Sunday, May 22, 2011

Building Windows

After a long break from blogging, I felt compelled to dive back in. There have been so many projects for the last several months, I've hardly found the time to eat, sleep, go to work, and work on the house -- much less create new blog postings. However, you loyal readers (all three of you) deserve more than excuses, so here we go again -- a begin-again blog to catch you up a bit.

My current project is building windows for the new kitchen and master bedroom additions we'll be starting in the next few weeks. In the tradition of Loving Old Stuff, I couldn't bear the thought of putting vinyl windows in the additions. And in the tradition of I Love To Save Money, I couldn't bear the thought (or cost) of buying wooden true divided-lite windows either. Just one of those babies (for a good one) can cost several hundred dollars each.

Last August, I wrote about a couple of sets of window sashes that I rescued from going to the dump. (See my previous Historic Windows post.) I mentioned in that post that I had called my friend Bob Yapp to see if I could get him to pull together enough interested people to put on a hands-on training on how to build window jambs. Window jambs are the "frames" around sashes that hold the sashes in place. After several phone calls over the course of a few months, I pestered Bob enough to get him to do a private class for me. I headed up to Hannibal, MO to Bob's Belvedere School one weekend in February, and we built the prototype window jamb that will serve as the pattern for all the double-hung jambs I will be building.

Of the two types of windows I'm building (double-hung and casements), the double-hungs are the more complicated ones. Since I have my prototype to refer to for the double-hungs, I decided to start building the casements first. Casements are nothing more than a hinged door, so I reckoned I could figure those out on my own. The one change that I made to the casements is that instead of being an out-swing window as the were in the house where they used to be installed, I am converting them to in-swing windows so I can put storm windows on the outside to make them more energy efficient. They'll also weather better since they won't be directly exposed to the elements once the storm windows are installed.

(click picture to enlarge)
The picture on the left shows the three casement windows that will be installed above the kitchen sink in the soon-to-be new kitchen. The right and left units swing open, while the center unit is stationary. The big challenge with these casement windows was that none of the sashes were square. Over the years, the previous owner of these windows had planed the edges of the windows as they began to sag and as the house began to settle. Not only were the sashes not square, they had all been planed varying amounts, so none of them were exactly the same size either. My first challenge was to find the "lowest common denominator" measurements among all of the window sashes, then work on squaring them up all to the same dimensions. It was tedious work because I couldn't afford to make any mis-cuts. If I were to mess up one of these things, there wasn't any chance of running to Home Depot to get another one!

Antique, yet brand new latch
I'm re-using the original hinges that were on these windows, but I couldn't re-use the latches because they were designed for out-swing windows. Instead, I searched online for some reproduction latches that would work for an in-swing window. Much to my delight, I found a fantastic website for a store in Cooperstown, NY that deals exclusively in "unused antique hardware". In other words, all of their hardware is really old stuff, but it is "brand new" in the sense that it has never been installed. My guess is that they must come across a few matching pieces of hardware from time to time that may have been in the basement of an old hardware store or other such place. I love these latches. They are in perfect condition, but because of their age, they already have a beautiful patina that says, "I'm old." They are better than I'd hoped for!

To make these windows energy efficient, I'm incorporating several features that will make these units on par with the efficiency of a vinyl insulated-glass window:
    Grooved stop molding, showing how a small
    section of the silicon bead is inserted. The
    sash compresses the weatherstrip when the
    window is closed, creating an air-tight seal.
  • Low-E glass panes
  • Low-E glass on the storm window that will be attached to the outside
  • Grooved stop molding that accepts silicone bead weather-strip 
  • Silicone sweep installed into the bottom of the sash
The silicon weather-strip and sweep are products I found on the Conservation Technology website. They have many very good weatherization products that far exceed the quality of what I have been able to buy locally.

One other product that has been incredibly useful is a two-part putty called WoodEpox by Abatron. It is an epoxy compound that can replace rotted wood, then can be sanded or machined as needed. The sash shown in the lower right had a small rotted place on one corner, which I repaired with WoodEpox. Once the sash is painted, you won't be able to tell that a repair was even made.

Groove in the bottom of the sash with the silicone
sweep inserted. The white stuff  in the foreground
corner of the sash is WoodEpox.

