Not the Plan, But Necessary

I long time family friend has a concrete business, which I know means he has access to the equipment I need to move dirt from my yard to the area around my porch to raise the soil level.  He came out Sunday to access the situation and has agreed to help me.  Last year I started digging to to connect my downspouts on the left side of my house to the original drain in the rear of house.  The left front drain is on the porch and with the relocation of my downspouts my plan, last year, was to trench along the side of my house and connect the front to the rear drain.  I knew I couldn’t do that by hand, so I stopped to find someone that knew how to operate a trencher.  I got no showed three times, it turned cold, project stopped.  Here’s the blessing in my City citation.  It was confirmed, in writing, that I could daylight, allow the gutter water to run into the yard.  I had been told differently previously.  That meant no trenching for the front downspout.  I only needed to re-connect the rear like I had done with the opposite side.

My dirt moving help can come as early as next week, so finishing that connection became priority, otherwise he’d refill a partially dug hole and I’d have even more dirt to move later.  Last year I removed an approximate one foot section of pipe.  I covered the exposed opening with a large rock to prevent things from falling into the hole.  I’ve noticed with some of our recent heavy rains my basement was leaking again, something that hasn’t happened since fixing the gutters.  Well it’s because mud seeped in under my rock and that pipe had become completely blocked, so water was just pooling in that area.  I was going to remove another section anyway, but now it was absolutely necessary.

Once I got that approximate two foot section out I laid on my stomach and used my hand to dig out as much mud from the pipe as I could.  I got down to my elbow and mentally prepared myself for another plumbing bill.  If I couldn’t get it cleared I’d have to call in 20200405_191444Zins Plumbing.  My basement drains were filled with debris when I bought the house and I used my shop vac to clean them out, so I thought I’d give that a try.  No pics of this as I was a hot, muddy, mess by now.  I had a 8′ section of metal conduit and I used that to stir up the mud created when I filled the hole with water.  I sucked up rocks, glass, wood chunks, mud for two hours.  The extensions on my shop vac gave me approximately 4′ reach.  I had reached my capacity when finally water started flowing through instead of backing up.  Plumbing expense SAVED!  My reward for that day’s hard labor……..an Epson Bath Soak.  I soaked through sunset listening to jazz.

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The next day I ran to Home Depot to pick up the appropriate PVC plumbing fittings.  I needed a flexible coupling, two 45 degree fittings and 3″ PVC pipe.  I could see roots at the bottom of the hole, so I added some root kill before I connected the pipes.  I used the short section of clay pipe as my vice to hold the PVC pipe while I cut it with my reciprocating saw.  I had the connection made in about an hour.

When I finished that project I finished the primer coat on the foundation and windows.  The window primer I had tinted Uncertain Gray, so now I am 100% certain that is the right color.   I wish I had gone that route with the foundation primer as I’d have a stronger visual of my final house.  That will have to wait a few days as rain is in the forecast.

My reward for that day’s labor was a 45 minute steam shower where I did a deep conditioner of my hair with the scent of eucalyptus in the air.  I can’t wait for the outside of my house to reach the level of the inside.

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What New Water Line?

There was still one project left connected with the installation of the steam shower unit; patching the hole in the guestroom closet.  I really don’t like drywall projects.  It’s an art/skill to do it right meaning applying the right amount of mud so you’re not sanding to infinity and beyond.  I don’t have that skill set, but it’s done and now I can thoroughly enjoy the shower.

I kept the hole as small as possible, finding the middle stud with my Walabot Stud finder.  I’ve bragged on this product before and I think it’s a must have for DIYers.  They sell 2′ x 2′ drywall patches at Home Depot and Lowes, which is what I bought for the patch.  I still had 20 and 90 set drywall compound left from the drywallers, so no new purchases for that.  Thanks to Camp Washington Hardware store I was able to by just a handful of drywall screws.  In two nights this patch was a wrap.  My corner actually looks better that the corner the drywall crew did.

