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what is your state doing about energy?

I was reading Clean Technica and ran across this gem.

Tracking Pending US Energy Legislation In One Place

which sent me to the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker a searchable database of pending legislation around different types of energy bills.
Now you can find out what your legislators are doing about renewables energy and tax credits.

hattip Clean Technica

Time Out

Sorry for the lack of posting, but personal issues have sidelined me for some time. Recently a catastrophic computer failure complicated this as well. But that part is over….

Using WordPress as my blogging tool of choice is requiring me to make some back end changes which require some gymnastics that may affect my posting over the next few months. Besides remodeling I do computer repair, maintenance, and a spot of web design which adds more time there and less here. But I hope to get back on the post soon..
Thx for your support.

House Refresh the Kitchen

Recently I refreshed a house.  Owner died, heirs want to sell.  In the current market balancing cash in vs cash out is a delicate act. You want to add value but you can’t afford to overbuild for the market. Once you own a house you can of course go crazy.

Here is the kitchen in this house which is just like every other house in the neighborhood, which at one time was a ‘development’.

In the foreground is the breakfast area with wood posts forming a visual separation between the family room and the galley style kitchen. This is untouched from the day the developer turned over the keys. Back in the day where wallpaper was thought to be a good idea in kitchens. The wallpaper has to go, the popcorn ceiling in the breakfast nook has to go, the cabinets need serious cleaning. The formica counters are showing extreme age.

The first order of business is to eliminate the posts, remove the wallpaper, skimcoat the walls,(required as the builders do not final finish these walls figuring that the wallpaper will cover imperfections) clean and refinish the cabinets, order and install new tops and clean and refinish the floor. The floor was left as it is a one piece sheet vinyl in good condition.

Just these few tasks begin to open up the space. After removing the wallpaper, which was not real hard as I had my daughter do it, and using a spray bottle filled with water she made it go away in short order. We cleaned and refinished the cabinets first, bagged them and then primed and painted. The counters were the last major items installed before doing the floor. Here is the final result.

Here is the kitchen start from the reverse angle.

Here is the finish.

Here is a longer view from the family room.

Textured Drywall Patch

A recent job had me checking the plumbing on a house being freshened up. After replacing the mixing valve in one bathroom I came to find out that the previous owner had never used the shower, which filled the valve body with crap requiring replacement. This of course after the walls had been painted and carpet laid. Since the shower was tiled. entry from the front was a non starter.

After measuring the walls, I got lucky and discovered that the common wall was in a closet. In order for the plumber to get in, I needed to cut him a hole. Because the walls were textured, I needed to minimize the damage, so I cut the access with a utility knife. This takes longer than with a keyhole saw or a router, but the walls have been painted and new carpet installed.

I bagged and taped off the floor and cut the hole.

Here is the hole.  The studs were already in place. Yeah the plumber got his work done in that little hole. He is that good.

Next up is re-installing the drywall.  Because of  the backing screwing it back in was a breeze. Looking at the bottom of this photo you can see where I taped off the trim and taped it to the poly on the floor.

I used my old friend mesh tape for covering the seams. Here I have taped the horizontal and vertical wall seams. If you look closely you can see the tape line where somebody else  had opened this wall before to work on the drain.

Tech Tip: When you tape or repair drywall always do the butt joints first, cover the ends of the butt joints with the flats, (factory recessed seams) and finally the corners allowing you to overlap the ends with your corner tape. It makes taping easier as you will not telegraph the seams requiring more sanding to finish.

Here is the final tape. Notice the corner tape extends beyond the flat. This helps with finishing.

Next is the mud. Here your coats need to be thin enough to just cover without creating large bulges that are more work.

Because this is a ‘knock down’ texture After the mud is dry and you have sanded it lightly, texture in a can is applied. Follow the directions on the can as far as testing it on cardboard and following the directions in terms of drying time before ‘knocking it down’.

After this dries, before you repaint, lightly sand the area to match the original finish. You want to round the edges to hide your repair especially if your wall has been painted many times. I took the time to cover and texture the previous repair since I was in the neighborhood.

All done! the photo sucks but nobody who has looked at it can find it. And that is name of the game.

