Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chez Neumansky 2009 Top Ten List

Ya I know you're totally sick of top ten lists by now but hey, 'tis the season right?

So, in the spirit of the end-of-the-year season here's the Chez's top ten favorite/significant things that happened here this year.

10. This wasn't really a fun thing but a significant thing for sure. Our neighbors wonderful humongous Boxwood Alder tree falling in a storm and narrowly missing crushing us and our neighbor!

9. Cleaning up the attic and moving all our office stuff up there so that we could create a baby safe room on the main floor.

8. Dan took up the sport of 'Knife Catching' and caught a lot of flack about it.

7. Tasha's 2nd Burning Man was great fun for everyone! With no one going up in flames and no one getting arrested!

7a. All the super-fab low-budget ghetto make overs we did on the house.

6. The Super Great 4th of July party we had.

5. We FINALLY, FINALLY got the heat up and running and inspected after many, many, many months of work.

4. Halloween was the biggest, bestest, cutest Halloween Ever!

3. We discovered how much it was going to cost to have professionals redo our house and almost had heart attacks when looking at the number.

2. Learning how to pre-date posts so it looks like we got our end of the year list done before the end of the year!

And finally could #1 be anything else but...

1. Having a new member of the Chez Neumansky team!!!

Happy New Year to you and yours from all of us at Chez Neumansky!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We've Got Back Door Issues...

That sounds kinda naughty doesn't it? Or maybe I just have a dirty mind.

The back door to the house that enters through the kitchen is in bad shape. An incorrectly installed door sweep had turned the bottom part of the door into mush. The paint was wholesale failing over most of the door also. That's not too hard to believe as this door faces south and gets full sun and all the wind driven rain.

We got lucky and had a week of unusually warm weather-like in the 80's. This was fortunate as it allowed the door to dry out as much as possible before I had to paint it. Actually, by the end of the week the door had shrunk so much that it was easy to open and close against the new bottom threshold where initially it required a bit of work.

Here's the back door after I cleaned, scraped and sanded all the loose paint off that I could.

Here's a shot of the bottom part of the door. Why in the world would you make an exterior door out of this press board stuff? It soaks up water like a sponge and turns to mush!. With the door as dry as it was ever going to be I decided to paint it and hopefully it would soak up enough primer that this area would be protected-ish.

Here's an exciting picture of me rolling on the primer with a super cool mini roller. I used this thing to roll the primer on everything and it worked great and was way faster than doing it all with a brush. Like I thought, the bottom part of the door soaked up paint like a sponge. I think I put 3 heavy coats in that area...hopefully it will all dry before I have to close the door for the night, to keep the cats in and the cold air out.

I waited a week for the primer to dry and then went to work installing weather stripping on the door. As you can see from this shot even though the bottom was sealed up well there was still a substantial gap along the latch side that was allowing a fair amount of air in. Look at all that sunlight!

So, back to Pagano's I went for some weather stripping (man I'm glad that place is literally 3 blocks from our house.) This weather stripping has a flexible bulb on the end. You hold it against the door so that the bulb is evenly compressed and screw it to the door stop.

And here's a shot of all three sides of the door done. Doing this dramatically cut down on the breeze coming from this area. Before doing this make sure your door latch-striker plate are aligned and in good shape. I will need to reset-fix mine up to get the full benefit of the weather stripping. Now the stripping pushes back on the door enough that there is still a slight gap on the handle side of the door. Ah well, live and learn.

With these improvements and the insulation in the floor this area is now quite toasty and the babies room is definitely warmer. We've been using an electric space heater in there as a booster to the radiant but now we don't need it unless its SUPER cold outside.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We're on the Threshold of...


We've been on a tear here lately at the Chez getting things buttoned up for the winter. One of the things we needed to tackle was our back door. There was an 1.5" gap between the bottom of the door and the rotted out old wood threshold and when it was cold outside an icy wind would blow through this gap. Since this door is right next to the babies room with only a heavy curtain separating it, it was a high priority to get this huge source of cold air sealed up before it got really cold.

