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RE: can lights and energy efficiency (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: live_wire_oak on 01.26.2013 at 10:43 am in Kitchens Forum

ICAT + LED No air leaks and no real heat in the living space either. MUCH lower energy bills. Win/win.


clipped on: 01.27.2013 at 03:44 am    last updated on: 01.27.2013 at 03:44 am

RE: can lights and energy efficiency (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: rococogurl on 01.26.2013 at 04:32 pm in Kitchens Forum

The PAR 38 LEDS from Lowe's (private label is Illumitech made by Feit for them) have Edison bases. They fit my 8 y.o. Lightolier cans. Each can brand/type has bulbs they accept -- my cans have a sticker inside with that info but lighting specs for the cans should show that.

Thing with the LEDs I've been using is that they must be compatible with my dimmer switches so I've been focused on that. Lutron's site has the compatible bulb list in their switch specs.

LEDs are very cool compared to incandescent. So there is much much less heat.

What they did in my house was go into the attic and air seal with soy foam around every can from above. The foam dries rigid and nothing gets through. They foamed around around every electrical chase, the hvac vents -- everything. It took 3 guys two days. Then they cut this 2-inch thick foil-lined foam board to fit around the attic perimeter, installed the proper vents, foamed the joints and then taped the foam board over the entire attic floor. They closed in the sides of the access stairs and made a hatch door -- it looks like a space station up there.

Would think it's ideal for insulation to go in before the cans and then have them sealed down properly. Retro work is much harder.

They also sealed up every cranny in my basement around the rim joist which also was leaking like crazy, around windows and even under the metal fireplace floor guard. An insulation contractor who is certified and knows what he is doing is a blessing. I was very dubious before. DH didn't even want to bother with it. But once they go through your house with the infrared camera and show you where everything is leaking -- then walk through with you again after the job is done -- and no more blue spots, you can see. They sealed up spots in my garage as well. I'm a complete convert after these 5 days of 0 to 10 weather. Proof is the stable temperature in the house; lower heating and electrical costs.

I don't know about cathedral ceilings -- expect that would depend on the roof construction. If you went for an energy audit (they are free under a certain income level with modest surcharges above in our state) they could tell you what you need to do and give you an estimate.


clipped on: 01.27.2013 at 03:43 am    last updated on: 01.27.2013 at 03:43 am

RE: can lights and energy efficiency (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: rococogurl on 01.26.2013 at 07:25 pm in Kitchens Forum

We have central air. I am told the insulation with work the same way for that -- you are correct (but I haven't been through a cooling season as yet so I don't know if it will be as efficient).

I'm an ID and do my own lighting plans. I like 5" cans as they offer a good light spread and you don't need rows and rows of them. Some designers prefer smaller cans and pin spots. My preference is even overall light that can be controlled via dimmers. When done properly, you see light, not the cans. Aesthetically I'm not mad for multiple hanging or surface mounted fixtures. I had to use mini tracks in our apartment which worked well -- a great solution for some ceilings.

Because the technology is changing so rapidly I feel a great lighting designer or ID with this expertise is worth the fee and I say that as a diehard DIY GWebber who taught herself to put in a drip watering system outside and saved $8K. OTOH, if you want a challenge, have time and don't mind living with your own mistakes, it can be mastered. But it's really technical. I made a mistake when we did our apartment -- fortunately I had a genius electrician.

But before I hired anyone I would read through the Lutron site and see what they offer. I drool every time. Would love a control panel on each floor -- those weren't well developed when we did our reno. I'm also into specialty switches with LEDs down the side so there's no groping in the dark. I installed one with infrared and a little remote control for the main lights in our bedroom - just great, and I will use it again when we change out the ones here. In some states, electric companies will give you incentives or rebates on the cost of switches that are on timers and turn themselves off -- another aspect to explore.

