Saturday, May 27, 2017

Bathroom Fan Cleaning

A few weeks ago it started getting very humid in our master bathroom and bedroom after taking morning showers. Every time I vacuum upstairs I clean the dust off the outside of the cover to the ventilation fan but finally got up on a chair and took a much closer look inside. The cover comes off very easily. Ours at least was held in place with wire hooks on a spring. Pull the cover down and then squeeze the wires together to pull them out of the slots in the ceiling.

While I was able to clean the dust off around the motor with the cover off the only way to clean the fan blades was to remove it from the ceiling. There were two flat headed screws on the right side in the photo above that had to be removed. They weren't in the metal but rather in the drywall itself with the edge of the fan assembly resting on them. The edge of the metal frame has two hooks that fit into slots in the ceiling. There's also a simple two prong electrical plug that needs to be unplugged as well. (I didn't see any reason to shut off the breaker to the bathroom but it might not be a bad idea to do so just in case.) 

This was the fan after removing it from the ceiling. I ended up using a bristle brush attached to my shop vacuum to clean out all the dust in the blades. Putting it back in was as easy as removal. It definitely helped with the humidity and I'll be adding this to list of items to clean every few months to keep it from getting this bad again.

A few days after I cleaned the master bath fan I checked both the hall bath and the downstairs half bath. Both of them were slightly different in the way the cover hooked into the ceiling and the way the fan was mounted in the ceiling. Neither was bad enough to require full removal to clean at least. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Morning Room Update

When we signed our sales contract just over three years ago the incentive being offered in our neighborhood at the time was a free morning room addition. The extra space that provided along with the upstairs laundry room were big reasons behind us going with the Sienna versus the Florence. (The next level up in our neighborhood.)

Judging from other blogs most people use theirs as a dining room. We on the other hand envisioned it mainly as a home office along with a playroom for the kids and a spot to relax. We originally had a small couch in there but replaced it last year with this chair from IKEA. Our older son's big gift this past Christmas was an Xbox One (and let's be real here, I wanted to play it too) and we didn't want it upstairs in his room. (See previous parenthesis among other reasons.) I had been looking to add a television in there for a while already and I managed to catch this 39" 1080p Insignia Roku set on sale for $199. It's the perfect size for the room and while we don't have a cable outlet in there the built in Roku means our younger son can still watch his shows without tying up the main television in the living room.

There are two regrets I have with this room:
1. We should have added a ceiling fan rough-in. It can get a bit warm out there in the summer even with the blinds and curtains closed. Eventually I'm going to talk to an electrician about the feasibility of installing one but it would have been far easier and I'm betting cheaper too if it had been done during construction.

2. Not as much of a regret as #1 given the amount of natural light from the windows and sliding glass door but do wish we'd gotten the two extra windows. On the other hand having a solid wall gave us a good spot to hang our college diplomas and I'm not sure where we'd put them otherwise. 

Monday, January 16, 2017


As I've noted in previous posts, Jenny and I love IKEA. It's gotten to the point where nearly every room in our house has something from them. With the closest store a 90 minute trip up I-95 (assuming minimum traffic) it's generally an all day affair between the trip, assembling whatever we buy, and then being too tired to do much of anything afterward. Over winter break we made our first trip up there since last spring to pick up a few things we'd been eyeing for a while.

Earlier in the year Jenny set up a crafting area in our master bedroom using a small table and a little drawer organizer to hold her supplies. Needing more space we originally planned to get a larger desk and an additional drawer unit. But then we found this Linnmon/Alex desk/drawer combination that provided even more space and storage. On top of that, it saved us from needing to get an additional nightstand for my side of the bed. (In front of the lamp on the desk one can also spot the USB hub and dock I use for charging my Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad. As an added benefit it puts the watch in nightstand mode.)

On the other side of the bed sits the Hemnes nightstand that finally completes our bedroom suite. The lamps on both sides are basic stick lamps from Target. 

