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Fuck Bob Vila... the Home Repair Thread

Discussion in 'Permanent Threads' started by Nettdata, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. Nettdata

    Nettdata
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    Discuss various home repair issues.

    Try to relate your various levels of experience with things so we can try and get a feel for who the "experts" are.
     
  2. Nettdata

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    I have a fairly old house, that primarily uses electric baseboard heaters for heat. Going to a forced-air-gas furnace is out of the question at this point, for various reasons.

    It sucks, and can get cold in the winter, as it's a big, under-insulated, 35-year-old cottage that leaks heat like crazy.

    In my master bedroom, I have a closet that has an instant-hot-water heater that is powered by natural gas that feeds hot water to the ensuite.

    In a drunken spurt of inspiration a couple of weeks ago, a friend and I came up with a simple solution to heating my room using that hot water heater.

    Basically, it involves a separate water circuit, a small (5 gallon) holding tank, a heat exchanger, a few temperature sensors, a small recirculating pump, and a fan. All parts come in at less than $250, which is awesome.

    When the temp in the bedroom gets below a set point, it fires up the water recirc, which basically recircs the water through the holding tank through the heater until all the water in the holding tank is nice and hot, then closes the loop, and continues to recirc the water through the heat exchanger/fan, which heats the air, and blows it into the room. If water temp drops, valve to hot water tank reopens, reheating the water. When the temp in room becomes desired temp, everything closes/stops.

    Various controls are required, such as multiple temp/valve/pump/fan settings for various situations, etc.


    I have a background in industrial control systems, so have no problem finding an industrial solution for the controller, but REALLY don't want to spend the $10k on it that is the going rate.


    So, my question is, anyone know of any simple/cheap home-quality controllers that can take these inputs/outputs/etc that I can program, that don't cost more than my house? I'm basically looking for a generic controller with Time Delay Open/Close capabilities, etc.

    They must exist somewhere, but I'm just clueless as to where to find them.

    Worst case scenario is I'll make my own controller, but I'd rather buy one than spend a week out of my life fucking around hacking something together.


    Anyone?
     
  3. Dcc001

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    A bit of background on me: I'm a designer in residential housing - my specialty is roofs, but my company designs and fabricates the whole shebang - and part of my education is in Civil Engineering. I also just spent eight months gutting and completely re-doing a house built somewhere in the 1950s. I'll do my best to help, if I can.

    That being said, I don't know the specific answer to your question, Nettdata. What I would do is track down a plumber whom I felt knew what they were doing and pick their brain. The house I just did had a real combo of everything by the time we were done; partially heated by gas-fired baseboard heaters and a boiler, partial in-floor heating. In addition, we installed an instantaneous hot water heater, kind of like what you're describing. It all led back to a high efficiency boiler controlled by a master panel in the upstairs, and I learned that when you're doing an application like that you have to be very careful what type of control panel you buy. I wouldn't trust the local Home Depot guy to have a clue.

    If it was me, I'd call three or four of the big plumbing companies in your area and find somebody whom I felt knew their shit. Run it by them and see can they help. The problem with this kind of thing is that you can piss around for so long trying to get everything to talk to each other. Even worse would be if you hired a plumber unfamiliar with the electrics of it and had to pay for their time.

    I don't know if that helps, but hopefully it does.
     
  4. toytoy88

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    I don't know how much I can add to this thread, but I do have a bit of experience....mainly with windows, showers, and doors. I worked about 12 years as a glazier.

    I've also served as the general contractor building a couple of my own houses and restored a few old houses. I know basic plumbing and electrical, and I have my moments when it comes to carpentry. At one point I was considered a journeyman carpenter and could frame a house with my eyes shut, but I wouldn't bet my life on that knowledge now.

    I've owned my own houses for about 20 years now and do everything myself, so if I think I can chime in with something worthwhile I will.
     
