Category Archives: plumbing

T minus 6 days

Team Ranserve continue working through the punch list as we count down to moving in.

Odell called for the Final Inspection. The inspector arrived. Emerald Hill failed. As expected. This inspector is new to the remodel. He requires more documentation of where the two layers of fire-resistant drywall are and are not installed in the garage, around the mudroom. The previous inspector approved two layers around the mudroom and one layer on the walls that do not connect with the body of the house. Odell is attempting to contact that previous inspector for clarification and resolution.

Above, Julian test fits the 12×12 sheets of 2×2 black tiles that will become the final floor of the master shower. This is how we resolve an issue that has festered since November, when the shower floor was first tiled. The grout lines do not line up. Jacquela objected — the first issue she ever raised on this project. Julian laid out the mosaics. Jacquela arrived to inspect. She approved. Julian is five sheets of tile short. Odell ordered the tile. Now we wait for delivery and install.

Thisi s a mock-up of what the floor will look like when done. Julian left the border on each side open, dry fitting the tile for full sheets to calculate how many more tiles he needs and how much cutting will be required.
Thisi s a mock-up of what the floor will look like when done. Julian left the border on each side open, dry fitting the tile for full sheets to calculate how many more tiles he needs and how much cutting will be required.
In the garage, Odell remounted the fluorescent ceiling lights -- taken down to put up drywall required by the inspector -- and the electricians wired them up again. Odell also trimmed out around the attic hatch.
In the garage, Odell remounted the fluorescent ceiling lights — taken down to put up drywall required by the inspector — and the electricians wired them up again. Odell also trimmed out around the attic hatch.
Jacinto is back for day 2 of scraping up the red linoleum tiles from the garage floor. He reports his shoulders shudder as he falls asleep -- induced from hammering the scraper at the edge of each tile, prying it loose from the glue. Most of the tiles shatter into dried-out shards. Steven attempted to help yesterday. He got up two tiles in five minutes, with a new understanding of physical labor.
Jacinto is back for day 2 of scraping up the red linoleum tiles from the garage floor. He reports his shoulders shudder as he falls asleep — induced from hammering the scraper at the edge of each tile, prying it loose from the glue. Most of the tiles shatter into dried-out shards. Steven attempted to help yesterday. He got up two tiles in five minutes, with a new understanding of physical labor.
At the garage door into the mudroom, and around the door to the back yard, floating the drywall is completed and Odell trimmed out both doors to match the interior trim. He also mounted the garage door openers to the wall -- they were hanging loose before this, waiting for the drywall work to finish.
At the garage door into the mudroom, and around the door to the back yard, floating the drywall is completed and Odell trimmed out both doors to match the interior trim. He also mounted the garage door openers to the wall — they were hanging loose before this, waiting for the drywall work to finish.
Inside the mudroom bath, the wall behind the sink is now patched -- and Odell is again test fitting the drain line and T-trap.
Inside the mudroom bath, the wall behind the sink is now patched — and Odell is again test fitting the drain line and T-trap.

Upstairs in the master bath, Odell discovered that the left-hand medicine cabinet is not centered over the sink faucet; he will take it down and recenter it. He also ordered a replacement for one of the sink faucets, which seems to have developed a permanent slow leak via the cartridge.

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T minus 8 days

Steven brought the Schlage Connect smart lock online for the first time, programming in new entry codes. Jadin tested hers — and then threatened to lock Dad out of the house …

Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.
Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.

Climbing a ladder, Steven twisted and locked the Engenius Wireless Access Points into position in the library ceiling downstairs and upstairs hallway. In the electronics closet upstairs, Steven unpacked the Power-over-Ethernet switch, pulled three Ethernet cables out of his bag of network cables, plugged everything up — and the WAPs lit up with power, looking for signal. There are several hours of configuration and testing ahead …

In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.
In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.

Today, Odell returned to the mudroom with several pipe fittings, working on proper installation of the T-trap for the mudroom sink. He got everything snugged up, with no leaks after wrapping the threads with tape. Then he took it all apart, putting up the parts for final installation after the drywall team patches the wall …

Odell also pulled out his metal detector and went in search of the control wire for the sprinkler system. Kevin dug this out before the garage slab was poured. Someone cut the wire that was coiled near the formwork. Odell did not find the wire today. More spelunking to come …

The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim ...
The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim …
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Pot filler and backsplash, reinstalled

Ranserve replaced the one glass tile that cracked to the left of the pot filler. To get to it, they removed the pot filler above the cooktop. We discovered that the wrong escutcheon was installed.

