The New Basement Window — Finally

After what seemed to be months and months of waiting the new window was delivered and installed today. It’s nothing fancy, just functional. The drier vent is built into the window itself so there is no longer an ugly wood plate through which the vent hose escapes.

Thanks to Denver Discount Windows And Siding for only charging me $230 for this custom-built window versus the $1977 that Champion wanted for the same project.

On to the next project — the radon mitigation system.

Gas Line Re-Route

For reasons unknown to me a previous owner of my house routed the gas line for the dryer in the basement through a window instead of running a branch off the main line already in the house for the other appliances (furnace, stove, hot water tank). As a result the window was not replaced when the others in the house were upgraded recently — window technology was not advanced in 1939 when the house was built. To add to the misery the dryer vent also exits through the window in a “Uncle Joe” type of wood box outfitted with a dryer vent opening. The gas line was only an inch in diameter but the hole was over twice that size, necessitating a towel be stuffed around it to prevent insects and air entering the house.
As part of my overall project to add a radon mitigation system to the house I needed to replace the window and re-route the gas line. I have already ordered a replacement window with a dryer vent built-in so today’s exercise prepared for the installation of said new window.

The Gas Connection sent out two trucks for what I originally thought was just an estimate. Since I had been dealing with other contractors that were so busy that simply getting an estimate required a three-week wait I was surprised when I was told they could do the work immediately. I agreed and less than two hours later I had the line re-routed through the wall instead of the window.

I didn’t take a photo of how it looked before the work but I can say it already looks a lot better. And yes, I did stuff the towel back in the corner of the opening to close off the hole where the gas line previously entered the house. This will have to do until the window company finishes building the replacement.

This Is My Life Lately

If it seems like this blog has gone to the dogs and home improvement projects lately you would be correct. That’s going to be my life for the next few months so I guess you should be ready for it.

Reestablishing My Geek Cred

My new house has a sprinkler system. Normally one would use the standard controller units to water the yard on a schedule but it seemed to me that a schedule doesn’t take actual weather conditions into account and might water too much or too little despite rainfall and temperatures. I bought a smart controller for my sprinklers and couldn’t be happier about that decision. I purchased a 16-zone Iro from Rach.io. Rach.io is a Colorado company so I had no issues spending the money for this item.

The controller itself replaced two Rainbird timer controllers that were wired with three multi-strand cables. As far as I can tell there are ten active zones in the yard (with two buried under the driveway, apparently, as I discovered when the fence was being installed)

The controller attaches to a wall and the cabling couldn’t be easier. Just attach the common wire to the white terminal and then each of the other wires to an open terminal. The outer/top part of the case plugs into the base and provides the power jack and the wi-fi circuitry. There is also an optical sensor on the outer part of the case that is used for setting up the controller on your wi-fi network: instead of incorporating Bluetooth components or some other hokey method of entering your wi-fi network setup, the accompanying Android or iOS app on your phone will accept all of your network setup information and will then fire off a (potentially seisure-enducing) pattern of light which will be read by the optical sensor. A single LED status light on the controller will flash to indicate if it is able to access the wi-fi network.

Once the controller is on your network the app can be used to setup the zones in the yard with a descriptive name, soil and vegetation types and the amount of slope and shade the zone receives. All of this info is factored into the calculation of how much water the zone will receive during your watering schedule. There is also a feature called “Weather Intelligence” that will skip irrigating your yard when rain is predicted for your ZIP code.

There is also the ability to connect a rain sensor to the Iro as well to provide hyper-local control of the system (for example, “don’t run a watering schedule if 0.25 inches of rain are received”). If you look closely at the photo below I do have an extra pair of wires that I plan to connect to a rain sensor in the near future.

The New Fence Is Here!

The fencing company installed the short fence between the house and garage to allow me to drive in and out of the garage with the truck without opening and closing the gates at the front of the driveway. The gates were necessary to keep the dogs in the yard… so life is great now! [Yes, it was a first world problem.]
The sprinkler controller would skip from zone 5 to 8 when cycling through the zones in manual mode and I discovered why when the contractors cut the holes in the driveway for the posts: zones 6 and 7 were apparently where the driveway is currently located as PVC lines and sprinkler heads were uncovered.

One of the next projects is to paint the ceiling of the covered patio in the back and install a gutter.

The posts had to be cut into the existing concrete.

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