July 13, 2013
Summer is Here!!! You can plan on one thing here in Texas, the weather is always changing. While both the East and West Coasts have been having bad weather, its been quite pleasant here. Being nearly half way through July, we have only seen about 3-4 days over 100. It’s been GREAT!!. This seasonal reminder is more about making sure everything continues to work well through the stress and strain of the summer months more than anything. If you live near me, getting these things done before 10 AM in the morning is the best time of the day, otherwise you may wait till after 6 PM or so (stay hydrated; regardless). If you need details on what to look for or what to do, click on the link (if there is one) and it will take you to the post that was written on the subject and provide more detail.
- Heating/Cooling-Air Filters: If you live in a dusty area and/or have been using your air conditioner a lot, inspect you filter and change it if it has noticeable build up from your spring change out.
- HVAC Outdoor Unit: We did this in the spring and it’s good to do it again as vegetation has been growing through the spring months. Get your garden trimmers out and trim away any vines or growth away from the outside condenser. You should have 18″ to 2 feet of clearance around the unit. Airborne particles generated by the blooming of trees and flowers can easily show up around the air conditioning condenser. Take your water hose and wash down the outside coils. Check the condensation drain that comes from the air handler in the house. Ensure that it is clear of obstacles or debris by pouring water through it.
- Water Leaks: Check all water fixtures and toilets for leaks. Inspect fixture drains for water puddles or loose joints in the traps.
- Water Heaters: Make a visual inspection of the water heater. Look for dripping water and rust stains. Look at the exhaust flue to ensure it is still sealed. If its time to drain the tank or replace the anode, check the link for more details.
- Lawn Sprinklers: Even though we performed this maintenance during the spring, yard work and vegetation growth can cause some additional sprinkler maintenance. Exercise the system (again). Look for excessive water traveling down the driveway or sidewalks. Inspect the sprinkler heads, look for blow-by, odd spray patterns, missing heads, pooling water and brown spots. Replace or repair the heads. Chasing Lawn Sprinkler Leaks is the first of the series and covers the inspection, leak detection, repairs and tips in more detail.
- Exterior Inspection: Walk round the house, look for bird and wasp nests, as well as locations that rodents might be using to get in the house. Use caulk to re-seal any breaches in structure that may be an entry point for rodents or bugs. They are all looking for cool locations and possible water. If you are not opposed to using perimeter bug spray, this is a good time.
- Interior Inspection: Flush kitchen and bathroom sinks with scalding hot water for approximately 3-5 minutes to clear out any build up. “Water Leaks”, cover this item too.
- Appliances: Use a hand-held vacuum cleaner to clear the dust bunnies from around all appliances such as washers, dryers and dish washers. Pull you refrigerator out from the wall and do the same. If it’s within your skill set, turn off the unit, pull the back cover off, and vacuum out the condenser coils and all the dirt around the fan.
- Surface Water Drainage: Gutters, culverts, waterways and landscape drainage systems should be cleared of debris and overgrowth that has occurred.
- Electrical Service: Inspect the Entrance, Mast and Weather-head. With tree limbs heavy with leaves, seed pods, fruits and nuts, you may have some limbs that are drooping on your electrical service lines.
- Electrical Service-Smoke Detectors: Clean your smoke detectors of cob webs and change the battery.
- Test your security system: Work with monitoring service to validate all the door, window, glass break, and motion sensors operate properly.
If you are needing some additional information on one of the topics that I have not written about, let me know and I will put it higher on the list of articles to write. Email to HomeownerBOB@gmail.com
June 6, 2012
As mentioned in my last post on watering your foundation; Here in North Texas it is essential. Since this is not a one time event but a regular requirement, you might as well look at a relative permanent approach to the solution. I identified two ways to do this last time, one is fairly quick, where the second one is a bit more involved. This is the quick one.
Soaker Hose Solution: This is a fairly simple homeowner task but there are some limitations and issues that have to be addressed before you start.
- Length Limitation: No one single hose shall be more than 100 ft from the source. In other words, if it is 200 feet to circle you house from one outdoor faucet, you will need to either create two systems or split the line from the faucet with one line going clockwise halfway around the house and the other line going the other way.
- Pressure Regulators: Especially with a porous type soaker hose, high pressure will cause un-equal watering, meaning it will be real wet close to the source and fairly dry at the end of the run. A 10PSI regulator is recommend. Worse case, no more than 30PSI.
- Elevation: Because there is no way to regulate how much comes out of the pores, placing a hoses down (or up) a slope will cause the hose to over water on the low side. (No more than a 2in rise over 100ft) If this is an issue try cris crossing horizontally to get up the hill.
- Backflow: Technically required to protect your water system; the backflow preventer, keeps water from seeping back into the pressurized water system.
- No Kinks: Simply said, do not allow the hose to kink as this will disrupt the flow of water to the system.
Building a Soaker Hose System: So now with the limitations understood, you should be able to construct a system without too much of an issue. Here are the major elements of the system. This bill of material is based on a one hose system originating from an exterior water faucet. NOTE: Most of the provided links are from Dripworks.com and MrSoakerhose.com. I have never used them, but their materials appear to be high quality, they have been in business for 20/30 years and they will give you a price cut when buying volume. If you have a bad experience with them, let me know and I will pull the references.
- Hose Splitter: (not pictured) Since you will probably still want to use the faucet for regular landscape watering, you will need to split water into two sources using a hose splitter. Spend the money and get a good brass unit with individual cutoffs. This will take a lot of abuse as you will keep the water turned on at this point, most all the time. If you are building a multi-hose system, you will need a splitter with more than two outlets. Look at Dripworks at their selection. Avoid the plastic modes as they will only last a season or two. NOTE: if you need to run multiple soaker hoses, you will need a splitter after the regulator as well.
- Backflow Device: As mentioned above, these are technically required to keep contaminated water from traveling into the household water system.
- Timer: A battery operated single timer should meet most of your needs. You will have to monitor the water output initially to make sure you are getting good saturation. If you find pooling water, cut back the water usage. I would start with an hour a day two to three days a week. The water usage should be about 145 gallons per hour for 100 ft of soaker hose at. Using my current water usage rate of .00020 cents per gallon that’s about 3 cents a day.
- Pressure Regulator: As mentioned above, this is required to promote equal water flow.
- Filter: (optional) on a system using the porous style of water hose, filtering the water for small particulate is fairly insignificant as you dont have limited holes to release the water.
- Garden Hose or Polypipe: Depending on where your water source is, you may need a section of water hose to get you to the foundation. Use the shortest length available or make up your own length. If you need to build one, go the polypipe route. You can cut the hose to length and use the polypipe fittings to make up the ends. Make sure the polypipe and fittings are the same dimensions. Since all these connections are on the low pressure side of the system, these fittings are just simple resistance (chinese finger) snap in connectors.
- Soaker Hoses: Since this is a simple single run you may choose to just buy prebuilt hoses ($30 for 100ft). If you want to build you own, ($9 for 100ft, plus two fittings)
So here is what it looks like in dollars. Admittedly, you can probably do this a little cheaper, but I used high quality components, so this should last for years to come. Additionally, you could upgrade to a solar based timer so you wouldn’t have to worry about changing the battery in the timer as often.
Next time we will look at the HomeowerBOB foundation watering solution that builds the system off your existing lawns sprinkler system. (See Watering Your Foundation Part III) This is the “Tim the Tool Man Taylor” version and may be a bit extensive, but I have had little to no problems since installation. We will use the existing sprinkler timer, add a new solenoid valve and a different style of distribution hose for more equal disbursement of water.