Monday, October 31, 2005

House Anniversary

Tonight marks the third anniversary of my owning the StuccoHouse. Maybe I'll celebrate with a Snickers from my trick or treat candy bowl ;-) Who would have thought....three

Friday, October 28, 2005

Twin Cities Bungalow Club

Welcome Bungalow Club members!

The Twin Cities Bungalow Club had a nice write up on bungalow bloggers in their quarterly publication the Small Home Gazette.

The current Gazette isn't available online, but is sent out quarterly to club members which makes the small membership dues more than worthwhile. They even offer an "out of area" membership.

The Gazette usually contains a nice article from the editor, as well as, reviews of new bungalow/old house books, information on the lastest Bungalow Club house tours, readers' questions, and a topical article (this month is "Lighting the Bungalow") with LOTS of local and national resources. Money well spent, I think.

At any rate, I have created links to the other blogs mentioned in the Gazette article for your surfing ease :-):

1929 Bungalow Blog
1912 Bungalow
House In Progress
Struggle In a Bungalow Kitchen

Friday, October 21, 2005


I'm sure every old house has them. Little things that you look at in awe and wonder "what on earth were they thinking?" My house has plenty. Here are two that are currently bugging me.

# 1 - At some point, one of the owners decided that two of the bedrooms in my house needed more than one outlet. Understandable.

How did they accomplish this? By drilling up through the hardwood maple floor and installing exterior outlets. Two strips in each bedroom. Why they couldn't have drilled up two inches back and 6 inches up from my open basement and put a normal outlet on the wall is a mystery to me.

As you can imagine, to fix this now...I need to hunt down strips of old maple flooring (I have my eye on some from under my fridge)...pull up those old outlet...cut in and refinish the new floor strips....and then fish the wires up to the wall. Sigh.

#2 - Why fish a telephone cord through the wall when you can drill a hole in the oak floor and pull it up there? I have to shake my head every time I see this.

I fixed this one a while ago and the telephone outlet is now on the wall above the baseboard. (The white stuff is foam I used to seal before adding a base shoe - part of a restaining and shellacking the baseboard project I finished up last year). This repair was a little easier as red oak flooring is easier to match to existing old wood and I was refinishing the entire floor at the same time. But, still.

I suppose it's good that I have been exposed to these things because it makes me think about projects before I do them. I ask myself more questions. Am I doing it in the most logical way? If I want to change it in the future, is it going to be even more work for me? Am I just being lazy or cheap and not doing it correctly? Will some future owner of my house post pictures of my silliness, laziness, cheapness, etc. on their future blog and whine?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lightworks Sale

Just got a "special invite" postcard to the First Ever Fall Sale at Lightworks in Minneapolis. The sale starts October 24th and ends October 29th. The postcard says 10% off custom orders and 10-50% off their antique lights. Mon -Sat 10-5pm. Their address is: 404 Washington Ave. N. Minneapolis. Their website is in my "Old House Links" section.

I really like this lighting store. I first started visiting their shop when they were over Art & Architecture, Inc......and kept visiting long after A&A moved. On my last visit, I had them custom make a center pole light for my hallway. Reasonably priced....made to order....and best of all, local.

I'm anxious to give them another visit during the sale.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's all in the Numbers

They look so simple. An obvious way to number screen and storm windows in order to know which window they fit into each season when you change them.

Who knew they would save so much time?! After spending hours each year trying to get my storms to fit into the correct window frames like an "advanced" puzzle......only to do it again at the change of seasons.....I ran across these wonders in an old house stuff catalog.

I ordered them and last Spring and as I exchanged out the storms for screens, I nailed them into the frames.....and the window sills.

And this Fall I reaped the rewards. Instead of the usual 2 hour job.....I had all the storms in their proper places in 20 minutes. So, simple.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Gasp, Asbestos

This is a quick follow-up to my post yesterday about Grendil. A few people asked and some commented on the asbestos aspect of old ductwork.

Yes, the cream coating on Grendil is insulation fortified with asbestos. For those of you that have heard of the evils of asbestos....but never seen you have :-)

In making my decision to keep Grendil....being comfortable with the old insulation was a big factor. The word asbestos makes most people cringe, but there is a lot of misinformation out "there" that leads to a lot of unnecessary hysteria. In the end, illness attributed to exposure to asbestos by a homeowner is virtually non-existent. But, like everyone else.....I wanted to mitigate any possible hazard in my, I did a LOT of research.