Today, the pot filler is mounted again, with the correct escutcheon, and a rubber gasket to cushion it against the tile.

 

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On the way to Ikea …

Jacquela and Steven stopped Saturday at Emerald Hill. We emptied the back of Steven’s Element, putting more boxes into the garage as we circle around moving in. And we inspected.

This is the tankless water heater in the mudroom off the kitchen. The City of Austin by code requires a pan to catch water under the tankless unit if it ever leaks. The plumbers apparently built this aluminum pan, which is hanging by a rusted wire attached to the pan and one of the copper pipe runs at the right side under the tank. It looks, well, let's be kind ... less than functional and less than professional. After discussion with Odell, Steven ordered from Amazon the two black plastic pans sitting on the floor. They are designed and produced specifically for use with tankless water heaters -- there is a market for everything, and someone smart saw this need unmet. Steven's goal for Monday is to confirm with Odell that these can be installed here in the mudroom and upstairs in the utility/laundry room, under that second tankless unit.
This is the tankless water heater in the mudroom off the kitchen. The City of Austin by code requires a pan to catch water under the tankless unit if it ever leaks. The plumbers apparently built this aluminum pan, which is hanging by a rusted wire attached to the pan and one of the copper pipe runs at the right side under the tank. If the tank ever leaks and water begins to fill the pan, the pan will collapse under its own weight. It looks, well, let’s be kind … less than functional and less than professional. After discussion with Odell, Steven ordered from Amazon the two black plastic pans sitting on the floor. They are designed and produced specifically for use with tankless water heaters — there is a market for everything, and someone smart saw this need unmet. Steven’s goal for Monday is to confirm with Odell that these can be installed here in the mudroom and upstairs in the utility/laundry room, under that second tankless unit.
This is the wired and wireless network operating in the house after Time Warner's install. The black router at left delivers telephone dial tone. The black box on the floor is the router -- with WiFi signal distributed via the antenni/antennum/antennas . In between is the white cable modem. Still boxed are two wireless access points that Steven will mount to the ceiling prewires -- one upstairs and one down -- plus a power-over-Ethernet switch that promises to bring the WAPs to life. But, first, Steven needs to run to Lowe's to buy adapters to mount the WAPs to the ceiling boxes. The screw holes in the WAP mounting plate do not align with the screw holes in the electrical box that is already installed in the drywall.
This is the wired and wireless network operating in the house after Time Warner’s install. The black router at left delivers telephone dial tone. The black box on the floor is the router — with WiFi signal distributed via the antenni/antennum/antennas <?>. In between is the white cable modem. Still boxed are two wireless access points that Steven will mount to the ceiling prewires — one upstairs and one down — plus a power-over-Ethernet switch that promises to bring the WAPs to life. But, first, Steven needs to run to Lowe’s to buy adapters to mount the WAPs to the ceiling boxes. The screw holes in the WAP mounting plate do not align with the screw holes in the electrical box that is already installed in the drywall.

Steven attempted to set up the Ring wireless doorbell. Fail. Technical support made several suggestions. Steven will reattempt at next opportunity.

Steven and Jacquela could not find the user manual needed to configure the Schlage Connect keypad and lock that is installed at the kitchen side door. A couple of downloads later, the Internet is, once again, your friend.

Observation — at the front of this job we make BIG decisions. Rip out the aluminum wire. Take it down to studs. Replace the windows. Check the plumbing under the slab. Set a budget. Those decisions are made quickly, almost easily. Now, by contrast, we are mucking around with minutia — countless discoveries that seem to stack up over Newark, buzzing for attention, distracting, each one getting in the way of the next. It’s exhausting. It’s daunting. After nine months, we just want to be done.

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Intense Friday

This day began with Odell and Steven in the mudroom bath at 8 am, talking through how to correct issues with the sink drain. We conclude that the P-trap comes off, the drain line in the wall needs to shift x inches left — and, after this surgery is performed, a T-trap will mount perpendicular and plumb correctly under the sink drain.

The Time Warner techies arrived about 815 am — first Erich, then Cory, then a team in hard hats to string wire from the telephone poles, then a supervisor. Everyone parked their own trucks, with orange cones. Steven should have charged for parking. They wrapped about 130 pm with TV, phone and, most important, Internet up and running — even WiFi. This milestone enables Steven to work at the house without tethering to his phone.

Steven dropped Jadin at school about 845 am.