Here's a link to EFS, the financing entity that works with states across the country. You may not need the services but they are the mother ship for programs available in various states and the list of green-certified contractors who work with them regularly. That's how I find ours.

If you need more background on the deal or have questions about the audit or whatever, best to email.

Here is a link that might be useful: EFS


clipped on: 01.27.2013 at 03:42 am    last updated on: 01.27.2013 at 03:42 am

RE: Shelf depth/height for non walkin pantry (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: buehl on 01.12.2013 at 07:54 pm in Kitchens Forum

Just keep in mind that you will need to reach over the deeper shelves to get to the shallower shelves above. 12" vs 9" shouldn't be an issue, but too much deeper on the bottom shelves could be an issue.

There's a pantry thread on the Gallery - I suggest you check it out.

BTW...I so agree with you about the wire vs wood! I had and hated the wire my solid shelves now!

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread: Pantry photos/ pics of pantries


good pantry info and pics
clipped on: 01.13.2013 at 08:38 pm    last updated on: 01.13.2013 at 08:39 pm

RE: 99% finished. Off White kitchen. So HAPPY!! (Follow-Up #67)

posted by: mamadadapaige on 05.30.2008 at 10:20 pm in Kitchens Forum

sammydog, you are right on one count. the light in the hallway is Ikea. I ordered it a few years ago online. When it arrived at the house it was in an 8"x10" manila envelope. I was shocked!! I had to assemble it myself... that's what you get for $40!

The other light fixture is from Visual Comfort . I have their light fixtures all over my house. I love their stuff. I think they are poor man's (but still not very cheap) version of Urban Archaeology which I adore but could never afford.

Neena's lighting is a good place to look at Visual Comfort. I ended up ordering from another online company though as the pricing was significantly better, and I had a coupon code. For instance, the light over my table where I purchased it was $238 vs. $379 listed on Neena's, but I thought Neena's was a little easier and has more stuff than the other place. The place I bought from is:

The stuff arrived very quickly and I was very satisfied with my dealings with them.

Here is a link that might be useful: Visual Comfort Lighting


visual comfort lighting
clipped on: 12.31.2012 at 02:09 pm    last updated on: 12.31.2012 at 02:10 pm

RE: Thoughts about mixing arabesque tile colors? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: colorfast on 12.15.2012 at 02:57 am in Kitchens Forum

I have seen these in different colors and it can come out really well. Here's one:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pratt & Larson arabesques


clipped on: 12.16.2012 at 04:42 pm    last updated on: 12.16.2012 at 04:42 pm

RE: Do U LOVE Your Kitchen Sink Faucet?! (Follow-Up #44)

posted by: xxxOldTimeCarpenter on 11.07.2012 at 02:57 pm in Kitchens Forum

To find out actual objective information about bath and kitchen faucets, follow the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Faucet Reviews and Ratings


faucet info
clipped on: 12.03.2012 at 02:18 pm    last updated on: 12.03.2012 at 02:19 pm

RE: Is Kerdi-Board Overkill for Tub Surround (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: mongoct on 09.29.2012 at 04:17 pm in Bathrooms Forum

"Mongo, will you tell me how to seal the bottom of the board with a hydroban application? How do you "meet" the hydrobanned cement board with the tub flange? "

Let's say that you installed the cement board right on the studs and held it just above the tub flange.

Mix up a bit of stiff thinset and fill the gap. Make it flush with the face of the cement board.

Then when you Hydroban, just Hydroban the face of the cement board, and down and over the thinset-filled gap. That should give you a continuous coverage of thinset all the way to the tub deck, if that makes sense.

Then when you tile, hold the tile a grout width's gap off of the tub deck. Caulk that gap.

Sort of like this:


illustrated instructions - the best kind.
clipped on: 09.29.2012 at 04:32 pm    last updated on: 09.29.2012 at 04:33 pm

RE: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies (Follow-Up #32)

posted by: mongoct on 02.17.2011 at 04:58 pm in Bathrooms Forum

"I have read that PEX is better than copper; galvanized is out; pvc is good/ not allowed/ doesn't matter."