Are you curious about my steam shower?  I need more towels, lol.  With the exception of two weeks spent in Shaoxing, China (not a shower, but 100+ temps and massive high 20200222_215804humidity) I don’t think I’ve ever sat in a steam shower.  I’m a sista girl, we don’t get our hair wet on a daily, at least this one didn’t.

The article I shared in my last post from the SteamSauna for your healthy lifestyle blog,  said the temp setting for results is 110 – 115 degrees.  On my first endeavor I stayed on the low end.  I stepped in, wrapped in a towel, and turned on the unit.  The first blast of steam scared me, it came out loud and it stayed loud until the dial reached my setting of 110 degrees.  My first thought was, it’s too loud to call it relaxing.  However once it hits the temp the forceful sound of steam trickles down to a tranquil hiss.  I do stretches and yoga poses while I’m in there.

The article also said that a person new to steam showers should start off with about 10 minutes and build to an optimal level of 20.  The Thermasol dial times out at 45 minutes.  Since I have never been in a steam shower and I was taking this first leap by myself I somehow got it fixed in my mind that I should take my phone in with me.  Not my brightest idea as even though Samsung phones are water proof, the heat must have impacted my MusicCast app as right when it reached the full temp the music went out in my speakers.  I ended up getting out to investigate to no avail (the next morning the speakers worked fine) and missed most of the 45 minutes as it cut off within minutes of my return.  I stayed in to wash my hair and at that moment realized that my hair was already pretty well saturated.  What did this possibly mean for daily use.  That night I slept soundly, relaxed beyond what I had imagined.

I used the unit four nights in a row.  The second and third tries I wrapped my head in a bandanna scarf.  My hair wasn’t saturated, but I had curls going into the second night and I’ve been wearing my hair flat ever since.  After the fourth session I washed my hair again, so I guess I’m now a sista girl that wets her hair on the daily.  In the four sessions I’m now at 114 degrees.  It’s hot.  Since I’m in the shower alone, I keep my legs up on the bench during the hard steam blast as you can feel the heat.  I actually take a hand towel to sit on and use my body towel as a drape when it’s blowing out the steam.  I still don’t care for the forceful, loud sound the unit makes in route to the desire setting, so now I wait to get in until it’s 2 – 3 clicks from full temp before getting in.  The temp drops in that 45 minute session, so the unit kicks in again with the loud sound, but not long.  At that point I’m so relaxed I don’t notice it.  I’m definitely staying in it longer than 20 minutes, perhaps 30-35.  I’ve used all three essential oils and don’t have a favorite.  My friend Patty suggested I buy a fresh twig of eucalyptus and leave it hanging in the shower.  I’m going to try that.

Overall I love having it.  It’s a great place to reflect on my day and life.  It’s a great place to have a cathartic cry, which I’ve been doing a lot lately.  I definitely feel that toxins are exiting my body.  My eyes are bloodshot red when I get out, but with each session they are less red.  I think I’ll close and take another steam.

 

Steamin’ Hot

The spa oasis is complete.  The Thermasol SSA 395 steam generator, Microtouch Time/Temp controller, and steam head have finally been installed.  It took some doing.  Mother nature just would not cooperate, so it took a couple of weeks after the unit arrived before Mr. McGhee, my electrician could run the electric.  I didn’t have the heart to ask him work in the extreme cold and rain.  The easiest way to run the line was to run a conduit on the outside from the panel into the location where the unit will be housed.  I was fine with that since I haven’t painted the house yet.  The conduit will be painted and hopefully blend well enough that it really won’t be noticeable.  He tucked it near the window trim, which minimizes it further.  The unit requires a 60 amp breaker and the wire for that was super thick.  Thanks to the larger panel Mr. McGhee installed for me several months ago I had the space.

