How we came to purchase our home.

WPA Photo

A Works Progress Administration photo offers a glimpse of our home's past.

Reproduction Windsor Chair

Finally, a dining room set.

No Power, No Heat.

Our first snow storm and it's aftermath, October, 2011.

Lead Poisoning

Updates to our son's lead levels.

Bit By Bit

My wife's blog on being pregnant, giving birth and raising our first child with all the complications, hardships and joys that life throws our way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Radon MItigation

The radon mitigation is complete.  Well, it has been complete, I'm just now getting around to posting it up.  The installation took roughly a half day with two insertion points into the slab in the basement.  For those reading that are unfamiliar with Radon and it's importance, here's a quick synopsis.  

Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless.  It is an element that comes from the breakdown of uranium and can be found being given off from igneous rock, soil and sometimes well water.  It can lead to lung cancer and 20,000 cases of lung cancer a year are attributed to the exposure of Radon.  Radon is found everywhere, it's the level of your Radon exposure that matters.

The EPA set a standard reading of 4.0 pCi/L as a maximum exposure level before remediation.  This does not mean that Radon is harmless at or below 4.0 pCi/L, but that the government issues a certain limit for remediation to be considered.  What does 4.0 pCi/L mean?  Doing a little searching online found this comparison:
A family whose home has radon levels of 4 pCi/L is exposed to approximately 35 times as much radon as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would allow if that family was standing next to the fence of a radioactive waste site.  (25 mrem limit, 800 mrem exposure).(Source:  http://radon.com/radon/radon_fact.html)
Now, doesn't that just scare the crap out of you!

During our home inspection, a Radon test was conducted and a reading of 5.0 pCi/L was found.  Through negotiation, we were able to have the seller pay for the remediation to reduce that amount to a more acceptable level.  The test was conducted in the basement where the seller had previously had a concrete floor poured over the original dirt floored basement.  Radon can seep through most materials, which includes concrete.  For each floor of the home, the Radon exposure is reduced in half.  So, the first floor would be 2.5 pCi/L, second floor would be 1.25 pCi/L, etc.  The only true way to get rid of this carcinogen is to pump it out.

The contractor selected came for a preliminary visit to discuss the installation of a sub-slab depressurization unit.  Our home's addition has a separate foundation from that of the original footprint.  Because of this division, two insertion points were required.  Each point is a drilled hole through the concrete slab that has a PVC pipe coming out of it that ultimately leads to an exterior mounted pump.  The pump runs 24 hours a day creating a negative pressure within the pipe that draws the air from underneath the slabs and out of the home, kinda like a bathroom vent fan, just more expensive.  I requested that the installer install the pump on the rear of our home so that the curb appeal isn't blemished with a large white pump and piping.

So what did this cost?  Each insertion point was $250.  So, after tacking in any applicable taxes, labor fees, pump cost and the insertion points, the total was $1,300.00.  Our Radon levels have dropped from 5.0 pCi/L to 0.7 pCi/L in the basement.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chimney and Stoves, Part II

Being completely distraught by Part I, I haven't dealt with another vendor for several weeks. Speaking with a co-worker, another stove store in their locale was brought up. I paid a visit to their establishment and met with the owner. He was the only other seller of the same stove that we saw previously in our area. Through our conversations, we found out that the Travis made Lopi Laydon is poorly made for heavy use, cosmetically, it's very attractive, but is not built to handle heating a home.

We became dismayed but were drawn to a stove that had a huge glass front, with plenty of surface area to cook on, should it be necessary. This is another Travis product, however, this one is built for heating, not for looks. It's the Travis Avalon 1190.

We received a price that was the same as for the Lopi Laydon but the performance of this beast is greater than that of the Laydon. We also wanted the blower, cast iron legs and front door options. The pedestal look doesn't seem to flow well in a 250 year old home so these options made sense. We had the store owner give us a quote for the installation. The first trip out was by his son who gave a quote for the stove install only. We also needed a quote for a liner in the basement. So a second trip was made by the owner to examine exactly what was needed.

From our home inspection, we found out that we had a Crane oil furnace. Online searching revealed that the Crane company ceased production of oil furnaces in 1968, leading me to believe that our furnace is at least 44 years old at the time of this writing. We had a chimney inspection which also revealed that we did not have a liner for our very old boiler. Thoughts of leaking CO are a major concern with it venting past our bedrooms. In that second trip, the owner came himself, as we discussed the options, I wanted to know if it were possible to get some of the other fireplaces working back to original. We planned on a third visit where he would bring his mason in.

The mason arrived with the owner and they went over the chimney briefly. The conclusion was that YES! it is possible; however, we would never be able to get all 5 fireplaces working due to the current codes limiting space in our chimney. I'll take what I can get, but first our stove.

The final quote for the stove I'll reveal later as it is not installed yet and anything can pop up. The scheduled installation date is February 10, 2012. Look for an update after that date.