The asbestos insulation on my ductwork had been painted by a previous owner in what I think was a misguided effort to encapsulate it. The paint is deteriorating because of exposure to heat, but the insulation itself is solid.

So, I decided to find a product to effectively encapsulate the asbestos fibers. I saw the "encapsulation" method mentioned in many, many publications regarding how to effectively deal with asbestos. However, not one of those publications mentioned a specific product.

Thank heavens for the internet. After much research and many phone calls, I discovered a company named TKO Coatings. They make a product called Tuffide. In the specs of this product they specifically address it's uses in encapsulating asbestos insulation. To confirm, I called the company and they allowed me to speak with one of the company chemists who confirmed that I could use the product for coating my ductwork. They also recommended a product of theirs called Bindercoat that "froze" any loose particles in place prior to coating with Tuffide. This eliminates any need to sand down or wash what could be hazardous materials. (As an aside, this is the same company that makes Krack Kote for any of you that have used this product on your plaster walls.)

Tuffide comes in a variety of colors. I chose a light grey. When you call in your order, they will tell you what colors they currently have in stock. I ordered the products and they arrived, but I have not started this project yet. I will report in full once I do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Meet Grendil

This is Grendil. Grendil is my gravity furnace (also know as octopus furnace in some circles). This furnace has been in my house since the day it was built in 1924 and has kept countless owners warm and toasty over the years through some pretty wicked Midwest winters.

When I first moved into the house, my plan was immediately to rip out Grendil and replace him with a high efficiency furnace and central air conditioning. That was before, well, I met Grendil.

In the midst of getting bids that first year to remove & replace Grendil, I had a furnace guy come out to certify that the heater would be safe for me to use for a winter.

The heater guy was an "old timer" and was able to tell me Grendil's life story. This gravity heater started out life fed by coal. Someone shoveled coal into its front door from the nearby coal room where the lumps were stored. You can still see the little coal door with the fancy handle. There is also a little "humidifier" dish where a person could pour water in order to have the coal heat humidify the air. Every now and again on a cold winter night, I try to imagine what life was like living in this house and having to get up every few hours to shovel coal into the furnace (yikes!).

Sometime in the very early 1950's Grendil was switched to gas. He has loyally served the house in this state ever since. No moving parts, and virtually noise free......the furnace guy assured me that Grendil had every potential of outliving 75-80% efficiency.

Of course, knowing all this there was no way I could rip out Grendil.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Heat is On

There is nothing like a few nights of frosty temperatures to get a girl motivated to finish the restoration of her windows. Especially, when three of the windows currently on horses in the basement are from her bedroom.

Even my down comforter has its limits in keeping me warm.

I’ve been putzing with this project since last summer (2004) when I started my first window. I am not proud to admit that I discovered I would not freeze to death if I put up that 3M window shrink wrap plastic over the storm window….and kept that one window out all last winter.

This summer I found myself spending a lot of time trying to decide:
1) if I want to use ropes or chains,
2) if I should remove the pulleys and rehab them,
3) if Plexiglas should be used in the bathroom (I did, but for the record….a mistake),
4) if I should nail or screw the inside stops back on,
5) if the bottom edge of the sash should be inside (oil) or outside (latex) paint,
6) where the interior paint should stop…..if I plan on painting the exterior window wood next summer,
7) what to trim if the meeting rail doesn’t meet,
8) if I should install bronze spring in the window frame.

I am a bit of a perfectionist. I finally realized that if I change my mind next Spring….I just need to pull out a few pieces and change whatever it is I want to change. This took some of the pressure off ;-) I just need to get the lead out (a little old house pun) and get these windows done.

I went out and bought rope this afternoon. Will put the last coat of paint on the remaining sash tonight. Then I just need to track down some replacement inside stop strips. Finally need to paint the inside trim. Whew…..looks like I’ll be able to wind things down just as the first snow falls. And those windows…..they do look good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Down Came the Rain

We had 6 to 9 inches of rain here last night. One wave after another of thunder, lightening, rain. There were cars floating, evacuations of houses by creeks, roads closed, news weathermen in a frenzy and generally a big mess that is still being cleaned up today.

I, however, am proud to report that my three year compaign of cleaning gutters, adding downspouts, regrading soil, planting and foundation caulking, foundation caulking, foundation caulking (did I say foundation caulking?) and general bargaining with God has paid off.

Although, I must admit to being nervous around midnight when I saw water rushing over the street curbs.

Except for a very faint shadow of moisture along one particularly problemsome basement is dry! Hurray!

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