Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tankless Update

So far so good with the tankless water heater. I believe we will see a drop in our gas bill....how much??? I don't know. The next power bill will reflect a whole month with the tankless water heater.

It has been an unbelievably mild winter so far. So I know we are already using less gas than last year.

Hopefully in the next month we will get back to projects around 'The Gear' because my Dad is transferring to a rehab center to finish his recovery from the surgery he had in November. Yes, November! We finally feel he is over the worst and we can breathe a sigh of relief.

He has a lot of strength to gain back. Being confined to a bed for over 2 months has really taken it's toll on him. He still has a trach and a swallowing issue but we feel good about his prognosis. The hard part is not to want instant results. The results will be slow but as long as we move forward we'll be happy.

Thank you to all those who asked about his health and I promise to get back to blogging soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tankless Heater Day 4

I was so looking forward to this day. Hot water never felt so good.

True to their word, the remaining installation took them 3 hours. We were very happy that we left the plumbing and gas line to the pros. They did a fabulous job that only someone with experience can obtain. The soldering was neat as a pin and the pipe layout was perfect.If you decide to install a tankless water heater like this unit there are several factors that you will need to think about when you locate your unit.

1. You will need a 110v outlet as the unit needs electricity for the controls.

2. Your intake and exhaust pipes will need to be more than 4 feet from your furnace exhaust.

We lucked out on both accounts because we had an existing outlet right next to where we hung the unit and the furnace exhaust was 5 feet from the existing water heater exhaust.3. The unit also requires a condensation drain tube so you will need some where to drain the water.

We did not have a floor drain or a sump pump crock but we do have a condensation pump on our furnace that pumps the condensation to our laundry tub. The plumbers ran a small PVC pipe along the wall and over to the condensation pump making sure to have a slight slope to allow for drainage. The condensation tube is the white PVC pipe coming from the bottom of the unit in the photo above.

4. This unit also requires a 3/4 inch gas line. You may need to upgrade the size of your gas line to accommodate this requirement. FYI make sure your shutoff is easily accessible.

At this point I do not know the extent of our savings. As you can see the unit itself costs a pretty penny plus what we spent on installation. It will take several months of use to determine our monthly savings.

I also love not having the water heater sitting on the floor. Not only do you have the added floor space but I feel safer in that I don't have to worry about dust bunnies getting under the gas water heater and catching on fire. For some reason the location of my previous floor sitting gas water heater was a magnet for dust bunnies. It absolutely had nothing to do with the fact that I did NOT regularly sweep my basement floor.

Would we completely install the next unit ourselves? Yes. This summer we will install the same unit at 'The Gear'. We feel confident that when given unlimited time without the pressure of NO HOT WATER that we can obtain the same results. Time was something we just did not have with this installation. The ideal situation is to install a tankless water heater before your existing water heater fails. But who does that????

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tankless Heater Day 2 and 3

Let me see...where did I leave off?

Day 2 was a day of chipping away a little concrete block and brick and then try the PVC pipes, remove the PVC pipes and chip away a little more. This went on all afternoon until we could install the PVC intake and exhaust pipes and maintain the 1/4 inch per foot decline for proper condensation drainage. this keeps any condensation from running back into the unit.

We decided that filling the entire cavity with cement would take several applications and forever to cure so we went with plan B. Plan B was to fill the majority of the cavity with spray foam. But before spraying we needed to fill any voids in the concrete blocks.

Wadded up plastic grocery bags worked perfect. Once we had every nook and cranny jammed packed with wadded up grocery bags we sprayed the foam insulation making sure to get all around both pipes. This used exactly 1 can of spray foam. We called it quits for the day and let the foam cure overnight.

Day 3 started with trimming the cured spray foam. R trimmed the foam so that he would only need about an inch thickness of quick drying cement on both the inside and outside of the vent pipes. This particular unit has a very nice two piece cover for the intake and exhaust which also acts to hold the pipes in place until the cement hardens.We also installed the remote thermostat next to the wall unit in the basement. You could also opt for installing it upstairs next to your furnace thermostat but our ceiling is finished in the basement which made this option a no go.By afternoon we had decided that it would take us another entire day to plumb and run a new larger 3/4 inch gas line so we opted to call in a plumber. They (a team of 2 journeyman plumbers) stopped by around 4PM to give us an estimate and look over the job that we had done. Including materials the cost would be $600.00. Dang...I wish I had that 600 bucks I wasted on the totally useless pressure assisted Kohler toilet.

The plan was for them to show up at 10AM the next day and the estimated time for the remainder of the installation was 3 hours. In the meantime R filled the remaining void around the intake and exhaust pipes with quick drying cement.
Day 4 can't come fast enough.

