Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Weekend Update From Hell

This last weekend was hard. To say it was tumultuous would be a bit of an understatement lol. I have come through it alive though, so I figured I could tell the tale here. Just to let you know - this will be a long one.

Saturday night, my husband called me on my way home from work (around 5 pm) to tell me that the storm that was going on had knocked out our power. He heard a loud lightning crack not far away, so he got up and unplugged everything (last time our hdmi ports on the tv got fried so now we are super careful). While he was going around and unplugging, he said that lightning struck again and very close to the house - so close that when it hit he could hear the light sockets sizzle and crack for a few seconds afterward. The rain had subsided slightly by the time I got home, and we went outside to see where the lightning hit. We were surprised and freaked out to say the least when we saw where it hit:
 This is the edge of the front planter, right outside our front door. From the front of the house, it would be here:
See that black circle? Yeah, lightning struck right there.
The crazy part is that it was so obvious except there was no scorching to anything but the roots of the grass. The pressure from the strike pushed all the surrounding grass away from the impact spot. Pretty scary. We were without power for a few hours, but everything came back on around 7:30 pm and we though all was good except our internet connection wouldn't work.

So Justin went to work and I watched a movie while knitting. Everything was fine until 12:05 am. The air conditioner started to grumble like it was trying to turn on, and then it just died off and all you could hear was the sound of a fan blowing in it and I smelled burning. I was afraid it might have sparked something, so I shut off all the breakers for the ac unit and waited about 15 minutes. When I tried to turn it back on after, it would just blow the fan - no cooling. I will confess, I was so sad that I broke down and cried. We knew that our ac unit wasn't going to last forever when we bought the house, but it honestly couldn't have happened at a worse time. Not only is it the absolute high heat of summer right now, but we just had to go through and re-budget this past week to try to make up for some bad financial stuff. I had a box fan, so I just slept with that on all night and I was ok. The house stayed fairly cool until about 11 am the next day due to the rainy weather, but it was so muggy and humid. 

One good thing is that my dad and I had already planned to install a portable air conditioner in our bedroom on Sunday before all this happened. He came over that morning and the two of us set to work at redneck-rigging this ac unit into our non-accepting window. Our windows are the old fashioned kind that you turn a crank and the little panes flip outward. All ac units are made to fit in the kind of windows that slide up and down, so the equipment that came with the unit wouldn't work. Instead, we devised our own system.

We took some plywood I had from our old attic and used two pieces to make it the right size, then we added another small plank I had hanging around for length and made it just slightly smaller than the size of the window. Then we measured the exhaust hose for the unit (also jerry-rigged - the old hose dry rotted so I bought a dryer hose which was slightly too small) and cut a 4" circle toward the bottom for the air to escape. Then we cut a notch for the window crank. After everything was cut and screwed together, we painted it white with 2 thick coats on each side and the edges to avoid rotting from moisture. Once the paint was dry, we took this stuff:
Rubberized stick on weather stripping (white to match) and not only stuck it on, but stapled it with a staple gun as well so it was very secure. We put this one all the sides so we could create a good seal around the window. Once all this was done, we went upstairs to put it in ... and it didn't fit! The window sill was actually crooked and not level when they originally made it. So, we had to rip off the weather stripping, cut it down a bit, reattach the stripping and try again. And it fit! Check it out:
This is the window when the curtain is drawn back. The hose is fed through the wood, stapled and clear duct taped on the outside, then secured with more duct tape on the inside. We did lots of layers of tape to make sure it held well - like 4 or 5 on each side. 
This is a close up of the weather stripping on the edge. The only place it didn't match up perfectly was around the crank, so I used more clear duct tape there to seal it better. 
The hose itself is also heavily duct taped to the exhaust opening on the unit - again like 4 or 5 layers of tape. We didn't want the pressure of the air blowing to make it come undone.
This is what it looks like in my room now :) The real kicker is that this window was already broken and screwed shut, so it could never open anyway. Now we have the bottom pane propped open with a nail and the others all closed, adding to our nice seal. The fact that the window was already broken ended up really helping us out, so it was meant to be :) So even though our house ac unit was kaput, we still had a nice cool bedroom and we were able to sleep comfortably.