For water supply, copper is still king, though PEX is making inroads. Things may have changed, but as of early last year PEX was not allowed for potable water supply applications in California and Chicago. CA was on the verge of allowing PEX, but I don't know where Chicago is headed. If anywhere.

As to one being better than the other, they both have advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other. It depends on the application and the specific trait you're comparing.

In my area (CT) PVC is pretty much used just for DWV. Black iron pipe is used for boiler work, plumbing oil tanks, plumbing some gas lines, etc.

"Is there one type that is main supply and then another type that connects to the brass-inside-the-wall-parts?"

If PEX is used, usually metal (copper and/or black pipe) will be run off the water heater or boiler to a manifold. PEX will run from the manifold to the areas of use. Behind the wall at the area of use (near the toilet, near the sink) the PEX will transition back to copper before coming out of the wall. So you'll have PEX behind the wall and copper sticking out of the wall.

PEX is like Dracula, it's not good for it to see the light of day. UV from the sun will oxidize the PEX and cause it to lose it's elasticity. The only PEX failure I've seen was PEX in a basement ceiling run, the PEX ran in front of a small basement window and turned a corner right in front of the window. It eventually suffered a sidewall split in the bend. The PEX on either side of the window was fine, the area in front of the window it was discolored yellow. UV damage.

When comparing 1/2" PEX versus 1/2" copper, PEX has a smaller inside diameter. A few people have complained on this forum of trying to fill their bathtubs through a tub spout with a diverter built into the tub spout, and while filling the tub, water was also pouring out of the shower head up above. Those set-ups works on simple gravity flow. With the tub spout being plumbed with PEX instead of copper, the lesser inside diameter of the PEX allowed less water to flow through it, so water was backing up the vertical tubing and flowing out the next exit point, the shower head.

"I have also seen on This Old House a type of fitting to connect pipes that has - for lack of a better description - like teeth to connect copper pipes instead of sweating or threading. Is this common? Acceptable for code?"

Probably Sharkbite fittings. They may or may not be code acceptable. Years ago they were allowed with restrictions. Today while national code may allow them, some local codes still prevent them. Sometimes they are allowed but not enclosed within framing bays. They're easy, but pricey.

For a handyman or DIY repair they might be worth it for the convenience and for not having to fire up a torch in a tight space. But for whole-house, cha-ching!

I will say there are three types of PEX; PEX-A, PEX-B, and PEX-C. The difference is how they are cross-linked. I prefer "A", which is cross-linked by the "peroxide" or "Engel" method. You'll find others who use B (silane) or C (electron beam) methods. No big deal. I'm simply an "A" guy. Personal preference.

With copper, there are three basic versions of copper tubing used in residential construction, or three versions generally available to the DIY crowd; K, L, and M. "K" has the thickest sidewall, "M" the thinnest.

K is usually used for buried applications, L for residential water supply, and M for low-pressure applications like water runs to/from baseboard heating, or water runs from a boiler to a radiant floor heat manifold.

Top of my head numbers, the sidewall thickness of K is about 20% thicker than L, and L is about 40% thicker than M. Thickest to thinnest, K is about 75% thicker than M.

They all use the same fittings, meaning a simple 1/2" elbow will fit all three types. Flow restriction through any of the tubing is not an issue even with the variations in sidewall thickness.

I don't use M for anything, but that's my personal preference. Just K or L.

In a box store, you have to be careful if they sell all three. If they sell it, with the thinnest sidewall M will be the least expensive, so it might look attractive to the budget. But it should not be used for domestic water supply lines.


inside the walls
clipped on: 08.18.2012 at 08:56 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2012 at 08:56 pm

RE: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies (Follow-Up #29)

posted by: mongoct on 02.15.2011 at 01:26 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Rainheads...handhelds...traditional shower heads on a shower arm...body sprays...what to do...I'm just going to ramble here with my thoughts.

