Wet, but waterproof

Things are a bit wet around here. We’ve had rain on and off for about two weeks. And last week, the rain was pretty steady.

Rainy weather forecast

The ground is completely saturated.

Had this been a year ago, we would have been soggy inside as well as out. Our big (and expensive) project last summer was waterproofing our basement. However, when I last reported on the project back at the start of September, we had just found puddles in two of the rooms that we waterproofed. We were so disappointed.

After talking it over with our contractors, we decided to go with a wait and see strategy.

So this extremely wet spring is our test.

And I’m pleased to say that our basement is passing.

I don’t know what was up last fall, but this spring, when we’re basically immersed in a bog, inside of the house is nice and dry.

Phew.

The sump pump has been running fairly regularly for about a month. Over the weekend, it was running about every one and a half minutes.

Water discharging from the sump pump

You may remember that we elected to waterproof from the inside. There are a couple of little “hatches” where we can access the weeping tile that the contractors laid around the foundation. Checking them out, we found water in the pipes. But the pipe is doing its job and funneling the water to the sump pump.

Water in the weeping tile in the basement

I’m so relieved that everything is working the way it’s supposed to and that we have a dry house this spring.

How’s the weather where you are? Have you had any water issues this spring?

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Home Goals 2017

Alright. It’s officially time to start looking ahead. Time to share my Home Goals 2017.

Unusually, I’ve not been thinking about these for the past few months. Some of them have solidified over the last few weeks–one of them even started just before the end of last year. Some of them came together just as I was writing this post.

I think we’re getting to the stage where more things are done around the house–and the things that are yet to come are biggies. As in so big we’re not ready to tackle them yet (although I really, really, really want a garage).

However, there’s still enough to keep us busy for another year. Here’s what’s on the list.

My office

Turquoise and brass file cabinet from DIY Mommy

Source: DIY Mommy

Ahhh. My office. Finally a room of my own (thank you Virginia Woolf–not an affiliate link). I don’t know as I can convey the monumentalness of this project–except by making up words. Five years ago we moved to the farm. Since that time, moving boxes have been stacked against the wall in my “office.” I want to unpack and truly have a functional office. Finishing off my office will finish off another milestone for the house: the final bedroom.

The transformation is already underway. This is the project that Matt and I started right at the end of December–gotta keep up our holiday tradition of scraping a stippled ceiling.

Clean up the pond shore

Property clean up has been on my list every year. And every year I end up working on whatever spot shows up in front of me. This year I want to be a little more plannful. This year, I am cleaning up the pond shore–how’s that for an emphatic statement.

The pond is my favourite place on our whole 129 acres. And I haven’t been able to easily access the shore the whole time we’ve lived here. I’ve considered enlisting professional help, but I think if I put out a call, I should be able to find a few family members willing to wield chainsaws and weed eaters for a weekend.

Vegetable garden

The vegetable garden was our major project last year, and as a result I feel like we’re in very good shape to start this year’s growing season. However, there are a few things I’d like to add this year, like rhubarb, a second row of berries (maybe raspberries, maybe something else) and maybe some more grapes.

Most important, this year I am going to keep the weeds under control–another emphatic statement. I’m hoping a deep mulch will help me not spend my whole summer weeding.

Flower gardens

Last year our flower gardens were entirely neglected as the vegetable garden consumed all our time. This year I want to give them at least a little bit of attention.

I’ve dumped plants randomly in two beds at the front of the house, and they need a bit of organization. I’d like to add some more shade tolerant flowers to the turnaround.

I’m also planning to remove the flowerbeds at the back of the house (there are only so many hours in a day, and mowing is easier than weeding).

Basement

I’ve said it before. The basement has been hanging around long enough. This is the year we’re going to finish it once and for all–including fun art.

New barn cat

Ralph the barn cat

This one may be more of a farm goal than a home goal.

We have an outstanding barn cat in Ralph. So outstanding that we’d love for her to teach someone the wisdom of her ways. I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to go about finding her an apprentice, but we’re going to figure it out.

