My husband and I have always been a DIY kind of couple. We moved into our home a few years ago, and we got a real fixer upper. Not only is this a cheaper route to go, but it is also a lot more personalized. When you do everything yourself, you ensure that you get everything you want and you get to put a special touch on things! You can also guarantee that you will not have the same things as your neighbor. We did almost everything in our house by ourselves, but we had to call on the professionals for a few things. For example, the plumbing. My husband and I know absolutely nothing about plumbing, and the sewer line was certainly something we did not want to mess up. When we called a plumbing business, they confirmed the fact that it was a good idea to get their help. They said that the placement of the sewer line is crucial to success. If we would have installed this in the wrong place, we would have big problems on our hands. Since these pipes run outside of your house, they are very susceptible to corrosion and other weathering. If that were to occur then we would have to deal with leaking and other messy problems. Sometimes it is just best to leave things to the professionals.
My favorite thing about going over to my grandparents house has always been getting to go in their hot tub. They have had a hot tub on their back deck for as long as I can remember. They both have arthritis and aches and pains in their bodies so they love to soak in the hot water. My grandparents had their hot tub installed in order to be able to relax. When my sister and I visited them when we were kids, the spa became anything but relaxing. We would get in and splash and play and try to pretend to drown each other. We might get a few dirty looks from any grown ups that were around, but for the most part they let us treat the hot tub like a playground. As I got older I started to realize more of the benefits of having time to relax. I don’t get to go over to my grandparents house very much anymore since I moved to a different state. Often I long for the time that I was over there every weekend. Back then I thought a hot tub was for fun and games. Now that I have a busy adult life, I wish I would have been able to appreciate how great it was to just soak in a tub. I live in a small apartment on an upper floor now so I couldn’t even get a hot tub if I wanted to. Every chance that I get to go visit them is a particular joy now. Even if it’s freezing cold outside and christmas time when I visit, I still insist that we all get into our bathing suits and go for a soak in the hot tub. Sometimes I’ll get some protests that it’s too much trouble but I never give in.
A couple of years ago I moved back into my mother’s house. I know that a lot of people of my generation end up doing this, usually due to money, but it was still difficult to do. I had been living on my own for almost ten years when I moved back into the house that I grew up in. It was a strange feeling to say the least. Some things had changed since I had lived there last. The paint in the kitchen was a different color, I got stuffed into a different bedroom, there were fewer family members in the house now. The biggest change was that my mom had gotten a custom pool built while I was away. I had been living several states away so I hadn’t seen the new swimming pool until I moved back. It was one thing to hear about the pool over the phone but seeing it was a completely different experience. My mom had told me about how much she loved finally having a swimming pool of her own. She told me about how much exercise she was getting and how it was equally good for relaxing as for working out. Of course I believed her about how wonderful the swimming pool was but when I got there and saw the glittering water for myself I finally understood. For the whole first summer that I lived there again, my mother and I would lounge at her swimming pool. It was such a wonderful bonding time for us after having been apart for so long.
I’ve never been the sort of person you would consider to be particularly academic. When I was in highschool I started a summer job at a farm. It was hard work but I liked it. I could breath fresh air and be outside in the sun all day. I was also always a very skinny kid but finally all the manual labor was starting to put some muscle on me. I decided that I loved it so much that I was going to drop out of high school and continue on with the farm job. The pay wasn’t great at first but there was room for upward mobility within the ranks. I could drive the tractors or be a foreman. Once that winter came around it changed a little bit. It was difficult to be outside in the cold for so much of the day, but I was young and spry and I knew I could handle it. Now many years have gone by and I am still working at the same farm. The things like the intense heat and intense cold that I didn’t mind as a youngster are now almost unbarable. Everyday, whether it’s winter or summer, I can’t wait to get my body out of the elements and into my air conditioned or heated home. Young people don’t seem to grasp the importance of having a really good HVAC system for your day to day tasks. Working 8-10 hours in an uncontrollable outdoor climate is never going to be better that that same time in a perfectly cooled or heated office. If I could go back I don’t know if I would change things, at least I have heating and cooling in my tractor and a reliable HVAC system in my home.
I am always trying to cut down my heating costs during the winter. Every month when I get the bill I want to tear my hair out. I can’t seem to break myself of my desire for a house that is really warm. I don’t like having to put a blanket on my lap to warm up, I’ll just turn my thermostat up. One of the first things I tried to combat this issue was to start drinking whiskey. At first I hated it. I didn’t know what kind of whiskey to buy so I just bought the first cheap bottle I saw. I didn’t know that when it came to whiskey it really is true that you get what you pay for. A friend recommended a brand that he likes so I decided to give that a try. This actually worked quite well. I enjoyed the taste of this whiskey and I was able to turn my thermostat down a bit due to the warmth in my stomach. However, I couldn’t keep up this system all winter long. I had to find other alternatives to save money on my heating costs that didn’t involve buying expensive whiskey. With the whiskey drinking method I was actually losing money. I called my local HVAC technician to see if they had any advice. Because they are professionals they certainly did have advice for me. The first thing they recommended was that I make sure I change the air filters in my furnace every month so they don’t get clogged. Next, they scheduled me for a tuneup on my HVAC system. Both of these things helped cut my heating costs and now I can enjoy my occasional whiskey in piece.