Steve the electrician arrived to install the whole-house and telephone/cable surge suppressors. The whole-house unit was a 15-minute slam dunk on the exterior of the back wall of the garage. Done. The tele/cable suppressor required research, with Steven struggling to learn more electrical science. We convened a conference — Steven, Steve, Erich and Cory — on the driveway, alongside one of the Time Warner trucks. Erich and Cory advised that the tele/cable suppressor is not needed, because the Time Warner equipment comes with suppression/protection built in. Steven decides: He will return the tele/cable suppressor for a refund.

The HVAC team arrived from Austin Air to determine how and where to install the make-up air system demanded by the Austin Green Build program. This has to be wired to operate when the exhaust hood in the kitchen switches on — the exhaust system blows out, the make-up air system brings in replacement air. The system requires ducting, and a motor to pull in outside air and blow it into the kitchen. Planning is critical — where to put all of this stuff in a house that is nearly complete? They worked at first with Cris and Odell from Ranserve, then roped Steven into the conversation. Everyone climbed up into the attic over the garage to map out one route into the kitchen. Cris sketched the install on the back of piece of drywall leaning against a garage wall. Then we shifted into the kitchen to look at where the duct might mount — near the kitchen-side door. Then we explored a second option — cutting open the kitchen ceiling to route the motor and duct into the cavity under the roof eaves. This second route would leave a huge grille in the kitchen ceiling visible from everywhere. The better location is over the door. With that decided, Cris cut open a section of mudroom ceiling between the garage and the kitchen — see photo above — to confirm that we can route the duct intake at the eave outside the garage, into the garage attic, connect to the motor when it is installed in the attic, run duct above the mudroom, through the framing between the mudroom and kitchen, to the grille above the kitchen-side door.

Why was all this not done when the house was gutted down to studs?

Brett Grinkmeyer arrived to conduct the architectural inspection required when Ranserve requests a draw payment. Steven and Brett barely got time to speak, because it was time for Time Warner to sit Steven down on the upstairs hall floor, laptop propped on boxes, to configure the network, create a Time Warner customer account complete with passwords, sign off on the install.

Victor Martinez arrived to discuss landscaping — using the dirt piled up on the driveway and mulch piled between the trees to fill in around the concrete pavers and spaces made bare of grass by nine months of construction. Steven requests a plan he can submit to Austin Green Build — and a budget.

At 2 pm, approximately, Odell returned from an offsite meeting to review the mudroom plumbing — he thinks he has it figured out; it will require opening up a wall to shift the drain pipe to the proper location. And the routing solution for the make-up air system. And the rough plan for the week ahead.

Steven called Kristin at Harway to ask why the cooktop does not fit absolutely flush to the quartz countertop. There’s a gap about 1/16th inch between the induction cooktop and the quartz countertop — guaranteed to trap food and spills. Late in the day, Kristin responds by email to report she will visit to inspect.

230 pm — lunch break.

Steven comes back from lunch at 3 pm to discover Bassam working on the kitchen cabinets.

At 330, Lance from Time Warner calls to close out the install ticket.

At 345, Steven departs to pick up Jadin from school.

Observation — at several times today, especially in the morning, the questions were firing in, one on top of the other, stacking up over Newark. Each issue required thought and discussion — where to put the tele-cable surge suppressor, for example — it can’t mount outdoors, so why does it mate to the whole-house suppressor that does mount outdoors, is it needed? How to address the drain for the mudroom sink — that took at least an hour, on and off, back and forth, testing ideas, researching options. It was intense. Everything was way above Steven’s pay grade — he’s not a plumber, not an electrician, not an HVAC installer, not a cable tech, not a cabinetmaker, not a landscaper. Steven misses Ron, who seemed able to work through any stress, calmly, expertly, guiding with advice. In his first 48 hours on the job, Odell is quickly coming up to speed. But, damn, we have not had a day like this in a long time — not since Steven and Ron climbed into the 120-degree attic to unravel the botched HVAC ducting.

 

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Notes, 25 Feb. 2019 / Pushing back the move-in date

Ron Dahlke is officially placed on medical leave by Ranserve. More details to come.

Above, meet Odell Grant from Ranserve, stepping in to serve as site supervisor as we push to complete the house and move in. Odell is wondering why that hand-made aluminum pan, roughly and not well built, was installed as a drip pan under the tankless water heater, suspended from the copper piping by thin rusted wire. Steven and Jacquela do not approve of this attempt to meet City of Austin codes that require the drip pans. Steven today ordered two replacements from Amazon — one for upstairs, one for down.

Austin Air yesterday completed the startup of the HVAC system. We have heat and air conditioning at Emerald Hill for the first time. The gas furnace is powered up. The condensor could make cold air if we asked it.

