hiking trails next to rivers in Idaho, and Pennsylvania. I don't exactly miss living humbly out of my truck. The loneliness and boredom resulted in a lot of retail indulging.
Now I live in a small house, and I shouldn't consider myself less a person for living in more than 200 square feet of space. Just like I don't think any different of people who live in a fancy shed. The Tiny House movement has become almost a strict religious experience for some. I read a review for a book by a Tiny Houser, and the reviewer was criticizing the author for building a 1500 sqft home. But the author and family decided to live in a tiny house for a while to get out of debt and regroup. Now it's becoming, with some, a case of who can go smallest? Not me, I'm at 1082, and there are times when I'm wishing for another room to hide in. I was going outside for some peace, but it's high summer, and the cacophony of crickets and locusts is worse than the ringing in my ears that I'm fleeing outside to mend. It's a small farm house, built in 1943. It has an open format, so we are all essentially together all the time. So this is good and bad. Just depends. I like our Wee house, and I'm working to create some outside living space to help increase the living space. Even if it's only psychological. These types of projects are slow going though. With just a shovel, and myself to work with, and no budget. Currently the yard looks like some one got drunk and rented a back hoe and had some crazy fun. No, it's just me, with my ADD, working on multiple projects at once.
It's time like these, when I'm trying desperately to dig the Georgia clay, to level out the yard, sweating like a ferrel hog, and getting no where, that I can see the perks of a tiny house. I still want to build one. For the experience of building something myself, and to have a tiny little house to retreat into, or  refuge in if we have power outages. I think they're really cool, and if I was single, I'd live in one today!  But as a family of 3, we'd need 3 of those, one for each of use, and at $30-60K per tiny house, that would add up quick. So for now I will dwell in my small house, and think about solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, LED lights, organic gardening, and maybe building a tiny house over time. I still got that huge ugly shed to address.
My take away from the Tiny doc, for me, is don't worry so much about house stuff, try not to let the house own you, and don't hang onto stuff, if there's an empty space, let it be empty, don't fill it with stuff, and don't engage in retail therapy. Which our new budget had nipped. Also, don't feel like less of a person, just because I have 2 pants and a few shirts. That's all I need, because I don't go anywhere. I just need an outfit for going into public with. And don't buy clothes I don't normally wear, that included shoes. I'll just feel weird when I try to put them on to go to the store, and then I'll never wear them, and they'll just sit in the closet, and back at Goodwill where they came from. I'm a plain sorta person. I just like my jeans, my running shoes or flips, my T-shirts, and my pink and grey rain jacket. Some one once asked, "why don't we you buy ourselves some new clothes?", because we'd been wearing the same ones for a while. Well, because there's nothing wrong with the ones I'm wearing. I get a lot of hand me downs. Like I'm the pre-stop before Goodwill. I don't care, sometimes I get a goodie out of it. In return I complete the cycle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

LED Lighting

Look, I'm not exactly a fan of LED lights, especially no at Christmas. LED Christmas lights give me the sensation that I'm about to have a seizure (they blink you know). I'd actually be interested to see the research on that. Anyway, I read that LED lights for recessed lighting is a good alternative because they don't produce heat. Currently I have 8 can lights that reach at least 215 degrees each. I notice the heat, because dugong the day I don't have any lights on and the temp at 72 (that's warm for me) the house feels nice and cool. When it gets dark I switch on the lights in the kitchen which is 4 can lights. I begin to notice that it's feeling warm in the house and turn down the temp. Our house was rewired by the previous occupant without a permit, they seemed to have done it up to code, but the lighting and outlet situation is still a little weird. You choice is either all the lights on or none. It would be nice if the 4 lights where divided into two. I also need to install a dimmer. I don't need these things on full blast all the time.
I've been given the opportunity to try out some LED lights for free and thought why not? Have you noticed how expensive these things are?! I chose a generic brand to get more lights. They received good reviews. I also chose them in a daylight 5000K spectrum, because I already know how cold and interrogating the regular LED lights can be. So I'm trying to avoid this.
I'm waiting for the products to arrive so I can see if it's worth making the switch.
They try to boast a $600 savings over 18 years with 3 daily use. Who only has their lights on for 3 hours? Some of the lights are for my all night porch light. Plus $600/18 = $33 a year if you only have them on for 3 hours. I guess if you run them longer you save more? The whole point of this experiment is to determine:
1. Are the new LED lights comparable to incandescent
2. Will they hum with a dimmer switch?
3. Will I see a noticeable difference in my electric bill?
4. Will it lower the temperature in the rooms with can lighting?

You might be asking, why not just get lamps? Well, I hate lamps, but more than that, our house is small, so I don't want lamps. Also, I'm in practice for one day switching over to solar. So it's good to test the more energy friendly lighting out beforehand. It's going to be a long time, if ever before I can do solar. I'm planning on either converting the large shed into another livable unit, or building a tiny house with solar, ect. These lights will find a home somewhere. Even if it's the garage.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When You Buy a Home in the Country......Expect the Unexpected

It would have been nice if Joseph had gone ahead and let us know that the power for the pump house, for what ever reason, runs over to the out building, through the out building, and then over to the pump house. It pretty much runs around the entire yard before finding it's way to the pump house to power our well. But let me back up. When ever I dig outside I'm always finding random wiring and lots of glass, and rusty nails. Some wiring is old and just sticking out of the ground, uncapped. The other day, while working on grading the back, I dug up a wire. I discovered that it's the wire that comes out from the laundry room, and runs straight into the side wall of the out buildings, where it is connected to a junction box. We figured, they where just trying to run power off the house to the shed without having to pay the separate metering service. So today my husband decides at the height of day, and after I've only slept a few hours, to start making a huge racket with the tool box and commence work on disconnecting the wire, which was harmlessly exposed above the dirt. To be fair, it was only buried 1" under the ground, not 12" like it 's supposed to be. But is anything as it's supposed to be out here? Oh and it's 93 degrees out, and full sun. The perfect time of day to start a project of this nature, don't you think? So he fools around with the wire for an hour, and when he finally cuts and yanks it all out, and turns the power on, no water. In fact, while he was working I tried to water my garden and had no water. I said do I no have water because the power's off? This should have been a clue for us. Then I remembered digging up a wire heading from the pump house towards the out building in a different direction while digging up that stupid ornamental grass heap. Now it all makes sense, but now we have no water anywhere! I'm up before I'm ready, can't make coffee, it's hot out, my "don't know when to stop" husband is out there trying to rewire the pump back the way it was, and I'm trying to figure out why the hell the pump is wired via the stupid out building?! I hate this country rigged crap. I'll have to dig up the other wire, yank it all out from the out building and run a line straight to the pump house from the house. Geez, why is everything so complicated when idiots run wiring? It would have been nice if Joseph had mentions this schematic, since him and his daddy, who thinks he's an electrician rewired the entire house without permit! Don't get me started.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More toiling in the back garden

Planted all 4 varieties of corn, 3 varieties of cucumbers, 1 early summer squash, and 1 zucchini