  5. BrianH

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    Couldn't you just cobble together an old computer running some flavor of Linux to do the controls? I know there are a lot of cheap switching I/O boards out there.
     
  6. MrPrime

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread


    For cheap controllers, this is where the world is going. There have been lots of new CNC devices coming to the market that are run from computers. You can even run it from a good ol serial port if you are up for fucking with it.
     
  7. Nettdata

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    There are a million ways to do it, but I'm hoping that there are some sort of generic controllers out there that can be used for this with a solid-state kind of setup rather than some sort of home-brew solution.

    But yeah, if it were me doing it, I'd be using a plug-server and a usb-serial board.

    I'm just hoping that something more professional already exists.

    I learned a long time ago that "just because you can, doesn't mean you should".
     
  8. Whatthe...

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    There's tons of options for a cheap PLC that'll do the job for you. Without knowing exactly how much I/O you need you can probably get a PLC for $200-$250. Check out <a class="postlink" href="http://www.automationdirect.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">www.automationdirect.com</a>. Their CLICK series PLC's will probably work well in your application and the programming software is free. Another option is the Siemens LOGO controllers. They have software that costs money but you can program them through the face of the controller (it's a bit of a pain in the ass, but it can be done), and I'm pretty sure they won't do any analog I/O.

    Hope that helps.
     
  9. carpenter

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    As my screen name suggests, I am a union carpenter. I primarily work hi-rise restoration. I also do a lot of smallish side jobs.
    I really enjoy getting my hands dirty, working concrete forms, hanging doors, putting up walls, etc.
    A huge part of my job involves tools. Most of which are disposable. I have a few hand tools that I consider irreplaceable, but power tools?
    I don't own any power tools that I can't replace the same day.
    Any help or advice I can give, honestly. Oh, I don't do plumbing or electrical sorry. Stairs? Cabinet hanging? Ask away.
    Nettdata, sorry man. I have no idea how to even begin to help.
     
  10. Guy Fawkes

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    Very excited about this thread.

    No expertise in any areas of construction but I'm willing to give anything a go.

    Purchased my "dream house" 2.5 years ago and all of the little quirks that were no big deal at the time are finally starting to aggravate me (such as the fact that all bathroom light switches are outside the bathroom). Big plans for doors, insulation, and some stonework this spring and summer so I'll be staying tune to this thread.
     
  11. Maxi

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    Ever consider using an Arduino? It requires some basic C programming for the microcontroller, but with your repertoire, it shouldn't be a challenge. It's cheap ($30), simple, and highly customizable to your needs.

    Question of my own. The garage door opener acts up whenever the weather gets cold. The motor whirls away but the door moves very little or doesn't move at all without me assisting it by hand. The unit is a 10+ years old Craftsman 1/2hp motor pulling a 2-vehicle-wide door, it has never been serviced under our ownership. I took a peek on top where the chain meets the gear, the teeth on the gear are all there so no slippage there. I checked the tracks for debris and oiled them. Question is, how difficult is it to service this unit with the conditions given?
     
  12. Crown Royal

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    Re: Fuck Bob Vela... the Home Repair Thread

    Best thing to do is contact the actual manufacturer. Most bigger companies (like Craftsman) have toll free numbers and usually you can call them 24-7 with problems. Their website probably has contact info, too.

    When in doubt, call a rep.
     
  13. Stealth

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    Over the last decade or so there have been a shitload of Renovation/Home Repair type shows on Australian tv , and I have generally only watched them fleetingly.

    Some of the "ideas" that various hosts of these shows have had and put into the various houses and projects have been so cheap and crappy , I'd love to see a show where they go back to all the houses that got the various "makeovers" and see which jobs lasted , which jobs got torn down by the house owners (possibly moments after the film crew left) and which jobs simply underwent accelerated disintegration due to to cheap crap materials and bad workmanship.
     
