Hey everyone, long time no post! You already know all the usual excuses so I’ll skip all that but I’m back for another post. Today’s post is going to go over some more of the stuff I’ve been doing to the house over the past few months. Specifically I’m going to go over installing a new bathroom fan in our master bathroom, replacing some old faucet seals, and installing an Ecobee 3 smart thermostat.
However, before I do I’d like to take a second and
force some of my music upon you suggest some music to listen to. I’ve been thinking about doing an “artist of the week” sort of deal but I’ve been super inconsistent with posting so I just never really did. I can’t say I’ll be any more consistent but there are a ton of great artists I’d like to share so I’m doing it anyway.
This week I’d like to recommend Peter the Poet, or P.T.P. I came across him on SoundCloud, my chosen place of music discovery, and I like his style. Give his latest album “BITTER” a listen and if you like it hit up his track feed for some other great stuff. When I discover an artist I like I tend to just listen to their entire catalog while I’m working and at 42 tracks P.T.P kept me in good company for a few days. If you find that you like P.T.P as much as I do, feel free to support him by purchasing some of his music through his Bandcamp page (he’s seriously only asking $2.50 for the BITTER album). Onward!
Fanning out an old Bathroom
Horrible puns are back as well! The bathroom fan in our master bathroom has been an annoyance since we moved in with it’s loud noise while operating and the fact that it wasn’t able to keep the room clear of steam. This led to some pealing paint on the ceiling and occasional mold on the walls/ceiling near the tub area. To remedy this I ordered a Broan AE80B from Amazon for about $50. The fan is rated at 80CFM and 1.5 sones of noise. I did Google sones but I’m not going to pretend I remember what that means. Once the new fan arrived I went ahead and removed the grill from our old fan, found the tabs to drop the fan itself from the frame, and then tried to figure out how everything was anchored.
I’m not going to lie, it took me longer than it should have to figure out that the old fan enclosure was secured to the beams in the attic. Once I figured out where the screws where it was trivial to uninstall the old enclosure and drop the new case in place. You’ll need to consider the current size of your exhaust hose as some fans will only run 3″ or 4″ to the exhaust hose. Luckily mine is 4″ and the Broan AE80B uses a 4″ exhaust.
When you have the old case out you’ll want to swap the wiring to the new case. Our old fan used wire nuts and the new one came with wire nuts as well so I just went ahead and wired the new fan wiring up. Not the most elegant solution but easy to do and considered up-to-code in most areas. I then headed back to the bathroom and put the fan in place inside the enclosure. Easy.
From there I had a good bit of patching to do as whomever had installed the previous fan did not seem very concern with making it a nice installation and I wasn’t exactly gentle when I took the old fan out. It took a few days to get all the patching done as the fan opening needed quite a bit of material and I wanted to make sure the layers were drying sufficiently before I added more. The rest of the ceiling required some patching but was actually fairly easy to get in paint-able shape. Below are some shots of chipping paint and other super interesting ceiling bits!
I haven’t put the new grill on yet as I didn’t do this installation exactly up to standard myself. The new fan case is deeper than that old fan so I’d need to cut the lath of the ceiling out a bit to make the fan sit flush. I didn’t really want to mess with cutting the ceiling apart so I just kind of fit the fan into the space as best I could. As a result, I don’t have an easy way to attach the grill, which is where the magnets come in! I’ll post something on that when I’ve finished it, but for now the ceiling is painted and looking much better. The Broan AE80B also clears the room without issue and is much quieter to boot. Not bad for $50!
Drippy Faucet Fixes
Next up I’d like to go over replacing the seals for the hot and cold water valves in our master bathroom faucet. The sound of money slowly dripping down the drain is something that will haunt your dreams, especially if you sleep right next to that bathroom. The good news is that it’s an easy fix, the bad news is that if you’ve got an older home it can be something of a mystery as to what condition those faucet valves are in.
Initially, our hot water valve wasn’t leaking so I went ahead and replaced the cold water side. In most newer homes there should be a shut off for the hot and cold water somewhere near the faucet, usually behind a dead panel in the opposite side of the wall the faucet is mounted to. We do indeed have such a dead panel but there are no shut-offs to be found, so I have to shut off the main water supply to my house.
With that done I grabbed some tools; a flat head and Phillips screwdriver, 23mm socket (in my case), and a pipe wrench to get on that socket. What you’ll need will depend on the brand of faucet you have and the valve size.
