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Rainwater collection system: 6 mo in

posted by: hddana on 06.04.2013 at 11:23 am in Building a Home Forum

When I originally posted that we were going to use rainwater collection as our only source of water, a few people asked me to post later, so here it is. We live in Texas in a county that is still designated as suffering severe drought, so more than one person has expressed doubt about choosing rainwater collection for the sole water source. The same drought conditions can affect the ground water sources, and in our area there is plenty of concern about the drain on the aquifer by all the development being encouraged. We have heard that initial wells went dry a few years back. Few people in our subdivision who came late to the game and have to drill 750' or more for water are completely satisfied with the water. It is very hard and can damage appliances even if softened. One lady here does rainwater collection for her pool because no one would go in with the strong sulfur smell. The cost of a well can go over $23k; the pumps wear out prematurely, and it takes a crane to pull them for replacement. So you can see that people might consider alternative solutions.

We decided to go with a 20k gallon galvalume tank with an FDA-approved liner and an initial filter as the water comes in; there is also an overflow outlet and a special connection for fire trucks. We constructed the sand and gravel pad for it and ensured it was lower than the lowest part of our roof guttering. We got a metal roof and were pleasantly surprised at the cost after shopping around very diligently; the gutters came with the roof, and they provided holes and drops for downspouts. Our roof is quite large and is the key feature in collecting rain. There are figures you use to estimate how much an inch of rain will yield off your roof, and ours will provide about 2000 gallons. We catch from both the main roof and porch roof. The gentleman who provided the tank also provided two filters, our UV light purification, and a 1hp pump to pump into the house. These we set up in a small pump house next to the main house.

DH and my DB were doing most of the work on the house, so after a lot of research and study, they decided we could save some serious money if they ran the pipes from the gutters to the tank. Normally, a turnkey job is about the same cost as a well. We had advice from some pros who are old friends as well. We ran downspouts down to a pipe that runs along the outside perimeter of the house. We live on solid rock, so any trenching had to be deemed completely necessary. Knowing we would eventually bring in some dirt for planting, DH just buried the pipe along the walls of the house with dirt so it doesn't show. From this pipe, the water goes across a small distance to the tank in a trench. Then it goes, and here is where you have to believe in physics, UP to the tank and in to that initial filter. There is also a pipe with a fitting that shoots off before the tank so we can empty the pipes. It is called a "wet" system since water remains in the pipes between rain events. Most systems would have had a "first wash" downspout to take the first rain for discarding. We were advised against this by the pro who provided our tank and filters, etc.since we have virtually no trees near our roof. The roof is not only large, it is quite high in the air. In the picture, the tank is just to the left of the house.

The late September tank delivery was delayed until November (fracking operations south of us were monopolizing the rainwater tank business), so we missed some really good rains in October. We purchased some bulk drinking water, 6000 gallons, from a local water company. At present, prices are not terribly high. Our last home was in a subdivision with a private water company that charged $100 mo for water and sewer before use. So the water we bought for $360 did not seem onerous to us. It is conceivable that the price of delivered water could go up. Since buying this water, we have had only three "good rains," and a number of misty, drizzly rains of less than .5". After a 3.5" rain last month, the tank is now 3/4 full. We expect this will last until the dry summer is over and the typical September rains come. Otherwise, we might be buying water again.

The water is naturally soft, tastes fine, and we have no doubts about drinking it, bathing in it, or cooking with it. There is much less soap scum in our tubs and showers. We are very satisfied at this point with our choice. Many people on rain systems become fanatic water conservationists. We have not really changed our lifestyle, but we realize we could. We do watch the weather a lot more than we used to. We determined that even if our rainfall decreases to half the 20" that is considered "normal" rainfall, 10 inches per year, it would provide enough water for our use. Below that we would have to hope that water suppliers do not raise their prices a great deal. We have no water bill and will save annually about $1000 because we get a county tax credit in this county for having rainwater as our water source.

We installed gutters and a non-potable 2500 gal. water tank for our garage roof. This tank has already overflowed. The water is for planting landscape plants at a later stage. Now we are using it to water trees between rains.

So, six months in, we are optimistic and happy with our rainwater collection system. There are others with similar systems in our subdivision, and some of the new builds going on here will have them. I hope this answers questions for anyone interested in having a rainwater system. It was a solution for a particular set of circumstances, and one we could do some of the labor on ourselves to save installation costs.