Update on my dad....Both my mother and I were unable to go to the hospital because neither of us were feeling well. My sister visited my dad and found him sitting in a chair, awake, and watching Judge Judy on TV. It's a miracle. He has no recollection of his ordeal and says he hasn't seen anyone in a long time.....LOL despite the fact that we have been there all along. R says if my dad can't remember anything, tell him he (R) had visited him 62 times!!!

He will be transferred to the 4th floor when a bed becomes available. No more 2nd floor. He has come too far for them to sabotage his recovery a second time.

He still has a long road ahead of him. His muscles are extremely weak and his swallowing reflex is still slow.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sorry for the absence....Part 3 + house woes

Once in the hospital, we immediately were lost since we normally come in through the front door. We asked a janitor where the atrium/lobby was located and he just stood there. He finally said "I don't know." Really? I mean it's the main part of the hospital. I ran ahead trying to find the correct path while R and my mother walked behind me. I finally found the elevators.

My dad had an episode that caused him to be O2 depleted and we found him back on a ventilator heading back to ICU....................fast forward 6 days. He is still in ICU but today they removed the ventilator and he is breathing on his own but has issues with inflammation of the lining of his lungs.

So that is where we are at, at the moment. But since this is a house blog we also must talk about the house and houses like people have parts that go bad and need replacing. Unfortunately our house is not immune to that malady.

The pressure assisted toilet at the Torry Road house decided to quit flushing right after my dad's operation. This toilet has been nothing but problems from the start. We installed it in the mid 90's and hoped that the pressure assist, the name Kohler, and the 600 bucks it cost would make it a toilet to remember.

Sadly it was the worst possible way to waste 600 bucks. I would have been better off putting it into a slot machine or buying lottery tickets. The toilet never flushed consistently and was an absolute nightmare to work on or change the toilet seat.

We installed a basic simple no frills model and it has worked flawlessly since it was installed. The only hiccup is the caulk that was used around the base of the old toilet has left a mark on the white tile floor. I used a new razor blade to scrap off the caulk but there is still some residue of caulk remaining. Solvent of some sort will probably do the trick but I just haven't had the time to try any on it.

But of course we couldn't just have the toilet go on the fritz. Oh no. When it rains it pours or in our case.....when we turned on the hot water all we got was cold water. Yup...that's right. The water heater was broken.

R and I have had discussions in the past about the tankless water heater. We already had a direct vent water heater so we would just need to adjust the size of the opening to accommodate the new configuration. But first we removed the direct vent water heater to get a better look at what we had to work with i.e. space, location etc.

This photo shows the old water heater gone but the old vent still in place with a towel keeping the 20 degree cold air from blowing in.
Here is the opening with the old vent removed.
While removing the old heater we realized that it had been in use for 22 years. Not too shabby considering that the average life span of a water heater is 10-15 years.

Off we went to Home Depot where we decided to buy the Rheem EcoSense model. This model will supple the needs of a three bath home. The Torry Road house is a 2 bath but one of the baths has a two person Jacuzzi brand tub that needs a lot of hot water to fill. Another added benefit of this model was the fact that it uses PVC pipe for both the intake and exhaust rather than the expensive double walled exhaust pipe.

Cost of water heater $1297.00.

We felt confident that we could hang the unit, install the PVC intake and exhaust pipes, and cement the remaining open area closed. We were iffy on the gas line and maze of valves and water lines.

But first things first. Let's hang this puppy and locate where the pipes need to be located.Well as you can see the opening is just tall enough but needs to be widened. Thankfully we have this little tool to make the job slightly easier. This pneumatic air hammer/chisel was worth it's weight in gold since we needed to go through a cement block wall plus brick on the outside.
More tomorrow. Oh boy...cliff hanger

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sorry for the absence....Part 2

Where was I at....oh yes, Thanksgiving.

We ate at my mom and dad's house and dinner was great. The next Tuesday was my dad's surgery. He's had bypass surgery before but this surgery was different. It involved a bypass by an aneurism in the descending aorta and bypasses on the femoral arteries in both of his legs. This is the worst of the bypass surgeries since they have to cut you from stem to stern.

Surgery lasted longer than they had anticipated and the clamping off of the aorta caused excessive water retention in his body, this in turn caused his kidneys to be overwhelmed and they started to shut down. Luckily for my father his regular internist had stopped by in the morning to check on him and saw what was happening. His son is a kidney specialist and he called him. The kidney specialist was able to put him on dialysis before the kidneys failed. The first days were in a detox mode without removing fluid. Once he was detoxed they slowly started removing fluid.

They told us that he was holding his own but if he caught pneumonia that might be it. He was on a ventilator, dialysis, and had 15 IV bags going at one time. To make matters worse he has a rare blood condition and rare type of blood that only 700 people have. Then he caught pneumonia. But he held his own.

Slowly they removed the dialysis machine even those he was and still is swollen in the extremities. Several days before Christmas they removed the ventilator and the day before Christmas Eve they moved him out of ICU and onto a general floor. It was a miracle and the doctors were calling him a miracle man.

