Home Improvement

Home improvement projects I’ve completed and thought I’d share with other folks. Perhaps someone can learn from my mistakes and successes.

Floating Wall Basement Remodel

In Colorado, if you want to frame your basement, you have to construct a floating wall. Colorado has what are called expansive soils, in that the clay will expand when it gets wet. This can cause the concrete floor of the basement to heave an inch or two. While that doesn’t sound like much, it’s enough to cause some serious problems if you don’t take it into consideration. Imagine your concrete floor rising two inches, then also lifting the first floor of your house along with it. Bad news. Building…
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Is a Home Security System Worth the Money?

Home alarm keypad

I’ve seen a lot of advertisements for the ADT and Brinks home security system on TV lately. Both companies have rather comical commercials because in each of the advertisements, the home invader kicks down the door, makes a face like a gorilla, then immediately run away when they realized someone was home. Sad thing is, that’s not how it works in real life. Those are examples of home invasions, which are more violent and different than burglaries. A burglary is defined as a non-confrontational property crime in which items are…
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Wasted Electricity – Vampire Power

Vampire power is a way to describe the electricity wasted by some electronic devices even when they are not in use. Examples include TV’s, DVR’s, automated coffee machines, printers, power bricks for laptops, iPhones, iPads and much, much more. So, just how much electricity are these devices really using, even when they are supposedly turned “off”? In the old days, when you turned something off, it really turned off. There was no more electrical draw from the wall outlet. But in the new world, turning something “off” doesn’t necessarily mean…
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Harman XXV Pellet Stove – Owner Review

We live in the small town of Falcon, CO and found that our gas furnace would run almost continuously during a winter storm and struggled to keep the house warm. During cold nights when there was no wind, the furnace would still fire up about once every 20 minutes and even though it ran for a much shorter time, over the course of the month, our heating bills were averaging about $175. The only other appliance we have in the house that uses gas is the water heater, which only…
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Insulating a Garage: Is it worth the money?

Garage Insulation

Saving money on energy bills is a good thing, especially in very warm or cold climates where the AC or the furnace have to run a lot. It can costs hundreds of dollars a month to make the living space comfortable. However, the garage is a different story. Trust me, I found out the hard way. I will never recoup the money I spent insulating it, and on very cold days, the paint and other supplies still get ruined. Here in Colorado, temperatures can drop into the single digits. My…
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Cleaning Refrigerator Condenser Coils

Refrigerator Condenser Coils

The other day, my 4-year old son was playing in the kitchen and accidentally launched a brand new $1.50 Ferrari under the refrigerator. It was imperative that I retrieve this Ferrari immediately so I popped off the lower front grille and started swooshing a ruler back and forth. In the process of trying to retrieve the famed car I was stunned to see that the underside of the refrigerator had turned into a fuzzy dungeon off lost receipts, pieces of food and a crap-ton of dust. As I slid the…
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Rain Barrel Illegal in Colorado

Colorado has the most screwed up water rights laws of any state in the Union. Some call them unique, I call them inadequate and based on a concept of when the state was young and had relatively few inhabitants. The process of acquiring water rights is very expensive, complicated, inefficient and bureaucratic. Water officials have already put too many straws into the glass of coke and not everyone is getting anything to drink. This will get worse unless things change. So, what does this have to do with rainwater harvesting…
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