My Affair With BEHR is Over

Until my latest project I was a fanboy of BEHR Premium Plus Interior Paint. Really.  I have used it on every project I have done in the past few years. Probably close to 200 gallons of the stuff. The biggest reason to use it was its thickness which translated into 1 coat coverage.  Since I roll and brush as opposed to spraying,  the body and coverage  saves me labor and produced a superior finish.

Not anymore. The latest batch I used  was  thinner and did  not provide the coverage I am used to, and made much  more work. Like two coats on cutting and rolling. After covering the off white walls with PVA Primer before painting.  I used to run a cut line and roll a room and be done. I was using the Ultra White in semi gloss and Flat.  Both were thin in 1 gal and 5 gallon sizes.

BEHR paint was a thick paint that once you got used to it, allowed you to lay on a single coat.  Using a 1/2” nap roller allowed me to roll a lot of paint without dripping or running. I had to down size to a 3/8” roller and still had drips. And needed two coats. Major pain in the ass when you budget your time on one coat and done.

 

I will be using Valspar from Lowes for a while. I recently used it on an exterior project both enamel and masonry paint, with great results.

 

Baby’s First Steps

My current project is a freshen up for a house. My number one daughter has been working along side of me.
Yesterday she took her first steps on drywall stilts.

Cutting in ceilings is sooo much easier on stilts vs moving ladders.

Skip Troweled Ceilings

Popcorn ceilings were sold as an enhancement for many years by tract developers, advertising ease of maintenance by virtue of being white, so as not to require painting, and it acoustic properties in reducing sound. Both of these claims are of dubious value, when the reality is that it was cheaper for builders to spray ceilings rather than finish them.

A typical taping job requires a tape coat, a cover coat, and one or more finish coats to produce a smooth finish. By eliminating the ceiling finish coats builders saved time and labor by spraying ceilings. Some builders would not even apply a cover coat, but would spray the texture on extra heavy. Cheaper for them, a pain in the ass now.

Having removed the popcorn on the current project, we were luck in that the builder did use a cover coat before spraying the ceilings.
We still have work as scraping ceilings is not an automatic process. Here is a scraped ceiling.

The popcorn is gone but the ceiling is rough. Because of time and budget constraints we are going to texture the ceilings using a ‘skip trowel technique.

Skip troweling is a technique that used regular taping mud applied to create a cover and a texture. This is what it looks like in process.

Here is Rich using a wide knife to apply the compound.

If you look closely at the knife you can see that the compound is thick at the edges and thinner in the center. When he applies it, the thin areas get skipped as he applies the mud, giving the skipped appearance. A quick troweling smooths the ceiling giving it the illusion of depth while making it easier to paint and clean. This can be done using smaller knives, it just takes more time. And a lot of practice.
Here is a ceiling just finished but still wet.

This gives you a better idea of the ceiling with the new texture.

Remember that you will need to use a primer/sealer before final painting.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal

One of the most sworn at design details in housing is the popcorn ceiling. They collect dirt, dust, spiderwebs, and all sorts of crap. You can’t wash them. You can’t dust them. You can paint them if you want to spend an enormous amount of money on paint, and don’t mind a stiff neck.

You can remove them.

Here is a quick look at the procedure.
Take down any lights or fans on the ceiling. Remove the furniture, because you need to bag the entire floor. If you cannot remove the furniture, you will have to move it to cover the floor, move the stuff and cover the rest of the floor, and move it again to keep it out of your way while you are scraping the stuff off. If you are not painting the walls at the same time you will want to poly the walls. A quick look on bagging the walls can be seen here.
Bagging the floor consists of covering it with a layer of poly sheeting to catch the popcorn as it comes down. You can buy it in 10′, 12′ and even wider sizes. .7 to 1 mil. is all the thickness you will need. Buy the widest stuff you will need. It comes in 400′ rolls. Clean up is a lot easier with not having seams on the floor.

First up is moistening the ceiling. This does two important things for you. It softens the popcorn making it easier to remove and the moisture reduces the dust, which is especially important if you are living in the house.

Here my friend Rich from Arrowhead Drywall is using a simple pump up sprayer to spray plain water to moisten the popcorn.

Next is scraping the ceiling.

Rich is using a standard 6” taping knife to scrape the ceiling.

Here is the floor after the popcorn is down.

Here is the ceiling after.

At this point you need to roll up the plastic and dispose of the trash.
You will need to decide how you want to finish the ceiling. Skim coating it for a smooth surface, or a texture effect like a skip trowel, knockdown, or some other effect. You will need to rebag the floor.

