Days 375-378: Prepping for the Plumbing Inspection

Saturday, 7/23
Brian took a tour of the hardware stores to return oodles of items.  Next up, he addressed the inspector’s request to have the plumbing vent secured.  With that taken care of, he caulked the seam on the countertop where the ‘endsplash’ rests on the surface.

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Brian’s proposed plumbing vent hanger solution, sourced from Tractor Supply.

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A beautiful Lexel seam for the endsplash.  Probably the best one so far.

I arrived around this time and we discussed what was up next on the schedule.  We could start caulking the shower enclosure or we could work on wall plates (the outlet and switch plates came 2 days early so we had them in hand).  That’s when Brian revealed some upsetting and some exciting information.

Upsetting – The HVAC guy, who said he’d do our job last week, finally answered his phone and gave another noncommittal response about sometime next week.  Even after explaining that we had to have our plumbing inspection Tuesday so that we could see the building inspector Wednesday, he still didn’t commit to an appointment time on Monday or Tuesday.  This is one of the incredible downsides of Silver – not the contractor work quality, as many people like to say, but the lack of competition.

If there was another company, we’d hire them on principle because who wants to pay a guy that puts you off three times?  We have encountered this market dynamic here in other situations and we are not fans.  Back in CT, there is SO much competition that most people you hire are going to have good customer service and do a pretty decent job because if they don’t, you could just go to their rival next time.  It’s how it should be.

Exciting – After a series of google searches and forum threads, Brian learned that it was possible to get a vacuum pump and gauge manifold from Auto Zone that we could potentially use to vacuum the mini-split lines ourselves.  Even more exciting, it cost $0.00 – you could have it out for 90 days at no charge.  After that, your credit card would be hit with a $307 fee and you would essentially purchase the equipment.

In scouring the internet for examples of people using this equipment to service a home air condition unit (versus their vehicle), we learned a lot about the strange regulation around refrigerant.  It seems only licensed HVAC installers are allowed to purchase the stuff and if they assist a do-it-yourselfer with their project, they could be facing a $25,000 fine.  That’s kind of crazy.

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Autozone’s loaner HVAC gauge manifold with fittings for servicing car AC systems.

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R134a refrigerant is not the R410a minisplit uses.  Also these fittings are wrong for our purposes.  Adapters would be needed.  And a micron gauge.

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Autozone’s loaner single stage vacuum pump.

Sooooooooo, anyway…..after we picked up the equipment, I decided I was too hungry to advance and that we must eat.  We treated ourselves out to Tre Rosat because we hadn’t been there in awhile and also to celebrate passing our electrical inspection.

We were pretty zonked after dinner so we rented a movie and called it a night.

Bread pudding dessert. The empty plate in the background was a blueberry themed experiment.

Bread pudding dessert. The empty plate in the background was a blueberry themed experiment.

Sunday, 7/24
We woke fairly early and got straight to business:  Over breakfast, Brian continued his mini-split research online and I started emptying our storage closet.  I wanted to see the mysterious contents that had lived there for the past year.  This is what I encountered:

  • Down comforter and lap throw that we use in the winter (fits in 1 garbage bag)
  • Winter jackets and clothes (1 garbage bag)
  • 3 boxes of books
  • 2 boxes of Chelsea mementos (probably should be sorted down to 1 box)
  • 1 box of piano music
  • 1 box of like-new clothes to be sold online
  • 1 grocery bag of extra sheets
  • 2 bags of scuba gear (BIG)
  • 1 tent
  • 2 motorcycle helmets
  • 3 pairs of boots – rain, riding, winter
  • 2 empty boxes associated with the Lunos HRV that we were holding onto until we knew everything was functional.
  • 1 big flat box containing a dead cat – artificial fur wind shield for outdoor sound recording with shotgun mic
  • 1 men’s dress suit
  • 1 fancy dress
  • 1 large CD case containing discs associated with computer repair

That’s all I can remember off the top of my head.  So, I pulled most of that stuff out of the closet and created new towers of boxes in other parts of the apartment.  My goal was to get a feel for what should be organized toward the back of the storage stuff on top of the bathroom.  I originally wanted to leave items waiting to be sold or sorted for disposal on the ground so that we didn’t just forget about them again.  However, after reminding myself how close we were to our deadline I just decided to move it all.

