Ants under Pavers

Ants are a huge problem where we live. Fire ants bite and the black ones ruin your foundations. The old tale apparently is the reason gutters are not installed in the south is so that water purposely sits beside the foundation after it rains in order to flood out the ants. Makes sense to me. Ants will burrow holes under your foundation and in this case your Pavors and will cause them to sink. What we did and what you can do is pull the Pavors pack more sand in the holes created and mix in a little Portland cement. That way next time they try to make a home it will be much more difficult. Of course spraying heavily year round helps these issues out to. 

Carrier Greenspeed VR 5-ton Heat Pump VS. Frigidaire 5-ton Heat Pump

By now most of our units have been upgraded to the newer heat-pump technology which is saving our residents hundreds already. This post is a review of Carriers 5 ton variable speed heat-pump. If you don't already know, a heat-pump unit operating in the summer, will pull out hot air from the interior and displace it outdoors. Usually A/C units are either on or off. Not anymore! They've basically added a gas pedal to this thing. So instead of on/off the variable speed motor reduces or maximizes air flow based on need. So your unit could be running at 10%, 30%, 80%, or full blown 100%. I psychologically hear you saying through the interwebz, why do I care? Geez man you're such a nerd! Whateva!...Because you'll have more in the Bank... (After payoff of course) Unfortunately we cannot connect our ecobee, but that's OK because we still have control from smartphone access and you can still program zones with additional hardware. If you are in a situation where you are trying to save bank and choosing between adding or changes in insulation type within your structure vs. upgrading HVAC equipment. In my opinion you'll get more bang for your buck on upgrading the equipment. Stay tuned while we watch the savings pile up and will report more results at a later date! Shout Out to Parker Heating & Cooling for always having our backs! Test results below.

2600sq ft house with loft.
Year over year comparison electric household total (HVAC roughy 40%-50% of bill)
2003 standard 5 ton Frigidaire Heat Pump vs 2017 5 ton Carrier Greenspeed VR Heat Pump

                        2016                                2017                                 Total Savings
July                 2945kWh    $365.19        1833kWh    $234.96        $130.23
August            2800kWh    $344.65      2232kWh    $284.56        $60.09
September      2611kWh      $323.90      1627kWh     $210.72          $113.18

Wood Flooring on Wood Sub Floor

Wood Flooring is probably the best looking and longest lasting flooring you can install. Granted you have to take care of it, depending on the type of wood it can scratch easy, it requires special requirements and high heels are a big no no. Mainly for adults only. It's pretty easy to install. Basically you pile the wood in the location it is to be installed and let it sit for 5 or so days. This is because you want the moisture in the wood to match the moisture level in the room it is to be installed. Without letting it sit, it could warp after the install. Once the days have passed check the wood and the subfloor moisture level with a moisture meter. Moisture for both should be around 5% or lower although we have installed around 10% before with no issues the lower the better. Various percentages are all over the internet but let say don't install over 10% just to be safe. Once levels are in check in your controlled environment lay down the moisture barrier, then underlayment pad and start laying the wood. Once all nailed together and to the floor you can begin your trim work!

Mondo Bondo

Don't care what anyone says. Bondo fixes everything... Take this trim work for example. We wanted to take a door off because sometimes you just want to see everything. 👗  All you do is unscrew the door. Take out your trusty bondo car body filler, mix up the goop and slab it on. Wait about 5 minutes and sand her down, prime and paint. BOOM, no door was ever installed there and all you have left is fancy trim work without having to rip anything out. 👍 😏

GE Geospring Pro Heatpump

Its time to test another technology out. This one is good. Real good. It's a heat pump water heater. Basically what this thing does is it efficiently pulls heat from your garage and displaces it into the water. This process is much less of a strain on energy usage than the heating elements. It's byproduct of this process is...get this...cold air and dehumidification! What? You mean I have an a/c in my garage now and no Florida humidity. MAN CAVE! Only other by product is condensation so you would need to make an exit for that. So my probably wrong calculations are below, but if you were to upgrade to this guy you would pay almost double out of pocket but estimations on payback is roughly 3-5 years. If it lasts that long it will be worth the investment, plus the perks of a cool garage at all times. You can place in hybrid which works both heat pump and elements based on usage, heat pump only, element only, and vacation mode. Awesome. Here's another idea, we have some properties that have water heaters inside a closet. If you were to place one of these in those locations you would have two appliances working to make you stay cool and they would play off each other. They also make a duct kit in which you can redirect cool air through a wall to an adjacent room. Talk about major saving!