So there you have it. Six goals. Two inside, three outside, one alive. Some big, some small, one with a tail. Some easy, some tedious, some furry.

We’ll see how this goes.

Time to get started!

Do you have any goals for this year? What would you like to accomplish at your house? Any tips for introducing a new barn cat? Anyone want to help clear the shore at the pond?

How we installed a waterline for the vegetable garden

A big to-do on the garden task list is now done. We finally have a hose at the garden… and I’m so happy to cross this one off the list.

Hose in the vegetable garden

With the lack of rain we had this summer, we watered the garden a lot. However, the closest hose was at the driveshed. That was three hose-lengths away. I had screwed the hoses together back in the spring, and most of the time we kept them laid out across the yard. But any time I had to wind them up (like every time we cut the grass) it was a heavy haul.

Adding a tap at the garden was one of my Home Goals 2016. I already shared a bit of the misery that was digging the trench from the driveshed to the garden (ground so hard, summer so hot, rocks and roots so many, garden so, so, so far away).

Trenching a waterline to the garden

When I measured the trench, it came out a bit more than 100 feet. I spent a week visiting various home improvement stores and then specialty plumbing suppliers trying to find someone who would sell me 110 feet of irrigation pipe. All I could find was 100-foot or 400-foot coils. Ugh.

I bought 100 feet and crossed my fingers that we could splice on a small extra piece we had at the farm already and still make it to the garden.

But it turned out I was worried for nothing. When Matt and I unrolled the pipe and laid it in the trench, it easily reached the garden. Thank goodness for small wins.

The other thing I was worried about was our plumbing abilities. I had a plan, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually going to work.

We dug down to the waterline that ran to the hose at the driveshed. After turning off the water, I took a deep breath and cut through the waterline with the hacksaw. So much for my brand new work gloves.

Cutting a waterline with a hacksaw

Then we inserted a T. A note about these connections. They fit super, super tightly. We boiled the kettle and then Matt poured the hot water over the pipe and that softened the plastic enough that I was able to wedge the fitting into place. The clamps on either side provide extra insurance to hold everything together and prevent leaks

Adding a T connection on a waterline

From there, it was easy to connect our new 100 feet of pipe.

Running a waterline for a garden hose

At the garden, the pipe sneaks under the brick threshold at the gate and up the post. Look how much pipe we had. Exactly the perfect length. And look at the water flowing. We did it! And there are no leaks! Big wins all around!

Adding a hose at the vegetable garden

Backfilling the trench was much easier than digging it out. Wiley helped which was huge.

Backfilling the trench with the tractor

Baxter did not help. In fact he staged a sit-in (lie-in) to protest when Matt started to put the sod back down. “Dirt is good, dude.”

Baxter lying in the dirt

The finishing touches were clamping the waterline to the fence post and then installing a hose hanger.

Rather than a typical hanger, I wanted to try a metal bucket. I’ve seen a few other people do this, and I figured it would give us a place to stash nozzles or maybe even some garden tools.

Again, I spent some time running around to various stores trying to find the perfect bucket. Then I remembered a rusty old canning pot–one of our many gifts from previous owners. I knew there was a reason I didn’t throw that out.

I drilled a couple of holes in the bottom and then bolted it to the fence.

Using a pot as a hose hanger

Then I dragged the hose out to the garden one final time (except for seasonal shutdown, but don’t burst my bubble, okay?) and coiled it up.

Hose in the vegetable garden

Such a great addition to the garden. And this is actually our final to-do on our garden to-do list. This year has been all about adding the structure (raised beds, trellises, perennials) and functionality (gate, trellises, hose) to the garden. I think all of this is going to make a huuuuge difference next year.

The other thing that is going to make a huge difference–and that we have yet to do–is clean up. We have a whooooole bunch of weeds that I want out of there before winter sets in. That’s still a few weeks away though, as harvest is still going strong.

 

How is your garden growing? Does plumbing make anyone else anxious? How do you handle irrigation in your garden?

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The results of our basement waterproofing

Today is supposed to be the last post about our big summer project: waterproofing our basement.