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clipped on: 05.07.2014 at 12:42 pm    last updated on: 05.07.2014 at 12:42 pm

RE: Cabinet color question & salvaging old cabinets for reno (Follow-Up #13)

posted by: CEFreeman on 03.14.2014 at 12:39 pm in Kitchens Forum

You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to strip a door.
1) yes, I've seen cream with natural wood frames and it's usually gorgeous. Surprisingly so.
2) Stripping.

Take a door off.
Get Citristrip or Soygel. None of the evil, flesh-eating chemicals that take 18 coats and tons of scraping and sanding.
You don't need space suites or even gloves for these products. I SWEAR by it. 18 antique doors, 11 cabinets of varying finishes and ages later, I am here to tell you how not to waste your time or fumigate your family. My stuff is down to gorgeous, bare, unstained, un-crapped-out wood. Some oak, maple, cherry, I think birch and goodness knows what they've used over the years.

Coat a door thickly. Like you're frosting cake vs. painting it on. Even though it says it takes about 15 minutes, leave it on. It does start to bubble and you'll get all excited, but if you dig at it now, you'll probably need yet another application for just the paint.
Leave it alone overnight. Really, resist the urge to poke at it.
I also suggest cutting up some grocery bags and pressing them over the citristrip. It holds the stripper against the paint, permitting it to continue to work at it -- but you don't have to. But no peeking.

You'll see the paint start to lift in ribbons. It is FABULOUS. And very exciting. Look at the pic below. This is before I knew I didn't need to bother with gloves. This old paint is coming off in sheets!
The next morning (or 8 hours later), you can squeegee the goop into another plastic garbage bag and toss it.
Now, take another coat of Citristrip and put it on evenly, but thickly. This will suck any residual stain right out of the wood. No joke.
I'd leave this on for a couple hours. Squeegee it off again. A credit card does just fine. A toothpick or something pointy gets into any detail, but this is where it worked the best for me, and lifted old paint right out of the crevices. Do NOT use a wire brush, because the wood will be softened.

Important: Use a scrubbie and water to neutralize it and get the residual stuff off the door. I was doing this and it was working beautifully! I do it outside in the driveway with a hose, although I've stripped my cabinets in place. A small blurb on the website discussing stain removal says water, but even their customer support (Nick) was horrified and insisted mineral spirits. If you use mineral spirits, you stand a good chance of reliquifying old stain and having it soak back into the wood. Mine also turned magenta. Bright, Easter egg magenta. Crayola magenta. Really, really bright magenta. (got it?) It was 100 year old stain soaking right back into my beautiful wood.

The thing to be careful of is using something sharp to scrape. (No wire brush!) Be gentle, because leaving this stuff on so long makes the wood softer and you can gouge it.

So anyway, I think this stuff is almost fun. If you get it on you, don't freak. It doesn't hurt. Doesn't remove color from clothing (where I wipe my hands) and if the stain gets on your hands, rub some on like lotion, wait a minute and wash your hands. Done.

You'll save a lot of $$ and decision making if you just try one door. Heck, if you're in the DC area, I'll do it for you. It's totally cool.

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Tips on stripping paint
clipped on: 03.27.2014 at 07:11 am    last updated on: 03.27.2014 at 07:11 am

RE: Which Kitchen Faucet Did You Choose? - 3 (Follow-Up #36)

posted by: OldTimeCarpenter1 on 03.16.2014 at 01:23 am in Kitchens Forum

As a guy who spends many days each month reviewing faucets and editing a faucet review and rating web site, I have to say that you all really know your faucets.

Looking over all the recommendations, I can see not one single dud in the bunch.

But...

Don't overlook Moen. Its styling is still dowdy, but it's getting better. Some of the newer designs are striking.

If you go with Delta or Brizo, insist on the new Diamond Seal ceramic cartridge. It is an amazing innovation that the rest of the ceramic cartridge world is running to catch up with. We calculate that is will last about 700 years in ordinary use, or six months if my wife uses it.

Also check out California Faucets, Phylrich, Sigma, and Watermark -- all U.S. made (or at least U.S. assembled).

