Saturday, August 29, 2015

Plumbing...I'm Learning So Much

Has it been a week already?  Every day is a rush to get things done.  Get up, feed the dogs, make sure the boy gets to the bus, get to work, after work errands, feed dogs, make dinner, check homework, clean up, fix something, shower and bed.

The sink in the nephew's bathroom has been leaking.  One day there was so much water that it tripped the GFI outlet.  I couldn't figure out where that much water was coming from.  Finally, after work on Thursday, I took the faucet off and re-connected it over a bucket so that I could watch for leaks.

By chance, I turned the hot water faucet on in order to hook the faucet over the bucket.  When I turned on the pump, water came pouring out of the hot water side of the faucet.  It suddenly dawned on me what was happening.  My nephew, either not remembering that the hot water is not hooked up or just by accident, has been turning on the hot water handle which allows the cold water to spray out under the sink.  That is why I could not figure out where the leak was coming from.  Every time I looked, it wasn't leaking but it was wet.  I needed a hidden camera!

The fix was easy, just screw a cap on to the hot water intake.  At least, the fix was easy in theory.  The plastic cap would not screw on straight.  I tried and tried and finally I checked the threads and saw that the soft plastic threads had been cut by the metal pipe.  Luckily, I had another cap and I was very careful to get it screwed on straight the first time.  So far so good.  There is another small leak that I need to fix and then I need to figure out what is causing the tiny leak in the drain.  I explained this all to my nephew and told him he would need to diagnose plumbing problems when he has his own place.  He said he wouldn't have to because he would buy a new house that didn't have any problems.  Haha...good luck with that.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday Plans

For once I am not working at my mobile home on a Saturday.  Since I have the water pump hooked up for the sink and toilet, there are no more super urgent chores to do.  Everything else is on the 'will make my life easier' list but it isn't urgent.  Instead, I must go to my mother's house to get her mail, check the food in the fridge, and hook up her two trees to the drip system.  I also plan to go adopt my foster dog so that I can take her to my own vet.  I am less than thrilled with the care she has received at the pound.  They just want to amputate her leg and get her adopted without taking in to consideration her other injured leg which will leave her with only two good legs.  I want another opinion.  Lastly, I am taking back a bag of plumbing fittings.  I'm not finished with the plumbing project but I know I won't use that type of fitting.

So, that is my exciting Saturday.  I hope there will also be time for a nap and some Netflix.  I don't plan on spending more than gas money and $15 for the dog's license.  My credit card needs a break.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Winning The Bad News Lottery

After my father's funeral, we encouraged my mother to meet my sister and her family in Florida for their family reunion/Disney World vacation.  It seemed like a fantastic idea.  Mom would have time with her grandchildren, meet her great-grandbaby for the first time, travel like she has wanted to do for so long, and get away from the reminders of her life as a caretaker of my father.  Everything went well until last Sunday... the morning before the day she was supposed to return to Arizona, she got up to use the bathroom in the dark, got confused by the unfamiliar house, fell and broke her hip.  It is what she had feared for so long.  One of the main reasons she moved to Arizona was because she was terrified of falling on the ice in Washington and breaking a hip.

But it gets worse.  The hospital gave her morphine for the pain.  Evidently, many seniors come down with a thing called 'hospital delirium'.  They aren't sure of the cause but they think it has something to do with morphine, anesthesia, possibly dehydration, and the combination of medications that elderly people are taking. This condition which causes hallucinations and paranoia, can go away in a few days, a few weeks, or never.  It's only been 3 days since the surgery so we are still hopeful.

And still worse, my mother is now stuck in Florida where we have no friends or relatives.  My sister is only able to stay until Monday.  Mom was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital today and has to be there for 2 weeks before they will possibly clear her to fly.  After that she will fly to be near one her daughters to complete her therapy.

