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Home Repair and Maintenance


Ultra Seal Dryer Vent

We bought our house about four and a half years ago, after living in an appartment for 8 years. We didn’t have any of the stuff you end up needing when you have a house. I bought a small plastic cart to haul gravel, but it fell appart quickly. I returned it, and bought bought a bottom end True Temper wheelbarrow. It didn’t cost alot. I was concerned about the quality, but the guy assured me it would work okay for around the house. I have used it quite a bit, but now as I am carrying wood, wood tends to fall out, and the thing is is a little wobbly. So with a local hardware store going out of business, I have been checking out the wheelbarrows. Today I decided to jump in and buy one. I bought a Jackson Contractor Steel Wheelbarrow. The tub holds 6 cubic feet, and is much more solid than my older wheelbarrow. The sides of the tub are steeper and it works great for hauling wood. It can haul more wood than my older wheelbarrow, without pieces falling out along the way. I considered a 2 wheel wheelbarrow but with the path around our house, it would have been difficult to get around with two wheels. This wheelbarrow should last a long time. Now I got figure out what to do with my wheelbarow. Maybe I will sell it on ebay like my old lawnmower.

Ultra Seal Dryer Vent

I recently cleaned our dryer vent. The screen to keep pests out was completely clogged. And my wife wondered why the dryer was taking so long to dry. I saw in a book, and on the web, a type of dryer vent sometimes called Ultra Seal Dryer Vent that curves upward, and has a little ball or plug that rises as air is blown out the vent. But when the air stops, the ball or plug drops to plug the vent and keep the cold air out. I decided to go ahead and order one. I think it will help keep cold air out of our house. It all adds up.

After the Energy Star guy recommended Alside (as well as Schuco) as being good sliding glass doors, I went and visted the local Alside dealer. They had a small number of windows and a sliding glass door on display. I looked at the sliding glass door, and was not impressed. It looked cheap. The wood grain print on the vinyl looked tacky. The hardware looked cheap. The construction didn’t look anywhere near the quality of the Andersen Frenchwood Glider at Home Depot. I asked about different hardware, and he said it was in the brochure. It wasn’t. So then he told me it was probably on the website. I really want a closer look at the numbers the Energy Star guy was mentioning. He said the Andersen door had an R value of 2.2, while the Alside had an R value of 10. My buddy who used to sell Andersen windows keeps telling me that the numbers all depends on how they do the tests. According to Alside’s brochure, their sliding glass door has a U-Factor of 0.31, which divided into 1 would give it an R Value of 3.23. The Andersen has a U Factor of 0.33 which divided into 1 gives us an R Value 3.03. Not anywhere near the numbers the the Energy Star guy gave me.
I am a lot more familiar with the Andersen name. I never even heard of Alside till yesterday. According to the Alside sales guy the “glass packages” are basically the same among doors and that it is the surrounding part that is different. If that is the case, the Andersen door seems to have a better surrounding part. I asked him why I should buy his doors over Andersens, and I never did get a solid answer. I asked the guy how much the door costs, and he couldn’t tell me because they only sell to contractors. Hmmmm. I am not impressed.
If I am going to go through the expense of putting new sliding glass doors on my house, I want them to IMPROVE the appearance of my house, and not make it look CHEAP!
Summary: Alside doors look cheap. And if they will only sell to contractors, and will not even give me a price, then I guess they are not interested in selling to me.

I was under the impression that he would be the one doing the audit. But from what he said he will meet with us to arrange the audit, someone else will come do the audit, and then he will come back to go over the results when the report is ready.
We filled out a form to be qualified for the Energy Star loan, though I doubt we will need to use the loan. But we’ll see. Also we filled out the request for the audit. He needed copies of our paystubs. I wish he hold told me sooner. I had shredded a couple of them less than an hour before. So when I get my next one, I will need to fax it to him.
I mentioned that some big air leaks were through the sliding glass doors, and that we were considering getting Andersen’s. He said that the Energy Star program recommended Alside or Schüco (also appears as Schuco or Schueco). He said that the glass in Andersen windows have an R value of about 2.2, but Energy Star recommends an R value of 10. He talked about New York state having some definition of vinyl needed only to have 30% vinyl to be called vinyl. So that many “vinyl” doors are only 30% vinyl and 70% made of something else mixed in. He said that Alside and Schuco use 100% virgin vinyl. On the good side, he said that Alside and Schuco are less expensive than Andersen. I found that Alside has a local distributor, but I couldn’t find one for Schuco with a search last night. I visited their websites, and it doesn’t look like either have french doors. Alside looks like that have doors with wood trim on the inside, but Schuco looks like their doors vinyl in and out. I am going to try and visit the Alside place today to get more info.

We have an appointment to meet with the Energy Star home performance contractor tonight. This is the initial meeting to go over what they will be doing, and sign papers and such. Not sure how long we will have to wait to get the actual energy audit done. From what I read, it will take a couple weeks after the test to get the Comprehensive Home Assessment report which will detail the improvement recommendations, listing costs, and how much improvement can be expected, and what the payback time will be. I am looking forward to getting this process started to make our house energy efficient.

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