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Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby tbone on Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:33 pm

Revisiting our discussion about water heaters from a year ago. So I'm finally getting around to having to replace my water heater for a few reasons (likely all related)
- It's 12 years old and who knows what horrors occurred in the previous cycle of house renters/foreclosure in the years preceding me buying the house
- Apparently my inspector sucked ass because there is something obvious that every plumber points out right away in that there are ferrous joints connected to copper hot/cold pipes on the top, which have started to rust out and likely cause sediment to build up inside the tank, as well as increase risk that shit will just pop and spray water in my basement.
- Hot water is leaking out of the tank and into the cold supply line, causing all of my cold taps in the house to run hot for a few seconds before cooling down.

I was really close to pulling the trigger on a tankless, but am having second thoughts. First it's like 3x as much money to buy and install one vs. a regular old tank(ful?) model. It would take me something like 10 or 15 years to get ROI. Second, one of the plumbers was telling me that there's no good way to route the exhaust through my basement wall outside because there are windows nearby any possible location so it would be against code. Third, we have a huge 74 gal tank and never run out of hot water. By the time my baby daughter is a teenager maybe then we will, but the warranty will be up on a tank model by then anyway.

So now, I've flipped and I'm pretty sure I'm going with a regular old tank water heater, but that thing about venting tankless water heaters out, not near a window -- anyone know if that is bullshit or actual code in Chicago? I just have this need to know. Would be nice if I could just vent it out the chimney like the current water heater but apparently that isn't possible.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby tbone on Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:36 pm

Oh yeah also are there any particular brands of water heaters I should avoid? Every plumber claims that the brand they sell are the best and all of the others are total bullshit that they always have to fix for a lot of money, including the brand that the last plumber just claimed the opposite about.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby elisha wiesner on Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:35 pm

We have a Rinnai on demand tankless heater and I fucking love it! It gets super hot almost instantly and you never run out of water. It costs next to nothing to run. We've had it for 7 years and I'll I've had to do is clean the filter once or twice a year. I've had regular old tanks in the past and they leak, elements burn out and need replacing and unless they're huge, you run out of hot water if multiple people take back to back showers. If your planning on staying in your place, I highly recommend it if it's possible.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby elisha wiesner on Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:37 pm

Also, solar pre heat for hot water is cheap to instal and is the best bang for your buck as far as solar goes. I have multiple friends who have built and installed their owe pre heat systems but I think commercial ones aren't terribly expensive.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby tbone on Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:41 pm

The quotes I get for plumbers here in Chicago to buy & install tankless water heaters are like $6k-$7k which is insane. Also, of course, they shit talk the Rinnai and say the only one they will install is a Navien.

The quotes I get for regular tank models are like $2k-$2400 which also seems insane but is only a third of that cost. It's a 74 gal tank so it's huge, but apparently that's the size that everyone says is right for our house.

Also they all do a hard sell on tacking on some maintenance plan where they knock off more money from the install of the water heater than it costs to buy the maintenance plan "so you'd be dumb not to do it!" which is a total crock of shit. Just sell me the damn thing for what it should cost, let's not turn this into a fuckin' used car situation. "You gotta rust proof this bad boy!"
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby elisha wiesner on Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:01 pm

tbone wrote:The quotes I get for plumbers here in Chicago to buy & install tankless water heaters are like $6k-$7k which is insane. Also, of course, they shit talk the Rinnai and say the only one they will install is a Navien.

The quotes I get for regular tank models are like $2k-$2400 which also seems insane but is only a third of that cost. It's a 74 gal tank so it's huge, but apparently that's the size that everyone says is right for our house.

Also they all do a hard sell on tacking on some maintenance plan where they knock off more money from the install of the water heater than it costs to buy the maintenance plan "so you'd be dumb not to do it!" which is a total crock of shit. Just sell me the damn thing for what it should cost, let's not turn this into a fuckin' used car situation. "You gotta rust proof this bad boy!"


That's nuts! I bought my Rinnai online and had my plumber put it in. I think he charged me $500. I had my gas company send a guy to do the gas hookup and they charged about the same, maybe a little more. I probably did some of it like installed the PT 2x4's to mount it on but really, I didn't do much. Total was under $2500.

A regular tank you can actually put in yourself pretty easily. I put a new one in my Moms house last year and have put a few others in over the years. It's really not that difficult. I bought it at a local plumbers supply house for something like $500 and had it hooked up later that day.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby 154 on Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:47 pm

tbone wrote:The quotes I get for regular tank models are like $2k-$2400 which also seems insane but is only a third of that cost. It's a 74 gal tank so it's huge, but apparently that's the size that everyone says is right for our house.