I just can't even wrap my head around all of this misfortune.  I had hoped that she would be able to travel for at least a year before something like this happened.  Not only am I extremely sad for her, but everyone in my family is looking at their own future and wondering.  The urge to retire NOW is growing but I still can't seem to do it.  There is a lot of security in that bi-weekly paycheck.  I have very little in savings after all of the renovating.  My rental house is still in transition between tenants and I am having to pay for repairs and utilities.  I am not ready to sell my house just yet.  I'm not even ready to sell my truck and now I have my mother's car too.  That's 3 cars sitting in my driveway.  All I know is that I had better not wait too long to retire because there is no guarantee that my physical or mental health is going to cooperate with my retirement plans.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Plumbing Project That Just Won't End

How many times can I get heat exhaustion in one day?  It was 110F or something like that today.  All I know is that it was HOT and I wanted to stay home but I had important things to do which will make my life easier eventually.  I made it to Home Depot by 10 which is early for me.  They had to retrieve my toilet from the back so I went shopping for push-fit SharkBite connectors.  I was going to buy them last time but I got confused by the SharkBite brass barbs and compression rings and I thought that was what I was supposed to buy but, no.  The copper rings are too hard for me to squeeze and it was either spend more money on tools or change to the more expensive push-fit connectors.  I like them because they are simple and re-usable if/when I mess up.  I spent $200 on fittings but I bought extras to avoid numerous trips to the store.  When I am finished I can take the extra ones back.

This is my new toilet after I took it out of the box because it was too heavy for me to carry in the box.

This is the jacuzzi turned in to a mosquito breeding ground from the recent rain.  It is right next to where I was working on the plumbing so I had to stop and scoop water out until I got too hot and then I went inside and searched for the BT granules which is a natural way to kill mosquito larvae.

This is the fancy toilet ring that I bought but didn't need.  I had heard terrible things about wax ring failure but I didn't have any problems, probably because it was so hot in the bathroom the wax was very gooey.

This is another distraction.  The hall door is still un-usable and I haven't covered or removed it yet.  It bothers me every time I go by.  

The little tension rod with a twin sheet covers up the hideousness nicely.  Not fixed but covered up for now.

This is the old 4 gallon flusher.  I will not miss hauling 4 gallons to it.  The inside of the bowl was pretty gross too.

The old wax ring was melty and very hard to remove.  I had gloves on but I used some tools and they got sticky from wax.  This was the worst part of the toilet replacement process.

Ta-Da!  The new low-flow toilet!  I am happily surprised that I installed it successfully the first time.  

Look at those fancy buttons.  The left one uses 1.1 gallons and the right one uses 1.6 gallons.  The bowl does not fill with much water so it will probably get dirty easier.  I hope my nephew will cooperate with my toilet paper in the trash can request.  I think that will greatly reduce any chance of clogging.

The big questions left is, "Is there water to the toilet?"  Sadly, no.  For one glorious moment, I had running water to both the sink and the toilet.  I actually considered putting off installing the new toilet since the water would automatically fill now but I am glad that I went ahead with it because the pump started acting up again.  I was too exhausted, hot and starting to get a headache so I didn't start hooking up the little RV pump.  It turns out that the reducer fitting that I bought today was the wrong size.  I need to go down from a 1-1/4" pipe to 1/2".  I made a list of a few other connectors that I will need.  I'm not looking forward to another Saturday of plumbing especially since it will involve going under the mobile home but I sure will be happy with this stage of the project is complete.  At least we will only have to carry 1 1/2 gallons to the toilet this week instead of 4 gallons .  That is progress.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Two Weeks

Whew, what a week.  I can't even remember half of the things that went on but I am glad last week is over and I can't say I am looking forward to starting another week, and I have only made it through two weeks of the school year.  My goal is to have a boring, routine week where I come home directly from work without any urgent errands or emergencies and I have the evening to relax.  I'm not sure that will happen for another two years.

Last week started with my nephew having Monday off.  I planned to take him to the Minute Clinic after work for a sports physical but when we got there we were too late for the last appointment.  We grabbed a pizza, stuffed the luggage, groceries, and dogs in the car, and drove out to the mobile home, then unloaded it all.  This being split between two houses is difficult.  The next day I left work early so that we would make it to the Minute Clinic earlier but, once again, the person signing in ahead of us got the last appointment.  There was a map to the next closest clinic so we drove another 15 minutes and no one was ahead of us.  With that chore done, we stopped at the house to pick up his laundry from the day before because although he was home ALL DAY LONG on Monday, he brought out his dirty clothes 10 minutes before we were going to leave.

