Gas Line Re-Route

For reasons unknown to me a previous owner of my house routed the gas line for the dryer in the basement through a window instead of running a branch off the main line already in the house for the other appliances (furnace, stove, hot water tank). As a result the window was not replaced when the others in the house were upgraded recently — window technology was not advanced in 1939 when the house was built. To add to the misery the dryer vent also exits through the window in a “Uncle Joe” type of wood box outfitted with a dryer vent opening. The gas line was only an inch in diameter but the hole was over twice that size, necessitating a towel be stuffed around it to prevent insects and entering the house.

As part of my overall project to add a radon mitigation system to the house I needed to replace the window and re-route the gas line. I have already ordered a replacement window with a dryer vent built-in so today’s exercise prepared for the installation of said new window.

The Gas Connection sent out two trucks for what I originally thought was just an estimate. Since I had been dealing with other contractors that were so busy that simply getting an estimate required a three-week wait I was surprised when I was told they could do the work immediately. I agreed and less than two hours later I had the line re-routed through the wall instead of the window.

I didn’t take a photo of how it looked before the work but I can say it already looks a lot better. And yes, I did stuff the towel back in the corner of the opening to close off the hole where the gas line previously entered the house. This will have to do until the window company finishes building the replacement.

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Reestablishing My Geek Cred

My new house has a sprinkler system. Normally one would use the standard controller units to water the yard on a schedule but it seemed to me that a schedule doesn’t take actual weather conditions into account and might water too much or too little despite rainfall and temperatures.

I bought a smart controller for my sprinklers and couldn’t be happier about that decision. I purchased a 16-zone Iro from Rach.io. Rach.io is a Colorado company so I had no issues spending the money for this item.

The controller itself replaced two Rainbird timer controllers that were wired with three multi-strand cables. As far as I can tell there are ten active zones in the yard (with two buried under the driveway, apparently, as I discovered when the fence was being installed)

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The controller attaches to a wall and the cabling couldn’t be easier. Just attach the common wire to the white terminal and then each of the other wires to an open terminal. The outer/top part of the case plugs into the base and provides the power jack and the wi-fi circuitry. There is also an optical sensor on the outer part of the case that is used for setting up the controller on your wi-fi network: instead of incorporating Bluetooth components or some other hokey method of entering your wi-fi network setup, the accompanying Android or iOS app on your phone will accept all of your network setup information and will then fire off a (potentially seisure-enducing) pattern of light which will be read by the optical sensor. A single LED status light on the controller will flash to indicate if it is able to access the wi-fi network.

Once the controller is on your network the app can be used to setup the zones in the yard with a descriptive name, soil and vegetation types and the amount of slope and shade the zone receives. All of this info is factored into the calculation of how much water the zone will receive during your watering schedule. There is also a feature called “Weather Intelligence” that will skip irrigating your yard when rain is predicted for your ZIP code.

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There is also the ability to connect a rain sensor to the Iro as well to provide hyper-local control of the system (for example, “don’t run a watering schedule if 0.25 inches of rain are received”). If you look closely at the photo below I do have an extra pair of wires that I plan to connect to a rain sensor in the near future.

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The New Fence Is Here!

The fencing company installed the short fence between the house and garage to allow me to drive in and out of the garage with the truck without opening and closing the gates at the front of the driveway. The gates were necessary to keep the dogs in the yard… so life is great now! [Yes, it was a first world problem.]

The sprinkler controller would skip from zone 5 to 8 when cycling through the zones in manual mode and I discovered why when the contractors curt the holes int he driveway for the posts: zones 6 and 7 were apparently where the driveway is currently located as PVC lines and sprinkler heads were uncovered.

One of the next projects is to paint the ceiling of the covered patio in the back and install a gutter.

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Sweetwater River Ranch

My friends Joanie and Dave recently purchased a campground in southern Colorado between Ca├▒on City and Salida, the Sweetwater River Ranch. I had not been down for a visit yet so the Independence Day weekend seemed like a great time. Luckily, Dave was able to find a tent spot for me and the dogs across the river (the Arkansas river).

I wouldn’t normally stay at a campground when I can camp in a spot away from other people so this was a bit of a change for me: no climbing out of the tent at 3 am to have a pee, at least not close to the tent. I also couldn’t just open the tent flaps and let the dogs roam at 4:30 am — but that was not an issue as they were so tired from swimming in the river.

The tent spots across the river are accessed by a 100-yard suspension bridge. Once you have crossed a few times you’ve learned how to walk to prevent the bridge swaying from side-to-side. Lucy had no issues with the bridge but Fabi was hesitant to come back across the bridge to the office buildings so she swam instead. Multiple times, in a swift current of high melt-off water.

We visited some other friends that live in the area and hiked a bit but the majority of the weekend was spent next to the river, or in the river diving for rocks in Fabi’s case.

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A Doggie Door To Slightly Lower My Stress

Backdoor - before

Backdoor - after

The doggie door was installed in the back security door on Saturday morning. I had to wait a little over a week since the special tempered glass panel had to be custom-ordered from out-of-state. Now that we have a doggie door you would think that all is wonderful at our house… but you would be wrong. I still have to use the old gates at the front of the driveway to keep the dogs in the yard. The fencing company called to reschedule the fence install to 10 July — two and a half weeks from now. While I have no issue stopping the truck to open the gates it does make the whole concept of a garage-door opener a little mute. Thankfully it is not winter now. With the gates closed I can let the dogs play in the backyard while I am working during the day without constantly letting them in and out of the door.

Partial Bay View

View out my hotel window of Biscayne Bay in Miami
View out my hotel window of Biscayne Bay in Miami

I attended a technical conference in Miami this week. It may have as well been held in Alaska because we were indoors in the air conditioning all day long. I did take a few walks along the bay early in the morning, though.

I am not a fan of Miami, by the way. The city itself is too superficial — everyone worries about what statement their clothes and car make, contributing to a spiraling competition to the top. I overheard some stock-broker types in the hotel bar one-upping each other regarding where they lived in the city and to which gym they belonged. They were starting to get very upset with each other and it may have come to blows — I don’t know because I went back to my room. I do know they were very disrespectful to the bartendress who is not a native english speaker and didn’t get their slurred jokes. If I had been her I believe I would have spit in their $20 martinis.

I’m very happy to be back in Colorado with my dogs and actual craft beer choices other than Sam Adams.

Why yes, I am a cranky old man

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