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Jim Katen

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Everything posted by Jim Katen

  1. Damn. Now I have to review my company's safety protocols for romaine lettuce.
  2. I hear this all the time, and I always tell people that it's a bad idea. Here's why: You have a 1940s basement that was never designed and built to be waterproof. Attempting to make it waterproof now will suck a lot of money from your wallet, might or might not work, and could cause unforeseen consequences - such as damage to your foundation. It's a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness. My best advice: Align your expectations with the reality that you have a 1940s basement. Maintain your gutters and downspouts, direct all downspout water well away from the house, adjust the grade in your yard so that the soil slopes away from the house for at least 10', and finish your basement in such a way that occasional water entry won't damage any finishes.
  3. Jim Katen

    At a Theater Near You

    Hey, I did that show in college.
  4. Jim Katen

    Cost Estimates

    Well, I agree that all of those things are "cost estimates," but I also think it's critical that we provide a customer with some notion of the expense associated with these repairs. As you said, the first thing that they ask is, "how much?" The fact that everyone asks the same thing tells you something about what our customers need from us. If I don't know what something will cost, I say so. If I have a good idea of what it'll cost, I also say so. People have always appreciated this and no one has ever expressed the least dissatisfaction with my honest opinions. I'm still waiting to see the hard & fast legal requirement that forbids providing this information. No, the insurance company doesn't get to dictate it. Where's the enforcible law? If it's important, shouldn't it be easy to find?
  5. Jim Katen

    Flashing above window

    I think that flashing at the lintel would be fine. It's a rain screen system. We assume that water will run behind it; we want a way for the water to flow back out at the window opening, not above it.
  6. Jim Katen

    TPRV - max number of turns

    This is one rare circumstance where the ASHI Reporter article is correct. With Watts, it's easy. They print that information, almost verbatim, on the little yellow tag attached to every TPR valve. I usually just snap a picture of it. With Cash Acme, it's a bit harder. I wrote to them and they sent me a response, which I quote to anyone who cares. They gave me permission to share that response:
  7. Jim Katen

    Cost Estimates

    The next time they have a report writing seminar, ask them to try to find an instructor for whom English is not a second language and who doesn't advocate writing in pidgin. As for the estimates, I'd also like to see the part of the association standard that prohibits it. If your instructors have this much trouble writing clearly, perhaps they also have trouble reading clearly. The two frequently go together.
  8. Jim Katen

    I triple dog dare ya...

    I don't understand. You live in a rented home. Is the owner having this work done or are you having the work done? You say it's "family owned." Does that mean that *a* family owns it or does *your* family own it? Why are you taking apart work in a house that you don't own? Please explain what's actually happening here.
  9. Jim Katen

    HI Artography - Foil Wallpaper

    I need a Dramamine.
  10. Jim Katen

    Furnace Plug/Knockout Required?

    Was it located in a conditioned space? If it's in an unconditioned space, I'd seal the open unused plug (and the condensate line cleanout opening). Otherwise, I wouldn't care. Was it set up as direct vent or non-direct vent? If it's a direct vent setup, I'd seal the unused openings at the burner compartment because only outdoor air is supposed to be there. In a non-direct vent setup, I wouldn't bother.
  11. Jim Katen

    Sistering Floor joists is this ok??

    It ain't goin' nowhere.
  12. Jim Katen

    This ladder still OK?

    One of the problems with that much wear in the joint is that the fully extended ladder wants to rock back & forth across its range of movement. Several years ago, someone posted a video of a guy who fell for exactly that reason. He had the ladder sticking up several feet above the edge of the roof and as he climbed it, he pushed forward on the top of the ladder, which caused the top to rock forward, the middle to rock out, and the bottom to pop out from under him.
  13. Jim Katen

    This ladder still OK?

    They don't carry the 13-footer, which is my favorite length. They also don't take online orders. For now, I'm fine with my Werners. But if I ever need another, I'll definitely give them a call. Look at the gal in the picture again. She's using it in an unequal step ladder mode.
  14. Jim Katen

    This ladder still OK?

    As far as I know, we can't buy Jaws ladders south of the border. I'd have to drive up to BC to pick one up.
  15. Jim Katen

    Name this Brick?

    Does anyone know the name of this kind of brick? It's like a cross between a CMU and a brick - 8" deep with large hollow cores. I see them a lot in small commercial buildings, particularly professional buildings like doctor's and dentist's offices.
  16. Jim Katen

    This ladder still OK?

    I've never owned a Little Giant, but neither of my Werners hyperextends like that. I'd stress test it and see whether or not that center joint is moving.
  17. Jim Katen

    Common Wire Connection at Furnace

    Did you remove the metal panel that covers the electrical compartment? It's usually held in place by two or three hex-head screws. You might find a schematic pasted to the back of that cover.
  18. Jim Katen

    Common Wire Connection at Furnace

    Rebecca, It's going to be tricky to figure out. You're also going to want to install the green wire to get control of the blower. Take a picture of the schematic and post it here. You'll find the schematic pasted to the back of the furnace door.
  19. Jim Katen

    Pier and beam offset

    The house was built by morons. If the parts that you can see look like this, imagine what's going on in the parts that you can't see. Find another house. And while you're at it, find another inspector - one who's not illiterate.
  20. Jim Katen

    This is COOL

    I don't see why they'd be bound to leak more than any other openable Velux skylight. Velux products are usually pretty good in that regard. I suspect that you couldn't build a dormer for anything close to the cost of one of these.
  21. Jim Katen

    This is COOL

    Any idea why we don't see them more often? (or at all)
  22. Jim Katen

    This is COOL

    That's brilliant and for about 4K a cheap little balcony. Leave it to Velux.
  23. Jim Katen

    Roof Part Name?

  24. Jim Katen

    Copper and aluminum SEC

    pranus, can you cite a source for your opinion?
  25. Jim Katen

    Chicago inspection question

    I can appreciate Chicago's unique take on this. But it's just that, a unique take. As well as it might work, it's at odds with the UPC. In aggregate, I find the arguments in favor of the ejectors weak and not particularly compelling. Like many other things in Chicago (Romex, anyone?), I suspect that the prevalence of ejectors is more about job security for plumbers than it is about how well the system works to stop backflows. Just for the record, the UPC requires the backwater valve to only serve those fixtures in a house that are below the elevation of the nearest sewer manhole cover. Fixtures higher than the manhole cover are prohibited from having backwater protection and don't need it anyway. Both backwater valves and ejectors systems can fail, although I concede that the ejector system has an advantage because of the high loop. On the other hand, there have to be lots of failing pumps out there at any given time.