Linda had a rough night last night. The tooth on which she just got a new crown two weeks ago started throbbing and even Tylenol did not do much to dull the pain. She finally got some sleep early this morning and slept in while I had toast with jam and coffee for breakfast. She called the dentist when she finally got up and they said they could see her at 10:30 AM. She tried drinking some coffee but the hot liquid immediately aggregated her bad tooth.
Linda has been following a story in the news about Ferguson, the town in Missouri where we grew up. There was an incident there over the weekend in which a cop ended up shooting an 18-year-old African-American male. There were limited witnesses, so the truth about what happened is obscure at best. The town, a northern suburb of St. Louis, is now experiencing “riots” and looting.
It is difficult for me to picture what is happening. Although Linda’s oldest brother still lives in Ferguson we have not been back there in years. This is the kind of situation that “happens to other people in other places” not in the Ferguson of my memory from the 1950’s and 60’s.
Darryll and Alec (DCM Heating &Cooling) showed up just after 9 AM and Linda left for the dentist at 9:15 AM. The stormy weather of the last two days cleared out overnight replaced by cool northwest breezes, abundant sunshine, and blue skies. When the weather in Michigan is nice it is really nice. I took a few minutes to get the trash to the curb, made sure Darryll was all set, and then retreated to my desk to work on the membership and financial records for our FMCA Freethinkers associate chapter, of which I am the current vice-president and secretary.
I got a call from Linda around 11:15 AM letting me know she had a 2:15 PM appointment with an endodontist down the street from our dentist. She was going to go to Fairlane Mall to kill some time but since she did not get much sleep last night I suggested she go to the endodontist’s office and sleep in their waiting room. Given her discomfort and sensitivity to hot liquids she will likely come home today with a new root canal procedure having been done.
Darryll and Alec finished the 2″ iron pipe installation, connected an air pressure gauge, and pressurized the pipe to 12 psi to check for leaks. The natural gas pressure in the line will only be ~4 in-WC (inches of water column). 1 PSI = ~27.67 in-WC, so 4 in-WC us is approximately 1/7 PSI, a relatively low pressure. Still, there cannot be any leaks in the piping connections.
With the pipe done for now they turned their attention to hanging the Reznor garage heater. To support the unit Darryll installed two U-channels in the attic spanning the top side of the bottom cord of three trusses. He determined the location of the threaded support rods from the garage ceiling side using a cardboard template and drilled the holes up into the attic. He and Alec then assembled everything with Darryll doing the attic work. The Reznor is not that heavy, but he prefers to hang the unit when possible rather than screw it into something.
To position the unit they set it on top of one of our 6′ tall plastic shelving units and blocked it up another six inches with scrap wood. (We used the same technique to install the pull-down attic ladder a couple of weeks ago as described in a previous post.) The unit is 12″ high and they set it 6″ below the ceiling near the center of the rear (north) wall. That location will optimize getting heat to all parts of the garage and put the unit right where Darryll needed it to connect the exhaust flue pipe using the existing flue that was originally used for the wood-burning stove.
Linda usually fixes our meals, but I used to do a lot of the cooking during “tax season” when she was working ridiculously long hours as a C.P.A. Lucky for me we had chickpea salad in the refrigerator and I remembered how to make a sandwich. A few almonds and some of this morning’s coffee (Teeko’s Seattle Blend half-caff) made for a tasty, quick, and easy lunch. I checked the pressure on Darryll’s gauge and it had dropped quite a bit, so there was a leak (or leaks) somewhere that he will have to find and tighten. That’s unfortunate given the size of this pipe and the number of connections, but “it’s all part of the job” as the saying goes.
I was hopeful that Phil from Precision Grading might come fix our pull-through driveway today, but as of 1 PM I had not seen or heard from him. There’s still a chance we could see him later today, but it was a long shot at best based on the premise that with all the rain on Monday and Tuesday he might not be able to work anywhere else today.
Linda called around 1:45 PM to let me know the endodontist was able to see her at 12:15 PM. They did some tests to confirm it was the nerve in the suspect tooth and then did the root canal procedure. Apparently sensitivity to heat and a lack of sensitivity to cold is indicative of a nerve gone bad. They gave her an initial dose of antibiotics and some pain killers (Motrin) and sent her on her way with prescriptions for more of the same.