Here's the old wooden threshold and the bizarre gap in the floorboards it was spanning. This gap was full of old leaves, rat poop, and decomposing somethings or another. I got all the gunk out and vacuumed it and the wood underneath was in great condition. Yay for old growth redwood.

If you notice in the top pic at the bottom of the door a door sweep was installed with about 100 screws...Unfortunately it was installed so incorrectly that it trapped water between it and the door. It hadn't rained for weeks but when I removed it, the bottom of the door was soaking wet and spongy! Not check out the failing paint.

Luckily this area was framed with the correct slope so that any water in this area would drain away from the house and to the deck.

The weird gap exactly fits a standard 2by6. Why in the world didn't someone fill this gap years ago?

Since the slope was correct I used some leftover flashing tape to form a sill pan. If any water gets under the new threshold it should drain out the bottom without soaking into the framing and ruining it. The flashing tape is tucked up under the door trim on either side also.

I used a pull saw to trim back the door trim in this area to fit the new threshold. I wish I had a real flush-cutting pull saw but this one worked well enough.

Because of how wide the gap was and how wide my sill pan was I had to improvise a bit. I installed the new aluminum threshold in its proper place and then I used a leftover 5/4" by 6" piece of Ipe to cover the rest of the sill pan. I kerfed the bottom of the Ipe with my SCMS so that any water that runs down the door and down the aluminum threshold will still drain out between the Ipe and the flashing tape sill pan. After this pic was taken I trimmed the flashing tape flush with the Ipe.

Success!!! Here's a shot of the finished product from the inside. The 1.5" gap is completely filled and there is no icy cold draft from this area any more!! Hurray!!

Next up we need to work on fixing up the door to make it through the winter rainy season.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yay! For Caulk!

So, The front porch area of our house is not in great shape. Lots of dry rot and cracks, old caulk failing and paint peeling up or just disappeared all together. We thought it would be wise to do something about it before these humongous storms were supposed to pelt the area.

What we will have to do sometime in the not-to-distant-future is rebuild a lot of the porch with rot resistant wood and proper drainage detailing...we don't gots no money for that right now so we are going to band aid it through this winter.

What follows is several exciting shots of caulking!!! Hold on to your hats kids!

First off, we had to scrape up all the old paint and hardened caulk off of the porch, the stairs and well everywhere. Here I am cleaning the dust out of the porch board gaps with a chip brush so the caulk would have some chance of sticking.

After scraping and sanding and brushing and vacuuming off all the old paint we wiped down everything with denatured alcohol to get things as clean as possible. To hopefully give the primer and caulk a good chance of working.

The local hardware store Pagano's had this white, fast drying acrylic modified latex caulk with a 35yr rating on sale. So we bought an f-ton of it and went to work. I caulked all the gaps in the deck boards along with all the edges of the steps and well everywhere I thought was needed. We went through a ton of caulk. I gotta say, the quick drying stuff wasn't too bad to work with. It did take more water to smooth it out as it comes outta the tube much stiffer than the regular stuff. But it did dry fast enough that I was able to put 2 coats of a quality primer on with enough time for it to dry before the rain hit.

Here's an example of some badly rotted areas that I bandaided with caulk and backer rod. This part of the porch was really dry rotted so I dug out all the bad wood stuffed the hole with backer rod and filled it with caulk. Now at least the water should run off the edge here and not seep into the garage below.

We also caulked the edges of the steps. It didn't really look like there was any caulk applied when these were built...but we caulked and spot primed and put 2 coats of primer on the treads...hopefully it will get us through the winter.

If you look closely at the first picture you can see that these horizontal surfaces are in bad shape. These ledges slope the wrong way so water pools in the corners and they are rotting out! I scrapped off all the old failing paint, sanded it and put a coat of primer on then caulked the bejesus out of it then put on another coat of primer. I admit that I kinda f'd up the last time I painted these stairs as I used a primer not designed for outdoor use and it failed pretty quickly...

Its rained a couple times and the band aid job is holding out pretty well. There is hardly any water seeping through to soak things in the garage.