Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cold achey feet....

One of the negatives of having a hardwood floor glued directly to the concrete results in really cold hard woods. I keep the thermostat set a little chilly in the winter. I keep it at 68 deg F. Downstairs stays a nice balmy 64 deg F. The concrete slab is just sucking the heat out of the house and down into the earth.  It's really noticeable as you get to the edges of the main room. An infrared (IR) temperature sensor does a really nice job of showing the issue.

Ends at Front Door

Ends at Back Door

Center of the floor is just under 64 deg F, 4 degrees F lower than the thermostat set temperature. I gotta give it to Pulte, their work is not one degree better than the warranty specifications (4 degree variation around the home).


So I've been having some intermittent Comcast issues. Oddly seemed to be happening when it was raining.

Drove by this the other day. Look at all those beautiful Coax cables.
 I really don't know what to say. Quality is somewhere on the priority list. Job 1 isn't even close.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wire Stripping

So I have been replacing switch plates to add timers for bathroom fans. Tap the button, fan turns on for a fixed number of minutes.

Most of the replacements have been without incident, but I did find an interesting situation on the last one. Turns out the electrician stripped too much wire off the hot line in the switch.  Should this touch the ground wire in the box, it'd be a short. You can see the black line inserted into the back of the switch. This is FULLY inserted, and there is about 3/8" sticking out the back bare.

Little too much copper showing

The switch manufacturer tries to make them idiot proof by putting a wire strip gauge on the back of the switch. I guess that is too complex for Pulte, as there was almost twice as much stripped as should have been.


Don't get me wrong, I love my home, but the little things add up.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wall Plate Covers

For those of you that have GFCI outlets in your house, you may be interested in this. The builder "non" standard plate is on the left. The same switch with the Mulberry plate is on the right.

Builder Standard

Matches the rest of the house
After lots of searching, I found the wall plates at Home Depot. They are "Mulberry Maxi" wall plates. You can find them here. For the low price of $0.79 you can have a more consistent look. Make sure you turn off the power before replacing the wall plate, but it's a pretty easy job. I just went and grabbed 10 or so of them, and started replacing the GFCI and audio controllers with them. Looks much better and more consistent around the home.  Ahh yes, the little things.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Code Violations?

So, I've found a couple of code violations in my home.  Does anyone know the best way to have the builder remedy them?  I found this article while searching for how to properly notify the builder, but I'm not exactly sure what to do. So far I've been keeping things fairly informal and reporting issues through Pulte's Owner's Entry website. I have a feeling the next few issues are going to require a more formal process. Any suggestions out there?

Update: Here are the VA building codes per Alexandria's Code Administration website.

4/21/2013 Update: According to Pulte, the "fireplace" is a "gas appliance" (funny, my contract said fireplace) and not a fireplace, so one of the issues that I believed was a violation of code is no big deal. The other issue has to do with make up air for the range hood, and Pulte is still trying to figure out what to do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Faucet Fixes and Waterline Gunk

So after we moved in, I noticed that faucets didn't seem to have normal water pressure, which I thought was odd considering the big green blob in the backyard that is supposed to boost water pressure.

I found the faucets on the Moen website and ordered a couple replacement aerators because I needed the tool that came with them to remove the old aerators to clean them, and for $10 I might as well just replace the thing.

Here's the link for the replacement part that went with all my bathroom faucets.

The parts at the right are what showed up. The little red thing is the "key" that you mate with the aerator that's in the sink, and twist to remove that one, and the round black thing in the bottom right of the bag is the new aerator.  I didn't take photos of the crap that came out, but it was pretty impressive. I was surprised, given how many homes that Pulte puts up, I would have thought they would have pulled the aerators out and ran the water to get the crap out of the pipes first. I guess that would have taken an hour, tops? Nah, better to roll the dice and see if the homeowner notices, and then send out someone to fix it. I mean will homeowners really want to wait around for a 4 hour window to get their faucets fixed, or would they rather just spend the $50 to replace them all on their own and not miss a half day of work?  Yeah, I'm in the $50 category, and thought others in the community may be as well.

Another water issue I had was the time it took to get hot water to the kitchen faucet. Looking at the faucet head I noticed that it was a 1.5 gpm restrictor. I don't know if that is required for LEED certification or something that Pulte didn't pay for, but it was making me wait a minute or two to get hot water at the kitchen sink. I found the Aberdeen (NO, not Katniss Everdeen) faucet on the Moen website and noticed in the parts blow up that you can get a 2.2 gpm faucet head. Oh, they're available on Yes Please.  This is the 1.5gpm one, but you get the idea. It's just an o-ring, the aerator, and the faucet head.

Head with o-ring and aerator removed.
I noticed too late, but on the exploded parts list, there is part # 141025 that is on for like $10. This is all you need. Don't buy the $70 wand, just buy the $10 o-ring and aerator kit. The aerator does the flow restricting, and the 1.5gpm wand doesn't appear to behave any differently with the 2.2 gpm one in it (other than more water faster). It will just say 1.5gpm, when it's 2.2gpm and the flow rate is much better, like 50% better!

Close up of the o-ring on the aerator.
Still some gunk present!
Anyway, that's my tip for the day. I thought I'd try to be more positive and help folks out instead of just beating up on Pulte... although it is entertaining, I doubt they really care.

To sum up. There's a bunch of construction crap behind the aerators in all your faucets. The thought of brushing my teeth with that water was a little much. Grab at least one of the kits from moen, to get the tool to remove, clean off, and re-insert the aerator, and you're in business. Grab one of the o-ring and aerator kits from moen for the kitchen faucet, and you'll get a couple minutes back in your day.  Just don't let the hose fall back into the faucet when you're changing out the head, and use a rag to protect the chrome fixture on the end of the hose.

The sexier side view.
It's not a big thing, but it's a little nicer, every time you use the water.  I haven't cleaned out the shower heads yet, I need to get on that.

Also, if you get bi-fold shutters behind your kitchen sink, you won't be able to open one side of them.  Just a heads up, the faucet blocks the swing.