I'm having a blast building these window jambs. If I counted correctly, I have 21 windows to build. By tomorrow evening, I will have the seven casements units built, so I'll be a third of the way done. Next -- the double-hungs. And on Wednesday, I meet with our architect and the general contractor that will be shelling-in the kitchen and bedroom additions. Things are finally starting to move along!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Review of #10 Bronze Wood Screws FH

Originally submitted at Jamestown Distributors

#10 Flat head slotted bronze wood screws. Traditional boatbuilders love these Silicon Bronze wood screws because they have cut threads and the full-bodied diameter shank. Unlike rolled thread screws with their reduced shank, these screws have a shank diameter that is the same size as the outside of...

Absolutely beautiful

By loveoldstuff from Missouri on 2/27/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Beautiful, True craftsmanship, Durable

Best Uses: Home

Describe Yourself: Tech Savvy

Primary use: Personal

I'm restoring a 1915 home and wanted to make sure to use screws that are of the quality and look (slotted) of the originals. These bronze screws are the perfect look. They aren't as bright as brass, so they have an aged patina already. They are also don't break as easily as brass. The heads have a swirled machined look just like the old ones. I never thought I'd be this excited about a screw -- these things are beautiful!


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Radiator Party

Question: How do you get 3700 pounds of cast iron out of your house in under 2 hours?
Answer: Invite eight of your friends and have a radiator party!

Every room in our house has had a radiator sitting in it for almost 100 years now. With the boiler removed last summer and the new geothermal HVAC system installed this September, we've had some massive chunks of cast iron sitting around our house doing nothing but reminding us that we need to get them outta here.

Honestly, I've been a bit intimidated by the thought of removing the radiators. I mean, it's one thing to strap a 200 pound refrigerator to an appliance dolly and move it to a different spot. I've actually done that by myself before. But these radiators -- they were in a whole different league.

My first reality check came when I realized that the radiator in the living room would have to be moved so the HVAC crew could cut holes in the floor for the new forced-air registers. I had a four-wheel dolly already, but went ahead and bought another one since the radiator was so long. I was thinking perhaps I could lift one end onto one of the dollies, then lift the other end onto the other dolly. Yeah, right. When I realized that I couldn't even scoot one end of the radiator, I knew I was up against a real challenge. Fortunately, through the heroic efforts of my wife's car jack and several short sections of lumber, I was able to eventually get the behemoth hoisted onto the dollies so I could roll it around a little (after cutting away some carpet, of course). The whole time I was working on getting the radiator jacked up onto the dollies, I could hear that phrase from TV playing over and over again inside my head: "Please, ladies and not try this at home".

Somewhere along the way, the inspiration came to me that I should host a "men's breakfast" as a way of getting the job done. Most guys will show up to an event if there is the promise of food, so I figured it was worth a try! Besides, my wife has something built into her DNA that expresses appreciation through cooking (which she does very well), so the food-for-labor bribe seemed a good fit. It took me a few weeks to come up with a list of gullible good friends that I thought might be interested in helping, but I eventually got all of them called, emailed, or Facebooked. I even called one of my neighbors a couple of doors down and asked if he would mind being a stand-by extra set of hands in case we found ourselves just a little short of brawn.

With one buddy calling in sick at the last moment, we ended up with nine guys. And boy, did we ever need all nine of us. We started with the monster radiator in the living room -- the largest one in the house. I'm estimating that it weighed somewhere around the 900 pound range. Ugh! I had bought some furniture-moving straps and fabricated some makeshift handles out of u-bolts and large dowel rods. With four guys on each side of the radiator and straps slung underneath we gave it our first heave-ho to see what we were getting ourselves into. "One, two, three, LIFT!" It was at that moment that we experienced a concurrent revelation: This Sucker Is Stinking Heavy.

We took a few baby steps forward, probably about 5 feet, then sat it down to rest. One more time: "One, two, three, LIFT!". Another few feet forward, then down it went again on the floor so we could gather our strength again. This went on a couple more times, and we finally found ourselves outside the front door, looking down the porch steps. A few ideas were exchanged about the best approach, but in the end, we just grunted, groaned, and let gravity help us get Big Bertha down to the sidewalk. Just twenty more feet to go until we would have it at the back of the trailer. At this point, someone offered the brilliant-and-back-saving idea, "Can we just drag it from here?" And so we did. I would continue with the details of how we lifted the crazy thing up onto the trailer, but honestly, it's a bit of a blur in my memory. All I remember was a lot of grunting, intermingled with copious amounts of groaning. But we got it onto the trailer. Exhausted and already sweating, I thought to myself, "Oh good, only FIVE more to go!"