Wednesday and Thursday I worked on cleaning and organizing my bedroom.  I didn't get far but at least most of the boxes are out of site now.  On Friday we loaded up the car again and went back to the house in town where we have the luxury of running water, laundry facilities, a full kitchen, and space.  Saturday was his choir get-to-know-you lunch and I dug a hole for the tree that my co-worker's bought me in remembrance of my father.  It was a very fitting gift because my father loved to plant trees.

I hope I don't kill it.  I need to figure out how to send some greywater to it.  When I get a washing machine, it will be easy to hook up a drain hose to its location.

It was still too hot to do anything more.  I didn't try out the PEX pipe yet.  Instead, I rigged up my little aquarium pump to the faucet so that my nephew can wash his hands without having to come out to the kitchen sink.

I was thrilled with my little set up because I already had this pump.  It didn't cost me a thing and I had it hooked up in minutes.  My nephew was not impressed and wanted to know when I was going to get the real water system hooked up.  I told him I was waiting for him to volunteer to go under the mobile home to hook up the pipe.  Maybe I'll get to it this weekend when I am planning to install the low-flow toilet.

So, I survived week two.  My job was especially annoying because I had to make up work from missing 3 days from the week before.  I took a moment to calculate how much money I would have to live on if I sold both houses at the current zillow price minus the realtor's cut.  I would have $1500 a month for the next 15 years when my 401K would then be available.  It is tempting but I need money to make this place more comfortable and to finish the inside of the barn-shed.  Then I can think about quitting.  That's like 3 or 4 years away depending on what cards life decides to deal me in the meantime.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Plumbing Fail

In between family gatherings and funeral texts, I tried to get water hooked up for my nephew's bathroom.  Not having water is terribly inconvenient and I must fix it asap.  I spent most of Wednesday hooking up the outside plumbing not knowing whether the old pump would  work.  At the end of the day I turned it on and I got a trickle of brown water, then it stopped.  I thought about it overnight and decided that I needed to prime the pump.  Turns out I was wrong.  I actually needed to turn on the valve from the water tank.  Oops.  Ok, so I was hopeful again but still, I couldn't get water out of the faucet.  Then I remembered that I had this problem when I first hooked up this pump 13 years ago.  There is so much dirt and, um, probably spider bodies in the pipe that everything was clogged.  I unscrewed the screen on the faucet and it was full of brown stuff.  Still, the water only came out at a trickle.  I'm not sure if there is a blockage somewhere else but I can see that I need to test the pump at various points to see where the problem is.

Today I was totally fed up with the old pvc plumbing system and I bought PEX pipe and fittings.  I hope this works better with no leaks and that I can get the sink hooked up this week at least.  Also, I know I was hesitant about buying a low flow toilet.  I had put it on the low priority list but after a week of hauling 4 gallons of water to the toilet everyday, a 1.6 gallon flusher is looking pretty good and there is one for $88 with good reviews.  I'm going to order it tomorrow.

I also bought shelf brackets and a dowel so that I can have a place to hang clothes in my room and a piece of wood to make a dish washing station at the kitchen sink.  I decided to move the pantry shelf rack to the other wall and brought my two cabinets in and put the countertop on them.

I like all the counter space so I think I will leave it this way.  My mother is going to finish painting the doors soon.  Now I need shelves and the over-head cabinet with a curtain rod to hang pots and pans.  I just had 5 days off but I wish I could have more to work on these projects.  I have a busy week of work ahead.  3 days of unread emails await me in the morning.  I am not looking forward to that.

I did manage to get one security screen door installed.  I hope to get the other one done next weekend.  It wasn't as hard as I expected after I got the proper drill and drill bit.  My old drill decided to not charge anymore but I had my dad's old drill which still works great.

No school tomorrow for the nephew so we are staying in our luxurious accommodations (with lots of hot water on demand) for an extra night.  I'll be back during the week to check on things.

