Monday, October 25, 2010

We're so cool. Literally.

To make a long story short, the A/C system in our house was completely shot when we moved in. The unit itself was undersized by 1.5 tons for the square footage we have making it extremely inefficient, and the duct work was cheap, torn, and generally just falling to pieces. On top of that, the pipes were never plumbed correctly so all of the water runoff was soaking into the ground underneath the driveway/garage and causing the foundation to deteriorate. We knew we'd need to replace it before we could ever turn it on and risk further damage, and in Texas you need air conditioning pretty consistently until November (it's 90 degrees today, the last week of October).

So, last week we decided to bite the bullet and replace the entire HVAC system. It wasn't cheap, but at least there's a $1500 tax credit for buying a high-efficiency A/C system in 2010.

All of the new duct work! Super exciting...and super messy!
The most drastic change was the size of the A/C unit. Our old one was dinky (way too small for the size of the house) and thus very inefficient, and it was completely exhausted from being run 24/7 due to the shoddy installation of it back in the late 90's. Behold the new, high efficiency unit!

Left: The behemoth! Right: Adios, teeny.
The good thing about ordering a new A/C unit at the end of October is that the companies are much less busy than during the 110 degree summer. They sent two crews over to work on the system, and they finished it all (ripping out everything old, installing new vents, new returns, new ducts, everything) in two days. We love being cool!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Corner of Danger

Ladies and Gentleman, behold the CORNER OF DANGER!

This is not in our house, thankfully, and after I showed it to the Safety Manager, it's no longer in the hallway either. Because the CoD should never be forgotten, here is a list of its components/what made it so special.
  1. A rusty stool. Pretty basic, this stool was very rusty. If you cut yourself and rubbed your hand on the stool, you would probably get tetanus.
  2. An unsturdy easel.  This easel looks harmless enough, but if you try to set anything on it, it will fall over on you 102% of the time. The problem lies in the shoddy screws that hold the whole unit together, and also possibly a mysterious bite-mark near the base of one of the legs.
  3. A sharp (and also rusty) motor-looking thing of unknown origin. I'm not sure what exactly this is, but I do know it's dangerous as hell. For the first year-and-a-half that I was here, it was used as the doorstop to a secret supply closet where I occasionally had to venture. The secret supply closet was a danger in iteslf, as it locked from the inside and no one knew where the key was. If this motor was ever removed as doorstop, I'd be trapped in the room forever. Luckily, I guess, no one could ever remove the motor, as it weighed about 75lbs and was really sharp. Lugging stuff in and out of that closet I must have cut my ankles/stubbed my toes on this beast about a dozen times until I convinced a safety assistant to haul it out into the hallway and replace it with a $1 rubber doorstop.
  4. An old chair with splotches of unidentified blue sticky gunk and two missing screws. I'm not sure why this child-sized chair was here at all, except maybe someone walking by with it saw the Corner of Danger and thought it would fit right in. All I know is that after over a year, the blue gunk still hadn't dried, and that the two missing screws at the rear of the chair made this a disaster waiting to happen.
As I said, it's only a memory now. But, let it serve as a lesson to everyone: there's no telling what could be lurking around the next corner. The Corner of Danger.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Living Room: Part II

The pumpkin-flavored beer helps me to concentrate,
and also to be less whiny about stripping paint.
Truthfully, we've been pretty lazy lately. With our lease expiration date less than three weeks away, we had been over to the house a couple of times to install new doorknobs, program garage door openers, etc, but the living room was still a looming problem. Last night, after never hearing back from a painter we asked for an estimate, we decided to strip the wall ourselves. We found out that the yellow paint on the walls was in fact 4 COATS of exterior paint, which had also not been primed. Luckily for us, that meant the paint was fairly easy to scrape off the walls.

Roland with his prize catch. A 1 pounder!

It may have come off with little resistance, but stripping paint off a giant wall is extremely time-consuming. R and I decided to have a contest to see who could scrape off the biggest single piece of paint. He won, but just barely.

At the end of the night, we still had about 25% left to scrape, so we'll be heading back over there tonight. We've already filled a Hefty bag with 30lbs of this paint -- which, like the plywood pieces you see in the background, are up for grabs.

What could we display in here?

In the meantime, we need our readers' opinion (see right sidebar!). In the dining room, we have a built-in shelf with seven tiny platforms. The previous owner used it for displaying the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan. We don't know what to use it for. Should we keep it? Remove it? We tried to determine how it's affixed to the wall, and the answer is: securely. If we ripped it out, it would certainly leave a giant gaping hole.

Mmm...probably not the most glamorous idea.

Right now, R wants to take it out, and I'm ambivalent. It doesn't bother me (and I really don't want to have to patch up more drywall), but I'm really at a loss as to what we could use it for.

What do you think?