A few other bigger things we picked up on this trip along with assorted minor odds and ends:

-Kallax Drawer Insert. We have the older Expedit 2x2 storage cube in the morning room that the Kallax replaced. It has the same interior dimensions however and these inserts fit perfectly. After getting home and assembling the drawers I wish I had gotten a second one along with the door insert to hide the mailing supplies that sit in one of the cubes.

-Fixa electric screwdriver. Having assembled a lot of IKEA furniture over the years inevitably my hands hurt from turning the screwdriver repeatedly. This $10 electric one was a savior this time around and slightly surprisingly even had enough torque to put screws into the aforementioned Expedit cube securing the drawer insert inside. While I've got another one of these somewhere in the garage, for $10 this was cheap enough to pick up as an extra.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ductwork Condensation and Fix

One evening in the middle of last month my wife pointed out to me that it looked like we had leak in the ceiling of our mudroom. A small but noticeable wet spot had appeared where the wall met the ceiling.

The water spot.

During the construction of the house I had extensively photographed every step of the build especially before the drywall was put up. A coworker had advised me to do in case there was ever any question of where wiring, plumbing, etc was and I'm glad I did. After looking at the pictures I realized there wasn't any plumbing in the area and it was more than likely an issue with the ductwork. In the Sienna the main air duct for downstairs runs most of the length of the center of the house. I noticed in the pictures I took during the build that the duct was insulated in the wall in the garage but was uninsulated starting where it crossed over into the house above the mudroom door. (I was told during the resolution of this incident that the duct inside the mudroom ceiling is considered to be in "conditioned space" so insulation around it isn't necessary.)

A few weeks before this happened one of my neighbors with a Florence told us that they had developed a leak in their laundry room that turned out to be condensation dripping from the duct work. Several others in our neighborhood reported similar issues and were told that at least with the Florence model it was a design flaw where hot air was leaking into the space above the ceiling, hitting the cold duct work, condensing, and creating the leak. They were also told that even though several of them had been in their houses for several years the issue hadn't occurred until now because the previous two summers had been rather mild. By contrast the last few months have been horrendously hot and humid.

Because of that and even though we've been in our house for two and a half years and beyond the warranty period I called the service line after texting back and forth with our service manager. The current SM for our neighborhood called me within an hour and agreed to come out and take a look at the issue the following week.

Upon arriving he used a moisture meter (I need to get one of these) to check the walls and ceiling around the first floor. From there he realized it was confined to the mudroom and then cut a hole in the ceiling under the duct.

Given the pattern of the moisture on the duct (it only extended out a few feet) the determination was made that hot air was leaking in through the wall above the mudroom door. Expanding foam was sprayed around the wall and the wet 2x4 was replaced. The cover of the outside vent for the half bath vent fan was also removed and foam sprayed around that duct. Just like with the issue in the Florence noted above I was told this problem didn't occur until this summer because of how awful the heat and humidity was. We more than likely had some condensation in previous summers but it was never enough to drip through the ceiling and be noticeable because we never had such extended periods of extreme heat.

The ceiling was left open for a few days and we discovered the duct was still dripping. So another contractor was dispatched to use a different spray foam in the cavity and around the duct. A laser thermometer was also used to check the temperature in various spots.

After a few more days with plastic covering the hole we had no more condensation and an appointment was set up to replace the drywall. (The contractor that came out also fixed a settlement crack that had developed near there as well.) All that's left is for us to repaint soon. 

While the house was being built I was amazed at how thorough the construction crews seemed to be with sealing any spot air could potentially leak with expanding foam. Obviously a spot was missed but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, it happens. The most important thing is (and what the wife and I appreciate the most) is that Ryan Homes and their service manager Brian covered the resulting problem for us even though we'd been out of the warranty period for four months by the time this issue started. Of course had the previous two summers we've been in the house been as bad as this one the problem would have already occurred and been fixed. That being said, they could have denied us but they stood behind the house and took care of it.