Termite Treatment

Last week we had a termite inspection done. Here is the termite diagram.

Having discovered the termite problem, we move to treatment.

I met with Donovan, the technician from Bills Pest and Termite who showed up on time. He and I walked the property discussing the problem. Professional, Courteous, and Knowledgeable. He then began the prep for treatment. On the interior a series of holes are drilled through the slab into the ground beneath. This is a shot of the garage.

One of the amazing things here is two handed drilling.

Yep. He ran two drills punching holes with a precision and speed that was a joy to watch. He drilled the entire perimeter of the garage and not just the area highlighted on the bug chart above.
Moving into the house proper, we detached the carpet and pad to make the drilling easier.

After the holes were drilled the treatment began. Using a wand, he pressured sprayed the termiticide into the holes.

Having completed the inside, he moved outside and cleared a channel around the entire structure and performed an ‘outside wrap’ which is a complete perimeter application.

Part of the outside treatment was treating the sidewalk slab at the front entry.

After completing the treatment, he sealed all of the holes, swept up the dust, replaced the carpets and put back the rock and filler he had moved treating the outside. It was almost like he had never been here.

Finally he attached the treatment sticker, which doubles as the warranty to the water heater.

Why the water heater? Most folks in moving never take the water heater. It is a fixed convenient location for it.

If you need termite treatment in Phoenix, Bills Pest and Termite is the company to call. Highly Recommended!

For the time and money crowd, the inspection was free and took 90 minutes. The treatment was just under $700.00 and took 2 1/2 hours from opening his truck door to his driving off. Your situation will be different. This is this job only.

Termite Hunting

A recent project has me up close and personal with termites. We are cleaning up this property to sell it. The owner had lived here 30 years or so. Needs paint, carpet and some updating. This house also has subterranean termites. You cannot sell a house that has termites in Arizona. At All. There are really only two areas that will kill a sale in Arizona, Roofing and Termites. Especially if you get a mortgage. Crappy roofing invites damage from above, Termites from below.

It is almost gospel that in Arizona you will have termites. The question is when and what kind. This is one of those parts of ownership/remodeling where you call the professionals.
Here is a bedroom wall photo.

This is a termite infestation that penetrated the wall and was chewing on a wood picture frame.
Here is a photo of termite tubes in a closet.

This is a photo of the pony wall 3/4 of the length of the house away from the bedroom wall termite damage.

This is a closeup of the trim underneath the wood cap. Note the direction of the damage.

Jon from Bills Pest and Termite came by for the inspection. This was probably the most informative 90 minutes I have spent with any contractor in some time. I now know way more about termites than I did a few days ago. He was courteous, knowledgeable, professional and was happy to answer my questions and explain the process as we went along. Bills is highly recommended.

Having completed the exterior inspection we moved indoors.
In the garage the inspection revealed a couple of ‘tubes’. The black vertical squiggly’s between the floor and the bottom of the trim.

Pulling up the carpet in the bedroom beneath the wall damage revealed this tube.

Here is another photo showing the termite freeways on the tackless strips used to hold the carpet in place.

The reason that this is significant is that in re carpeting, most companies will just reuse the original tackless strips rather than replacing them. One of the reasons is that when they are first put down the concrete is soft,(relatively speaking) and has not had 30 or so years of hardening. Nailing anything to fully cured concrete without drilling is extremely hard.

Every bid that you will get on re carpeting will have a line on having to replace tackless over a certain length as an extra, because of the difficulty of putting down new strips. In the photo above you can see where this needs to be done because the termites have destroyed it.

Because of the nature of the infestation, they will be pulling the carpet back, drilling a series of holes through the slab inside the house, introducing the pesticide and then sealing the holes. So if you are not replacing the carpet, note that you will need to probably replace some of these. (this falls into the remodeling ‘surprise’ category as normally most folks would not think about this)

But Wait! Before I leave you I want to take you back to the pony wall.

Here you can see an angled shot of the damage on this trim.

One of the things I learned is that this type of termite only consumes the wood between the growth rings, which is why the damage runs parallel to the grain rather than across it like the dry termite.

Here is how these termites got to the wall.

There is a crack in the slab from the garage to this wall. You can’t see them in this photo but there are termite tubes in that crack.

Next week I will post the procedure, and move on.