Thankfully, the rest of the radiators weighed a mere 400 to 600 pounds. Umm, piece of cake.

Now that we had the biggest radiator out of the way, we sort of split up into teams, with four or five guys to a radiator. At some point while I was upstairs with some guys, one of my buddies asked my wife if we had any other dollies. She took him down to the basement and showed him our appliance dolly. This stroke of genius became the thing that probably saved us some herniated disks, if not actual lives and other miscellanous appendages.

The last two radiators were the ones from upstairs. This particular portion of the Radiator Party was an adventure, let me tell you. To understandably describe the way that we actually accomplished getting them down the stairs would take way too many words. Perhaps we could have snapped a picture of the procedure, but I don't think there was room on the staircase for the camera. I myself have only a vague recollection of arms, legs, cast iron, straps, and a few distorted faces. At that point, I think most of us had abandoned the fear of straining or breaking some bodily part. This was because we had each become distracted by the all-too-real possibility of somehow getting crossways with one of those straps and thereby ending up with The World's Largest Wedgie.

Having started shortly after 8:30, we loaded the last radiator onto the trailer at 10:10. OH MY GOSH, THE SCRAP YARD CLOSES IN TWENTY MINUTES!! A couple of us jumped into our vehicles and raced off to the scrap yard while the rest of the crew sat down to a well-deserved breakfast. In honor of my wife's feverish cooking, I just have to mention that the menu included: Southern-style breakfast casserole, bacon, country potatoes, blueberry muffins, pumpkin bread, chopped fresh fruit, milk, juice, and coffee. Oh, and Ibuprofen. I'm not kidding.
This was the last one to be loaded onto the
trailer (in the background) before we
headed off to the scrap yard.

Meanwhile, at the scrap yard, we pulled the trailer onto the scales and then down into the scrap area. A huge claw plucked the radiators from the trailer like they were marshmallows, then flung them onto a pile of junk cars, pipe, and engine blocks. When we pulled back onto the scales to get the tare weight, we understood while we were all so bushed. Between the six radiators we had removed, the total weight was 3700 pounds. WOWSERS! With the higher price of scrap iron these days, we brought home $351. Nice!

Only one day later, my shoulders are really sore. I can't imagine how much they are going to hurt tomorrow --- seems like the second day is always the worst. Oh well, it was a fun party, and it made me realize what a fantastic bunch of friends I have. Maybe we'll have another party when I rent the jackhammer to take out the old driveway. Sound like fun, guys? Guys? Helloooo? Anyone there? Hello? [sound of crickets chirping...]

Postscript: It is interesting what you'll find under a radiator that hasn't been moved in a century, give or take a few years. The space under the radiator in our bedroom yielded quite a treasure trove:
  • pacifier
  • chapstick
  • crochet hook
  • 5 pencils
  • 1 pen
  • 1 Q-Tip (extra long variety)
  • toothpick
  • 9 crayons (somewhat melted as you might guess)
  • a plastic number "4"
Sadly, the 1915 gold coins I was hoping for were nowhere to be found......

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The 1915 Central Vacuum

Central vacuum systems in residences. You'd think they were invented probably sometime in the 50's or 60's right? Think again, dear reader.

When we moved to our house last Fall, I discovered some sort of contraption in the basement, hidden in a dark corner. It looked like some sort of generator or something. It evoked mental images of Thomas A. Edison. What was it? I found my flashlight and brushed a little dust off of the thing. The picture here is what I saw. "Arco Wand Vacuum Cleaner".

What the heck? A central vacuum system in a 1915 house? "No, surely it can't be original to the house," I thought.

I looked a little closer at the gizmo. On the motor, there was a data plate. What?!? The patent listed on the motor (made by the Wagner Electric Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, U.S.A.) had several dates, starting back as far as Sept. 11, '88. We're talking EIGHTEEN eighty-eight!

I looked around a little more and found a separate data plate for the vacuum itself. Check out that patent date: March 9, 1907. So this vacuum was as old as the house itself. I was amazed.

I was not about to even try to fire the thing up. It had several VERY scary electrical wires connected to it that looked quite original. NoThankYouVeryMuch, I did not need to see this thing in action. We'd just bought the house and I had no intention of blowing it up or burning it down. Or electrocuting myself.

