Day 123 (October 3, 2015)

123 Corn Maze copy

I got up early.  No surprise.  Jessie and sister got up at 7:00am.  The first had French toast and the second had cereal.  So, I told older sister what the objectives for the day were (morning briefing).  Then, we dove into the day’s projects.

Project one:  We sealed the asbestos under the radiator cover lids using a brand of real-live spray asbestos seal.  Then, we cut sheets of reflectix to fit and used aluminum foil tape to tape those over the asbestos.  This system effectively seals the asbestos twice.

Project two:  Mount the five new smoke/fire/carbon monoxide detectors.  Surprisingly, the house had not a single smoke/fire alarm in it when we bought it.

Project three:  Re-attach the large front awning.  Eighty-percent of the concrete anchors on the awning on the front of the house had given way.  So, before winter, I wanted to put a band-aid on it.  We succeeded in getting two anchors on the right side re-anchored.  So, there’s no gap between the house and the awning any longer.  This project is going to take some more time, but it’s fixed for now.  There is a difference of opinion in the family as to whether the two awnings should stay or go.

Project four:  Trim the rhododendron on the right of the house so it’s branches aren’t dragging against the house or on the roof.  Check and check.

Project five:  Use caulk to get various shingles that are sticking up back down.  Unfortunately, when inspected, the shingles have a nail pop under them.  I could only reach one with the ladder I have.  I tried climbing out on one of the sandstone ledges to get a second one but couldn’t reach it from there.  That project will require better ladders or professional attention.

Project six:  Remedy the leak in the boiler’s water supply line.  While insulating the boiler, I discovered a leak in the copper plumbing.  I turned off the supply valve and let it go until a more convenient time.  Today, I turned the water back on and, guess what, no leak!  Great news.  As we finished the day, some hours later, I looked again and it was leaking.  Guess what?  Bad news.  As a part of the leak, there is a threaded fitting, so I decided to give it a try.  I used a wrench and tried to snug it up.  Guess what?  Great news.  It snugged an eighth of a turn.  Leak gone.

Project seven:  Install a length of black pipe to move the dryer 90° so it’s in line with the washer and not perpendicular to it.  Project eight:  Take down the bar of concrete left on the wall from the old concrete laundry tub that used to be in the basement.  Project nine:  Re-plumb the new plastic laundry tub two feet to the left so there’s room for the dryer on that wall.  Well, we disconnected the copper lines to the laundry tub and, good news, the valves didn’t leak.  We disconnected the lines to the washing machine and, bad news, the valves to that leaked like crazy.  When we got to the bar of concrete on the wall, we discovered that it was, good news, only attached with a line of caulk.  So, after taking an hour or so to tear it all apart and after turning off the house valves to the gas and water, we headed for Lowes for the second time that day.  Valves aren’t cheap these days and we needed four valves and two sets of stainless supply lines (the rubber ones on the washer looked scary).  A hundred and thirty six bucks later we were on our way back.  We plumbed the gas line, adding a five foot extension, changing it up and over a basement window, and checking for leaks, and declared that a success.  We harvested lots of short pieces of copper and scavenged all the elbows from the former laundry tub plumbing job and re-worked the whole affair with new quarter-turn valves.  Thanks to Bridgit solder, there were no leaks.  We put in two new threaded, quarter-turn valves for the laundry and added the shiny new braided stainless supply lines.  We added an extension to the dryer exhaust.  We re-soldered the copper on the tub valve and added make threaded adapters.  Then, we connected the flex stainless steal lines to the other male threaded adapters coming out of the on/off valves.  Finally, the tub, the washer, and the dryer were in line.  It was a beautiful sight.  The only thing left to do is to hook up the drain on the tub.  The washer drains into the tub so that’s a necessary step.

So, in a blog about Jessie, you ask, dear reader, what does all this home remediation have to do with Jessie?  Well, she’s gotta have clean clothes doesn’t she?  She needs heat in the house, doesn’t she?  She needs a roof that doesn’t leak, doesn’t she?  She needs a home without asbestos, doesn’t she.  I’m surprised you even felt the need to ask.

So, what did Jessie do?  Well, older sister acted as middleman.  She helped me with materials and tools.  And, she engaged Jessie with every project.  Jessie helped peel the back off tape and threw away the paper on the asbestos project (but got no where near the asbestos).  Jessie held the end of the measuring tape.  Jessie swept and held the dustpan a hundred times.  Jessie got rags to help sop up the valves that leaked and needed replaced.  Jessie threw away old valves and small lengths of copper.  In between tasks, Jessie read books in the Little House on the Prairie series.  Jessie was a great help, and at the end of the day, she had heaps of praise heaped on her, and her dad made her a vanilla milkshake.  It was a great day of a dad and his oldest and youngest daughter getting a lot of necessary chores done.  And, if you inhale deeply, you can tell that Jessie’s clothes smell a lot better.

In the course of the day, Jessie’s grandpa stopped to visit and he helped a bit.

Another fun thing happened.  While sweating copper, the morning-installed smoke alarm went off.  It’s comforting to know they work.  And, most of us have had the experience of taking the batteries out of one.  I got to disassemble one for a false alarm on it’s first day out.

When the valves leaked and there was water all over the floor, we saw that it all drains toward the floor drain.  So, the boiler, the water heater, the laundry appliances, the basement shower and toilet, and the laundry tub will drain to the right place if there is a problem.

Last, but not least, after a couple hours after we’d stop working, I went back to see if the boiler leak was fixed from my snugging up the fitting a quarter turn.  It was bone dry.  So, for the first time, I turned on and ignited the pilot, I waited til it warmed and gave it the gas, and I walked upstairs and threw on the thermostat.  It was a beautiful thing.  It was the first real trial run of the refurbished boiler and she runs like a champ.  The eighty-year-old girl ran like she did when she was new and the radiators popped and cracked as the warm water expanded their metal jackets.  It was a beautiful end to day one-twenty-three’s twelve-hour workday.

Blessings:  An oldest daughter who can sweep, deal with sewer lines and spiders, deal with an old and cranky father, deal with her five-year-old sister, who can see what needs to be done and do it without prompting, who can give her dad a backrub while he reads the Bible at the end of a day, and who can take her five-year-old sister under her wing and help train her to grow up to be just like her.  By the way, since the blogging son is no longer able to take care of the blog, that oldest sister is now adding that to her list of things to do (tears in her eyes as she reads the last sentence).

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