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August 2009
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those darn designers 1

I run across a lot of weird things in remodeling. Occasionally something appears that reinforces my long held belief that architects and designers should be required to serve an internship and residency like doctors before they get a license to practice. Like vaulted ceilings. Heating and cooling spaces you cannot possibly use because you are not 10 feet tall.
A lot of other things that gripe me is the lack of thought on maintenance down the road.

A recent paint job brings this home. Here are two bathrooms in the same house.


Never mind the counter material choice, think about having to replace the guts of these toilets. There is enough room to remove the top, but that is about it. You can almost replace the flapper, but if you have to replace the fill valve, you literally have to disconnect the toilet and drag it out from the wall. In addition to the fill valve, you will need a new wax ring, and have to go through the dance to reseal it properly.

those darn designers.

Painting Popcorn Ceilings

Painting ceilings is an unnatural act. Gravity is fighting you, unless you are on the extreme end of the height curve, your size is fighting you, and if you try to get by with cheap paint, it will fight you too. If those items are daunting, painting ‘popcorn’ ceilings is a whole  ‘nother level of nasty. However, there are times where it must be done.

Acoustic  Textured Ceilings aka Popcorn Ceilings were quite the thing for some time. They are still used because they are cheap to do. Basically popcorn texture is vermiculite, drywall mud and water based
white paint. Some folks never primed, but just sprayed it on extra

The drywall is primed and the texture is sprayed on.  It collects dust and gets dull and dingy. Here is an example.

It gets dull and dark over time. You can remove it, and skim coat it, which is almost as messy as
having a flood stop by, or you can paint it. This post is about painting it.

Your mission is to paint these ceilings. You will need a crap load of ‘ceiling’ paint. Flat is best. You will also need:

Painters Tape

Masking Tape

Wide Plastic sheeting

A 4” corner roller

A 9” ‘rough surface’ roller.(3/4” nap)

An extension pole

One gallon plastic Ziplock bags for keeping the roller moist in between episodes.

I am painting the ceilings with Behr Ultra White Interior Flat. I am
using it for two reasons. One, it is really, really White. Two. It is a
thick bodied paint allowing me to use a 3/4” nap roller to get it up
without painting the floor. Painting your ceiling white pays off in being able to use lower wattage lights for lighting your rooms.

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 trying to get paint on the ceiling.  Trust me, you really want to remove the furniture.

You will need to get a roll of wide plastic sheeting for ‘bagging’ the floor and or the walls if you are leaving the walls alone. (If you are not doing the walls at the same time you are doing the
ceilings, you will need to bag the walls as well. You will need a
couple of friends to help you do the walls)The orange and blue stores sell it in big boxes. You will need blue painters tape and regular masking tape. 1 1/2 or 2” wide.

The first thing that you will need to do is to ‘bag’ the floor. Vacuum the floor, especially the corners so that the painters tape will stick well. Wall to Wall, cover it with Plastic. I recommend .7 to 1 mil thick plastic. It is thick enough to walk on and catch the crap that will fall.

First, tape the perimeter of the room with the painters tape, tucking it on the edge of the carpet. Painters tape is more expensive, but sticks to carpet very well and doesn’t leave glue residue like regular masking tape. Next, roll out your plastic and with the regular masking tape, tape the edges of the plastic to the painters tape you have laid down. The edges of your room should look like this. If you do not do the entire floor, paint and popcorn will find its way into the exposed areas, and cause to you to re-arrange your furniture strangely or add new carpeting to your list of things to buy.

The rest of the room will look like this. These photos show you the stuff that will fall down while you are painting. Use masking tape for the seams because it is cheaper than painters tape.

Wear a long sleeve shirt that you are not fond of when doing this or your arms will look like this.

You will need two rollers and an extension pole. The pole will allow you to paint from the floor.  A regular 9” with a ‘rough surface’ roller, and a 4” ‘corner’ roller. The corner roller will give you a nice line for the big one later.

Here is your corner. See dull and dingy. You probably the top photo was just a bad photo.