  14. LessTalk MoreStab

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    I've renovated 3 houses with the most recently being a 1920's cottage which I brought back to a "cold shell" prior to final refurb. Major changes included moving the bathroom from one room to another, converting an old shed into bar/cinema and knocking out 3 walls.

    This weekend I start on the outside, I’ll be hanging off the back of a belt sander for many hours.

    I'll post some before and after pics shortly.
     
  15. zzr

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    I second Whatthe's suggestion of a PLC. Automation Direct probably sells the cheapest one and they don't try to make a bunch of money on software like Allen-Bradley and Siemens. If you use 110V for everything you won't even need a 24v power supply. Personally, I'd use A-B because that's what I use every day at work, but for one project it's not worth the cost.

    I wonder if your separate loop will ever close off once you start heating the room though. It seems that the water heater will always run while you're running the fan because most tank heaters don't put out that much heat, so it won't have much reserve to heat the loop. You would want the loop closed off when you're not running the room heat, but you may not need any controls beyond open/close while it's on/off.

    My wife and I contracted our own house 4 years ago and did much of the work ourselves - all electrical wiring, building the staircase, installing plumbing fixtures, trim, painting, tile, finishing hardwood floors, pouring concrete porches, insulating the basement and attic, landscaping, building bookshelves, etc. Anything we were able to do we did ourselves. We remodeled our first house ourselves too, so there's not much we haven't done.
     
  16. Crown Royal

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    This is just fucking AWESOME:

    I am presently at this moment drywalling my laundry room. In order hammer drill the wooden studs onto the concrete wall to hang the drywall, I have to remove the nails that attach the suspened ceiling to the top of the wall that the the shit-stain open sore of a schmuck who lived in my house before me installed. I removed one nail from the brace and the entire corner section of ceiling came crashing down on my head just now. Let me say that again: This asshole hung up a section of ceiling coming 5 feet down he wall from the corner on each side with ONE FUCKING NAIL. Now I'll have to replace the cross-beam for the drop ceiling that are all bent to shit. I cannot make this idiocy up. Mike Holmes would shit a solid gold brick if he saw the clusterfuck of DIY mishaps this idiot left me with the correct.
     
  17. Bob Trousers

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    No formal training here, but I have grown up with a father who has been a carpenter his entire life, and is one of those guys that can turn his hand to pretty much anything-which is something I seem to have inherited.

    I've done everything from putting up shelves (you'd be amazed how many people are terrified by that prospect), building walls and patios, decking, putting sheds' up, making custom furniture, fitting kitchens and bathrooms, laying flooring (carpet, tile, lino and laminate), painting and decorating...all sorts really.

    I don't know if my advice will be as useful as others, seeing as I'm in the UK and most of you are US and Canada residents, but you never know.

    Oh, and by the by, I don't touch electrics and plumbing-you need to be certified over here, so I don't go near either, but as I said it probably wouldn't make much difference in regards to this thread, due to the differences most of us will have with standards and regulations.
     
  18. Nettdata

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    I must say that my most memorable and entertaining home renovation memory was watching my dad cut the 2nd storey deck off of the house, with a chainsaw. One foot on the deck, one in the house. He damn near fell down with the deck.

    Funny as hell.
     
  19. Lasersailor

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    For a stretch there, my father and I knew the ER staff on a first name basis.

    After reading other people's experiences, I'm not as big of an expert in specific areas as some of these people. While I do have a background in residential construction, I'm more practiced in commercial construction and design. I know a couple tricks I can pass on, and will try to keep an eye on this thread.
     
  20. Frank n Beans

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    Perfect timing for the thread. My dog decided avocado's looked good and ate them on our white carpet. We've been wanting to replace it since we moved in a year ago but it wasn't bad enough to justify itself. Now we have about 5 spots where it looks like a green highlighter was leaking. The plan is to do laminate wood flooring in the living room, up the hallway, and the office. Does anyone have recommendations or warnings of what type of flooring to get and things to be careful of? For reference, I'm retarded when it comes to home repairs.