As I studied the system, it finally dawned on me what those odd disks were on the baseboard of the main and second story hallways. They were the connection points where a vacuum hose could be attached. The hose attachment was nowhere to be found (tossed into the garbage many years ago, I would imagine), although there is a tiny little "closet" in the dining room that must have been built especially to store the hose. An old wire rack was hanging in the closet, which is probably what the hose would have been coiled around when it was put away.

Some History
I got online to see what I could find out about the Arco Wand, plus I looked around the house and figured out a few things:
  • The American Radiator Company (“ARCO”) manufactured the radiators and Arco Wand central vacuum system that were installed in this home when it was built in 1915. American Radiator also manufactured Ideal boilers, which likely was the brand of the boiler that was originally installed in the house. By the time we purchased the house in 2009, the original coal-fired boiler had long since been replace by a H.B. Smith natural gas boiler (probably some time in the early 1980’s). If boilers are "your thing", be sure to read the previous post entitled Bye-bye, Boiler.
  • The American Radiator Company eventually merged with Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company in 1929 to become what is now known as American Standard -- the company that makes sinks, toilets, bath tubs, and all sorts of plumbing fixtures.
  • Although there is actually still an Arco Wand company in existence today, it is mainly a commercial high-capacity vacuum company. It was likely sold off sometime after the American Standard company was formed.

So what do you do with a 95 year old vacuum?
In order to get things out of the way in the basement so we could have the central HVAC installed, I disconnected the vacuum and moved it to the garage. Perhaps I should say I fought the thing all the way to the garage. I'm guessing it weighs about 300 lbs. With the help of my petite-but-mighty wife, we wriggled it up onto a four-wheel furniture dolly and rolled it out to the garage. There it sat for a number of weeks while we tried to figure out what to do with the thing. If we couldn't come up with another home for it, we knew we'd have to take it to the scrap yard. It was just too big to keep around as a conversation piece.

Knowing that I am a Lover Of All Things Old, my wife started doing some online searches and making some phone calls to see if we could find a museum that would take it. After all, we're talking about a piece of history here. There weren't that many houses in 1915 that had a central vacuum (or perhaps even indoor plumbing, for that matter), and even fewer that still have such a thing in original condition. After a few dead-end contacts, she finally got ahold of a guy at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in St. James, Missouri, which is a little over two hours from where we live. The phone conversation went something like this:

She: I have a central vacuum machine that I'd like to donate to your museum.
He: What can you tell me about it?
She: Well I don't really know much about it, but my husband does.
He: Do you know what brand it is? Do you know if it is a such-and-such brand or maybe an Arco Wand?
She: Yes! That's it -- it is an Arco Wand.
He: (quite excited) You have an Arco Wand?!? Oh my goodness! I've been looking for one of those for fifteen years!
She: That's great. We'd like to donate it, but we would need you to send someone to pick it up. It's very heavy.
He: Hmm, we don't get up to that way very often.
She: Well, if you really want it, you need to come pick it up within the next three weeks. Otherwise, we're going to have to take it to the scrap yard. It is out in our garage, and we need to get it out of the way.
He: (a little panicked) Wait! No! Don't scrap it! We'll come get it! You can't take it to the scrap yard -- you've got the Mona Lisa! No, please don't scrap it! We'll figure out some way to get a truck over to pick it up!

So a couple of weeks ago, they sent a truck to pick up the vacuum. The driver even called once she made it back to the museum to let me know the vacuum had arrived safely, and to thank us again for donating it. They tell us that they will restore it back to "like new" condition, so once they are finished, my wife and I plan to make a trip to St. James to check it out. It will be fun to see the vacuum looking all new and shiny again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Geothermal Is Here

Our new geothermal HVAC system is officially installed. Mostly anyway. The radiant floor heat is still in the works, but all of the forced air systems are up and running. What a glorious thing!

The whole thing started with a drilling rig pulling up to destroy our front yard. I had initially hoped that we could have the wells dug in the back yard, but there really wasn't any way of getting a 42,000 pound truck into the back yard without crushing our very old, shallow sewer line. Oh well, we had planned to re-landscape at some point, so why not now?