Here are the previous posts if you need to get caught up:

However, I can’t wrap up this project because a week ago we had a torrential downpour and we had puddles in the basement. Wah-wah.

The first leak was in the laundry room and the second in the cold cellar–two places we’d waterproofed.

In the cold cellar, it appears to have come up through the shiny new floordrain.

Basement floor drain

In the laundry room, it somehow somewhere came through the wall. The rain was an extraordinary downpour, but nonetheless, my expectation from our waterproofing is that we would be waterproof.

The big selling point of working with our waterproofing company is that the work came with a lifetime guarantee, so we’re working with them now to make sure our leaks are truly fixed.

In the meantime, I can share some of our progress. Here’s the biggest illustration–and one area that doesn’t leak anymore:

Before (ish)

Spray foam insulation

After with framing, insulation, drywall, paint, carpet and baseboard all redone.

Wall repaired after waterproofing

I think the thing that frustrated me the most with this project–aside from the fact that the leaks are not actually fixed–is that we ended up basically back where we started. We shelled out a bunch of money, put in a bunch of work and it all looks the same.

But looks aren’t everything.

With home ownership, what’s behind the walls matters a lot. So that’s why it’s so important to us to fix our leaks, not just cover them up or ignore them.

Last week’s rain was a bit extreme. Up to then, we had a few other rainfalls without issue. In fact the night the crew left, we had our first big rainstorm of the summer. Matt and I were sitting in the living room, and I said, “I think I hear the sump pump.” Sure enough, rain was falling hard enough that the water was flowing through the weeping tile around the foundation and filling the sump pit. Talk about timing.

We love the assurance of our new sump pit and pumps. There are two pumps in our pit. One is a regular pump that is plugged into a regular electrical socket. The second is a back-up pump and it is plugged into a giant marine battery.

Back up sump pump powered by a marine battery

If for any reason the first pump gets overwhelmed or stop working (like the power goes out), the second one will kick in automatically. Considering that power outages are a real possibility during rainstorms, we feel very good about our back-up system.

The pumps have two alarms. The first will sound if the back-up pump comes on and second very, very loud alarm will go off if both pumps for some reason fail.

Sump pump alarm

I also appreciate the finish both inside and out. In the cold cellar, the dirt and footings around the perimeter are gone in favour of clean smooth concrete. And the crew did a great job of making the new concrete nice and even with the existing floor. Where the exterior waterproofing happened outside the laundry room, again the wall looks super clean, even though we appear to still have some problems here.

At the doorway to the cold cellar, where I always did a little hop across the dirt at the threshold, the floor drain is a nice addition. The floor drain ties into the weeping tile which in turn ties into the sump pit. Given the water we found in the cold cellar, I surmise that there was so much rain that it overwhelmed the weeping tile and spewed out of the drain.

So unfortunately, I can’t say we’re all done. We’re hoping we get there soon, and I’ll be sure to share when we do.Save

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How we waterproofed our basement from the inside

So far in recapping our basement waterproofing saga, I’ve shared a glimpse of the problems and the options we considered to fix them.

As I said in my last post, we decided to go with Omni Basement Systems, a company that would fix the leaks from the inside (for the most part… more on this below) and would guarantee the leaks would never come back (and never is a pretty long time).

Full disclosure, the basement waterproofing project was not sponsored. We paid for the work ourselves and didn’t receive any discounts or compensation.

We had three things we were looking to fix:

  1. Leaks along the south wall of the house and around the perimeter of the cold cellar that seemed to be coming from where the poured foundation wall met the slab of the concrete floor.
  2. Leaks in the laundry room where the bottom half of a former doorway had been bricked in to become a window (at the complete opposite end of the house from the other leaks).
  3. New sump pit and pumps (plural) including a battery back-up system for when the power goes out.

Numbers 1 and 3 were going to be tackled from the inside, while number 2 was going to be tackled from the outside.

The laundry room window/door was located very tight to a corner. There wasn’t space to access the seam of the old doorway from inside the basement.