My dad and I planned a few other projects to work on as well.  About 3 weeks ago my husband got a little heavy handed and pulled the fan light cord in our bedroom so hard it broke the spring and you could no longer pull the cord to turn the light on and off (he would never admit that he broke it though, so please don't mention it to him lol). The cord was stuck with the light on, so we could only have the fan on if the light was on also, meaning we couldn't have the fan running at night - a big nightmare for us as we are serious fan fans. So, we pulled the whole fan base apart and diagnosed the problem. My dad fidgeted with the pulley piece a bit (involving using a few knitting needles, lol, they are handy), but the spring was sprung and it just needed replacing. So I went to the hardware store and wouldn't you know they sell new ones? I never would have guessed you could just go buy a new "3 way split fan pull" and put it in. This is why dad's are great things :) We put it back together et voilà!
The pictures are crap, but they show that the fan now works with the lights on or off! Hizzah! This helped with our no ac situation as well, believe me.

The last thing my dad and I worked on has been a long time coming, and it's still not done. Our master bathroom is pretty much the joke of the house. It could literally fall off the side of the house and we wouldn't notice for a week or so - we never go in there. There is a hard clog that has made the room completely unusable for almost 2 months now. We haven't had the money for a plumber, so we've been trying things ourselves, all to no avail. My dad has tried with me before to break the clog and he was just as determined on Sunday, but alas it still remains stopped up. He was bummed, but we definitely know we will just have to call a plumber. At least we have 2 other bathrooms we can use.

Even though we don't use the room, we did solve another problem. Our shower was seriously made for midgets. The spot where the pipe exposes for the shower head seriously hit me at about my ear, so I would have had to crouch under the shower head in there and I'm only 5'7". My husband is 6'4", so you can see our problem. Happily, they make extenders for your shower head. They aren't easy to find and a lot of them are pretty expensive, but Ace Hardware had one for about $20 that gave us an additional 10", putting it at a normal height for average sized people.
 Here's a closeup of that extender:
It's pretty neat really. I did end up having to run tot he hardware store again for a new flange to accommodate the little pipe (the flange is the round thing that covers up the hole in the wall - I learned that Sunday lol), but other than that it went very smoothly. So we were able to strike 3 things off our to do list! Who cares that the bathroom still isn't working lol.

To top off all my crazy work in the morning, we shot a family portrait session at 4 pm and then went to my parent's house at 6:30 for a birthday party. It's was a crazy day. I seriously couldn't stay awake later in the night. But we definitely got a lot done :)

Monday morning, an AC technician came over to check things out. They were able to fit us in at 9 am - bless them! Seriously, it was so nice to get it looked at before the heat of the day. The burning smell was coming from a "hard start" which is some type of accessory that assists the compressor. The technician didn't think a new one would fix it, but he put one in just to rule that out as a possibility, and it cranked up! I wanted to cry I was so happy! He was amazed it worked. Apparently it's a bad sign that our unit has to have one of these to work - they are supposed to work without them; so we know it won't be long before we have to replace the whole thing. But at least we didn't have to replace it right now! Now we have time to set some money aside. The only other bad thing was that it turned out our  internet issue was that our router is fried, so we had to order a new one. It was more money spent, but at least it gets here today and the problem will be solved :)

So, my crazed weekend turned out ok in the end. We even went out to dinner to celebrate - and paid with gift cards, of course :) - and we watched Warm Bodies finally (it was awesome and the soundtrack was great!) and I worked on my giraffe a bit (he's really close to being finished!). It was emotional to say the least, but it all came out well. The events of this weekend really brought me to a realization about our relationship to our house. When we first bought it, I was very gung-ho and accomplishing things left and right and I was really happy with my house. Once we moved in, we kind of "gave ourselves a break", which turned into months of not doing much fixing up around the house. I mean, I still don't have any doors on my kitchen cabinets! I never got them painted! Yeah, I'm kind of ashamed to admit that. The sad part is that both my husband and I have become really dejected with the house over the last few months. Since we haven't been making it nicer, all we get to see are all the things breaking and feeling like we made a huge mistake buying this house. So I have resolved to be better about it all. I am going to focus on one room at a time - another problem solved there since I was working on several rooms at once, making it impossible to see any progress at all in any of them - and I will work on it until there is a big improvement before moving onto the next. The kitchen cabinets will be the first one I get done. I will start painting the doors this week - and you all will be my wardens! I will be accountable on the blog. So be prepared to see a lot less animal making and much more house and diy posts :)

Thanks for reading this far, and I am excited to show my progress in the next few weeks!

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