Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cooking with Gas

We recently had an energy audit conducted on the house. The result: our home has heat loss equivalent to a 24 inch diameter hole in the wall. It wasn't really fair that the storm windows are currently off, and we do in fact have holes in the walls, of various sizes. But still, our heating and insulation could be more efficient.

The new storm windows will help, but we really want to get away from so much oil use.

Eventually we may use the gas line to heat a boiler, but until then, we took advantage of a sale Finest Hearth and installed a gas fireplace insert. Now we can heat the downstairs to a cozy temperature without using any oil.

Bonus - it looks a lot better than the old non-functioning fireplace. Bonus #2 - it works in a power outage!



We're still trying to figure out what to do with the bricks and the tiles below, which are only temporarily placed there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Patented Technology

With a small amount of research, we were able to unearth the patent for our Loxit Sash Balances. Through a home restoration message board I was put in touch with an historic hardware guy who sent me the name of a guy who can replicate the wooden teeth -- he suggests using a reinforced resin to withstand moisture. Not sure how much all this will cost, but its neat to know we could pull it together if we wanted to. Who knew that the Internets could be such a boon for old home restoration?

No More Nerve-Wearing Perturbations

There's a chill in the air these days, which means we need to get our storm windows back on ASAP!

When we re-shingled, we removed an array of mismatched storms. Most were triple-track aluminum, some perhaps original wood, but none in good shape. With our beautiful new casings and shingles, we were hard pressed to have the old mismatched storms re-installed.

For replacements we decided to go with Adams Architectural Millwork, out of Gelana, Illinois. For a long time we had considered some aluminum "historic" storms from Allied, but in the end we knew that only a wooden storm would do the house justice. The ones we ordered will have screens that can pop in place of the glass from the inside, so no climbing on ladders every spring.
Here's an example of the wooden Adams storm:

In the meantime, we've started on the window restoration project. We picked the two front windows, as they are the first thing you see from the street. Recall we also "trued-up" the center bay and right window up front. So this bay has seen its fair share of attention.

We made a cool discovery when the sashes were removed this morning. We've always known our first floor windows had some interesting hardware. There are two buttons on the casing, to the right of each window. The windows are all long-since painted shut, so we didn't know exactly what function the buttons performed.

This hardware is apparently so rare that none of the builders or window restoration people we've had out to the house have recognized it. When the windows came out today, we were able to get a closer look.

We found this mechanism inside - a solid looking cog, and a set of wooden "teeth" along the sides of the sashes.

A closer looks reveals the name "Loxit Sash Balance," a patented product out of Providence Rhode Island.

Of course we googled them and found one or two hits, one from a School Journal published in 1901 (same year the house was built). It seems to cover everything from textbooks to construction. But it did have these interesting notes about our hardware...

The Loxit makes windows open and close easily!:

"No need of sending a boy with a long stick to tug and heave while the other pupils look on with unconcealed amusement."

The Loxit eliminates that annoying rattle!:

"The Loxit also does a good work in preventing windows from rattling. The sash is held so firmly in its place, that, no matter if it has undergone shrinkage it cannot get started on a course of nerve-wearing perturbations."

I am ALL FOR elimination of nerve-wearing perturbations. If only they made one that applied to 4, 3 and 1 year olds.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Think Like a Raindrop

I think it was our Realtor who said "a home's worst enemy is water." He said to "think like a raindrop" when assessing certain structural elements of a home where wood meets rain, snow or wind...

When you think about it, this entire Project is about protecting our home from water, or the elements. A new covering of Typar, new shingles, and eventually some window restoration and new storms.

The new bulkhead solved a major water issue in the back, but the real issue is water coming off the roof and sitting against the foundation. With our unique "kicked eaves" roof line, we cannot install a gutter without destroying the aesthetics of the house. So water basically pours off the roof, pounds the earth below, eroding the dirt and then seeping back into the basement through the foundation.

The worst of the problem was along the front of the house where the grade level was actually lower than the middle of our lawn. The house was sitting in a hole, effectively.

So now we've addressed this issue with a serious drip edge. We've installed about two feet of stone, with a drain pipe buried in it, which will divert water away from the foundation and into the yard.

Here is the drip edge in progress. We're very happy with the results, and we'll know how it works when Earl hits this weekend.

Some close ups of the drip edge.

Of course the beds will eventually have plantings, and you won't be able to see the drip edge, but we'll know its there, quietly protecting the house from the evils of water.

Here's a shot of the front steps newly stained, and now nicely meeting the new grade of the front walk. You can see our current mailbox solution. It's an improvement over the mailman wedging our mail between the screen and the glass on the back door.

Now we're just waiting on the front door, the final shingles around it, the mailbox, the doorbell... Should be done in time for Christmas!
Welcome home!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photo Update

We're finally getting to the re-grading required to make our front stairs "work" with the landscape. No more 12 inch drop on the last riser! We're also putting in a drip edge to divert water away from the foundation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I have to admit, this is one very exciting milestone! Welcome to the 21st Century old Kicked Eaves! Ok, well maybe just the 20th Century, but we'll take it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A New Bulkhead, Yahoo! (sarcasm)

Our new bulkhead door finally arrived. This is one of the less-fun, required improvements. The old dog-house was really a mess, and a stream of water literally flowed through to our basement every time it rained. So while this will not improve our enjoyment of the house, it will certainly decrease the headache factor.

Recall the old dog-house style bulkhead:

The current situation is shown below. They had to pour a small concrete base at the top of the old stairs down to the basement. It is a non-standard size opening (of course!) so the new steel bulkhead door had to be custom made, and it will now sit on top of the concrete base. The alternative was ripping out the old stairs entirely and pouring an all new foundation down there. The custom door/small concrete cap was the less expensive option.

Note the small deck is now removed from the sliding doors. Long-term we plan to reconfigure this back corner so the exit is in the rear of the house. In the meantime, we'll just place that old rotten set of stairs up against the house. I'm sure it will look great. ;)

Here's the new bulkhead, on its side. It's primed in red paint now, but will be painted to match the shingles.

Like I said, not really fun stuff, but necessary. And also fantastic for insulation and security.