Miss you Dad!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One Step Closer to Indoor Plumbing

I spent my first bereavement day remembering everything my father taught me about plumbing.  First I cut a piece of plywood to go underneath the vanity because that area was lower than the tile.  Then I re-routed the incoming pipe so that it fit under the cabinet.  Once that was done, I was able to cut a hole in the side for the drain pipe.  For a moment I thought I was going to have to buy new pipe but one of the segments could be unscrewed and I reconfigured it so that it fit.

Now, since the drain is connected, my nephew can wash his hands and brush his teeth in his own bathroom with water from a gallon container.  Tomorrow I will work on connecting the water tank and pump outside.  My nephew still won't like taking showers there until I hook up the water heater even though the water in the tank will be around 95 degrees.

In the afternoon, I went to the other house and waited for the fridge recycle people to pick up my old fridge.  I am so glad that it is gone and they will send me $30 for it.  The dogs went with me to keep me company.  My plants and quail all looked fine.  I took a shower there and filled up more water jugs for the dogs.  They certainly drink a lot but that is mostly because one of my dogs has Cushing's Syndrome which makes him drink a lot.

Tonight we had a big storm and I got to see all of the leaks in this place.  The roof seems fine at least.  My nephew's room had a small flood because I hadn't put enough foam around the edges of the window A/C.  The dog door was a problem.  I need a small awning over it.  There is a hole on the outside of the mobile home where a light had been.  It was leaking through the wall and in to the hallway.  There is a mystery leak which made the curtains wet in the kitchen area.  I am still baffled by that but I'm sure it has something to do with the window.  Tomorrow will be more projects and then my nephew's open house at his school so I can meet his teachers and hopefully get some questions answers.  New schools are confusing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Delinquent Update

Sorry I have been gone so long.  Moving out to the mobile home was an adventure especially since it is so unfinished.  Then, yesterday my father passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimers.  That means family is converging for the funeral on Saturday, but in the meantime, I have a few moments to give you all an update.

My nephew and I loaded up the car with groceries and dogs last Thursday.  My kitchen area is still in total disarray and I didn't even dig out the microwave until Monday.  The first day of school went off without a hitch except that he was signed up for girl choir so his schedule had to be changed around.  I took the day off and tried to put up some shade cloth but it was too hot to be working outside so I ended up putting together the table and stools.  I hadn't heard back from the company that makes the table so I decided to keep it even though it is damaged because we really needed a table.  I finally heard from them yesterday and they suggested that I take it back to Home Depot because the replacement part was not in inventory.  I said I would wait 6-8 weeks because I did not want to take it apart after all my hard work.  I wonder if the replacement part will ever show up.

The straw seats are SO scratchy!  What was I thinking?  They definitely need covers.
Here is my messy corner where my tools are still out for the remaining projects like cabinets and countertops, trim, shelves, etc...  I am in serious need of storage solutions.  Even some hooks on the wall would help me.

This is my little dish washing corner.  Someday that countertop will be cut and secured.  Until then, I am drying my dishes on a wire shelf over a trash can.  I still have running water in this sink.  The water tank is getting low so I got out my extension cords and found out they aren't long enough to reach all the way to the pool.  My engineer co-worker offered to help me install an outlet by the pool since there is an electrical panel there already.  In the meantime, I bought a 100' extension cord.  It was raining tonight so I didn't try it out.

And this is my sad, dark little room.  The stuff has been shoved under and on top of the counter so that my 2 mattresses can lie side by side.  It is much better than just a twin size.  The dogs are bed hogs.  Someday I will build a bed frame so that I can have storage under this bed.  The dark walls need to go too.  It is so dark in here.

That's where we are so far.  So many half done projects.  I'll just keep plugging along a little bit at a time.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Finally Fence Time

The fence is up!  Not complete, but it will keep the dogs in.  But first, my table and 2 stools arrived just in time.  Unfortunately, the box looked like this.

And the table inside looked like this.

Now I have another chore, calling the customer service number to see if they can do anything for me.

Here is my front door area.  My niece made a little path for me.  The steps are still temporary concrete blocks since I ran out of time.

The hardware cloth is not finished yet.  I started burying the mesh on the easy side of the fence that is not on a slant.  I hope no snakes come around on Friday when I bring the dogs out but then, I have fenced out the snake food (pack rats) with the concrete skirting.