The gas meter is hooked up, which is why the furnace and tankless units are able to generate heat and hot water, respectively. But ... there is a distinct smell of escaping gas when Steven took this photo. Odell immediately called the plumbers.
The gas meter is hooked up, which is why the furnace and tankless units are able to generate heat and hot water, respectively. But … there is a distinct smell of escaping gas when Steven took this photo. Odell immediately called the plumbers.

Odell and Steven walked and talked Emerald Hill for about two hours, building a punch list for Odell to work through. He’s helicoptered in to pick up where Ron left off. Deep breath.

About 145 pm Odell reported that the tempered glass needed for the tall window at Jadin’s bedroom will not arrive until Tuesday next week, 1 March. The inspector requires we replace the conventional glass with tempered because a closet door opens toward the window. Safety.

As a result, Odell advises that we push back the move-in date, which was scheduled for Wednesday, 2 March. Steven called Rene de Anda at El Sol Logistics, the moving company. The move is now scheduled for Friday, 11 March.

Cris from Ranserve is working all over the house as Odell and Steven walk and talk. Here, in the master bedroom, Cris is patching the ceiling where we shifted the fan to center of the bed, instead of in the center of the room.
Cris from Ranserve is working all over the house as Odell and Steven walk and talk. Here, in the master bedroom, Cris is patching the ceiling where we shifted the fan to center of the bed, instead of in the center of the room.

Steven ordered Internet, TV and phone services from Time Warner; installation is scheduled for Friday, 26 February.

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A tale of two days

Ron Dahlke was taken out of action by 102-degree fever. Get well soon.

We soldier on without his guiding hand …

Shane and Peter apparently installed strike plates to all the doors early Monday.

Off for President’s Day, Jacquela began to cut and install drawer liners to kitchen and bathroom drawers. Steven raked oak leaves on half the front lawn, then met with Victor Martinez to talk through potential landscaping — using the dirt and mulch piles on the driveway to expand the beds around the oak trees in front of the house, deer-resistant plantings, a potential privacy fence, and phasing in repairs to the sprinkler system that Steven has never seen operate — using the new NOAA-connected smart controller that Steven already purchased.

That was Monday at Emerald Hill. Back at Sea Eagle, we continued boxing. Jacquela and Jadin tackled Jadin’s closet and bathroom. Steven disassembled the AV component stack in the upstairs flex room and took down all the speakers; one Time Warner cable box is now disconnected.

Today, Steven took Jadin to school and, at Emerald Hill, Albert and son from Custom Plumbing arrived to tackle the corrections required by the inspector.

In photo at top of this post, study the white PVC pipe traversing left to right or right to left, depending on your perspective. The connection to the drain on the back wall is higher than the collection of pipe and pipe fittings that run to the P-trap under the sink. In other words, the sink is trying to drain uphill. That will never work. The inspector flagged this for correction.

Here's a second example of corrections required by the inspector. Months ago, Albert rebuilt the gas line to the fireplace. Then the drywall crew covered it over. Then the inspector spotted the mistake. Albert chipped out the drywall to find the pipe fitting buried behind the wallboard. Ron and the drywall team now have some patching to do.
Here’s a second example of corrections required by the inspector. Months ago, Albert rebuilt the gas line to the fireplace. Then the drywall crew covered it over. Then the inspector spotted the mistake. Albert chipped out the drywall to find the pipe fitting buried behind the wallboard. Ron and the drywall team now have some patching to do. And painting.

After several email and phone conversations with Scott from Capstone Electric, and help from Scott, Steven selected and odered from Home Depot a whole house surge suppressor — $75 cheaper than Amazon! — and a cable/phone-line suppressor for $90 from Amazon because HD does not these. Per Scott’s instructions to order these for him to install.

Steven continued to configure pipe and flange for the master closet.

Steven received from Ron and began asking questions about the proposal for gutters.

Homework — Steven and Jacquela wil review the agreement proposals from the movers.