The area where our house is located -- from a geological standpoint -- is pretty much solid limestone. There are a few feet of clay and loose rock under the top soil, but then it is solid limestone for at least a couple hundred feet down. When I initially talked to the HVAC contractor, I asked what would happen if they hit rock while they were drilling. He told me that the drillers actually like to hit rock because the wells don't cave in on themselves, so it makes it easy to get the tubing down in to the well.

A drilling rig is really nothing more than a giant hammer-drill. A LOUD giant hammer-drill. I happened to be home sick with a cold the second day that they were drilling. Needless to say, I didn't really get to nap too much, but it was interesting to watch the drilling process from the bedroom window.
The wells are spaced about 10 feet apart. What you see in the picture below are the first four wells. The light grey sludge that you see isn't concrete. It is actually pulverized limestone dust mixed with water. The drillers would pump water into the the well to keep the bit cool, and the result was a slurry of limestone that would make its way to the surface. Once a well was drilled, the drillers would insert a loop of plastic tubing all the way to the bottom, then use a squeegee to scrape the slurry back into the hole to fill in around the tubing.

If you aren't familiar with geothermal systems, they work on a very simple premise: circulate water through the tubing in the wells to pull coolness out of the ground when it is hot outside, and pull warmth out of the ground when it is cold outside. If you want the more scientific explanation of how geothermal works, check out this link:

Our system is the "vertical loop" type, so it required several wells to be dug. The number of wells required depends on the system size needed. Our HVAC contractor determined that our house needs 8 tons of heating and cooling, so that meant that 1200 feet of underground water loop would be required. The wells they dug in our yard are a little under 200 feet deep, so that meant that we ended up with seven wells.

The layout inside our house doesn't provide much space for running ducts from the basement to the second story, so we opted for a split system. This means that we have a separate system that heats and cools the upstairs level, while a unit in the basement takes care of the main level and basement. The upstairs unit is rated at 3 tons, and the unit for the main level and basement is 5 tons since it has more area to heat and cool.

Enough about the system -- back to the front yard.

A couple of days after the wells had been dug, another crew showed up to further destroy the yard. Uh, I mean, to join all the tubing into one continuous loop. If the yard looked bad after the wells were dug, it looked ten times worse after the loop work was over. In order to join the tubing for all of the wells together, they had to dig a pit that encompassed all of the wells, about four feet deep. So for half a day, we had a pit four feet deep by twenty feet wide by forty feet long in the front yard. Once all the wells were connected to each other, they filled the pit in. Since our soil is very rocky, the resulting pile of dirt in the front yard looks a bit like those pictures of the Mars landscape. I would love to show you a picture of the dirt pile, but I'm having trouble uploading any more pictures to the blog at the moment. For those who are just dying to see the dirt pile, you can send a self-addressed stamped envelope (plus $2.95 for handling). Other large cash donations are accepted as well.

The most exciting thing about having the new geothermal system installed is that it is the first thing we've actually put into the house. Everything else to this point has pretty much been removing or demolishing things in order to prepare for remodeling. So we've hit a milestone -- the remodeling is officially underway!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program To Bring You A Potty Bulletin...

I had intended for this next post to be about our new geothermal HVAC system. It is long past due, and I know all three of you out there in Reader Land have been anxiously awaiting details about the new system. All in good time, dear reader. We must interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you a Potty Bulletin.

It was a normal Friday. I came home after work and decided to do something about the two cups of coffee I'd drunk at work that afternoon. The most convenient place to "do something" is the small half bath just off the landing that leads downstairs, so I stopped there before heading upstairs to change into some grubbies. After I "did something", I flushed the commode only to see the bowl fill to the top with water. "Strange", I thought. After all, we're talking liquid only here, folks.

Now, my wife and I have been complaining about this commode since we moved into the house. It is WAY underpowered, if you know what I mean. After all, it's one of those water-saver type potties. I won't go into my usual tirade about water-saver toilets, but if you are interested in a particularly hilarious commentary on how they are tested, check out this column from Dave Barry. I clipped this very article from the newspaper several years ago and still keep it handy. I almost have it memorized, much like the Preamble of the Constitution:

Now where was I? Ah yes, the fateful flush last Friday afternoon. When the bowl filled with water, I reached for the plunger. (We keep it handy since this wimpy potty often needs a little boost.) Plunge, plunge, plunge. No change in conditions. Plunge, plunge, plunge. Still no significant progress, but now I could hear a faint splashing sound on the basement floor below. Hmm. This was not good. Not good at all.

