Monthly Archives: October 2009

Weekend Project – Popcorn Ceiling Removal

Ugly half scraped ceilingOur home was built in the mid-eighties.  For some reason, along with the big hair, it was the style to have a “popcorn ceiling.”

Just a bunch of chunks to add some texture.  Now I’m not the biggest fan, but it was tolerable.  That is, until the wife looked up one day recently in the bathroom.

We found that the summer heat and humidity, along with being in a typically humid environment anyway, had helped to collect extra dust and mildew all along the dangling points.

So, after a test scraping, I began the task of removing it all.

Armed with a shop vac, a metal paint scraper, eye goggles, dust mask and a stout stool I began around 9:30am.  Soon enough, my arms were burning, the goggles were fogged up, and it looked like a winter wonderland.

After it was scraped, I moved onto a drywall sander to give it a nicer finish.  Short of using some heavy duty sandpaper, that was good enough, and to be honest just enough texture to give it character.  I found that as it was all coming off, it seemed like it was little more than plain plaster.   No wonder it was getting mildew.  I’m surprised we didn’t get it sooner, but thankful anyway.

In between steps I had run out to the store to pickup some Kilz paint.  I had a small can leftover of the Kilz Premium, which has mildew preventative.  After some bleach spray just to make sure I got rid of what had grown, and a quick wipe, I began the 1st recoat.

The can only lasted so long, so as I was opening the gallon Kilz, I picked up that it was Kilz original.  Now you’d think it wouldn’t matter so much, but it turns out Premium gives you what it really should be in the first place – mildrew resistance.  So a quick jaunt over to Home Depot later and I continued with a 2nd and 3rd coat.

I’ll need to redo the walls, as the scratches there stand out much more now, but it needed it anyway.  No rush there, and no more mildew – woo-hoo!!


How To Save On Heating (In 250 Steps…)

2 tons of wood pelletsSo now that the nights are getting colder and just kissing the freezing mark, I’ve been sparking up the pellet stoves.

In our home we’ve got a different situation than most.  We heat our home fully with wood pellets.  Not just supplementary as most people, but all we use for heat are the pellets.  Good old compressed puppies that look like rabbit food and are made from the sawdust all the lumber mills used to toss out.  We have electric baseboard installed, but only use it when we’re away from the home for a few days and cannot fill the stoves.

We have one stove in the basement and a smaller fireplace insert ono the main floor.  With these both going 24×7 when it gets really cold out, we go through about 5 tons of pellets a year.  5 tons x 50 (40lb) bags = 250 bags.

Garage just having begun moving the pelletsAs you might imagine I spend a bunch of time each year figuring out the best bang for the buck.  There are a lot of brands out there and some of them are just garbage, while some burn better than others.

I typically order from BTPellet out of Bristol CT, but this year I shopped around a lot more.  I went to a few stove stores, a few Agway gardening stores, and even called up the local lumber yard.  Eventually I settled on Home Depot.

Their prices were better than most at $250/ton, and it was flat rate shipping.  Getting it through them saves me nearly $175.

Unfortunately it’s more of a crap shoot.  They label all their brands under a generic “wood pellet” price, and you never know what you’re going to get.  When I first called about prices, they said they had Energex brand, and when I finalized the order the following week, they had FireSide Ultra.  Thankfully both are good so I sprang for it.  One large deferred credit payment later, and I’ve got 3 tons sitting in the barn (detached garage/man cave) and 2 outside our basement door.

2 plus tons of pellets (and Nico and Cole)I keep those 2 tons inside for easy access, then move over a ton or so at a time through the season as it gets low.

The lousy part is huffing it over.  A few aren’t so bad, but when you move 2 tons in a shot, your forearms are killing you.

So far so good.  I like this brand better than my usual – Juniata.  It seems to burn hotter with less ash, and less maintenance as a result.

If you’re considering getting a pellet stove I can’t say enough about them.  To have one installed can be 2-3 grand, but the cost savings over oil heat adds up quickly.  On the downside you may have to load the stove a few times a day, depending on how hot you run it.  But then again, you do get to say your heat your home with fire and wood.  Not to mention you get to get all cocky and say you’re a carbon neutral heated home.  Go green baby!