For the truly unique faucet look at Tom Robbins Design. Robbins, a well-known industrial designer, is now retired and free-lances. He will design and hand make a one-of-a-kind faucet just for you -- for $1,000 to $5,000+.

If you want to avoid Chinese faucets, then forget...

Franke -- Most Franke faucets are now made in China.

Mico -- Ditto

American Standard -- Made in Mexico from Chinese components (and Am Std is now owned by the Japanese company LIXIL)

Eljer -- Is just American Standard Lite

Jado and Porcher, owned by Bain Capital. Most faucets made in China. Those made in Europe use mostly Chinese components.

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

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clipped on: 03.16.2014 at 07:53 am    last updated on: 03.16.2014 at 07:53 am

RE: Vented Gas Fireplace Logs versus full insert? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: Reid0 on 11.26.2013 at 11:56 am in Fireplaces Forum

Assuming your fireplace draws properly, smoke shouldn't be a problem for the existing wood fireplace - though I can appreciate your concern with the new TV, etc. If you're getting smoke in the room; the fireplace isn't functioning properly: learn about draft at http://www.highschimney.com/articles/chimney-airflow-problems/

As for gas logs, you can use vented logs all day vs a limited burn time for ventless logs. The fire will likely be adjusted to have a yellow flame (vs a blue one like your kitchen stove might) so as to look more like a wood fire. That necessarily means that you will have somewhat incomplete combustion. You'll want CO detectors around because if the exhaust isn't going up the chimney as it should be, you won't get any warning (ie no smoke to choke on). You have to put something in place to insure the fireplace damper can never close 100%- a clipboard clip on the damper plate is often used. Your fireplace has to still work for wood, so don't let anyone suggest you have a smaller liner.

This is not something you install yourself; a plumber will run the gas line. I'd suggest getting your log set in a hearth store, where they'll cost more no doubt, but you'll also get knowledgeable people and access to professional installation.

And you are right: you do lose heat with an open fireplace. I love the official expression for it: "negative heat gain."

Here is a link that might be useful: Types of gas firepaces

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clipped on: 12.17.2013 at 09:06 pm    last updated on: 12.17.2013 at 09:06 pm

Hooray for leather wipes for SS!

posted by: joaniepoanie on 09.26.2013 at 07:36 pm in Kitchens Forum

I can't find the latest thread for cleaning SS appliances, but several people mentioned leather wipes, reg Pledge, ShielaShine, etc. I almost ordered the Shiela but decided first to try Pledge and I also found Weiman leather wipes at my Safeway. Well, I am happy to report that the leather wipes are a winner! I used them then wiped with a paper towel. The appliances look great, even the top of my SS stove...,which was always harder to clean. In the past I had tried Perfect Stainless, Weiman spray vinegar , windex, and others and was never satisfied. The reg Pledge was good, but I think the wipes are better. Thanks to all who suggested them and I can pick them up at the grocery!

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clipped on: 09.26.2013 at 09:39 pm    last updated on: 09.26.2013 at 09:39 pm

Bold Tile, Sunlight Filled Kitchen

posted by: oldbat2be on 12.27.2012 at 11:53 pm in Kitchens Forum

Many of you have seen progress pictures along the way and given us so much valuable feedback and advice. With the forum's help, we have an incredibly functional kitchen in which it is great fun to cook and entertain.

Our home was built in the mid 60's and the kitchen used to be on the back side of the house, facing north west (never any sun). Our architect suggested relocating the kitchen to the front of the house, and came up with a very functional new plan, which included moving interior walls and adding a skylight dormer, mud room and pantry. We found a builder to perform the demolition and manage the construction. We built a temporary kitchen in our family room, moved the fridge in there with our camping gas burners on a card table, and started the long process of renovating. In the midst of this exciting and frustrating roller-coaster ride, my mom passed away. She was an amazing cook and would have loved watching the progress and seeing how everything turned out. This reveal is dedicated to her.