First, I'm obviously biased by my experiences both as a user and an installer.

For a small shower, a single shower head on an arm high on the wall will do you quite nicely. In a tub surround the shower head up high with the tub spout with diverter down low is still king. Nothing wrong with it at all.

A question I often get is about handhelds. Now when I was a kid handhelds were trash. They leaked, they had the 4-in-1 massage heads where the only thing they massaged was your eyeball because there always seemed to be a pinprick stream of water that would leak out the fitting and nail you in the eye. After a few weeks of use they'd be spraying water out the side seams of the head, up and over the shower curtain, soaking your bathroom floor. Ugh.

Not any more.

Handhelds today are pretty darn bueno. The heads are the same quality as those that get mounted up high on static arms. The hose fittings no longer leak. The hoses no longer twist upon themselves like demented strands of spaghetti.

The big benefit of handhelds is the length of the hose allows you to wash/rinse any part of your body without having to be a contortionist. For shaving legs you can take the head off the bracket and hold it in your hand, or mount it on another wall bracket at knee-height. Or you can use the handheld and it's long hose to rinse off remote corners of the shower's walls when cleaning. Or when bathing kids. Or dogs. Versatility.

Handhelds are an obvious advantage in larger showers, but they can be of use in smaller showers too.

Slidebars versus brackets: In a master bath, it's possible the slide feature will be seldom used. You can still have one...I have one in my shower, my wife lowers it when she's looking for a dry hair shower. Other than that it pretty much stays up at my height. And we're 6'4" versus 5'1".

If you have kids, it's an advantage. Low when they are younger. Raise it up as they grow taller.

Different height users who are particular...I know a couple that resets the head height each time they shower. Although they have a small single-head shower, he demands it at his height, she at hers.

Slidebars can add visual clutter to a wall. But while they are functional clutter, in a small shower someone might prefer the cleaner look of wall brackets. A bracket up high. A bracket down low. Whatever you need.

While most companies' slide bars might be plastic or thin-walled metal, there are some that make them sturdy enough to function and be rated and approved as structural grab bars.

Rainhead? A true rainhead delivers a very gentle flow of water. Personally, if you're looking for a true rainhead, I'd recommend a minimum 10" diameter head. 12" is better. Rainheads generally have to be mounted parallel to the floor, as the water pretty much just "falls" out of the head instead of being sprayed by pressure. Were you to tilt a true rainhead, the water could just run along the tilted face of the head and flow off the low edge in a fat stream.

Due to the gentle flow, rainheads are a nice experience. Quite a bit different from the pin-prickish stronger flow of a traditional head. With the gentler flow, those with long/thick hair might find themselves running out of hot water before they are able to rinse shampoo out of their massive manes.

So I consider rainheads to be a nice secondary head, and I prefer them to be plumbed or mounted close to the center of the shower ceiling where it's easy to stand right under them, versus mounted on a wall arm with the rainhead close to the wall.

Rainheads have been modified, now there are ones with "turbo" functions, or air-entrainment, etc. Sort of halfway between a traditional standard head and a traditional rain head. You'll have to sort through that yourself as there are too many options.

Personally, I think a master shower will do just fine with a "standard head" handheld (can be a 4-in-1 head or whatever) on a long hose and a separate rainhead. That'll give you a functional shower plus the option for a soothing rain shower.

If a couple will be typically be showering together, then consider two one supply valve feeding a handheld head, plus another supply valve with diverter plumbed to feed either a second standard head or an overhead rain head. That will allow one person to shower at the handheld with one water temp setting, and another person to "standard" shower or "rain" shower (via the diverter) with a separate water temp setting.

