Sunday, March 27, 2011

Job Progress Update

Our system remodel is slowly grinding to a conclusion, after 9 months.

This week on Monday, REC came and replaced the Tigo maximizer unit, which wasn't working, and turned the solar PV system on. It rained all week, so I did not get to see whether the PV system was generating any electricity. Today it was sunny, but the inverter still wasn't showing anything on the display, so I think they still haven't quite turned it on yet. The meter also wasn't running backwards. I'll call REC tomorrow.

Last week, my friend Karl and I took the old gas fired tank heater over to ReusePeople in Oakland. They sell recycled building materials. I donated the gas fired heater, as well as a pile of tile that was left over from previous jobs, and three boxes of various sized light bulbs for fixtures we no longer have. The new on-demand hot water heater seems to be working OK now, here it is:




Last week, it blew out two of the three circuit breakers and some circuit breakers on the heater itself. Paul came and checked it, reset the breakers on the heater. The plumber had set the temperature to 140F, which was way too hot. 120F should be enough, which, as you can see, it is now set to. In  the photo, you can see the insulated hot water pipes going to the solar tank closet on the left. Both lines are hot, since the backup heater is supplementing the solar tank. I think the uninsulated line is the drain. The two armored cables are the electric lines. These are some pretty hefty lines: 3 circuits at 240V/20 amps.

I also discovered today that the plumbers had, early in the job, taken the temperature probe out of the solar hot water tank. The temperature measurement for the tank never got above 80F, so the pump has been on a lot, even cooling the tank down when it was hotter than the collector. Fortunately, the tank temperature never runs up above about 115F in winter. In the summer, it could easily have run much hotter, and blown out the pressure release valve. Everything seems to be working fine now, we had sufficient hot water during the week when there was no sun, and today with sun as well.

I will need to reinsulate the solar tank though. The plumber slashed through the kraft paper facing of the fiberglass batt when he installed the connection to the on-demand heater, so it was not possible to tape it back together. The fiberglass was spilling out. I had to discard the insulation, as well as that which was around the old gas-fired tank downstairs.

Because of the way the window upgrade was done in 2004, we needed to install casing around the windows when we had the drywall replaced. Before, we had drywall wrap without any casing. I actually liked the clean look of the drywall wrap much better than the typical framed window with casing, but the casing that the trim carpenter did was fairly minimal and matches the window's wood nicely:
Here you can see a shot down the house from the upstairs hall. The colors are really nice too, much better than the old dark pink/orange. The Lovely Wife picked out the colors, and did a fantastic job. They are much more interesting than the old color scheme, and the house seems much brighter. Here's the stairway through the living room door:

As you can see, the carpet is now on upstairs and on the stairs.

Larry and Carlos have also been busy on the urbanite. After it stopped raining yesterday afternoon, they came and worked, then Larry came back this morning. Here's what the pattern looks like:

Larry says that they mostly do irregular patterns with urbanite because the concrete is too broken up to really make a regular pattern from. But, here again, The Lovely Wife stepped in when the concrete guys came to break up the concrete and had them cut it into regular chunks. So we get a nice, clean regular pattern. TLW also bought some  recycled, milled glass for filling in on top of the base rock between the slabs. Should be interesting.  I suspect at some point we'll probably do the entire walkway into the back yard, and maybe the driveway too.

The floor protection was supposed to come off on Fri., but nobody showed up. I guess they figured what is another day in a 9 month job? But somebody, probably Christine, redid the dust protection on the kitchen and sun room. I suspect the drywall dust will start flying about when the pull up the floor protection. This week the floor guys are supposed to sand and refinish the floor, and then the trim work needs to get done. The schedule says that they will be complete on Apr. 5 for the city inspection, but I expect there will be at least a week or two's worth of work on punch list items after that.

I also spent some time today trying to fix the water features in the garden, for the garden show in 3 weeks. We have 4 solar fountains,  and only one of them works at the moment. There was not enough sun for me to properly test the large fountain, so I put the pump back into the box for another day. The bowl fountain out front was easy to fix. The pump had its own solar panel,  and I only needed to plug them together. The sun came out a couple times and it seems to be working well, water was squirting up from the nozzle. That leaves the barrel pond in the back. The pump is dead, these cheap Chinese DC pumps don't last very long. But I don't have any replacement. I thought TLW had purchased one, but that was the pump for the bowl fountain. So I'll need to get one.

1 comment:

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