At the time we were happy with his progress but we felt he needed at least a couple more days in ICU but the powers that be in the hospital moved him to the second floor (no doubt to scale back ICU during the holidays) and well it was down hill from there. The ICU crew were great. Very knowledgeable and caring. They deserve as much credit as the doctors when it coes to his recovery.

The first night that he was on the second floor, my mother called and asked me to go up to the hospital to set up his TV. I arrived to find him trying to throw back the sheets. I asked him what was wrong and he said he needed to go to the bathroom. That's all well and good but he has yet to get out of bed because his feet are swollen and he's weak and can't walk. I went and talked to a nurse and she said "well, he doesn't have his light on." DUH!!!! he could hardly focus or move his arms and hands to work a call button.

In the meantime, they took their sweet old time getting in there. But first a word about their appearance. I thought nurses were required to wear their hair short or pulled back? These two nurses had long unwashed hair. I was not pleased but that was just the beginning. The next day I was told by my daughter in law (the lawyer) to start taking notes and about what was going on. I also started taking photos.

We were still hopeful that we had turned a corner. He was having a hard time talking because his throat was sore from almost a month on the vent and also on a feeding tube. He did very little talking and slept most of the time.

Christmas Day he was really tired. The day after Christmas we found out they were giving him morphine shots despite the fact that he repeatedly told them he had no pain. His doctor told them NO MORPHINE. We told them NO MORPHINE.

December 27th my sister, my mother, and I arrived at the hospital to find him slightly more talkative when asked questions. His doctor arrived and spoke to us about his rehab which will take months. The nutritionist arrived and spoke to my dad about removing the feeding tube and he said he wanted that. So the feeding tube came out. She also spoke about possibly placing the feeding tube back in his side if he wasn't getting enough calories by mouth. His swallowing is damaged from the vent and he can only swallow thick fluids. She ordered chocolate (his choice) nutrition shakes for him.

My mother washed his hair and the nurse shaved him. He now has quite a cookie duster from his month plus time in the hospital. All was looking good when we left on the 27th.

Seven hours later and slightly after midnight my mother received a call. I had just crawled into bed when I also received a call. I thought it was a telemarketer calling and did not answer. Three minutes later my mother called me and said we needed to get to the hospital fast.

My mother hasn't driven a car in years and it just so happened that the roads were covered in ice that night. Because she is so close to the hospital she does drive during day light hours. That works out OK, but even I was unsure of the roads on that night. None of the roads had been salted. My sister and brother in law traveled by expressway and it was quite an experience for them to say the least.

I was already exhausted and so looking forward to getting into bed. I really don't remember getting dressed but we were out the door in a couple of minutes. I told my mother to be ready with garage door open and we would take her car with R driving. She lives about 3 minutes from the hospital. I live about 7 minutes from my parents.

The plan was to drop my mother and I off at the front door and R would park the car and then come in. I went to the automatic door and it wouldn't open. The lettering on the door said to use ER entrance after 9PM. Unfortunately, when they called my mother, they forgot that little tidbit of information.

Everything was covered in ice as we walked around the building and up and down concrete steps covered in ice. We arrived in ER only to be treated rudely and told we could not go into the hospital after hours. Finally, after 20 minutes we were allowed to go into the main part of the hospital.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sorry for the absence......Part 1

Where do I begin.

The first of November I came down with a cold after R got a small case of the sniffles. I was not so lucky. When I realized that I would not get better before November 17th (start of vacay with family and friends) I ran to the doctor. Bed rest and antibiotics did the trick and we departed for Riviera Maya and the El Dorado Resort and Spa. I was feeling only slightly tired but that may well have been from the 6AM departure and the 330AM alarm.

Our vacation was perfect.

The El Dorado was everything you could want and more. A large variety of restaurants, pools, and activities was perfect for our group which was eclectic in age (30 to just under 60) and interests. Besides the pool side sunning and numerous drink sipping, members of our group went horse back riding, played tennis, karaokeed (Gibby was robbed by a professional songstress), attended a cooking class, exercised by doing pool aerobics, played Frisbee in the pool until our arms felt like they were going to fall off, toured the hydroponic area where they grew all their own veggies, received massages, dine at sunset dinners, and ate and ate and ate.

There was also wine and tequila tasting and air rifle (G was disappointed that he missed that) shooting. We went into Playa del Carmin several times for souvenirs. R even had his photo taken with a lizard.Every night offered some sort of entertainment. The best was the karaoke contest with Gib singing the Grand Funk (Flint Michigan band) hit, Some Kind of Wonderful . He was great and did our group and Michigan proud.

Everyone was so nice and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The food was great and my favorite was a lunch time gazpacho made of pureed papaya garnished with spoonfuls of avocado. I swear I could eat that everyday. R stuck with steak which really wasn't a surprise.

We came back in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping and it's been downhill since then.