Working from the outside entailed digging down to the base of the foundation, a tough job at the best of times, but particularly unpleasant in the intense heat and humidity that has been this summer. This job was made doubly tough as the crew uncovered the original concrete retaining walls that had bordered the exterior stairwell and the slab at the base. Because of all the concrete, water had nowhere to drain and was seeping through the foundation into the house. The crew had to break up the extremely hard concrete as well as waterproof the foundation.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the outside

Waterproofing involved filling the joint with special polyurethane polymer sealant. The sealant will never dry out or recrack even if the foundation wall shifts over time. A membrane called Blueskin was laid over the wall and then all of that was covered in “dimple sheet” and then the top edge was sealed with a thick line of tar. After that, the crew backfilled the hole. You can read more about the process on the Omni website.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the outside

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the outside

For the interior waterproofing, the first step was to access the foundation wall. In the long room (where our pingpong table lives), that meant removing the drywall. Matt and I did that ourselves, and I admit my heart broke a little bit after how long it took us to drywall the basement in the first place.

The crew then peeled back the carpet, scraped the sprayfoam insulation off the bottom of the wall going up about 16 inches, removed the bottom plate and cut about 16 inches off the studs.

With a clear shot to the cement floor, they started the jackhammer. The object of the game was to remove the concrete floor about 8-10 inches along the base of the wall and expose the footing.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

Breaking up concrete is dusty work. To contain the mess as much as possible, the crew went the extra mile, laying plastic over the carpets, pingpong table, piano, up the stairs and cordoning off the area where they were working.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

All of the concrete, dirt and gravel that was excavated had to be loaded into five gallon pails and hauled up the stairs out of the basement. Outside, it was dumped into larger garbage pails that were then loaded onto the truck at the end of the day. Such heavy, heavy work.

Brute garbage pails for a basement waterproofing project

The cold cellar is unfinished, so less prep work was needed and the crew could begin jackhammering right away. However, extra jackhammering was required as the cold cellar is the location of our sump pit. The old pit was described as a “farm-special.” We’ve encountered a few “specials” around the farm. They work, but they’re not always necessarily quite the right way to do things. The pit was thick, solid concrete, so it took a lot of work to get rid of the old pit.

Below you can see the pit and our new liner ready to be installed. Note the holes in the sides of the liner. These allow ground water to flow into the pit, whereas before with our solid concrete pit, water had nowhere to go and ended up seeping in through the joint between the foundation wall and the concrete floor.

Replacing a sump pump pit

As part of installing the new sump pump, the crew replaced our old discharge line and extended it far out into the yard. Previously, the pipe had just dead-ended underground, and it was only about 10 feet from the house.

Old sump pump discharge line

The new line extends nearly 50 feet, and the end is capped with a sturdy grill–a “LawnScape outlet”–that sits at ground level. Obviously, ground level is not below the frost line. The whole pipe is just under the grass. We weren’t able to lower the discharge line at all. We didn’t have any issues with our old discharge line freezing, and we’re hoping we don’t with the new one. The sump pump won’t kick in until temperatures warm up in the spring, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

(“You really want a picture of me, don’t you? I’m much cuter than some pipe.”)

New sump pump discharge line

Back inside, once the footings were exposed, the crew dug a small trench around the perimeter and started to lay new weeping tile around the foundation. All of the weeping tile flow to the new sump.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

Part of what led us to choose Omni Basement Systems to handle our waterproofing was that they used some different types of materials  and systems than other companies.

One of these was the WaterGuard Perimeter Drainage Channel. This channel sits on top of the footing, so it’s away from the dirt and there’s no risk of the line becoming clogged over time. However, it turned out that the WaterGuard didn’t work with our footings, so the crew went with traditional weeping tile instead. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get the assurance of a channel that will never clog, but the warranty still applies.

Once the weeping tile was laid the crew added some membranes over the concrete wall (the white panel and black strip in the photo below). These membranes form a barrier between the concrete–and any moisture that may be running through or down the wall–and the studs and drywall. The membranes curl over the weeping tile, funneling water into the pipe, and then concrete is poured on top.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

The concrete is smoothed and leveled so that it lines up with the original floor.

