This is not an interesting topic. However, I couldn’t find what I needed for this little project on Google, so figured I’d create a post that is likely to be found when people are searching for a solution to a leaking relief valve.
Your water heater has a T&P valve, which stands for Temperature and Pressure Valve. This valve opens when temperature and/or pressure exceed a pre-defined threshold. This is a safety feature so that your water heater does not explode if the pressure goes too high. I have a Weil Mclain Superstor indirect water heater and the T&P Valve is on the top, as shown below. It usually is designed to open at 210F and/or 150 psi, which is waaay above the safe operating temperature and pressure of a domestic water heater. Watts is the leading brand of these devices.
Your boiler (for your forced water heating system) also has a relief valve. However, this one is just a pressure-relief valve. It usually opens at 30 psi, which is well above the system pressure of most forced-water heating systems. So, while your water heater has a T&P valve, your boiler has a P valve. The valve on my Weil Mclain Ultra is shown below. The valves in my system all are bronze with 3/4″ threads.Continue reading
I reclaimed about seven doors from the main level for re-use on the lower level. These are very nice antique doors in oak and mahogany, originally in a hotel, and complete with numbered keys. I had another dozen or so doors custom made to match those antique doors pretty closely. I was very impressed by the prices at Allegheny Wood Works, and I was also happy with the resulting quality. I love that they post their price lists on the web. I ordered some of the doors in paint-grade poplar and some in mahogany to stain to match the antique doors.
For trim, we had the millwork supplier run custom casing and baseboard profiles to match what is upstairs. It’s remarkably inexpensive to do this. I think we paid $1.50 – $3.00 per linear foot for a complex casing milled from poplar. I don’t regret this for a second.
Most of this project focused on the lower level. However, because the spiral stair connected the lower level with the main level, we had to do a fair bit of work in the kitchen/dining area. I had done a “quick and dirty” kitchen renovation a few years ago myself and decided that it was good enough to leave in place. Thus, we mostly confined the main-level effort to the stairwell/apse area and the resulting open dining area adjacent to the kitchen.
I’ll start with how it ended up…and then show some of the steps.
Here are various shots of the exterior masonry work on the Church house. We added a door out through the middle of the apse at the stair landing, which came out great. We also did various patching of holes from relocated windows and doors. A big part of the job was putting in 100 linear feet or so of new stone retaining wall. This substantially improved the look and function of the back yard.
The big idea the architect brought to this project was to put a spiral stair in the apse to connect the main level with the lower level. Furthermore, there would be a door out to the back yard halfway down the stair off of a landing. Here are some shots of how we did that. A custom curved stair manufacturer Stairworks built and installed the basic stair and rail. They did a nice job…actually they did a nice job twice. They messed up a measurement the first time and had to completely rebuild it. To their credit, they didn’t even blink and just did it.
One of the big moves architecturally for this renovation was to excavate the side yard so that the entrance to the lower level could be at the level of the sidewalk. Originally, we had to climb a half dozen steps, traverse a few feet of walkway, and then step down a half dozen steps into the “basement.” It was actually my idea, which the architect liked, to excavate next to the house and make it a straight shot into the lower level from the sidewalk. That worked well; getting in and out of the house is a breeze.
Before I invested a lot of money in my lower level with all its new plumbing, I wanted to make sure that the waste line was reliably connected to the municipal sewer. I had replaced some of the sewer main the previous winter and was pretty sure that there was a lot more bad terracotta pipe between the house and the main sewer line. Sure enough, I had the plumber snake the video camera down the line and he declared that the terracotta was basically gone (100+ years old) and that my sewer line was really just a tunnel through the dirt.
Replacing a sewer main is not that big a deal normally. It involves a backhoe, two guys, two days, and a check for $10-15 thousand. You have to reseed your lawn too. Except nothing is normal about my house. Turns out that my sewer main runs 200+ feet down the block under my neighbors sidewalk to the sewer line on the next street down the hill. The plumber said that replacing it would be $20-25k for his part, plus $15k or so to replace the half block of sidewalk and curb that would have to be removed.