Painting popcorn uses a lot of paint. This project was 1100 sq.ft. of ceiling and I used 18 gallons. Around 60 sq.ft. a gallon. Figure 50-60 sq. ft. per gallon. Buy it in 5 gal. buckets. You will need to load your roller and work carefully to cover the ceiling. You need enough pressure to get the paint on, covering and sealing the texture, yet not so hard that you pull the texture down, causing you more problems.

At the end however, it will look nice.

Home Depot’s Curious Faucet Section

6a00d8345237e469e20115715fefa3970c-800wi I was in the Home Depot last week looking for a repair kit for this
faucet. I was in the orange store as the client remembered getting it
there. It is a Delta Cierco Around 170 bucks.

Here in Arizona the water is bad, not being toxic
or smelly, but in having large quantities of dissolved minerals. Folks
in other parts of the country probably wonder what products like lime
and scale removers are for but here in the southwest they sit next to the glass cleaners.

These minerals act like abrasives on seals and the moving parts of faucets, so they leak. They all leak. I don’t care what the ads or salesman tell you, sooner or later your faucets will leak. So when you are spending money on a faucet you should make sure that repair kits are available.  Really. If the place you are buying it from does not have repair kits in the same section as the faucets, run away! Unlike a lot of products, faucet manufacturers have pretty explcit instructions for repair. Plus faucets are not like electric outlets where the only decisions are amperage and color. They are different and do not share parts.

Home Depot and Lowes both offer a selection of faucets that will work
fine and look good. What they do not do but should, is on those cute
little tags with the price and model numbers is to put the model number
and location of the repair kits for them. I mean really, the repair
kits are right there on the other side of the aisle. I mean you are already installing the thing, so knowing that you can fix it later will make you a hero.

Some expensive faucets have parts that are only available through plumbing supply houses. These require a plumber, usually twice. First to figure out what brand it is, then another service call to install it after ordering the parts hoping that they are, 1-available, 2-not on back order,3-not more expensive than the faucet is worth.

If you are apprehensive by the selections in the orange or blue store, a plumbing supply
house will have you hearing the danger music  from  Jaws screaming in
your brain.

Maytag Major Appliances (Don’t Buy Them!) and Extended Warranties.

I don’t think that Maytag produces good appliances or is a very good company anymore. Let me expand on this.

I bought a bunch of Maytag products almost 5 years ago. At the Maytag Store(which are not owned by Maytag, but are independently owned stores that hustle Maytag Products) My ex and I had sold our house, we were both moving and were under the gun to get out of the old house. A 25 cubic foot
Refrigerator,(which has had the compressor replaced already, and as I discovered my freezer has the same compressor) a 25 cubic foot freezer, and a ‘Commerical Grade’ washer
dryer pair. My ex also bought the same  refer (and has had the compressor replaced also) and a Neptune Washer Dryer Pair that turned out to be the Appliances from Hell. We also bought the factory Extended Warranties for these.
Dave the salesman made a lot of money that day, but he is also a bottom feeder. (The Neptune was so bad that there was a class action lawsuit filed and
Dave the salesman said nothing about it when I asked him point blank if
there was any reported problems with the machines we picked out, to
which he said No., which is why he is a bottom feeder.)

Normally I don’t buy extended  warranties on products, as most stuff
that I buy either works or breaks inside of the standard warranty time
frame. I bought the warranty because I don’t want to be an appliance
repairman above the stuff I already know how to do.

My Maytag Washer SAV2555AWW broke last Sunday. This is a knob operated non electronic washer. Simple operation for a simple guy. I am a beltline washer, above the belt is one load with the towels and sheets, and below the beltline is the other load.  I do laundry once a week. Since I live alone, we are not talking about massive laundry action, which is probably more than you wanted about my laundry habits.


So a scratch paper calculation would have me doing 520 loads over almost 5 years. Not what you would call real hard use.

I have an extended warranty for it. I tried calling on Monday from my cell phone, and ended in a voice mail repeating loop where the voice says “Select one of the following options”, pauses and says “Select one of the following options”. . .

Tuesday I called and after a significant wait time got someone with lungs, who ‘knew’ me and had my information on the screen based on my phone number. I am thinking this is pretty cool. Having my information at hand so things can move along. I described the problem, “got loud, started puking water on the floor from the bottom”.