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

And after two and a half days of work, that’s where the job ended. Next, it was over to Matt and me to finish the rest of the basement by repairing the studs, insulation and drywall.

But that will be for the final post. Stay tuned for the wrap-up where I share the finally finished basement, the results of the waterproofing and our experience working with Omni Basement Systems.

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Comparing interior and exterior basement waterproofing

Last month (who else can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through August?) I shared some of the water leaks we’ve had in the basement. Starting today, I’m going to go into a bit more detail about the waterproofing process.

Up first, I’m going to talk about the different waterproofing options we considered and what we ended up choosing.

Option 1: Exterior Waterproofing

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the outside

I don’t have any experience with waterproofing, but exterior waterproofing is what I was at least passingly familiar with.

In this approach, the foundation is dug out from the outside. You dig down the full depth of the wall all the way to the footing. Then weeping tile (that black corrugated flexible pipe) is laid in the trench along the base of the foundation. The idea is that water flows into the the weeping tile and is funneled around the foundation and into a sump pit.

The foundation wall is coated with sealant and/or membrane. And then the dirt is backfilled.

Option 2: Interior Waterproofing

Waterproofing a basement foundation from the inside

Due to my inexperience with waterproofing, the first time a contractor suggested an interior approach my reaction was, “But don’t I want the water to stay outside?”

It turns out, you can’t always keep the water out. But you can manage it once it gets in.

The method for interior waterproofing is somewhat similar to exterior, except for the digging. In interior waterproofing, the concrete floor is cut along the perimeter of the wall. The concrete is removed and then the dirt is excavated down to the footing. Weeping tile is laid along the footing and is funneled around the wall and into a sump pit.

The trench is filled with gravel and the floor is repaired with new concrete.

Option 3: Interior Waterproofing 2.0

As we went through the meetings with various waterproofing contractors, we came across one that had a slightly different approach. They worked from the inside like the other contractor had recommended, but the materials that they used were a bit different. The conduit that they laid along the footing were guaranteed never to become clogged with silt. They had membranes for the walls that funneled any seepage or humidity into the pipe. They had all kinds of informational videos and patents on a lot of their materials.

Their sales pitch was that they had invented a better mousetrap waterproofing technique. And they would guarantee it for forever.

Basement waterproofing cartoon

Our decision

The first time a contractor mentioned interior waterproofing to me, I admit that my reaction was something along the lines of, “Uh. No way, Jose. Do you see this finished basement? Do you know how much work we put into this? I’m not ripping it up to waterproof from the inside.”

After I calmed down, here were some of the other considerations we weighed in making our decision.

  1. Given the damage we’d had to the drywall, studs and baseboard, I was going to have to do some repairs inside. Waterproofing from the interior would allow us to have one disaster zone inside, rather than two, inside and out.
  2. The two contractors that recommended the interior approach also recommended focusing just on where we had problems, not on the whole foundation. Again, my reaction was a bit skeptical, as I wanted to waterproof only once and make sure we never have a problem anywhere ever. However, no one could guarantee that except for company #3.
  3. Over time regular weeping tile, whether inside or out, can get clogged with dirt. It may take a couple of decades, but when that happens water may once again seep into the basement (see no guarantee above).
  4. In exterior waterproofing, after backfilling the dirt will eventually settle. So a year or two after waterproofing we might have to do more work in terms of adding dirt and regrading.
  5. If we worked from the outside, the whole perimeter of our house would be dug up. I didn’t love the idea of sacrificing all of our flowerbeds after I’ve spent so much effort establishing them (although it did give me an excuse to skip weeding this spring). On the flip side, I liked that the disruption would be confined to the exterior, rather than our finished basement.
  6. All of the methods were within roughly the same price range. Money was not going to be the determining factor.
  7. Company #3 offered a lifetime guarantee that we would have no leaks in the areas that they waterproofed. Options #1 and #2 would only give us a 20 year warranty, but I wasn’t sure that was quite enough for me.

We decided to go with Option #3, Omni Basement Systems.

Omni basement systems truck

Coming up, I’ll talk about the waterproofing process and then share the results.