When he was able to do his work, the plumber didn’t show up.  That marked twice that he no showed me without so much as a call, so my negative streaks with plumbers continued until I called Zins Plumbing.  Zins was able to send a service man, Kevin, out the same day, Thursday.  He was awesome, funny, and efficient.  Their web page (can’t call it a site) states their goal is 100% customer satisfaction.  If you aren’t smiling, we haven’t done our job!  They did their job well, I’m smiling, and I now have a plumber.  I didn’t get any pictures of Kevin while he was curled up in my crawl space, but the end result was spot on.  Even Mr. McGhee, who returned for the final connection after the plumbing work was done, commented on the quality of Kevin’s soldering.

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The one thing Zins would not do is drill the hole in my tile for the steam head.  I was ready for that.  The steam head required a 1 1/8″ hole.  The controller a 1 1/2″ hole.  I got both sizes, Kempton Coated Diamond hole saws, from Amazon.  Keeping the saw steady in one spot until it starts to embed in your tile is a challenge, so I bit on a suggestive sale and purchased a Drilax Drill Bil Hole Saw Guide with suction cup.  It worked like a charm.  Kevin provided me the measurements between studs, so it was easy and accurate project for me.

The only thing I could not accomplish was connecting the pressure valve to a drain.  I called Mitch Altman (owner of Thermasol who gave me his number to call if I had any problems – LOVE THIS GUY) said I should not have any problems and that a drain connection wasn’t necessary.  Just to be safe I did connect a metal tipped pipe on it (like the one on my water heater) which ends over a small bucket.

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There are countless articles on the Internet that tout the benefits of a steam room.  There are actual health benefits that come about due to the humidity generated in a steam shower.  This Healthline article really spells them out well.  My gym pals from the Health Plex use to tease me for my lack of sweat.  Flushing out toxins through sweat is the one thing I’m looking most forward to.  I found a SteamSauna for your healthy lifestyle blog that stated the best temperature for a steam shower is between 110 degrees Fahrenheit or 115 degrees Fahrenheit. At these temperatures, the body’s metabolism rises to the extent where core temperature begins to be regulated. This causes more energy consumption, an increase in circulation, and an increase in heart rate.  I never used the sauna or steam room at the gym.  The Health Plex did a terrible job keeping the locker rooms clean, so I never trusted using theirs.

Time to give my personal, private, steam room a try.  Thank you Mitch Altman.

Thermosol Man

 

Adding a New Water Line

In my post Here They Come to Save the Day…..Maybe  I wrote about adding a steam unit to my shower to compensate for the disappointment I experienced with my Signature Hardware Exira Shower unit.  The owner of Thermasol, Mitch Altman, took a personal interest in this project after reading about all the issues I was having.  Signature Hardware finally started providing the level of customer service I had been accustomed to receiving when dealing with issues with their product and refunded the cost of the shower unit.  That made the purchase of the Thermasol unit possible, but not probable.

The unit needs a constant water source and I did not want to splice into the existing water line to feed the unit.  The two Hansgrohe shower heads that I bought to replace the Signature Hardware heads are working great and I did not want anything to circumvent that.  The beauty of being hands on with the restoration project is I knew exactly how and more importantly where the water lines were run to the shower.  My manifold has three empty slots, so my decision to move forward with the steam unit was depended upon my ability to run a dedicated line.  These pics show the path before the HVAC ducts were installed.

I took these steps:

  1. Cut a whole in the crawl space floor.  I cut the section directly behind where the shower water lines were located.  Turns out holes were drilled in the joist, so the line to the basement were over one joist.  Bottom line I had to remove another section of the floor.
  2. Push a remnant piece of pex through the floor joist until I reached where I could see the existing lines turn down.
  3. Cut a hole in the drywall of guestroom closet.
  4. Blind feel for the piece (found it almost immediately) and pull it through the opening.
  5. Drill a hole into the floor of the closet from the basement near the existing lines
  6. Push new pex line through hole up to the point where I cut hole in drywall.  Since I was working by myself I taped a loop at the end of the line, so I could fish for it in the wall with a hanger..
  7. Tape the two ends together and then return to crawl space and pulled the new line to the shower.
  8. I had to make 5 elbow connections.
  9. Order the the steam unit as mission was accomplished

