Mo & Terry Smedley


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Here are some pictures from projects around the house we've been working on this spring (2006).   Having more flexibility in my work schedule allowed me to spend some time paying attention to This Old House, which had been ignored for the past few years.

What's next?  New window coverings for most of the house (we still have all the ORIGINAL draperies from 1977/1978!), track lighting and new artwork in my "train room".  Stay tuned for pictures of those projects as I get them completed.

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A windstorm in early February blew the top out of a tree onto our roof.  The steel roof was badly bent, but remained watertight.   A couple of truss tails, fascia, and barge board were damaged, as well as about four metal roofing panels. You can see the top blew out where this tree had split into two stems.  The orange flagging tape around the trunk is an unfortunate reminder that I had tagged this tree for removal last year, but never got around to it. Good friend Bob Martin and his grandson Rasun helped cleanup the damage, and got to take some good firewood home. We had several of the trees closest to the house taken down in April.  We may continue with more clearing to get a little more light and air around the house.  It's only when we compare the trees to photographs of the original 1978 construction that we appreciate how the trees have grown up and closed in around us.
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Western Washington Construction of Hoquiam repaired the damage.  The color actually matches very well - it will just take a couple of years to get a coating of "grime" on the new panels so they blend in.  The metal roof took some effort to repair. I gave up trying to get reliable wireless network (WiFi) to all areas of the house from one central location.  This is a "poor man's network hub" - I ran Cat5e data cable from the two desktop computers to the DSL router which was relocated out-of-the-way in the closet.  The laptops still connect wirelessly.  Network performance improved drastically, and this removed a bunch of clutter from the kitchen counter (where the DSL router had been). We staged these photos as part of my final safety presentation in the office.  I'm getting ready to cut in a new panel-mounted surge suppressor.  The point of this picture was that all the safety equipment in the world (helmet, glasses, gloves, kneepads) can't prevent injuries that result from doing dumb things. Dad thought this would be a good follow-up picture showing what could happen if you're not careful around electricity.   Hollywood continuity checkers - where did the kneepads go?
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The small box to the left of the electrical panel is a Leviton whole-house surge protector, which clamps surges on all circuits in the house.   Point-of-use protection is still needed for sensitive electronics, but this whole-house protection will minimize damage to other appliances (stoves, microwaves, heat pump, etc).  You can also see our generator transfer switch below the surge protector. The whole-house surge protector wires directly to one of the existing breakers.  Because voltage surges are very short duration events (measured in nanoseconds), it's critical to keep wire lengths to a minimum, which explains why I shoe-horned the new device just to the left of the breaker panel. Moving on to plumbing projects, I installed a whole house water filter.  PVC would have been a lot easier, but it's not permitted by code inside the dwelling walls (due to concern about fumes produced if PVC burns).  I got a chance to dust off the copper sweating techniques.  I also replaced the pump pressure tank manifold, switch, and gauge.   This filter should keep the light sediment film out of the toilets. At Dad's suggestion, I plumbed in a small (5 gallon) water heater directly underneath the bathroom.  Our long, skinny house means there's about 75 feet of pipe between the main hot water tank and the master bath .... lots of time waiting for hot water in the morning.  This heater is plumbed in series with the main hot water heater, so its only job is to keep a very small amount of water heated until reinforcements arrive from the main heater.  The flex pipes have been fully insulated since this picture was taken.  It's nice to have instant hot water.
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While cutting into our copper plumbing to install the water filter and water heater, I was pleased to find that the pipes are free of corrosion and sediment build-up.  They should last our lifetime in the house.  Goldie is helping me check out the pipe. I learned this trick while searching the Internet for copper sweating tips.  To keep water away from a joint that you're sweating into existing plumbing, wad up some gooey white bread and shove it into the pipe.  It will keep the dripping water away from the joint while you sweat it.  Afterwards, just turn the water back on and eventually the bread will simply dissolve.  Best to remove the aerator/strainer from whatever faucet you're using to bleed the air out, though!  This trick worked very well for cutting in the new hot water tank.  Unfortunately, I then felt obligated to have sandwiches made from this yucky stuff for the rest of the week. In addition to hauling out a truckload of old clothes and other odds and ends from closets around the house, we also installed this closet organizer into the master bedroom.  It really neatens up the closet, and makes it much easier to get to all of our clothes.  This particular model was made by Stack-A-Shelf in Ontario.  It's inexpensive laminated 5/8" particle board, but it was quite sturdy by the time I got it bolted to the studs. Continuing our quest to get rid of the perpetual clutter on the kitchen counter space, I installed this Sony under-cabinet LCD TV.   I can now brag that we have a flat-panel TV - even though it's all of 7" in size.  This, combined with relocation of the DSL router that used to sit on the counter, has recaptured several square feet of precious counter space.
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I put up a new 4' fluorescent fixture above the sink.  Took two tries - the first one ended up looking like a tacky garage shop lamp.  This one has an oak frame and soft diffuser that looks much better.  I also removed and refinished the window sill, that had taken quite a beating from 25 years of water being splashed on it.  I used three coats of marine varnish which should hold up pretty well, but I think the ultimate solution will be to cover the sill with laminate.