When I got down to the basement, I could see that the water was coming from a joint in the waste line just below the floor of the bathroom above. This could mean only one thing -- the waste line was plugged all the way from the commode down to where it joined the main waste stack. We're talking 22 feet of 4-inch waste line, filled with all sorts of unpleasantness. Egad.

This waste line had been added back sometime in the 1970's, as best we understand from the family that sold us the house. We're talking REAL 100% American waste line -- the heavy black cast-iron type with lead-packed joints. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer "Exhibit A" for your viewing pleasure.

After breaking a hole in the line (note the bucket cleverly positioned beneath the hole for purposes of catching "the contents"), I drained several buckets of, well, you know. This is not a task for the faint of heart. The intensity of the aroma was impressive, to say the least. I rigged up several fans to keep the air moving through and out of the basement. My wife was delighted by the whole ordeal, as you might have guessed.

There are many more details of the removal process that I am sure you would be pleased to know, but for the sake of time, I'll keep this little story moving along.

After removing all the old cast-iron line, I headed to Home Depot to get all the stuff to install a new line. A couple of hours and a hundred-and-something dollars later, I had everything I needed to get started. Thank heavens for the simplicity of PVC. I can't imagine how long it must have taken to install the old cast-iron line with all its lead-sealed joints. After a few evenings of work, I had a new bright white waste line installed, complete with the prescribed 1/4-inch drop per lineal foot of pipe. We're on our way to clog-free living, people!

It took several attempts to get the potty re-installed, for a variety of reasons. It felt a bit like repeatedly doing a plumbing scene on This Old House. "Potty Install Scene, Take 17....... lights, camera, ACTION!". After a couple more trips to the local Ace Hardware store, I was able to achieve a victorious and leak-free flush.

Although I've yet to put the toilet to "the test", it seems to be flushing much more robustly than before. There is happiness in our home again.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Programmable Thermostats

It's been far too long since I blogged, but man, things have been BUSY! There was so much work to do to get ready for the new HVAC systems, we've been meeting ourselves coming and going. Let's see -- where to start?

There is a lot of information to share about the whole geothermal installation, so I'll save some of that until my next post. After all, it isn't every day you have a drilling rig sitting in the front yard. The bottom line, though, is that WE HAVE AIR CONDITIONING! Granted, it does deflate the drama a bit since the weather is now comfortable enough that the system doesn't even need to come on to keep the house comfortable. But knowing that winter is coming and that we won't have national-debt-sized gas bills is a good feeling.

It's funny how true the saying is that "what goes around comes around". I say that because since the mid-1920's our old house has had a programmable thermostat for the boiler/radiator system. No kidding. Here is a picture of the one we used up until this Spring. This baby is a Minneapolis-Honeywell Model 77 Automatic Thermostat, manufactured somewhere between 1924 and 1928. "Programmable?", you say? Yes indeedy.

The 8-day wind-up clock at the bottom detaches so it can be wound once a week. That is the winding key there on the right side, hanging from an elegantly fashioned paper clip. On the back of the clock are two little arms that can be set to the morning time when you want the temperature to go up, as well as the evening time when you want the temperature to go down. There are also a couple of set screws that allow you to adjust the level to which you want the temperature to rise or fall. As the clock runs, when the designated time comes, the little arms trip a lever that activates the gear which moves the thermostat setting either up or down. Pretty darn clever. 

Even though we won't be using this thermostat any longer to actually set the system, we are going to leave it on the wall in the entry. It is just too cool not to keep. In fact, one of the HVAC installers asked if he could buy it from me. I'm not interested in selling it, but I actually have an extra one that I found in a box when we moved into the house. Maybe I'll sell it and maybe I won't. I'm really BAD about hanging on to neat old stuff. Just ask my wife.

As much as I love the old thermostat, I'm thrilled to have the new ones, too. They are just a little bit more advanced and flexible when it comes to the programming. I say "they" because we have two of them -- one for upstairs and one for the main level and basement. Our last two houses were 2-story construction with only one HVAC system, which generally meant that the upstairs was way too warm in the summer. We learned our lesson, so when we decided to have a modern HVAC system installed we knew we wanted two separate systems with their own thermostats. Staying comfortable on either level should be a whole lot easier now.

I'll have photos and lots to share about the geothermal system and installation process next time. I'm off to bed for now....