Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In hot water over morEnergy scam

A man wearing a hardhat, yellow reflector vest and carrying an official clip board knocked on the door this weekend. He told me that he needed to check my rental hot water tank because of a new safety regulation passed by the Federal Government. He handed me his business card from morEnergy, declaring himself a "Hotwater Tank Specialist". In the bottom corner there was a small Canadian flag, similar to the Canadian government logo, making him appear more official.

I was skeptical but he led me to believe that this was some sort of government program to verify that we all have a safe hot water tank that meets the new safety regulations. But once I let him in the house, I realized that there is no way such a program would be launched without a public awareness campaign and at least one written announcement by mail. I realized that I had a salesman in my house, but he was already walking down the basement stairs. I was not surprised when he confirmed that it needed replacement because the government was phasing out all pre-2010 hotwater tanks. My hot water tank is only 5 years old. Obsolete already?

At that point, the sales double talk got worse.He asked if I was the type of person who cared about the environment & wanted to save energy. Suddenly I'm the bad guy for not saving the environment? I asked him for some written materials about the program, saying that I'd like to think about it and call him later.But he didn't have any brochures. He said that we could talk again when I was in the mood to listen. That was warning sign #2.

I did a quick Internet search revealing that this scam is not new. An Ottawa woman signed a contract thinking that she was getting a free replacement tank that was necessary due to safety, but then she noticed the small print revealing an increased price of 30%.

According to an online article, water heater fraud is common. If somebody comes to your door, do not sign anything! You will most certainly be left with extra fees and higher rates. The only good news is that you have 10 days to cancel the contract without penalty. But be warned: they will not make it easy for you to cancel. They will try to talk you out of it, but stick to you plan and INSIST that they cancel your contract. I know because Direct Energy tricked me into signing with them for gas delivery. They told me on my stressful moving day that I would not have gas delivered to my home unless I signed, despite the fact that I had arranged the gas hook-up with Enbridge in advance. There are several companies that use these underhanded tactics to trick homeowners into switching services that unfortunately are not usually better.

I called morEnergy to complain and it was no surprise that one of the main menu options was the legal department. How often do you hear that with other companies you call. Makes you think! So please be careful and do not fall for the morEnergy scam.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Time

It is hard to believe that such a small lot can produce so many tomatoes. The Early Girl's didn't turn out so well this season, but the Sweet Millions lived up to their name. However, fall temps bring frost. While it was warm this weekend, we're not sure how long that will last. So, I got to canning the green tomatoes -- pickled actually.

Not sure how they will turn out. I love dill pickles but hate sweet pickles. I found this recipe online: Green Cherry Tomato Pickles-Easy to make pickles. I'll know in three weeks.

At the first sign of frost, I will need to make another batch cuz there are still lots of green tomatoes out there. Let me know if you have a better recipe.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Install a Front Door Lock

If your money pit comes with ugly door hardware (like mine), you can update it yourself and go from tacky to terrific in no time. Just follow my easy steps:
  1. Buy a new handset at any hardware store.
  2. Let the box sit in your kitchen for 21 months. Don't forget to fret about it every few months.
  3. Remove the old hardware from the door, reveling an unflattering pattern (like racer back tan lines with a formal strapless gown).
  4. If the replacement peep hole door viewer is 9/16" and the hole in your door is 1/2", do not try to widen the hole. Return to the hardware store & buy another one.
  5. Sand the bumps that outlined the old ugly hardware. Wash door. Prime. Wait 1 hour. Paint. Wait 2 hours. Paint again. Wait 4 hours. But, if it is getting dark and you want to lock your door, proceed to next step sooner but be warned that paint can buckle & peel if you are not very very careful.
  6. Open the box and attempt to follow the illustrated directions with scant written instructions. Resist frustration due to extra unnecessary parts in the box.
  7. If the deadbolt does not turn, check to see if the existing hole in limiting movement. If so, use a chissel & hammer to widen the opening.
  8. If the machine screw to fasten the bottom of handle seems too long, don't try to cut it. Use a fine hack saw & make sure that you have a file. Or, save yourself some time and just go to the hardware store and buy the correct length. Take the handle with you to ensure you get the correct thread and length.
  9. When you finally get the damn handle installed, take a photo & be thankful that you're done... until you realize that you still have the back door to do.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Heating up on a cold weekend

Our oven has been broken for a few months, but with the summer BBQ season, we've easily avoided facing the repair. I wanted to make some kael chips and it seemed too cold to go outside and use the BBQ. My other half suggested buying a new stove, but really that seemed excessive, so I looked for repair info.

