Sunday, October 29, 2017

Furnace Heartbeat

Last week I had a local HVAC company out for fall maintenance on our system. The technician showed me something useful on the system that I wanted to share. Our unit is made by Comfortmaker but this apparently applies to other manufacturers as well.

On the front of the system is a light that they refer to as the heartbeat. Normally it will be a steady flash when everything is working correctly. In the event of a malfunction that flash will change to a pattern. If the issue is intermittent (or you shut the unit off/restart it) that code can disappear before someone can get out to look at it. So he told me if I ever experience a problem to write down the pattern just in case. When a technician arrives it will assist with figuring out and correcting the problem quicker.

On a side note, I've said this before in previous posts but I'll say it again. if you’re not getting your system checked out twice a year, in the spring and fall, start. I’ve been doing it for years and at least once in the past at my last house it caught an issue before it became a larger problem. With the company I use at least it also gives me priority service in the event of a problem. It's money well spent.

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.