Friday, December 23, 2005

House Project: Cleanup, Water, Water, Everywhere--But Not Enough Pressure

The electrician was supposed to finish up some last minute details today, and it appears that he did. The heating guy was supposed to get the gas dryer hooked up, and the backup generator hooked up to its gas supply. The generator looks hooked up, but the gas dryer was not done, so I don't know if he was up there or not.

A couple of days ago, we took up the mailbox. The builder is going to have to put it on a temporary pole until the ground is warm enough to sink a permanent post. (Yes, the ground has been frozen solid until yesterday.)

My wife has an artistic side, so she "improved" the boring black mailbox:

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The other side is a bit blurry, not because she was experimenting with impressionism, but because I think I was a bit close.

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The tile guy was up on Wednesday repairing a number of cracked tiles. He thinks the underlying floor joists might have sagged; the builder thinks that the tile was placed on a boundary in the tile underlayment. I think I agree with the builder.

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We drove up Thursday afternoon, late, after a couple of days of light but consistent rain. Like the movie a few years, we opened the garage and discovered, a river runs through it.

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Now, sometime on Thursday, the gutter guy got the gutters over the two ends of the garage installed, so we may be seeing the effects of rain coming off the roof before the gutters went in. The next serious rainstorm will tell for sure.

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We went up today to do some cleanup around the exterior of the house. The builder is going to do that, but when he left for Christmas vacation, there was a thick layer of snow around the house, and there was ice holding many pieces of scrap in place on the driveway aprons. At least the warm weather has melted most of the ice, leaving a debris field:

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Out back, there is a bit of a lake. We need to put in a drain or at least a drainage ditch to let this empty over the side of the hill. (You can see the backup generator.)

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I asked a couple of days ago where to get a big bow for the house. Thanks for all the suggestions! I called the very nice salescritter at Chevrolet of Boise (Karen Martin) who sold us the Equinox last summer, and she told me where they get their bows made. I sneaked up around noon and attached the silver and red bow to the front door, so when my wife and I arrived in late afternoon, she was completely surprised.

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At least I didn't have to wrap the house in shiny paper.

Even after picking up scrap for a couple of hours, there's still some grading work to do.

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Now for the disappointing news. By the time we were done, I was aching, wet, and cold. So I thought, "I'll go fill the jetted tub and turn on the jets." I turned on the hot water. It wasn't much warmer than the cold water--and there's wasn't much of it.

So I checked the water heater. It was at the "WARM" setting, so I turned it up to one notch below "HOT." The water did get a lot hotter--but there wasn't much of it. The water pressure was so low that I checked to make sure that the pressurization pump was running. It claimed to be running, and the gauge said it was putting out about 65 psi.

Hmmmm. When my wife turned on a faucet while I was trying to fill the jetted tub, she got no water at all.

As near as I can tell, when the plumber installed the whole house lead filter, he verified that he got water out of the faucets--but didn't verify that he was getting much pressure. I found the installation manual for the filters, and they indicated at 10 gallons per minute (my nominal maximum flow), I should lose at most 0.5 psi of pressure because of the filters. My guess is that I am losing more like 50-60 psi of pressure.

So, what is it? The builder is away. I don't know the plumber's name. I am going back tomorrow to check if:

1. The filter housing is installed correctly. Perhaps there is a preferred direction, and it is backward.

2. Remove the filters from the housing, and see if the water pressure increases.

3. See if there is something really obvious, like a plastic cap over some part of the filter assembly that is constricting flow.

This is the first moment in the process where I have been really, really upset about how something has been done.

UPDATE: I went up this morning. The filter housing is installed correctly. There is plenty of pressure going into the filter housing. There's nothing obvious restricting flow. I think the problem is that the filters that remove lead are such a barrier to water flow that they are effectively unusable for their intended purpose. Even if this filter housing were upstream of the pressurization pump, they would so slow the flow of water into the pressurization pump as to make it impossible to get enough water. I am going to insist that the vendor take this back, and refund our money. I guess we'll put lead filters on each faucet. What a nuisance.

Last house project entry.

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