Mitch, again I have to stress that the owner of Thermasol took a personal interest in my plight, worked with one of his authorized dealers to help me meet my budget requirements.  I am getting their Thermasol SSA 395 unit and Microtouch Time/Temp controller.  I also got their Aromatherapy 100% organic Essential oils; French Lavender to promote calming and relaxing effects, Portuguese Eucalyptus to stimulate, sooth and cool (I plan to mix these two) and Italian Bergamot Citrus to reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia (every insomnia night moving forward I will turn to my shower vs. tossing and turning until I fall asleep out of exhaustion).  I can’t wait.  Hopefully the weather will be great next week, so Mr. McGhee can run the electric line.

Here They Come To Save The Day…..Maybe

Distraught does not begin to describe my mindset when I accepted the realization that my vision for my shower with the Signature Hardware Shower system would never materialize.  At the start of this project I wanted that shower to be a steam shower, but the cost of the unit was three times the cost of the shower system, so I settled on what my friends coined “the human car wash”. One single function spray does not a car wash make, so I decided to research steam units again.  Fortunately I had already made the decision to completely enclose the shower, to keep the steam from the water in, so I knew one hurdle was down without any additional cost.

Build.com has been my go to website for a lot of the items in my house, so I started there.  They had several brands:  Mr. Steam, SteamSpa, Steamist, ThermoSol, and Kohler.  With that list I started looking for reviews of systems on the Internet and consistently Mr. Steam and ThermoSol were popping up.  Then I stumbled across a ThermoSol company video.  There was a statement in the video “employees are empowered to help the customer” that really jumped out at me.  I decided to go to their website to learn more about their product.  Not really knowing what I would need I clicked on the word “Consultation” on their website.  They provided your choice of 4 phone appointments of various lengths.  I selected Steam Shower, a 30 minute, speak with a ThermaSol Specialist to discuss the features of a ThermaSol steam shower.

I got to select a day, time in step 1; I selected early afternoon the following day.  Step 2 was your contact information and details on the size of your shower, and an opportunity to share any details.  I was fresh off the callous phone call with Signature Hardware where I was told they were severing business ties with me, so my details centered around the disppointment with the performance of their system.  I provided links to some of my post.  Approximately two hours after I hit confirm appointment my phone rang and it was a representative from ThermaSol, but not just any representative.  It was Mitchell Altman, the CEO.  He read my comments and pulled my appointment out of the cue as he wanted to personally handle my situation.  The man brought me to tears, this time of joy.

Following the call and on that same day we must have had a dozen back and forth emails. Some well past his business hours.  As promised he sent me a document with installation instructions.  I’d read some, have a question and email him.  The man responded back in minutes each time.  I sent him pictures behind the wall, in the shower with measuring tapes, so he could see heights and distances of locations where his instructions said equipment should go.  In the end he said his unit could definitely be installed, I had only one major hurdle.  Could I get a 60 amp service line up to the master bathroom.  My God send electrician, Mr. McGhee came over the next day.  He looked at my panel, determined I had space, and he studied routes to pull the line upstairs.  I have two options, but bottom line was yes, he could get a 60 amp line up to the shower.

I shared that news in another email with Mr. Altman who then sent me a package quote. With Fifth Third turning down my equity line application (due to finding no value in the collateral and for the house still being under construction) the ability to paint my house this year was doubtful, but I still have some funds I was going to allocate towards replacing the pillars out front.  I thought that would help improve the curb appeal in the short term.  Well I don’t live outside and I shower every day, so right now I’m strongly leaning towards reallocating those funds and moving forward with the ThermaSol system.  You’ll have to keep checking back for the final outcome.