Before touching any of the stuff, we headed to the house to assess our workload.  We decided to install the wall plates first because it was straightforward and satisfying.  Brian went to some other task next and I started the never-invited-never-wanted-self-appointed act of organizing the tools and building stuff.  This inevitably leads to Brian not being able to find a tool or screw or set of directions…but oh well!  Gotta make room for the stuff to come in.

We (I) made HUGE progress in the chaos in the house.  Brian contributed by saying yes/no when asked about whether or not something was garbage.  I left to go get leftovers around 11:30am and decided I would load up the car for the return journey.  I brought all the bags plus a few boxes of books.

We spent the rest of the afternoon caulking the joints in the shower enclosure.  Boy is that [Lexel ] stinky stuff!  At some point, we went for an ice cream break and purchased more caulk.  En route back to the house, we stopped at the apartment and I loaded up the car again.  That’s two trips down – Most of the stuff from the closet has been moved over.

We finished the shower enclosure around dinner time so we stopped there.

At the apartment, I prepped a load for the morning and started assessing what we had to do prior to moving out.  The big bathroom tub and bathroom sink were in bad shape, in desperate need of cleaning.  We started in there by snaking the shower drain.  Its plumbing is pretty wonky and hair/soap/etc just accumulates.  That was fun.

I scrubbed until hunger overcame my desire to clean things.  I’ve already made the decision that we aren’t going to clean things that were dirty when we moved into the rental.  This includes every single shelf surface inside all of the cabinets (kitchen and bathroom).  Additionally, we did not use the oven or the oven drawer so those are all set.

Sydney self-soothing with her frisbee (thunder boss is here).

Sydney self-soothing with her frisbee (the mighty thunder boss is lurking outside).

All caulked and smelly.

All caulked and smelly.

The only remaining areas to be caulked are small, 2 inch gaps where the seams meet.

The only remaining areas to be caulked are small, 2 inch gaps where the seams meet.

Organized stuff on top of the bathroom.

Organized stuff on top of the bathroom.

Monday, 7/25
I didn’t snooze the alarm this morning because I felt so much stress about the week.  I’ve decided to take a load of things to the house each morning on my way to work and then again in the evening when I haul the dogs over.  I loaded up the incredibly heavy box of piano music, the box with the dead cat and the two Lunos boxes, dropped it all off and headed to work.

When Brian met me an hour later, we went over the remaining tasks.  One of the contractors we know in the drive-thru mentioned he’d be happy to talk to the HVAC guy for us and help communicate how important it is that he see us today (Monday).  Shortly thereafter, the HVAC guy called us and said we should call him Tuesday morning….not really very confidence inspiring but at least we’re talking on the phone.

Next up, the plumbing inspector called to confirm that he would be over between 8am-9am Tuesday morning.  So, as expected, the HVAC guy will not be able to get the work done before our inspection.  However, the inspector said he called the HVAC guy and told him to call him later on Tuesday after he had vacuumed our lines and then he, the inspector, would swing back over to finalize everything.  [Our plumbing inspector lives very nearby so I guess he’s okay with multiple visits.]

With both our contractor friend and the plumbing inspector breathing down this guy’s neck on our behalf it looks like he’ll come through.

Insurance development – It has been a few days since we last heard from our agent so we decided to look for other options ourselves.  One of our friends tipped us off about an agent who might be able to help us, so we got a quote from him.  If we purchase our home insurance and switch our auto insurance, we’ll save $653 a year, paying nearly half as much (56%).  That’s pretty compelling.