As summer approaches and the temperature begin to rise many people start to install their Air-conditioning window units. My wife refuses to let me get one. She likes the country breezes that blow through our windows. For years I have complained that our bedroom is just too hot to sleep in and what a difference a window unit would make, however, we only have one window in the bedroom and my wife doesn’t want to fill it with a machine. I can’t blame her there. Last week we went to our friends Jake and Katie’s house for dinner and I commented on how cool their house was. Jake showed me what he had just purchased. It was a permanent wall unit A/C system. It didn’t go in a window it was installed right on the wall and vented outside. I began asking him a million questions about it. How much did it cost? Where did he get it? How much energy does it use? All I could see was that this beautiful machine was the answer to my problems. It didn’t take up a window and it didn’t require ductwork like central air did. It was just what we needed. Jake gave me the name and number of his heating and cooling company and I ran to my wife to tell her the news. I had found the answer! She smiled, patted my hand, and kissed my cheek. Then she told me Katie had told her all about it and that ours was going to be installed the very next day.
Winter is a great time of year for baking. A few weeks ago I was baking at a friend’s house. Baking is really just an excuse for us to get together and talk. After some time I needed to use the restroom and went upstairs to where her bathroom is and noticed how cold it was in the bathroom and surrounding rooms. I noticed that her thermostat was in the kitchen where she had had the oven on and was cooking on the stovetop. This was a “hot spot” in her house so the thermostat was reading that it was warm even though the rest of the house was cold. I recommended she call her HVAC company to see what could be done. They sent an HVAC technician the next day. The technician said he could move the thermostat to another room but he recommended having the house zoned. This meant that he could install another thermostat in a different area of the house and the heat could be controlled in just that area. Dual zones would be energy efficient and more comfortable for the rest of the family while the oven was on. This meant also that the air-conditioning could be controlled this way too. My friend decided to have the other thermostat installed upstairs. Now she can keep the bedrooms warm in the winter or cool in the summer without having to keep the whole house at one temperature. This also means we can get together and bake more frequently.
The leaves have begun to fall from the trees and the temperature has drastically dropped in recent days. As we started to prepare for the upcoming winter months my wife suggested that we test the furnace to ensure things are running properly. So we turned the old girl on. A loud humming noise could be heard throughout the house, it was followed by a frightening bang and then silence. My first thought was that this can’t be good. I trudged into the basement to see what might be the problem. I should mention here that I know nothing about heating systems. I only went into the basement to impress my wife. It also was a good place to make a phone call to my HVAC technician, without my wife knowing. He advised me to check the filters and the ignition switch. After walking me through a few troubleshooting steps with no luck, he said he would be right over. I returned to our living room and told my wife all the things I tried to fix and said that I thought it best to call a professional HVAC technician. When he arrived and surveyed the damage, he recommended that we have a full maintenance work up. He replaced all the filters, the ignition switch, and checked the exhaust vents. He also cleared the gas lines and that is where he found our problem. One of the gas lines was damaged. This caused a safety issue and the furnace has an automatic shutoff in case of things like this. After a quick replacing of our gas line, that old furnace fired right up.
My grandmother called me the other day unsure of how to work her new iPad. My aunt’s bought her an iPad for her birthday last week. They showed her how to use it but she ultimately forgot. Since it was the weekday and all of my aunts were at work, I went over after my classes. She was so happy to see me. I showed her the steps on how to connect to the internet and where to search for things. I also showed her how to download apps if she wanted them. She asked me if I had to leave soon. I told her I wasn’t in a rush and could stay until dinner time. She mentioned that she had her HVAC technician coming to the house to look over her system because it needed replacing. I told her I could stay and explain to her what he was doing. When he arrived, he told my grandmother that he had to do an energy audit. Good thing I was there because she didn’t know what that meant. I explained to her than an energy audit is an inspection that determines the size and type of HVAC system that she needs. An audit allows the technician to determine if there’s any leakage in the ductwork, pressure imbalances caused by the ductwork, any air leakage, inadequate insulation and if there’s a radiant barrier that can help get rid of cooling requirements in warmer weather. These factors helped in the process of choosing the right HVAC system. I was happy to have helped my grandmother that day.
My garage is not insulated, heated, or cooled. I have never taken any weatherization measures to tighten up the garage. I store tools, a snow blower, my husband’s motorcycle, and paints and varnish in the garage. It is convenient to use the garage as a workspace for minor construction projects. I have repaired things, cut wood boards, and even measured and cut drywall in the garage. In the summer, I open the overhead doors for ventilation. In the winter, it is too cold to work in the garage. The overhead doors are made of wood and are probably eighty years old. I recently attempted to close one of them and had it completely fall apart. I replaced my ancient wooden doors with a pair of insulated, steel doors. These doors provide a bottom weatherseal made out of rust-proof aluminum. They have weathertight tongue-and-groove section joints to seal out wind, rain, and snow. They are insulated with polyurethane. Now that they are installed, my garage is far more airtight. It has inspired me to take further weatherization steps. By walking around the exterior, I found quite a few small cracks and gaps to the outside, which I sealed with foam insulation. My next investment will be new windows for the garage. While I have no plans to heat the garage, I think that tightening things up will allow me to work in there in the winter. I think it will not only be more comfortable and cleaner in the garage, but there is added security as well. The overhead doors now lock from the inside.