I’d love to hear your input. Have you ever gone through a waterproofing project? What option did you choose? If you haven’t gone through waterproofing, what solution would you select?

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Our new summer project

Last week I mentioned that we’ve added a new summer project to our to-do list. Unfortunately this project is driven by a problem. You got a bit of a glimpse of the problem in this photo that I shared on Friday.

What is this?

This is the drywall in the long room in the basement. And in case there’s any confusion, it’s not supposed to look like this.

We’ve had water issues off and on ever since we finished the basement. This spring was the worst.

In the unfinished space just beside the long room, this was the scene. Water seeping in at the joint where the foundation wall met the concrete slab.

Basement foundation leak

We surmise that this happened along the whole wall, including in the finished area. The baseboard swelled and stained. The carpet was damp. And behind the baseboard mold grew.

Water damaged baseboard

We had some water-proofing contractors come in a few weeks ago and give us quotes to fix the problem. Work starts today. So our formerly finished long room now looks like this. And it’s about to get worse.

Spray foam insulation

With the drywall removed the studs don’t look too bad. Yes there’s mold, but it doesn’t go too high on the wall, and the wood isn’t rotted at all. Even so, I’m not sure much of this will be salvaged, as our contractors are doing the waterproofing from the inside.

Water damage

The other area of focus outside of the long room is the cold cellar. The cold cellar is an addition, and when it was added, the concrete floor was poured just up to the old footings. In the spring or even on rainy days, the whole perimeter of the cold cellar leaks.

Water leaks around a basement footing

This area isn’t as worrisome, as it’s unfinished, but nonetheless we’d rather not have water in the house at all.

Our contractor is also going to redo our sump pump pit and put in a two new pumps–one on a battery back-up. During a power outage in one big storm this spring, Matt bailed the sump pit for four hours. We’d prefer not to repeat this situation… or worry about the power going out if we’re not home.

Waterproofing is one of those projects that I’m not super excited about. Cutting into our drywall was a bit heartbreaking after all of the work we put into finishing the basement in the first place. Plus it’s a lot of money just to get us back to where we were when we first finished the basement.

However, it’s a very important project. Knowing that this is our forever home, we want this problem solved.

Have you ever waterproofed your basement? Do you have any water leaks?

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If you can’t stand the heat

Normally, the second half of that phrase above goes: “get out of the kitchen.” However, in this case, it’s “call a plumber.”

I mentioned awhile ago that we were having some issues with the cold water tap in my bathroom. As in it didn’t like to turn. As in hope you like scalding showers.

Old taps in the tub

A consult in the Home Depot plumbing aisle suggested that the cartridge on the tap might be worn. We needed to figure out the brand of tap so that we could buy the right replacement cartridge. As there was no logo or maker’s mark anywhere on our taps, we turned off the water (to the whole house), took the tap apart, removed the cartridge and went back to HD to find a new cartridge that matched the old.

We found what we thought was the right one, but upon our return home, Matt and I could not get the cartridge properly installed. We screwed it in–repeatedly, cautiously turned on the water, and then quickly shut off the water as it sprayed and dribbled from all of the wrong places.

Eventually, we gave up and reinstalled the old cartridge.

Old tap cartridge

Over time, the tap got stiffer and stiffer. Turning it hurt my hand. I resorted to covering the tap with facecloths and towels to cushion my grip. I started to worry that one day I wouldn’t be able to turn the water off.

Plus the tap would only turn so far, and showers were approaching boiled alive territory. I like a hot shower, but there’s a fine line between hot and cooked.

We called the plumber.

In less than a half an hour, he installed the new cartridge–the very one that we had bought–with absolutely no problem.

Old tap cartridge

My next shower was like something out of the 20th century. Warm water at the turn of a knob. Temperature adjustments as needed. Wondrous.

Except it’s getting a little hot again. Turn the knob. Oh isn’t that wonderful how easily it turns.

Splish-splash.

Okay that’s still a little hot. Adjust again.

Rub-a-dub-dub.

Getting hot again. What’s going on?

About every 30 seconds, I had to adjust the temperature. Thanks to our new cartridge, I could adjust the temperature fairly easily, but constantly playing with the faucet wasn’t what I had in mind.

