home improvements

10 lessons learned from rewiring our house

Submitted by Ben on Sat, 12/10/2011 - 12:22

A big part of the reason I haven't blogged here since March is that around that time I took on the project of rewiring our 1920 house (replacing the old knob & tube wiring with modern nonmetallic cable that meets code), and it's consumed much of my spare time ever since.  It looks like I'll finally finish the wiring part of the project later today, and then it'll just be a question of patching holes, etc.

Water Management

Submitted by Ben on Mon, 04/27/2009 - 08:47

We didn't notice when we bought the house that the entire back yard slopes toward the house.  Nor that several of the neighbors' yards are higher than ours.  The result is that during a heavy rainstorm, like the one last night, the neighborhood's water wants to get into our foundation.

Top ten reasons to use a reel mower

Submitted by Ben on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 21:23

My landlady in Fairfield had an old rusty reel mower in the garage, and I tried using it once before giving up -- it just wouldn't cut worth a darn, so I assumed it was dull, and I asked around to see if anyone would sharpen it, but no one would.  But then just before I left Fairfield, a friend told me that he used a reel mower, and he was the first person I'd ever met who did, so I asked him how he sharpened it.  He said, "You don't need to sharpen it.  You just adjust it right, and it sharpens itself."  Well, that got me intrigued, so I tinkered with t

The Best Laid Plots

Towards the end of August, Jessie and I decided to make our first strike against the lawn.  I had already mowed the grass twice, and found that the back fence was nearly impossible to trim without a weed eater, and I didn't want to buy a weed eater.  The fence also didn't serve any purpose -- it had been part of a dog pen, but the front part was long since taken down, so it didn't actually enclose anything; and also it was several feet outside the property line.

Ben Mon, 10/06/2008 - 22:37
Giant gopher, or Possibly Sandworm, Burrows Through Emporia lawn

It's really amazing how much damage four men and a backhoe can do in a day, even if that's not their intent.

We had expected that the new sewer line would be put in by Ditch Witch, but no, it was so deep (7-9 feet) that a man had to fit fully down in the trench, which meant a full-size backhoe had to maneuver in our back yard.  The clay -- and our subsoil is nothing but 100% clay -- was piled all over the yard and sidewalk, and then the rain started, and now there is slippery, sticky mud on everything. 

Ben Mon, 10/06/2008 - 18:13
The basement is clean!

The cleaner came yesterday and sanitized the basement from floor to windows with steam and microbicide.  Then he brought in a small army of dehumidifiers and fans -- enough to make the electric meter spin faster than I'd ever seen it -- and in a matter of hours the humidity was down to 50% again, where our own dehumidifier could take over.  Now the basement smells fresh and clean.  We have to resist the urge to put all kinds of stuff down there -- the floor will still get wet during heavy rains.  But it's a big step, and very satisfying, and our insurance paid for it!  :-)

Ben Fri, 09/19/2008 - 10:10
The plumbing is finally fixed

The plumbing is fixed after just over 24 hours of water and sewer shut off, 2.5 days of plumbers working, and a big hole in our back porch...

Jessie Thu, 09/11/2008 - 21:39