Body Sprays: Personally, I consider them superfluous. I've used them...I think them a novelty. But there are folks who just adore them, so decide for yourself. Do realize that body sprays can pop the plumbing cost through the roof because:

Showers are required by code to have a minimum 2" drain line. Now you can have two 2" drains, or a single 3" drain, but typical is a single 2" drain line. "2 inch" and "3-inch" defines not just the size of the drain opening, but the diameter of the drain branch under the floor.

Code assigns values to drain lines for how much water they can carry away from the shower. A 2" drain line can evacuate 6DFU (drainage fixture units), a 3" line 20DFUs.

Miraculously, shower heads are assigned values as well. Each shower head is assigned a value of 2. A shower head is a handheld, or a fixed head, or an INDIVIDUAL body spray head.

So with a typical 2" drain (6DFUs), you can have three heads in a shower (3 heads x 2DFUs per head = 6DFUs). Since body sprays are usually installed in multiple groupings, installing body sprays can really ramp up your plumbing requirements, both for water supply lines, the water heater, as well as the drainage lines.

I know some inspectors that count the heads and multiply by two and there you go: a rain head, a handheld, three body sprays, that's 5 times 2 = 10DFUs, you'd need ether two 2" drains or a single 3" drain.

I know other inspectors that look at the supply valves and/or diverters and would recognize that the shower is plumbed so that only the two shower heads OR the three body sprays can be on at any one time...two heads times 2DFUs per head = 4DFUs, OR 3 body sprays times 2 = 6DFUs, a single 2" drain will suffice.

All-in-one shower towers? Another animal that I really can't discuss since they can vary from A to Z.

Anyhow, I'm out of coffee, so it's time to go.


more on showers
clipped on: 08.18.2012 at 08:51 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2012 at 08:52 pm

RE: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: mongoct on 06.25.2008 at 09:07 pm in Bathrooms Forum

Let me know if this is the sort of info you're looking for, if it's too basic, or not inclusive enough. It's a rough first draft and can be edited as required:

The sort of where, what, and why of pressure-balanced versus thermostatic:
Pressure-balanced or thermostatic temperature control valves are code-required in bathroom plumbing because they eliminate potential scalding and cold water shocks that can occur in a shower.

If you are using the shower and a toilet is flushed, as the toilet uses cold water to refill the tank, the pressure in the cold water line drops a bit below what it was when just the shower was running. If you had a non-balancing valve, youd still get the same amount of hot water that you originally were getting, but with the drop in pressure in the cold water line youd have less cold water coming out of your shower head, creating a potential for scalding. Vice-versa, if someone turns on a hot-water faucet elsewhere in the house, the hot water pressure drops and you get a shower of mostly cold water.

A pressure-balanced shower valve is designed to compensate for changes in water pressure. It has a mechanism inside that moves with a change in water pressure to immediately balance the pressure of the hot- and cold-water inputs. These valves keep water temperature within a couple degrees of the initial setting. They do it by reducing water flow through either the hot or cold supply as needed. Because pressure balanced valves control the temp by reducing the flow of water through the valve, if your plumbing supply is already struggling to keep up with the three shower heads and nine body sprays that you have running in your shower, if a pressure balancing valve kicks in and chokes down the water supply to keep you from getting scalded you could end up with insufficient water flow out of the heads in a multiple shower head setup. When it comes to volume control, in terms of being able to turn on the water a little or a lot, for the most part pressure-balanced valves are full-on when water is flowing or full-off when the valve is closed. Flow-wise, think of them as having no middle ground.

Where flow and volume control are important, as in a shower that requires a high volume of water, a thermostatic valve may be the better choice. They also control the temperature, but they do not reduce the amount of water flowing through the valve in doing so. Thermostatic valves are also common with 3/4" inlets and outlets, so they can pass more water through the valve than a 1/2" pressure balancing valve.

Which should you choose?
In a larger multi-outlet master shower, while a 1/2" thermostatic valve may suffice, a 3/4" thermostatic valve might be the better choice. But it does depend on the design of your shower and the volume of water that can be passed through your houses supply lines. In a secondary bathroom, or in a basic master where you have only one head, or the common shower head/tub spout diverter valve, a 1/2" pressure balancing valve would be fine.