Darryll and Alec wrapped up for the day around 2:15 PM and walked me through what they had done and what was left to do. While I was eating, talking, and working they had run the gas pipe through the back wall of the garage and installed the flue pipe for both furnaces. Darryll needed a few more parts to finish the job and needed to get home to deal with a flooded basement situation from the recent rains. He indicated they should be done by the end of next week, at least with everything they can do until the gas line gets run to the house and hooked up to meter. The timing may turn out to be tighter than expected. When Linda turned onto our street she observed that Roese Construction had started running gas line down our road and appeared to be hooking up houses as they went, but that turned out not be the case.
I was questioning Darryll about the exhaust flue for the Reznor garage furnace and discovered that it is not a sealed combustion unit like the one we had at the other house. He assured me it was approved for use in garages and that he has installed a lot of them over the years, but would double check to make sure. He can return this one if needed, but said the sealed unit is more expensive. It would also require completely different fresh air and exhaust ducting that would have to go through the back wall of the garage. I suspect we will stick with the one that is already installed.
Darryll sprayed every iron pipe connection with soapy water and the only leak he found was the cap they put on the end of the run this morning. Apparently they did not tighten it fully when they installed it. He snugged it down and had Alec re-pressurized the pipe to 12 PSI but did not recheck for leaks. (Hypothetically, if the leak at the end of the pipe was big enough other leaks might not show up anywhere else until that one was fixed.) If there are no other leaks then the pressure should stay at 12 PSI indefinitely; certainly until they come back on Monday or Tuesday.
For dinner Linda made a nice green salad and a pepper seitan dish served over white rice; simple but delicious. I checked the pressure in the black iron pipe after dinner, when it was cooler and the sun had dropped lower in the western sky, and it was down to 11 PSI. That seemed like a lot of pressure loss to me, but the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT) says that for a fixed volume (V) the pressure (P) and temperature (T) are directly proportional (by the factor nR). We know from experience that the pressure in an RV tire changes a little with changes in the ambient air temperature even when sitting still and quite a bit when the tire heats up from driving. If all the tire pressures are set to the same value first thing in the morning and one side of the RV is facing south on a sunny day the pressures in the tires on the sunny side will be measurably higher than the shady side at mid-afternoon. Of course there is a lot of air in our bus tires since they run at 100 PSI, more or less. Most of the black iron pipe is not exposed to direct sun for most of the day so tomorrow I may re-pressurize the pipe at 10 PSI and record the pressure and temperature every 30 minutes until 2 or 3 PM to see how it varies. Or not.
Phil (Precision Grading) called back this evening and said he could take care of fixing the driveway on Friday afternoon for a very reasonable price. Sold. That means we will not be going to the Clio rally on Friday for the 1 PM roundtable discussion. So be it. We will probably drive up on Saturday after our ham radio breakfast. While Phil is here we are going to shoot the grade in the back with his laser level if he has time and see what we really have. He and I agree that just eyeballing it things do not look quite right.
It’s obvious to me after the heavy rains on Monday and Tuesday that the two plastic drain pipes running out into the back yard should have had a third drain tile line put in the trench with them (perforated with an oversock) and the trench should have been filled with pea gravel to create a French drain that would remove the water flowing into that low lying area and keep it from saturating the ground. It would also have made the pipes better able to withstand being driven over by a vehicle. As it stands, anything heavy that drives over that area while it is moist/soft will most likely crush the pipes (again). I’m annoyed because I did not know enough to specify this as part of the job and because Steve, for whatever reason, did not recommend it.
To fix this correctly we would need to have Phil locate the existing plastic pipe and dig it up back past the Y-connector for the two downspouts and up into the two slopes far enough that it is out of his way. That would allow him to re-grade the entire area properly, dig a new trench starting from the edge of the lower deck, install the three drain lines, fill the trench with pea gravel, and then finish grade the slopes and valley correctly, all of which Village Landscape should have done, in my opinion, but did not. It would also give us the opportunity to replace the corrugated plastic drain line with PVC pipe which would better withstand the weight of a vehicle once encased in pea gravel. The rear retaining walls and front stairs/sidewalk look nice and appear to have been built correctly so we did get something for our money, most, in fact, of what we paid for, just not everything we needed.