Tag Archives: plumbing

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, 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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Notes, 25 Jan. 2016

Jacquela and Steven spent the weekend packing boxes. There’s a lot more to go. Steven also began taking down Ikea cabinets that will be transplanted to Emerald Hill — and filling holes in the walls with spackling compound.

Today, Steven delivered to Ron Dahlke the short post for the ceiling fan in the family room — Steven pulled and saved a collection of left-over fan parts from ceiling fan cartons — and the transformer and low-voltage puck lights he purchased late Friday from Lights Fantastic. The puck lights will go into the entry-hall display niches.

Ron and Barry from Custom Plumbing today dispatched Steven to a plumbing supply house to purchase one chrome “Tip Toe” finger-press lavatory drain, one chrome slip joint and one chrome P trap — all for use in the mudroom bath. Chrome replaces the white PVC and dresses up the exposed pipe under the sink. The drain solves a problem — it’s impossible to fit between the faucet and wall the conventional pop-up connector rod that you would pull or push to close or open the drain.

Steven also purchased a shower fitting that comes with a thick, round, modern escutcheon. We put the shower connector into the parts bin. Barry, Sean and Noah used the escutcheon to cover the exposed copper pipe behind the pot filler at the backsplash.

Barry, Noah and Sean today began to install the Navian tankless water heaters in the mudroom downstairs and the utility room upstairs. There was drama. The blocking behind the drywall is insufficient. Steven suggested “paneling” the wall with 3/4-inch plywood. Ron and Barry purchased plywood. Genius!

Above, Sean applies fittings to the bottom of the mudroom Navian unit.

Here's the upstairs tankless unit, still boxed, with the alcove where it will mount almost ready. Barry and team will add a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood to help serve as mounting and blocking.
Here’s the upstairs tankless unit, still boxed, with the alcove where it will mount almost ready. Barry and team will add a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood to help serve as mounting and blocking.
Gilsa today began busting the wood forms off the concrete pavers. It's almost more work than pouring the concrete.
Gilsa today began busting the wood forms off the concrete pavers. It’s almost more work than pouring the concrete.

Kris solved solved a mounting problem with the air button at the sink that switches on and off the disposal. Working from underneath, he carved out a wider hole in the undermount stainless steel sink to slide the stem of the air button into, pushing the escutcheon for the air button tight against the quartz countertop.

 

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Notes, 15 Jan. 2015

Chris from Central Texas Custom Cabinets continues to finish out the kitchen and pantry cabinets.

Steven walked the house today with Elizabeth, who measured for blinds — a candidate supplier; it will all come down to budget.

Ron opened up the drywall behind the mudroom shower -- where the tankless water unit will soon be installed -- to add blocking behind the shower panels. This will enable the plumbers to properly screw the shower head fixture tight to the plastic panels.
Ron opened up the drywall behind the mudroom shower — where the tankless water unit will soon be installed — to add blocking behind the shower panels. This will enable the plumbers to properly screw the shower head fixture tight to the plastic panels.

Ron needs an escutcheon at the pot filler on the backsplash wall. Ron also needs a push-in-pop-out drain for the vanity sink in the mudroom — because there is no room behind the faucet for the pull that would normally open and close the drain in the sink. Ferguson does not carry an escutcheon for the pot filler. Steven went to Lowe’s with a shopping list. He found two candidates for the escutcheon. The drain was out of stock. On a field trip to a second Lowe’s after dinner with Jacquela, he found the only two candidate devices. Ron and the plumbers will now decide which one to install. The loser will go back to Lowe’s.

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$45 x 2 to solve the Toto toilet question

The team from Custom Plumbing is back to continue “top out” — installing all the fixtures.

Along the way, Barry and team also identify punch list items to correct or wrestle.

The last week of December, Steven put on hold the install of the Toto toilets in bath 2 and the master bath to solve installation issues. While traveling, Steven received additional guidance from Jonelle at Ferguson and approved the installations. Today, the fix arrived at Emerald Hill.

Above, Barry shows Steven the $45 plumbing adapter that Toto makes to extend the water line below the tank, through the hole in the porcelain at the back of the tank, to make it easier to connect the water line to the bidet seat. It features a proprietary design that only Toto manufactures. It has to be specially ordered. That takes time. Today, Barry delivered two — one for each Toto. There will be a bill for this …

Why is there a hole in the kitchen ceiling drywall? Why is the drywall splitting apart at the seams? The pipes leaked in the master shower when the plumbers installed the shower heads. Ron assures Steven that the drywall is now dried out -- and the drywall team will be back to repair this with flexible fiberglass mesh, not paper tape, just in case.
Why is there a hole in the kitchen ceiling drywall? Why is the drywall splitting apart at the seams? The pipes leaked in the master shower when the plumbers installed the shower heads. Ron assures Steven that the drywall is now dried out — and the drywall team will be back to repair this with flexible fiberglass mesh, not paper tape, just in case.
The normal install for the kitchen faucet is to place the hot/cold handle at the right side of the faucet. If we do that here, it will hit the gray quartz backsplash when pushed back to full-on hot. One solution is to pivot the handle x degrees. Another fix is to pivot the handle 90 degrees to the front of the sink, as photographed here. A third approach would be to remove the backsplash, slice open the drywall, then inset the backsplash into the cavity in the drywall -- tons of work. Steven has permission from Jacquela to make the decision. Steven decides to pivot the handle to this position -- front and center over the sink bowl.
The normal install for the kitchen faucet is to place the hot/cold handle at the right side of the faucet. If we do that here, it will hit the gray quartz backsplash when pushed back to full-on hot. One solution is to pivot the handle x degrees. Another fix is to pivot the handle 90 degrees to the front of the sink, as photographed here. A third approach would be to remove the backsplash, slice open the drywall, then inset the backsplash into the cavity in the drywall — tons of work. Steven has permission from Jacquela to make the decision. Steven decides to pivot the handle to this position — front and center over the sink bowl.
In the master bath, the plumbers are installing the faucets and drain lines.
In the master bath, the plumbers are installing the faucets and drain lines.
Mike studies how to install the Toto toilet and bidet in the master bath -- and the magic, proprietary $45 Toto pipe.
Mike studies how to install the Toto toilet and bidet in the master bath — and the magic, proprietary $45 Toto pipe.
Barry confirms that Ron needs to install backing behind the fiberglass shower panel if the plumbers are to mount the showerhead bar properly. Ron tells Steven that Mark at Ranserve has decided that Ranserve shall never again install a fiberglass shower/bath kit. Ron's going to have to open up the wall behind the panel, working from the stairwell wall to get to the back of the shower.
Barry confirms that Ron needs to install backing behind the fiberglass shower panel if the plumbers are to mount the showerhead bar properly. Ron tells Steven that Mark at Ranserve has decided that Ranserve shall never again install a fiberglass shower/bath kit. Ron’s going to have to open up the wall behind the panel, working from the stairwell wall to get to the back of the shower.

Barry also delivered the two Navian tankless water heaters and confirmed that the electrical plug in the laundry room must be moved if that tankless unit is to be installed — the plug is located directly behind where the tank needs to mount to the wall, making it impossible to plug in the tank. The outlet has to shift several inches up and over to the right.

In the mudroom, the plumbers will switch out the white PVC drain lines for chrome, dressing up the exposed pipe under the sink.

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