These calculations based off standard gulf power rates and energy guide sticker on water heaters. Most likely completely off as am averaging $30 saving a month.

===Standard 80 gallon w/ no technologic cutoff===
Base Charge          $.62 per day X 365 Days =                                                  $226.30
Demand Charge    $.04.585 per kWh X 5045 estimated yearly kwh =           $231.31325
Total Per Year                                                                                                        $457.61

===Geo Spring Pro Heat Pump 80 gallon===
Base Charge          $.62 per day X 365 Days =                                                 $226.30
Demand Charge    $.04.585 per kWh X 1347 estimated yearly kwh =            $61.75995
Total Per Year                                                                                                       $288.06

Custom Molding Tip

Here's a tip if you just so happen to be making custom molding where you will have eye view of the top. This molding was pre stained on one side. To get the look we are seeking a cut needed to be made exposing the natural colors of the wood. We don't want that nor do we want to take the time to match the stain. What you can do in this situation is fill it in with a sharpie. Once nail holes (Nails and glue needed in this situation to support weight) are filled and from the angle you'd have visuals you'd never even know. Quick Tip!

Irrigation Pump Loosing Prime?

Check Valve Replacement. So there is a spring in this valve that only lets water flow one way and prevents water from moving in the other direction when no water flow occurs. Eventually this valve wears out and needs to be replaced. Usually when your irrigation system turns on but you have no water at the sprinkler heads 80% of the time this valve is the problem with well water systems. The pump is loosing its prime. You can unscrew the valve and screw a new one on but I like to cut everything apart and rebuild it all just in case there are pin hole leaks elsewhere and you should trust your own builds more so then anyone else. You can see the nastiness inside the old Valve. The nastiness build up will occur again, but a long time from now. Easy right?

Drywall Joint Repair

There are many factors that can cause drywall joints to crack. Interior Moisture (ie, No HVAC air flow), Exterior Moisture (ie, breach or failure of materials from outside), Foundation settlement or Foundation failure (If this is the issue you can forget about the sheetrock and focus elsewhere). Here's our method on repairing such issues. Cut the old tape and compound out and make sure you leave enough indention so that when you add the new tape, compound and then sand it all turns out flat. There are 3 types of drywall tape at the moment that I'm aware of. The regular paper tape, which is strong and cheap but it absorbs moisture and doesn't bond well. The second which we are using in this instructional is fiberglass mesh tape. It is not affected by moisture and becomes fully embedded into the compound. The third is known as Fibefuse tape. It basically combines the previous two. It is paper thin but is also is moisture resistant and gets fully embedded into compound. Without adding tape to this type of repair you are doing nothing to prevent the crack from reappearing. After applying tape, apply joint compound, wait 24 hours and sand with sheetrock sandpaper as flat as possible. Apply a second and third coat if necessary and keep following the previous steps until all is completely flat. Yes this is a 2-3 day job due to drying time. Don't rush this or your results will not look professional. Once flat to touch apply paint, let dry and shine a light and see if you can spot any imperfections. If none exist it will look like there was never even an issue. Cheers!

Ecobee Update (Break Even!)

Using approximations it took 1 year and 3 months for the savings of the Ecobee 3 to pay for itself in our test environment. Purchase price was $300 because of additional sensor (3 total). Our test environment is a detached one story house with building size of 2501-3000 sq. ft.. 3 bedrooms and age between 16-20 years. Depending on your structure and heating and cooling specs expect anywhere between 1-3 years for the device to pay for itself, not including rebates and other perks from energy and insurance companies. Seriously if you are still using that old stuff upgrade now to save yourself some moolah!

Corrugated Metal

Here in NWFL and much of the south humidity can take its toll on materials. Take this drywall for example. This is roughly 30 years of patch work and leaving a garage door open when it should be closed over night. Eventually the drywall will sag and mud will chip away due to moisture and temperature changes of the days and seasons. You can patch, then re patch again, but eventually it starts looking really bad. The reason for the drywall is for firewall and prevention of fire spread should something happen in the garage. I'd say double up your drywall for the wall between the garage and main house or use fire rated drywall for that and use what you want for the garage ceiling and walls. Here's an alternative for your garage ceiling. We used Corrugated metal. The cost was cheaper, the install went quicker and I think it looks better. For trim we used a roof eave trim. Personally I think this does the same job if not better for fire prevention, but there is always some inspector out there that thinks otherwise for EVERYTHING. When you buy or build your home on your property, it's yours and that's where that whole 2nd Amendment / Hell off my property Mr. Inspector or anyone that disagrees comes into play. Have Fun! :)