To my amazement, I was scheduled for service the very next day. Cool I thought, moving on with my life etc.

Wednesday, the repairman arrived at the outside of the time window, and after describing the problem, he was able to diagnose it in a little less than 30 seconds. Cool I thought, thinking that he would repair it and my life would continue. Not so fast.

The repairman did not have the transmission on the truck with him, nor could he repair it. He had to go back to the shop and and describe the fix and get authorization to order parts, let alone fix it.

Here is the deal on this. Sniffing on the web brings up the triple lip seal problem which is not limited to my model but is also a problem on these models: which are Maytag and Amana units.








SAV4655EWQ; SAV4655EWW; SAV4710AWW; CW9500W; NAV5800AWW; NAV6800AWW;
Source: Maytag bulletin

Which tells us that there are a lot of wrappers and not much innovation. The bulletin (PDF) goes into detail on replacing the bearing assembly including a whole bunch of special tools to get to it. The last page of the bulletin tells the repairman that he needs to buy  a new tool to perform the repair described on the proceeding 7 pages.

I called Friday to inquire when my washer was going to be repaired, only to be told that they were waiting for e-mail authorization from Whirlpool, (who bought Maytag about a year or so ago) before they could order parts to repair my washer.

I have some Major Problems with this.

The first problem is that the warranty company is a 3rd party company doing business as Maytag, to administer this. And as I noted above waiting for email authorization is last on the list I want to hear. This is one of those deals that shuffles shit around, like claims payers for health insurance which just adds more layers of crap between a company and a customer.

The second problem from a cost effectiveness standpoint is not having enough information or utilizing it. The warranty company has all of my information on file, phone, address,  Model number, etc. What they don’t seem to have is information from Maytag on these machines breakdown history. By this I mean, by model number the various parts and fixes that have happened over time. This used correctly would have sent the repairman out with the parts to fix the machine with one trip. This sucks for the repairman who as you may guess is not a Maytag employee, but is another third party company doing work on contract to Maytag.

Every repair that I or the ex has needed has required at least 2 if not more service calls to fix. Most of them have been caused by not having the parts in stock at the warehouse and needing to order them from the factory if they were not already on back order, because of “popularity”( you know the shit that breaks regularly)

The third problem is this is standard operating procedure for companies. By doing the Tom Peters Downsizing, outsourcing, and third party claims and service, it looks good to the shareholders, since the whole service, warranty and repair problems can be swept under the rug and not show up on the balance sheet.

But the people on the point of the transaction like me the customer, who actually buys this stuff so that they have jobs and  who just wants stuff to work, are screwed,  the poor bastard from the repair service who must want to cut his throat at night having spending day after day knowing what the problems are how to solve them, but having his hands tied, and gagged, by a system that does what it can to make fufilling their obligations as complex as possible.

I don’t think that Maytag produces good appliances or is a very good company anymore. Now that Whirlpool owns Maytag, I wonder how long before Maytag gets replaced by Whirlpool and they hope that we will not remember getting screwed.

Knowing that my freezer shares the same compressor that failed in my refrigerator 3 years after I bought it does not fill me with optimism nor does it endear me to a company that seems to be all hat and no cattle.

Your choices for major appliances are limited as Amana is just rebadged Maytag, Whirlpool is probably gonna use all the cheap Maytag parts, which cuts out a lot of Samsung models as they make the parts for Maytag.

I really just want to do my laundry and not have to bitch slap companies, or tell them how to run their operations so that folks will actually buy their products again.

Before and After 09 – This D*mn House @ One Project Closer

One of my favorite house blogs is This D*mn House. Nicole the proprietress, has no fear, tools and an 'I can do it' spirit.  The perfect woman. Really.
One Project Closer is another house blog on my list,  holds a yearly contest to spotlight DIY projects, and support Habitat for Humanity.

Connecting the dots puts Nicole and One Project Closer on the same page with her Before & After: Brick Porch and Walkway project.

Congrats to Nicole and thanks to Fred and the folks at OPC.