If you want individual control and wanted multiple valves controlling multiple heads, then you could use multiple 1/2" valves instead of one 3/4" valve and all would be just fine.

What do the controls on the valve actually control?
While it may vary, a pressure balanced valve is normally an "all in one" valve with only one thing you can adjustthe temperature. The valve usually just has one rotating control (lever or knob) where you turn the water on, and by rotating it you set the water to a certain temperature. Each time you turn the valve on youll have to set it to the same spot to set it to your desired temperature. For the most part you really dont control the volume, just the temperature. With the valve spun a little bit, you'll get 100% flow but it will be all cold water. With the valve spun all the way, youll get 100% flow, but it will be all hot water. Somewhere int eh middle youll find that Goldilocks "just right" temperature, and itll be atyou guessed it100% flow. So with a pressure balancing valve, you control the temp, but when the valve is open, its open.

A thermostatic valve can be all inclusive in terms of control (volume and temp) or just be temperature controlling. If its just temperature controlling, you will need a separate control for volume or flow. Example, with an all inclusive youll have two "controllers" (knobs or levers) on the valve, one to set the temperature and a separate one to set the volume. In this case you can set the temp as you like it, then use the volume control lever to have just a trickle of Goldilocks water come out of the valve, or you can open it up and have full flow of Goldilocks water coming out of the valve. You can leave the temp where you like it when you turn the volume off after youre done showering. The next time you shower, turn the volume on, the temperature is already set. Some thermostatic valves are just temperature valves with no volume control. Youll need another valve/control to set the volume. Read the product description carefully to see what you're getting.

What size valve should I get?
Yes, valves actually come in different sizes. The size refers to the size of the inlet/outlet nipples on the valve. For a basic shower, a 1/2" valve will suffice. For a larger multi-head arrangement, a 3/4" valve would be better. Realize that youll need a water heater that can supply the volume of heated water you want coming out of the heads, so dont forget that when you build or remodel. Also realize that if youre remodeling and have 1/2" copper running to your shower, capping 1/2" copper supply tubing with a 3/4" valve provide you with much benefit as the 1/2" tubing is the limiting factor. You can, however, cap 3/4" supply tubing with a 1/2" valve or a 3/4" valve.

Is one better than another?
Thermostatic valves are "better" in that with them you can control both volume of flow and temperature, so you have more control, and they hold the temperature to a closer standard (+/- 1 degree). They also perform better if you are running multiple outlets in the shower, as they do not choke down the amount of water in order to control the temperature. But you pay for that added flow and added control. Pressure balancing valves can be had for about $100-$200, thermostatic valves can be twice that amount. And more.

Will I suffer with a pressure-balancing valve?
For what its worth, when I built my house over 10 years ago I put pressure-balancing valves in my own house. While I have two outlets in my shower (sliding bar mounted hand-held on the wall and an overhead 12" rain shower head on the ceiling), I have a two separate pressure-balancing valves, one valve for each head. With both heads going in the shower, I notice no loss of flow in the shower when the toilet is flushed and the sink faucet is turned on simultaneously. I also notice no change in temperature. So they work for me.

If you are remodeling, if you have your existing sink running and you flush the toilet and notice a drop in volume coming out of the sink, then a thermostatic valve might be the better choice even if you're not having a multi-head setup installed.

If, as part of the remodel, you plan on running new supply lines through your house to the new bath, then properly sized runs will take care of that flow restriction and you can probably do a pressure balancing valve instead of a thermostatic.

So in a house with tricky plumbing, or with a restricted water supply, or with multiple outlets running off of one supply valve, a thermostatic valve might be the safer choice.



information on shower valves
clipped on: 08.18.2012 at 08:14 pm    last updated on: 08.18.2012 at 08:15 pm