Getting handy

I had to replace the sink disposal unit after it developed a leak. It also had been making rattling noise for a while, indicating the bearings might be shot. The leak was the clincher, though, so I decided to replace the disposal unit myself after viewing several YouTube videos on the subject.

Old disposal
The old disposal. Note the water stain underneath where it has been leaking
New disposal
New disposal

I opted to use the existing mounting bracket that sits in the bottom of the sink opening and supports the weight of the disposal unit. Since I purchased the same brand I was certain this approach would work — and it did. Sadly, there are differences in the old InSinkErator disposal unit and the new one. First, the height of the unit is slightly different so I had to use a new piece of plastic tubing when connecting it to the waste pipe. No big deal, just cut the provided tubing a few inches shorter and connect it to the exiting pipe. Unfortunately, there is a bigger difference in the diameter of the opening of the unit itself and how the sink baffle attaches to the sink mount. The new unit’s baffle is too large for the sink mount opening and will not fit. Looks like I will have to spend a little more time on this project to replace the sink mount unit, which means a trip to the hardware store to purchase some plumbers’ putty to seal it up correctly.

Overall, I am pleased with my work and feel confident taking on more DIY projects.

Lucy Found A New Place To Nap

I had some cleanup work performed in the yard this week and the area under the pine trees is Lucy’s new spot to hide/nap.

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.