So much to do!!!  This was on our to-do list when Brian departed the shack around noon:

  • Finish shower enclosure caulking
  • Install shower doors
  • Caulk shower door frame
  • Confirm the bathroom vanity is in the correct location and then caulk the back seam
  • Caulk the back of the kitchen counter
  • Caulk bead under the edge of the kitchen counter to prevent drip absorption into untreated/unfinished material.
  • Purchase rest of trim
  • Prime and paint trim
  • Install trim

That’s really where we’d like to be by the time we move in.  Ideally, the trim will be in place and we can therefore place furniture wherever we’d like.  We also want to give as much time as possible between Lexel application and Fred arrival because his sensitive bird lungs aren’t supposed to be exposed to toxic smells.

I grabbed the dogs and a load of stuff before heading to the house.  Brian had designed and installed a leveling platform for the mini-split, attached the shower spout and knob, installed the end-piece on the kitchen counter and finished caulking the shower enclosure.  He had also tested that there were no floor leaks (the same thing the inspector would do the next day – the featured image at the top of this post is the wet shower, no leaks).  We worked together to start the mega kitchen counter seam and then hauled up the newly arrived cargo to the top of the bathroom.

At the apartment, Brian worked on dinner while I went back to the bathroom cleaning project.  I finished the tub, sink and toilet and started on the floor.  I’m going to do a good sweep and call it good.  The rest of the apartment will be thoroughly vacuumed once the stuff is moved and all the surfaces will be wiped clean.

We heard from the HVAC guy around 7:30pm – he confirmed he’d swing by the house around 8:15am to vacuum the lines.  It’s going to be a crowded household tomorrow morning.

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Pointy 5/16″ lag screws used as leveling feet.

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Counter endcap piece contact cemented in place with the hair dryer. You’re supposed to use an iron set to ‘cotton’ heat but we don’t have one.

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Shower head and valve trim in place prior to plumbing inspection.

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Masking for the big part of the behind-the-counter gap.

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Clear Lexel for low key-ness.

Tuesday, 7/26
I failed this morning to run a load of stuff to the house.  We had a busy morning ahead and I couldn’t wake up early enough.  After a short time at the shack, Brian departed so that he would be at the house for the inspector’s arrival.  The inspector didn’t arrive as early as we anticipated but the HVAC guy did.  He completed the job (charging more than twice as much as he did the previous time he did work for us) so we were officially ready for the inspection prior to the inspector’s arrival.

We passed.  Hurrah!

Concurrently with the chaos at the house, a contractor friend came through the drive-through and informed me about a critical update with the local building inspector situation.  It turns out the inspector left the job sometime last week.  Our rush to finish before the building inspector retired has been for naught!  Regardless, we want to be out of the apartment before the next month’s rent is due.

The plumbing inspector helped direct us how to get hooked up with the state inspector and get our local building permit converted to a state permit.  Brian spoke to the (state) bureau chief and he seemed sympathetic to our case.  It appears they will both expedite the permit process and allow us to convert our permit without paying a fee.

Brian immediately came to the shack, we downloaded the document, filled it out, scanned and emailed it back….

We didn’t hear from the inspector in time to get our inspection that day but he said he would be up Thursday.  He also made it clear that if we had a prior ok with the local building inspector but it wasn’t aligned with how he, himself, interrupted the code, we could still get our CO and then make any necessary changes (to be inspected again in the future).

I did manage to take a load of stuff over the house with the dog run.  We are now down to big furniture objects and things that need to be packed.  The functioning air conditioning was NICE.

The ____ bulbs arrived.

The Vu1 ESL bulbs arrived.

Brian's main accomplishment was the commencement and great progress on the sliding glass shower doors.

Brian’s main afternoon accomplishment was the commencement and great progress on the sliding glass shower doors.  The instructions for this task are 20 pages long.

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