Even that seems high. When ours died right in the middle of the fuckin' polar vortex (+ a few pipes that had to be brought up to code) it was about $1,500. And that was with Rocket Plumbing, which we went with out of desperation but didn't strike me as the cheapest place at all.

I hope to go tankless next time though.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Anitrak on Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:19 pm

Maybe this will come off as venting but any advice would be appreciated. My wife is all out of sorts, I'm just frustrated.

I finished my basement by myself. Finished the project about 6 months ago. All through the construction I never saw a lick of water down there. But twice this week we had about a two foot area up against an exterior wall be drenched. I'm chalking it up to there being a crack in the wall and both times there being excessive water right up against the house. The first time our gutter drain backed up, second the outdoor faucet came on for 20 minutes and no one realized. Do I do anything? Do I rip out the wall at this point and attempt to repair the cement? Or do I just leave it as is? I cleaned up the floor and I think since we're going into winter we really shouldn't see any water near there until the spring.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby icing on Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:12 pm

Anitrak wrote:Do I rip out the wall

no. your best bet is to leave it, because,
early next spring you're going to dig a big ass hole/trench on the outside and lay some drain pipe pointing downhill/away from the building. then consider fixing the interior. sounds like a huge big job, but it's really just digging. one saturday and like $30. or do it now.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Anitrak on Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:03 pm

icing wrote:
Anitrak wrote:Do I rip out the wall

no. your best bet is to leave it, because,
early next spring you're going to dig a big ass hole/trench on the outside and lay some drain pipe pointing downhill/away from the building. then consider fixing the interior. sounds like a huge big job, but it's really just digging. one saturday and like $30. or do it now.


Good thought. That's really easy to do. That's why I come here.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Anitrak on Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:03 pm

icing wrote:
Anitrak wrote:Do I rip out the wall

no. your best bet is to leave it, because,
early next spring you're going to dig a big ass hole/trench on the outside and lay some drain pipe pointing downhill/away from the building. then consider fixing the interior. sounds like a huge big job, but it's really just digging. one saturday and like $30. or do it now.


Good thought. That's really easy to do. That's why I come here.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Anitrak on Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:04 am

Update on my basement crack.

Renting a back hoe to dig out a 7 foot basement wall. Going to put up a membrane and tar it up. The way that the yard has settled right in front of the windows is going to keep pooling and frankly I'm more apt to nip this in the bud now rather than wonder what else is going on behind those walls. Plus I live in Indiana where it's just cold and went all winter. We're going to have some good 50 degree weather coming up and I don't want to keep wondering if my basement is gathering water while I'm gone. Wish me luck.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Madman Munt on Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:02 am

I helped my Dad put a double-glazed window in his garage recently.

If you watch those installation-cunts on youtube you will observe them knocking in the beading tap-tap-tap in seconds like it's nothing. When you come to do this you will find it is not nothing; if you haven't developed the knack it will seem really hard. Either you tap too soft and it don't do shit, or you tap too hard and it feels like you'll smash something. That's if you can even hit the damn thing flat-on. It will keep popping out and you will curse. Also, if your rubber mallet is not of the "non-marking" variety, it will leave bloody great bash-stains all over the virgin white frame. You will panic as these will not appear to wipe off.

So here are some tips:

Rubber mallet: try to get a narrow-headed one that won't mark the plastic. Using a fat head means you'll hit the bead with the edge of the head which makes the mallet pivot and you won't be able to direct the force properly. You can put the mallet head in a sock to prevent marking! This also enables you to slide the mallet across the glass to get a flat-on impact with the bead.

Start in the corner and move along slowly, lots of small, firm taps- don't let it pop out. If in doubt, keep tapping in the same place, then move along just slightly. If you move along too much the tap will have the opposite effect and pull the bead back out.

Mallet bash-stains can be removed with a pencil eraser. This is time consuming and hard work so best to avoid them in the first place.

Apart from those minor problems the installation went well. Not a job to be afraid of.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby wotown on Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:26 pm

Does anyone know how to change the wiring on a doorbell if it only rings WHILE the doorbell is being pressed down?

The doorbell has a pair of wires running to to the transformer & a pair each to the front and back door.

Internet told me to wire a "hot" from each to the doorbell (which has screws for Transformer, Front and Back) and then nut the neutrals. I'm thinking maybe I nutted the hots and wired the neutrals? Any other thoughts? The pairs of wires are red and blue.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby twelvepoint on Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:26 pm

A couple questions, some of which are water related!

My family is moving in December from a small condo in Cambridge MA to a house-house in Arlington (next town out from Cambridge).

