1 Year Old Up For Hours In Middle Of Night The Things You Learn When Your House Breaks Down

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The Things You Learn When Your House Breaks Down

When I moved into our newly built house, there was a naive side of me that expected everything to work perfectly for at least the first five years. In hindsight, it seems to me that the best apartment is moving into a four to six year old home once all the kinks are worked out.

In the past month, we’ve had a broken water pipe, chipped marble countertops, halogen mattress lights that seem to turn on as soon as you change the bulb, and a stubbornly clogged toilet (okay, so that last one might have nothing to do with the actual house). At the moment, our hot water heater makes a strange hum and I’m waiting for the repairman to take a look.

On the plus side, I’ve learned a lot about lighting, marble, and plumbing, which I thought I’d share with you so you can avoid the problems we’ve had.

Halogen lights:

Angelo Bossi from Brak-Glan Electrical Service visited me last week to look at my pot lights. Here’s what he told me:

  • 130 volt lights are better than 120 volt lights. Your home is powered at 120 volts, but sometimes you get a power surge that can blow out a light bulb. 130 volt bulbs are more expensive, but last longer because they can absorb surges.
  • If you want to reduce your electricity consumption, there is a 9 watt compact fluorescent lamp on the market to replace your 50 watt halogen. There are 17 lights on our main floor alone, all of which are usually on between 7-9am and 4-10pm. I did the math:
  • 17 50-watt halogen mattress lights, each burning 8 hours a day, consume 6.8 kilowatt-hours of electricity. At $0.05/kWh the total cost is $0.34 per day or $124 per year. If you used 9 watt bulbs instead, you would use 1.224 kilowatt hours of electricity per day, which would cost $0.06 per day. The total annual cost is $22.34. You’d save about $100 a year, so replacing the CFLs would pay for itself in about two years, less if the lights are on longer or the cost of electricity goes up.

There are a few things to note about these CFL lamps:

  • They are not dimmable.
  • They are more expensive than halogen bulbs (around $9-$13 per bulb).
  • It takes a few minutes for them to warm up and produce their full power.
  • They come in different “color temperatures” (from softer, yellow light to more daylight – blue light).
  • You can get them from electrical stores.

Stone countertops:

Whenever I tell a contractor that our kitchen counters are marble, there’s usually a muffled sound of disbelief on the other end of the phone, which roughly translates to “Marble in the kitchen? What were you thinking?”

Although we didn’t have a choice in the finish, I have to be honest and say that I loved the marble countertop when we moved in, and I still love it – despite its prima donna, high-maintenance ways. Of course, if you look at it wrong, it will crack and need to be resealed regularly, but it has a nice European look.

However, I noticed a few months ago that there were a few hairline cracks on different edges of the counter. A few on each side of the stove and one out from the center edge of the counter. The original installer came and epoxied them right away, but they kept growing. Finally, the contractor sent Peter Potopov from The Stone Doctor.

Peter has repaired the cracks so they don’t grow any bigger (but they’re always there).

Although I had always thought that the cracks were due to improper installation or the stove vibrating against the counter, he said that the house still hasn’t settled yet when it’s new. Apparently, stone countertops should not be installed until a few years after the house is built. To support this theory, he showed me 1/4 cm. the gap between the backsplash and the countertop.

Now I think the stress fractures happen when the counter is attached to the wall on two sides because it can’t move. Our island, which is also marble, is perfectly fine.

One last stone tip: You know it’s time to reseal your countertop when a water splash leaves a dark mark after you clean it up.

Plumbing:

I heard a hissing sound one day when I opened the front closet to get my coat. I felt the back wall of the closet and it was soaking wet. After the water was turned off, the plumber came and removed the drywall. One of the water pipes had been punctured by a nail that was too long. Jim Davidson of Davidson Home Services said, “If they had done the job right, they never would have used nails this long. If you miss a nail, you can puncture the plumbing or electrical wiring” – which is exactly what happened.

While Jim was fixing the cracked pipe and drywall, I asked him if he could figure out why the second floor toilet was so clogged. We had tried everything and couldn’t get it to work. After removing the toilet from the floor, he found the culprit: Q-tips. The Q-tips create a grate that is impossible to unlock with a piston. Conclusion: don’t flush Q-tips down the toilet!

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