I tried turning on just the cold water. It ran for a little while, but gradually the flow decreased to a trickle. Turn it on a little bit more, and the same thing happened.

Old taps in the tub

We called the plumber again, and he thought that the cartridge might be a bit too lubricated and might be slipping. So before we were too tight and now we’re too loose. It’s like the Goldilocks of bathroom faucets.

We’re leaving it alone and the faucet does seem to be tightening up on its own. However, this bathroom reno can’t come soon enough–in case you can’t tell from the cracked mildewy tile you’ve seen all through this post.

Have you ever replaced a tap cartridge? Any tips in case we ever have to do this again? Why do you think the cold tap is turning itself off? What’s the worst idiosyncrasy in your bathroom?

Done and done – Fall to-do list final report

The date on the calendar says Dec. 21–also known as the first day of winter.

And the photo below says that Matt and I have crossed off the last item on my fall to-do list–replacing the filters in our water system.

Reverse osmosis system filters

Our first year at the farm, we had our water contractor do the annual service for us. We’ve since learned that this is a job we can easily tackle ourselves.

As we were changing the filters, we talked about adding a task to the get-it-done-before-winter to-do list: putting the snowblower on the tractor.

Temperatures are still super mild here, so we could avoid freezing our fingers as we connect the blower. But temperatures are still super mild. Will we even need the snowblower? (Ha-ha. I think that’s a bit optimistic for winter in southern Ontario).

Final determination? We’re going to risk it and stay blower-less for now.

Matt has plans to clear some of the deadfall in the back forest before the end of the year, so being able to put the trailer on the back of the tractor would be very helpful.

It may be winter, the fall to-do list may be done, but work at the farm continues.

How did you do getting ready for winter? Do you have a job that you learned isn’t as difficult as you thought at first? What’s still on your to-do list between now and the end of the year?

Getting my act together

A month ago, I said it was time to get my act together, and I posted my fall to-do list.

I’m most productive when I post regular updates to hold myself accountable, so today is about sharing where I’m at in getting ready for winter.

And I am pleased to report that I’m getting my act together.

The vegetable garden

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Put in raised beds
  • Spread manure

Okay. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to start. Beyond the harvest and clearing out the dead plants, I haven’t spent much time in the garden. My plan is to make the garden my focus for November.

Harvest 2015

The bird feeder

  • Reattach feeder bracket – My cousin who made the birdfeeder post for us originally very kindly bolted the top bracket back into place.
  • Install a sleeve for the post – I put a section of pipe in the ground so that the post can just slide into place, no hammering required.

I restocked our seed supply last week, and we have a steady stream of blue jays, chickadees, juncos and a whole bunch of other birds I can’t identify visiting the feeder every day.

Chickadee in the birdfeeder

Firewood

  • Tidy up the trees – Matt and his Dad went to town.
  • Put up another row of firewood – As Matt and his Dad cut, I split and stacked, and we are set.

More details about our latest lumberjacking episode will be coming in a future post, but for now gaze upon our woodpiles.

Firewood piles

Get Wiley ready for winter

  • Change the oil – My handy cousin (he of the birdfeeder) changed the oil for us.
  • Check the battery contacts – My handy cousin also made us a little sleeve to tighten up the battery clasp, and Wiley’s starting so smoothly now.
  • Remove the mower deck – Done. There will be no more grass cutting this year.

How to detach a Kioti SM2410 mower

The house

  • Take off the screens
  • Clean the heat pump filter — Done
  • Clean out the gutters — Matt’s done this twice in October, and he’ll probably have to do it at least once more.
  • Turn off the outdoor water
  • Annual service and filter replacement on indoor water system — A new to-do

The house is another area where we’ve not done a whole lot. What does that say about me that I’m putting less time into the roof over my head as opposed to the property around my house? Thankfully, Matt’s on it.

Matt cleaning the gutters

Anyways, three categories out of five are completely done. That’s pretty good. Now to keep the productivity coming before winter comes.

How are you doing on your pre-winter to-do list so far?