Almost in hot water

For awhile, we’ve had problems with the water heater. A couple of mornings, there would be no hot water for showers, but, by the time we got home in the evening, things were back to normal. Once or twice, the circuit breaker for the water heater was tripped for no apparent reason. Also, there was this little, drip by drip, leak at the water heater’s base. With each little crisis, we thought the end was at hand…until the water heated up again. Finally, in an oddly belated manner, the water heater expired yesterday.

A couple of years after we bought 118 Henry Street, the original water heater had to be replaced. DeShawn and I did without hot water for a week before we could get a new one. The plumber that we contracted was a fairly typical Chester type. We used him for a trio of projects until we had spent about $1500.  At that point, I figured we had completely depleted our budget for plumbing labor for as long as we owned the house. We bought some books/tools and have been doing all the plumbing work since.

So, today, we did a water heater replacement.

This one is only 7 years old

Could be it failed so soon because it was a really cheap unit or because it was manhandled into the crawlspace or both. Easy to see what was going on after removing the thermostat cover. No doubt it had been leaking for some time. At the bottom of the thermostat, you can see a charred and somewhat burnt part of the plastic cover, in front of the upper heating coil. Not sure if the leak caused an electrical short or if we had a leak AND a short, but, for certain, the water was keeping the heat down (nervous laughter).

The new one is, at least, a name brand and we took the time to do a couple of minor upgrades.

In situ with a little crawlspace vignette

The best of the improvements was the Sharkbite braided connector hoses (more on these in a later post). Mark the calendars and we will see how long this one lasts!

Although the crawlspace at the front of the house is pretty tall, the water heater is 30”+ without hoses, the access door into the space is not so ample. We had to remove the door and the wood frame to get the water heater into the crawlspace.

Gapping hole meet new door

The old door was pretty beat up and rotted, so, of course, we took the time to fabricate a new one. For $9 in hardware, some pressure treated lumber we had laying around, and an hour or so, we got another 10-15 years. The weather was too cool for painting, that will have to wait for warmer days.

The arbitrary line(s)

We spent days in the crawlspace to get the utilities configured for the sewing room. Maybe 3x as long as the corresponding series of professionals would have used to get the dryer vent, electrical outlets, water lines and waste water drains in place. However, like childbirth, open heart surgery, or changing a baby’s dirty diaper, it’s done, and we can get along to the next phase.

Applying a good lesson from the mudroom makeover, we “blocked” the floor joists to strengthen and stabilize the area under the washer/dryer before closing up the hole in the addition floor.

Rigid and stiff (get your mind out of the crawlspace)

After the remainder of the sewing room is completed, we will get the plumbing “wet” when we take up the kitchen floor.

The crawlspace under the kitchen is only about 10” tall and filled with steam pipes, old water pipes, animal remains (including a dead squirrel), and construction debris from the various remodels. There was no room to run the final water/drain connections thru the mess. So…sometime about January, we will tearing up the entirety of the kitchen floor to clean it all out. Might as well fix all the kitchen floor problems while it’s open, sigh.

In the most basic definition of “room”, we now have a sewing “room” (also a “shop”). The partition wall is completely framed.

The view from the shop

The laundry corner for future reference

Restoring an old house is a perverse kind of fun, sort of like mountain climbing. Maintaining an old house is more like being on a strict diet, there are parts that are just not that enjoyable despite how good it’s supposed to be. Our water heater died today after a series of intermittent failures. Instead of spending the next budget installment on drywall or flooring for the sewing room, we will buying and installing a new water heater, sigh number 2.

It don’t matter if you’re good or you’re baad…

There is, indeed, a direct relationship between what you, curious reader, see on this online tome and the amount of work being done on the house at 118 Henry Street. And, maybe you’ve noted, that ain’t much lately. In truth, work for my employer has taken over all of my extra energy. It really started in December last year. For a while, we fought the valiant fight, trying to cram all the disparate activities into the normal day. Alas, the paycheck has won this last round. For two solid months, I’ve done little except what was demanded of me.

E.G., Thursday/Friday last week, I was out of town overnight. Worked until 10:30pm Thursday night. Saturday the following, worked remotely 6.5 hours on a server upgrade. Monday the next, reported to customer at 7:15am for internet upgrade and finished the day working from 7 to 9pm on a customer’s remote connection problem. Wednesday following, worked til 9pm onsite with a workstation problem. All this in addition to the normal 40, say normal 50 hours.

It has been easier to work on the Henry Street network than the house…despite the leaking roof, the broken windows, and other remnants of honest labor.

To whit, here’s a photo of the structured network cabling box that we put under the house in February of 2006. At that time, we wired four rooms of the house for network and cable tv. Since then, we’ve wired up 2 more rooms.

Structure cabling box under the house.

New power circuit to the cabling box

In January this year, we bought the hardware to make a server and created an Active Directory domain. Our design goals, in order of importance,�were:

1) Roaming profiles so that any of us could log into any of our 4 computers and get our individual data and settings

2) Secure user accounts so that visitors and children could not compromise our systems

3) Web filtering based on user account so that visitors and children could not abuse our network

4) Hosting our own email so we are not at the whim of a web hoster for quality of service, spam protection or security

5) Truly secure wireless internet access for us and visitors

6) Centralized maintenance of all computers on the system

7) Shared printing and files

A network diagram of our system (click on the image for a full size, readable view)

Of the 2 hardware upgrades we needed, the HP gigabit switch is now in place. What is left is implementing the Fortinet Fortigate firewall.

Structured cabling box with HP switch

Carole’s flower beds are doing great…no thanks to yours truly.

New flower beds at 3 months old

Don’t hold your breath……