Archive for October, 2005

Chest Freezer!

Posted by Nate in Homebrewing, Projects.
Sunday, October 30th, 2005 at 9:03 pm

Since I started homebrewing (Feb 04) I’ve been nursing a dream of kegging the beer and having numerous brews on tap at any given moment. Today that dream took a huge step forward…

Karen’s parents were nice enough to drive out their old chest freezer after they ended up not needing it any more. It’s been sitting in the garage for almost 2 weeks and finally tonight we decided to get it in the basement – no easy task on its own, but especially difficult given our kitchen and stairs layout. The back door gives the only straight shot into the basement, and the back door won’t open all the way because the existing fridge blocks it. So in this case two things had to happen – get the door of its hinges (need those extra two inches) and get the fridge outside to make enough room for the freezer coming in. (on the left you can see the door off the hinges and the fridge in the way)

Also had to empty the fridge before moving it. And clean it while it was empty. You know.

The fridge halfway out the door. Ended up being easier to just muscle it out the door than wedge a dolly in there.

Eww. I don’t think anyone’s cleaned under the fridge in a long time…

Whew. Break time. Got the freezer up on the deck with the fridge. Now to get the freezer in the door (1/2" to spare) and down the stairs (same clearance). Let’s just say that Karen is very strong and we make an awesome (duo) team.

Ta da!! I plugged it into my temperature controller and it’s just pegged 45 degrees — time to fill it with beer! (bottles for now, kegs soon)

Blog updates

Posted by Nate in The Blog.
Wednesday, October 26th, 2005 at 11:35 am

A few cosmetic changes to the blogs – my posts now appear in this nice brownish/red color, and Karen’s appear in a sort of blue. Should make it easy to tell at a glance that while Karen’s posts are long, they are few and far between. (Just kidding, Karen! Ha ha!)

Kitchen lighting

Posted by Nate in Home Improvements.
Wednesday, October 26th, 2005 at 10:21 am

I don’t have any good pictures handy to illustrate this, but let’s just say that our kitchen is suffering from a lack of natural lighting. It’s got a one small south-facing window, but it’s flanked by two cupboards and really doesn’t provide much light to the room. There’s a nice east-facing window, but it has an eave and is largely blocked by our garage and trees. Removing the eave would help, but the previous owner left us a note saying that a family of house finches nests in there every spring – we looked, and sure enough there’s a nest… How much fun will spring be, eating at our breakfast nook and watching baby birds growing up?? More fun than removing an eave.

So I’ve been investigating skylights, specifically tubular ones, more exactly a brand called Solatube. They’re an Australian company that’s been around since the early 90’s and has really got the product "right" – lots of good technology being used to capture every ray of sunlight and send it down the reflective tube into a nice diffuser for what looks like fantastic natural lighting. More importantly for our needs, they offer an attached ceiling vent with the 10" model – it’s a circular intake that surrounds the diffuser and gathers the air into a separate venting tube. The fan is attached to the roof for quieter operation, another bonus. We could really use a vent in the kitchen for various cooking exploits – the main floor fire alarm is incredibly sensitive – and especially to suck out some of the vapor from the 60+ minute boils for homebrewing. I doubt there’s any immediate risk, but I get antsy seeing that much humidity on the cupboards and walls when I’m boiling, especially with winter coming and the windows closed.

But we’re down to the wire now, weather-wise. I’d really like to get this in before we get any snow and it’s freezing all the time, but that means this weekend or next. This weekend is filling up with halloween stuff, and next weekend I’ve got a presentation at a conference in Boston, so… Maybe I’ll take a day off work next week and do it then?

At least we had a ladder…

Posted by Nate in Day to Day, Homeowners.
Monday, October 10th, 2005 at 3:26 pm

This is a late post, but since I took pains to try to document it while it was happening it’s worth putting up.

Last Tuesday, the 4th, dawned cool and foggy. Patchy rain throughout the day, then it seemed to let let up. I came home from work and was walking Bruno – about 6:30 – when it started to rain again. We hustled home, a bit wet, and got inside as it continued to rain. Earlier that day I had picked up our Fruit Share, apples and pears, and I decided to make an apple pie while Karen was at work. The rain kept falling, now joined by some huge peals of thunder. Bruno was a little nervous but much better than I expected, mostly just wanted to be right near me. I pulled his day bed near the kitchen and he seemed fine, getting up often to check everything out.

The pie made it into the oven and was almost ready to come out when I noticed there was quite a bit of rain coming in through the kitchen window–it was filling up the window well between the storm and the interior glass! I assumed somehow the window was open on the outside and began fiddling with it, but it seemed tight and every time I touched it it was letting in more and more water. The window well was about to overflow so I ran downstairs and grabbed a bucket and some siphon tubing from my homebrewing equipment. The water continued to pour in but was kept mostly off the counter by the siphon – but the bucket was filling up fast! I emptied two buckets, probably 2 gallons each time, before I realized I was going to lose this battle with the rain. I had to gain some time to get outside to assess the situation, so I ran back downstairs to grab a bigger tub (pictured).

While I was down there I noticed water entering the basement from the wall under the window. I know flooded basements happen, but man did my heart sink when I saw that trickle of water coming in… I mean, come on!! We haven’t even been here two months! I know some water is eventually going to get in there, but have the decency to wait!

Well, it wasn’t waiting. I got the tub situated under the kitchen window, threw on my quick-dry nylon pants and some old running shoes, and headed out into the storm. I was instantly drenched. There was at least an inch of standing water in our backyard, and in places it was creeping up the foundation. Aaargh! I pulled our free-on-Craigslist ladder out and went around the side of the house with the kitchen window. The eves there are much smaller than the rest of the house, and I could see water just gushing over the gutter, down the side of the house, and right into the window – the gutters and drains were clogged with fall leaves. Much cursing, careful balancing, and dinged up hands later, I had the gutter and drainspout cleared and water was now shooting forcefully out onto the lawn. I proceeded to the other four drains and did the same, feeling like the worst was over.

But it wasn’t. I checked the forecast online and the radar showed no end in sight. Here’s a writeup on how rare this amount of rain was for October… (hint: very rare).

I ran back upstairs and outside to find the low spot at the foot of the stairs was beyond full and a few inches of water was lapping at the foundation. I knew from the previous owner that corner was prone to flooding, so I panicked and started bailing out the low spot. (by bailing, I mean I found a metal container for a paint roller and was throwing the water into the middle of the lawn). For a brief moment the rain let up and I was able to clear nearly all the standing water out. Whew. Then it started again. Buckets of rain. I was totally unable to keep up by bailing, so I ran a hose from the growing lake down into the basement sink and tried to start another siphon. For whatever reason – clogging? The hose too soft to hold pressure? – the siphon wouldn’t hold for long, and it was back to cursing and bailing. I took some pictures during this time but it was too dark and they didn’t turn out.

Here’s the aftermath:
On the left you can see the puddle the next day where I was bailing from. On the right is the outer ring of water from the bailing efforts – the leaves sort of define the splash zone. Crazy. What lessons can be learned?

  • Clean your gutters when the forecast calls for rain in the fall.
  • Have homebrewing gear sitting around and be comfortable with siphoning. ;)
  • Don’t overreact. I probably could have let the backyard go a bit and not had any more flooding.
  • Never leave your house! Obviously impractical, but I shudder to think of the damage if I hadn’t been there to catch the kitchen flooding before it got bad.
  • Double up the crust on the edge of your pies:

(the pie turned out great) The end.


Posted by Karen in Bruno.
Saturday, October 8th, 2005 at 11:23 pm