Anyway, place is in great shape, but the inspector tried the sump pump and it was dead. He said to pick up 2 since the main one will inevitably die when it's most needed. Anyone have a recommendation? We were budgeting up to $200 per pump. The pump is pretty small, about the size of a big butternut squash, and not one of the four foot long deals that I remember people used to have.

Similarly, is it common to have battery backup for sump pumps? I imagine I'd want to prepare for power outages if there are rains heavy enough to flood the basement?

Lastly, the logical end of this kind of preparedness (short of a fallout shelter) would be to get a generator. Anyone have any suggestions on sizing these? Portable vs permanent exterior install? I suppose if there were an outage I'd want to keep the fridge running, along with the forced hot water (gas) heating system. Plus some lights I guess. Can't imagine that would be over 5KW.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby elisha wiesner on Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:18 pm

Madman Munt wrote:I helped my Dad put a double-glazed window in his garage recently.

If you watch those installation-cunts on youtube you will observe them knocking in the beading tap-tap-tap in seconds like it's nothing. When you come to do this you will find it is not nothing; if you haven't developed the knack it will seem really hard. Either you tap too soft and it don't do shit, or you tap too hard and it feels like you'll smash something. That's if you can even hit the damn thing flat-on. It will keep popping out and you will curse. Also, if your rubber mallet is not of the "non-marking" variety, it will leave bloody great bash-stains all over the virgin white frame. You will panic as these will not appear to wipe off.

So here are some tips:

Rubber mallet: try to get a narrow-headed one that won't mark the plastic. Using a fat head means you'll hit the bead with the edge of the head which makes the mallet pivot and you won't be able to direct the force properly. You can put the mallet head in a sock to prevent marking! This also enables you to slide the mallet across the glass to get a flat-on impact with the bead.

Start in the corner and move along slowly, lots of small, firm taps- don't let it pop out. If in doubt, keep tapping in the same place, then move along just slightly. If you move along too much the tap will have the opposite effect and pull the bead back out.

Mallet bash-stains can be removed with a pencil eraser. This is time consuming and hard work so best to avoid them in the first place.

Apart from those minor problems the installation went well. Not a job to be afraid of.


Forgive my ignorance but what is the beading?
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby wotown on Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:37 pm

twelvepoint wrote:Similarly, is it common to have battery backup for sump pumps? I imagine I'd want to prepare for power outages if there are rains heavy enough to flood the basement?


When I bought my house there was a car battery next to the sump pump, but no one's explained to me how to connect it, so I've just had a car battery sitting there for 8 1/2 years. I do know it's a standard practice and I really ought to learn how I'm supposed to hook it up.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby Madman Munt on Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:12 pm

elisha wiesner wrote:Forgive my ignorance but what is the beading?


The plastic strips that run around the inside of the frame and seal in the windowpane. You need to bang them in after you put the glass in.
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby twelvepoint on Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:58 pm

wotown wrote:
twelvepoint wrote:Similarly, is it common to have battery backup for sump pumps? I imagine I'd want to prepare for power outages if there are rains heavy enough to flood the basement?


When I bought my house there was a car battery next to the sump pump, but no one's explained to me how to connect it, so I've just had a car battery sitting there for 8 1/2 years. I do know it's a standard practice and I really ought to learn how I'm supposed to hook it up.


Imagine if you had a car battery with a sump pump you'd need some way to keep it charged off regular 120VAC, as well as a pump that ran on 12VDC? Off to Google I go....
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Re: Home repair/maintenance/improvement thread

Postby djimbe on Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:16 am

twelvepoint wrote:
wotown wrote:
twelvepoint wrote:Similarly, is it common to have battery backup for sump pumps? I imagine I'd want to prepare for power outages if there are rains heavy enough to flood the basement?


When I bought my house there was a car battery next to the sump pump, but no one's explained to me how to connect it, so I've just had a car battery sitting there for 8 1/2 years. I do know it's a standard practice and I really ought to learn how I'm supposed to hook it up.


Imagine if you had a car battery with a sump pump you'd need some way to keep it charged off regular 120VAC, as well as a pump that ran on 12VDC? Off to Google I go....


yes, they make specific pumps for this type of thing. I have one. The battery pump is typically mounted off the AC pump...mine has a bracket that mounts the pump to the discharge pipe on the main pump. Leads from the battery pump come to a box that houses the battery and charges it when the regular AC pump is in service. I got it as the pump with the battery box, and then had to get a marine grade battery to put in the box. Took about an hour to hook it all up including the plumbing to tie the battery pump discharge into the main pump discharge line.
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