Water Heater Replacement

So these things breakdown anywhere between 3 and 30 years. Faulty engineering, bad materials, take your pick are the causes. This one which we forgot to take a pic of broke down after only 10 years. So we replaced with our favorite brand - Bradford White. Here's how you do it. First, you cut the breaker to make sure power is turned off. Second, cut the water off to the house or the line going into the water heater if there is a shutoff valve. Drain the tank by connecting a water hose to the bottom valve. Once water is drained cut the pipe with a pipe cutter, in this case copper. Here comes the easy part, go to the big orange store and get yourself some Shark-bite brand water heater lines. "Back-in-the-day" you would have to sweat pipe which include getting sand paper, flux, torch and solder. With these Shark-bite parts you literally push them on and that is it. Once piping is complete hook up power making sure it is off. Once connected turn the water back on and let the water heater fill up, then turn the power on. If you can move and lift a water heater you can replace them! We used 2 Shark-bite water lines and sweat the overflow valve only because we had spare parts laying around. Enjoy!

H&C Colortop

So this concrete stain is a first use for us. Used this product for trim on concrete edge. Suprisingly good finish and you can tell it will last longer than any standard concrete paint. There is a solvent based and water based version of the same product. The solvent will last longer but you can only get certain colors. If you want any color like this here mocha you'll have to go with the water based solution. Looks like it will last 5 years. Tried scrathing into it and it didn't budge. Overall great product, zero complaints!

Painting with Portland

Here's a method that has been used maybe well over 200 years that most folks simply have forgotten and now spend thousands of dollars renewing a concrete surface. Way back before anyone alive today, people used to use limestone powder. They mixed it with water to create a paint and painted everything with it. This protected wood from sun, insects and decay. Those similar methods can be used today. For some reason people pouring concrete in Florida and slackers elsewhere don't use rebar and pore at 3 inch thickness or less and then everyone wonders why their concrete driveway lasts only 10 years on top of sand. Geee...I wonder. 50's - 60's alot of driveways didn't use rebar either but the concrete mixture was much stronger and it was poured at 4-5 inches or thicker. Although a higher percentage used rebar than today. Today if you want a newer looking driveway there are multiple methods you can take to accomplish this. 1: Spend 10k-20k busting out the old and pouring in new correctly. 2: Spend roughly 1k-6k painting it which will have to be done every 5 years anyways. or 3: DIY, pressure wash, repair cracks and paint it with portland cement which is the main ingredient of concrete. This cost $300 in material and a whole lot of labor. This will have to be done roughly every 3 years but you never have to seal it and doing this every 3 years your still not going to spend as much as other methods for the life of the concrete. Granted you can only do so much patching before it will all eventually need to be ripped out anyway. Here we had a corner that was broken off that needed to be built back up so we busted out the old, dug a 2 ft piling and re-poured with fiber enforced concrete. Since its part of the corner with vehicular traffic we didn't want it to break off again which was the reason for an overkill piling and a pour at 5 inches. Once repairs and cracks are complete then all you do is mix up the portland with a bonding agent (the white stuff), water and make your paint. Brush minimum 2 coats and boom new driveway for $100-$300 for 3-5 years.  The more coats you add the more even it will look and will actually improve the strength and decrease wear time slightly. Hell, sometimes one coat looks better than original. Have fun.....breaking your back :)

Roof Repair

We've done this post many times, but it's been a while, they've been deleted, it's done every year anyways and we've got new audience members so here it is again. One of our roof's get's damaged at least once a year due to windy storms. It's on the beach and it has 3 tab shingles so they always get ripped out. Replacing shingles is pretty easy. First bring an old ripped one to your local hardware store and match the color with ones similar, then all you do is get a roof crow bar and pull the nails out loosen old shingles and pull the ripped ones. Install new by cutting to size and then add roof cement under new and old shingles which binds them together. Without adding the cement the shingles will just flap in the wind a rip off again, which we somewhat expect anyway's because we're out here doing this job over and over :). Remember to bring a hat and some knee pads, Even with all that your going to have your work cut out on this job. Think desert with hot molten shingles blaring in your face and burning your hands. Fun Times. Eventually when it comes times for replacement we'll replace with dimensional shingles which are one full piece eliminating the 3 tab flap in wind. Problem solved. Oh yeah.. DIY About $40, Hire it out...$300-$600. Ready to get your hands bloody?