In my case I pried off the little screw cover on the handle using the flat head, removed the Phillips screw and handle, and then removed the vanity cover that slides over the valve plunger (?) which allowed me to slide the socket over the plunger. Since the plunger shaft is pretty long in my case I wasn’t able to actually use the deep well socket as a socket and thus needed the pipe wrench so that I could use it to loosen the valve. Ignore my shitty caulk job, I was just trying to make sure the whole faucet had a decent water seal in place as it was wide open when we moved in.
With the valve out I was able to see that the old seal had been worn out so that even when the valve was closed as far as it could go the seal would still allow water to flow around it. I removed that seal and took it to Ace with me, found that it matched with other 00 sized seals and brought two of those home. Pro-tip, take the screw with as well and buy some. I didn’t and I wish I had. I did pick up some generic seal kits as well but those didn’t have anything I needed.
That’s it for the cold side. I didn’t immediately replace the hot side as it wasn’t leaking. Eventually it did start leaking though so I got to go through the process again. This time I found that the screw that holds the seal in place was pretty badly damaged. Additionally the seal itself was pretty badly cracked.
Again, I didn’t buy any new screws and I sort of wish I had, though I did try a few screws from the aforementioned seal kits. No luck. I was able to get the old screw out with a pliers after some work, and I also used that same screw to hold the new seal in place. What could possibly go wrong right? This time when I re-assemble everything I used a caulk that dries clear and was a bit more meticulous about application and cleanup. It looks much better now.
Ecobee 3 Installation
Next up is the installation of an Ecobee 3. Columbus Water & Light sent us a flyer with one of our bills that mentioned Focus on Energy was running a $75 rebate for people installing a smart thermostat and CW&L said they’d match it. So we were offered $150 off of a $200 thermostat designed to help optimize home heating and cooling. Yep, I’m in!
I went ahead and found a new Ecobee 3 on EBay for $175 and grabbed it. The rebate process was pretty smooth on both sides so I essentially only paid $25 for our Ecobee which I really can’t complain about. Since installation, our Ecobee tells me it’s saved me around $200. If true, and I really have no way to tell whether it is or not, that’s pretty fantastic. I would compare my bills last year to my bills this year for heating and cooling but this Winter has been savagely cold so it wouldn’t be a like for like comparison.
The Ecobee comes with a remote sensor that can be placed anywhere else in your house to monitor the temperature in that room. In our house, the master bedroom used to get toasty during the night as our thermostat is downstairs. With the Ecobee I can tell it to only pull temps from the remote sensor during the night so it will only heat the house enough to keep our room at a comfortable level. That alone is worth the upgrade. You can also use multiple sensors and average the temperature across them. There are of course all the smart features you could want as well or at least more than I can figure out how to use.
But enough shilling, I’m not getting paid for this! The install was pretty easy as the Ecobee comes with an integration kit that allows it to tap into existing wiring. Here’s a picture of how our old thermostat was hooked up to our furnace, as well as a picture of how our old thermostat was hooked up.
Once you’ve got the lay of the land it’s pretty easy to hook up the Ecobee adapter to the old wires and then use the output from the adapter to hook up to the furnace. It’s seriously much easier than I expected.
Hooking up the Ecobee on the thermostat side is similarly easy. If you do it right you’ll be treated with the Ecobee startup screen and then walk through the setup.
All in all I was pretty impressed with how simple it was to set the Ecobee up. However, I should note that I’ve never installed a thermostat before so I don’t have anything to compare it to.
In other news I also changed out my furnace filters around this time as I’d been meaning to do that for a while. It was needed, old on left and new on the right.
Another thing I did was some air sealing using M-D Building 5090 to seal some drafts coming in under doors. I also grabbed some Great Stuff and walked around my attic and basement sealing gaps in windows and other big drafts. I’m not sure if it will make a big difference but it’s cheap enough and if it makes a small difference for the next 30 years then it’s worth it. That said, there are still some efficiency gains I can score around our doors as I can still feel drafts near the handle or other parts of our 4(!!) outward facing doors.
The last thing I really want to brag about is that I got to meet Meyhem Mutherfricken Lauren! We found out about an Action Bronson show about a week before it was happening at the Rave and grabbed some tickets. I’ve been a fan of Meyhem (and Action to a lesser extent) for a while so I was psyched to see him opening the show. He was nice enough to sign merch and take picture with fans after the show. Absolutely worth being incredibly tired at work the next day.
Alright I’ve written enough, so here are some pictures of junk that I’ll probably be covering next time I make a post. See ya!