As it turns out, replacing the element in an electric oven is very easy - once you find the correct part. I phoned a few local hardware stores to see if they carrier the correct element, and they all said yes (except Downtown Lumber, which is a Home Hardware store, but the woman on the phone said that they specialize in building supplies.) Rather than drive up to the stockyards to the big box stores, I went to the neighborhood places. After visiting four stores with the burned out element in hand, I concluded that they no longer make the one I needed so was going to modify the one I found. There seem to be two types of connectors: slide-on or screw-on. Mine was the older slide-on type so I was just going to cut off the connectors, strip a bit of wire and connect it with the screws. Inspecting the product packaging more closely at home, I discovered that they are classified by numbers in a yellow circle and that ideally I needed #2. Rather than cut off the slide-on connectors, I called yet another hardware store asking for the #2, and they had the elusive part in stock. Near complete victory.

This easy Saturday project dragged on a few hours too long but replacing it took all of 5 minutes and now the oven is clean too. After restoring power, I tested out the oven and the element glows red. Now I can try the baked kael chips!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to install a dryer lint trap

My neighbours have been very unhappy with the amount of lint coming from our dryer vent, so I wanted to install a secondary lint filter. Initially I couldn't find any in Canada and the shipping costs from the US were more than the product itself. But then I found the LT-180 manufactured by Reversomatic, in Woodbridge, Ontario, just north of Toronto. Fortunately, I know somebody who works near there and they picked one up for me.

Installation is quite simple if your dryer vent is accessible. Removed one piece of the dryer vent, cut 6.5" off and then put the LT-180 in-line as a secondary filter. Before closing up the duct, take a moment to clean out all excess dryer lint as it is a fire hazard. Tape up all the joints with aluminum duct tape, but not the sticky all-purpose duct tape (because it cracks when it gets  hot, breaking the seal). The LT-180 is designed to fit behind drywall, but our basement is open concept/loft style, so there is no pesky drywall to worry about.

Hopefully this will cut back on the amount of lint that ends up in the neighbour's back yard, bringing peace
to the neighbourhood again, at least until we start doing our waterproofing job.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why so much lint?

Pandora's box of lint...
It seems that the road of home ownership can never be smooth. Life in the money pit hit a speed bump about a year ago when our next door neighbour asked me: "why so much lint"? It seems that our dryer vent has been expelling excessive amounts of lint, which must be a real burden since we dry about two loads of laundry every week. Our little money pit is built right on the property line, so the walkway beside our house is owned exclusively by the neighbours, and they don't allow us to use it. Our dryer vents into this narrow three foot walkway, very close to the ground.

I live in a neighbourhood where cleanliness is very important. Hosing down your sidewalk and concrete front yard with fresh potable water is a daily ritual. It helps to "freshen it up", as my neighbour explained to me. In the summer, the issue of the lint returned, and I noticed that they'd leaned a large 12" x 12" tile up against the house, so that the dryer air would hit the tile first, possibly trapping more of this vexing dryer lint.

Last week we couldn't figure out why the clothes weren't drying, so during the super bowl game, I went outside to discover a brick blocking the dryer vent. Needless to say, this is a real fire hazard! Today I went outside before starting the dryer and the brick was back, firmly in place, keeping the vent closed. Lint. Who knew it was so much trouble? I had ignored the first complaint as it was just days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti and I though that relatively this was not a problem. However, if my house burns down because they've blocked my dryer vent  it could become a more serious issue - especially the fire spreads to their house, just three feet away.

I spent some time on the internet and found these secondary lint filters. I want to install one but couldn't find any for sale in the DIY hardware stores. I will have to order one online from the US or call around to some HVAC contractors. What a hassle. But, that's what you've gotta do to keep the peace (and reduce the risk of fire) in Little Italy.

Let me know if you have any leads on where to buy a metal dryer lint trap.