Here is a picture so you can see the relationship between the mobile home and the barn shed.  After I get the tie-downs completed and inspected, I can extend the fence to meet with the barn shed.  My niece was working on a mural for the mobile home but I don't know if she is going to have time to add the flowers.  Someday I hope to replace the metal siding with hardi-plank cement siding.

Here is another view of the fence.  There is a gap on the right side of the photo.  I used cattle panels as temporary fencing since they are cheap and sturdy.  3 feet of hardware cloth will keep the dogs in and other things out.  I have shade cloth to put up for shade, obviously, and so that flying predators won't be able to see the small dogs as easily.

As another temporary measure, I grabbed two extra concrete panel scraps and propped them up against the fence on the side that is most likely to harbor snakes.  The water tank, old metal skirting, and construction materials are on this side which provide hiding places for rats and snakes.  I'll be cleaning things up as I finish my projects.

Sadly, I didn't have any time for the bathroom.  I plan to get the sink drain hooked up next but finishing the fence is also a high priority because I will be worried about the dogs while I am at work if the fence isn't, how should I describe it, snake-repellant?  School starts Friday so we are moving in whether we are ready or not.  The adventure continues!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Final Countdown

Tomorrow is the LAST SATURDAY before we have to move in next Thursday.  I think I am hyperventilating a little bit.  My focus will be on the fence because it must be done so that the dogs don't escape.  I'm also planning to take a half day off so that I can work on stuff next Friday.  The dogs will only be alone for 5 hours and I will be there when my nephew comes home from school.  Then we can jump in the car and go back to the house and figure out how to make things more comfortable and convenient.  My bedroom only has a mattress on the floor at this point.  I still need a bedframe and either a boxspring or plywood.  Hopefully, the roof won't leak and hopefully, no other major calamities will happen although my car seems to be over-heating again.  Maybe I can work from home one day while I take it to the mechanic.  I was hoping to have left over money to start working on the barn-shed but that won't happen for a couple of months if my car starts acting up.

Sorry for the short post.  My head is spinning with to-do lists and priorities and I must go to bed so I can make the most of tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Moving On to the Living Room

I'm still here. I'm trying to post from my phone for the first time ever. Here is a photo of the last piece of vinyl floor and my living room furniture. The arrangement is not working for me but I don't have a lot of room to work with.

The small table and stools arrived tonight. Maybe my niece can put them together for me. Tomorrow my nephew gets his computer, ID, and class schedule. 8 days left. Maybe he won't notice that his bathroom doesn't have running water.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Friendly People, Horrible Customer Service

I didn't really think my vinyl floor saga could get any worse, but I was wrong.  Today was the day the that vinyl flooring, which I have been waiting for 3 months, was to arrive.  If you recall, I bought the first piece for the living room without much trouble until I took it home and found out it was 3" short.  The manager offered to exchange it but hauling it back was too much trouble so she gave me a discount on the next piece.  When I went back a week later to get another piece of the same pattern, there was only 7 feet left on the roll, the same 7 feet that was left the first time.  The manager told me she would call me on Monday when the new roll came in but I never got a call.  I called on Tuesday and they said a roll had been ordered on Saturday and wouldn't be in until 9 days later.  I pre-paid over the phone to ensure it would be there as ordered.  They told me the piece would be waiting for me Thursday which is today.  I called at 3:30 to make sure it was ready and they said it was.  

After work, I headed down to Home Depot.  My niece wasn't there yet so I found the countertop I wanted.  I was going to get white but the beige and white flecked counter looked better.  

I rolled my cart to the customer service desk to collect my pre-paid roll of vinyl.  She couldn't find it.  She called someone from flooring.  He looked and looked but all he found was the same 7 foot piece on the rack.  Finally, another associate suggested they check the receiving area.  Yep, they came back with the entire roll.  My piece hadn't been cut.  I suppose I am lucky they could even find the new roll.  They put the new roll on the rack and cut my piece.  Whew.  I am so glad that is the last piece of vinyl that I need for a while.

It took an hour to get my pre-paid vinyl.  I wanted to take it out to my mobile home but my niece offered to take it out tomorrow so we went home.  It is not going to be fun wresting that piece in to place and trimming it but I will sure be glad when it is done.