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Notes, 3 Feb. 2016

By the time Steven got to Emerald Hill today, the carpenters were long gone. But they did leave behind completed work …

The lock set is now installed to the kitchen-side door. If this looks familiar, it's the same Schlage exterior handle and deadbolt used at Sea Eagle View, just 12 years later.
The lock set is now installed to the kitchen-side door. If this looks familiar, it’s the same Schlage exterior handle and deadbolt used at Sea Eagle View, just 12 years later.
Shane and Peter installed several more floor stops. Here's one of two hemispheres for the glass door to the water closet in bath 2. The other hemisphere is inside the water closet, not photographed. Note the wet paint on the baseboard -- evidence that the painters are again at work inside the house. Peter installed the baseboard yesterday -- actually, a reinstall, because the glass door installers tore out the first set of baseboards.
Shane and Peter installed several more floor stops. Here’s one of two hemispheres for the glass door to the water closet in bath 2. The other hemisphere is inside the water closet, not photographed. Note the wet paint on the baseboard — evidence that the painters are again at work inside the house. Peter installed the baseboard yesterday — actually, a reinstall, because the glass door installers tore out the first set of baseboards.
Speaking of the painters, the wood closet rods have been stained. And, with the electricity on, Steven tested one of the Ikea strip lights.
Speaking of the painters, the wood closet rods have been stained. And, with the electricity on, Steven tested one of the Ikea strip lights.
The plumbers trimmed out the refrigerator water line with a white plastic cover. That vertical gadget is an arrestor to prevent the water lines from hammering.
The plumbers trimmed out the refrigerator water line with a white plastic cover. That vertical gadget is an arrestor to prevent the water lines from hammering.

Speaking of the plumbers … Steven discovered that the bottom of the pot filler at the cooktop is damp. There’s a very slow leak, apparently. And, one of the red glass backsplash tiles to the left of the pot filler is pulling away from the wall. It’s also crazed at the side closest to the pot filler. Maybe water from the small leak is traveling behind the glass tile. Ron and the plumbers are going to have to investigate. Steven reported this by text message to Ron.

Steven also discovered what might be the escutcheon for the pot filler — it’s the same chrome finish, with a brass fitting to go around the copper pipe, along with a rubber gasket to help limit compression. Steven taped everything together and then taped all three parts to the pot filler for Ron and the plumbers to investigate.

Steven also discovered a damp floor under the drain of the mudroom sink. The drain pipe is also damp. Looks like another slow leak for the plumbers to investigate. Steven taped a note to the floor under the drain pipe.

In photo at top, here are the plastic shelves that Steven transported yesterday to Emerald Hill, assembled, along with two roles of heavy Ram Board cardboard. Ron suggested that Steven purchase these to help protect the floors during move in. Good idea.

For the first time, we are negotiating a date to move in — the end of February.

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Tankless #2

Albert and his son Kory are back from Custom Plumbing to install tankless water heater #2 — the unit downstairs in the mudroom.

Kory hoists the tankless unit into niche, where it will hang on the bracket. Minutes earlier, Kris and Matt from Ranserve installed the plywood to serve as backer board for the tankless.
Kory hoists the tankless unit into niche, where it will hang on the bracket. Minutes earlier, Kris and Matt from Ranserve installed the plywood to serve as backer board for the tankless.
Albert applies pipe dope to one of the brass fittings for the water and gas lines below the tank.
Albert applies pipe dope to one of the brass fittings for the water and gas lines below the tank.
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Notes, 26 Jan. 2016

Above, Luis from Landers Flooring is back to remove and replace one stair tread. The balusters for this tread were drilled in the wrong place. Today, Luis removed the balusters and existing hickory tread, then fitted the replacement. At the end of the day, he clearcoated it with polyurethane.

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Mauricio and the team from Gilsa Construction today began to install the heavy steel edging for the deck off the kitchen door.
Mauricio welds the straight metal edging to a rebar post he sledgehammered into the ground.
Mauricio welds the straight metal edging to a rebar post he sledgehammered into the ground.
Joel from the City of Austin inspected the boxes and location for the new residential electric meter. Steven called Dispatch to ask the City to install the meter.
Joel from the City of Austin inspected the boxes and location for the new residential electric meter. Steven called Dispatch to ask the City to install the meter.
Binswanger Glass today delivered and installed the obscured glass door to the water closet in the master bath ...
Binswanger Glass today delivered and installed the obscured glass door to the water closet in the master bath …
and the second door to the shower in bath 2, Jadin's bath -- the panel at right, with the long chrome handle.
and the second door to the shower in bath 2, Jadin’s bath — the panel at right, with the long chrome handle.
The tankless water heater is installed upstairs in the laundry/utility room.
The tankless water heater is installed upstairs in the laundry/utility room.
Ron Dahlke asked Steven to start a "punch list" of items that need attention. Here's the first one -- this is one of the showerhead fixtures in the master shower. It's missing an escutcheon. As a result, the cutout in the tile is exposed.
Ron Dahlke asked Steven to start a “punch list” of items that need attention. Here’s the first one — this is one of the showerhead fixtures in the master shower. It’s missing an escutcheon. As a result, the cutout in the tile is exposed.
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