Cabinetry quotes for all the new areas (kitchen, island, desk area, bookshelves, pantry, mudroom) ranged from $35,000 to $75,000, uninstalled. Long story short: in order to economize, we went with an online Conestoga reseller (Brian Long/theCabinetJoint), who sold a ready to assemble/RTA cabinet, for around $23,000. This included many custom pieces; 18" deep uppers, custom width upper cabinets, 2 custom depth floor to ceiling bookshelves, and custom drawer widths and heights. While we've been very pleased with the quality and functionality, I wonder what the final effect would have been with different cabinets and/or a different cabinet style. DH and I assembled the cabinets ourselves and our builder's crew hung them. DH installed all the appliances (several, multiple times), built a steel bar support system for the island, and did so very much electrical, plumbing and carpentry work. He is one in a million.

As you look at these pictures, I would welcome finishing suggestions. What did we, as DIY-ers, miss or mangle? What stands out as unfinished to your eye and what could I add to a punchlist for a finish carpenter or DH and me? I won't be offended, but to be totally honest, I am not posting any of the bad pictures :)

When it came time to pick a backsplash, I found I had too much white and disliked how the upper run of cabinets looked. With a ton of help from the forum, I picked a bold tile which draws the eye away from the cabinets. (Special thanks to Hollysprings for reminding me that I liked a lot of contrast in my inspiration pictures and to onedogedie, for introducing me to kj patterson).

Before
The kitchen was small and my countertops were always crowded. Still, I feel the need to acknowledge how many wonderful meals came out of that space.

We bumped out the front of the house 5 feet, replacing the foot print of the old covered porch.

We learned we could replace a structural post which would have been out in the middle, with an LBL beam. (Huge thanks to jeff_from_oakville, live_wire_oak, remodelfla, sjmitch, karen_belle and bmorepanic).

Assembling and installing cabinets. There was no magical truck pulling up outside and crews bringing in beautiful, assembled cabinets....

After

Desk area to the right, fireplace to eventually be replaced with gas:

Bookshelves flanking the desk - houseful, you gave me the idea of using 2 of these, to balance the desk area, and I love how this works. Nothing warms a room like books! We also keep the phone and answering machine here.

Birds'-eye view, skylight dormer:

We love our recycling center and the inset composter:

Custom wood hood built by DH. Upper cabinets are 18" deep.

Recycling center on island and shallow cutting board cabinet:

Tiled fire extinguisher niche. This is located behind the ovens; countertops are 30" and ovens were pulled forward by 6".

Upper cabinet knobs:

Baking Area with 30" countertops: (we keep things out on them and still have room to roll out a pie crust or make biscuits).

Top drawer: (note my new XMAS presents, my pink thermapen and my yellow lemon juice squeezer, thanks to zelmar and Breezygirl!)

Middle drawer:

Bottom drawer:

Next drawer stack over to the left, fun storage:

Bottom drawer:

I like the Rev-A-Shelf pull-outs (DH HATED installing these with a passion) but they are flimsy (wobbly) in comparison to my Blum Blu-Motion drawer glides.

In the upper cabinets, DH has built custom spice racks for us:

We were able to find a caulk which matched our grout. We dealt with a local metal working shop to create our stainless steel surround and custom hood liner:

Pantry:
Linen closet at left, eventually washer and dryer at far end. The base cabinet at the end has a single large pullout; this will be for clothes sorting bins.

Filing cabinets and beverage fridge:

Cabinets: Conestoga RTA Cabinets and Doors, Crystal White, Door CRP-10875, Cordovan stain on island.
Counters: Cambria Torquay
Bar stools: Carrington CourtDirect Mitchell 26" bar stools, with COM and custom stain.

Wall paint: BM Aura Vancouver Day

Tile: kj patterson, Fireclay Debris

Cabinet hardware
Upper Hafele Knob Clear/Polished Chrome - HAF-135-75-420
Lower: RH Bistro Pull

Lights:
Varaluz, Nevada (table)
LBL lighting monorail, Lava II
Undercabinet: Philips powercore profile LED strips

Appliances/Fixtures:
Kohler Karbon faucet
KWC Sin Faucet
48" Capital Culinarian
Solon Inset Composter
Sharp 24" MW Drawer
Hood: Prestige insert with remote blower
Franke Peak SS Sink
Silestone Silgranit Sink, Biscuit
TapMaster
Hafele Food Pedals
Miele Futura Dimension

This post was edited by oldbat2be on Sun, Dec 30, 12 at 12:43

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clipped on: 01.08.2013 at 08:40 am    last updated on: 01.08.2013 at 08:40 am