Archives September 2017

Guest House Water Heater

After installing the water softener earlier in the week, the next step was to install a water heater. While the guest house does have LP lines for the furnaces, it was going to be easier to install an electric water heater, especially since it will be used fairly infrequently. I am planning on having a professional electrician do the wiring, but I am doing the plumbing myself. I picked up a 40 gallon Rheem water heater from the Home Depot, which will fit well in the utility room space I’m building.

Before installing the heater, I had to run water lines from the water softener to the water heater, as well as a cold water line back towards the bathroom.

I also installed a drain pan, which can route any leaks towards the drain in the utility room floor:

Finally, I unpacked and setup the water heater, which I’ll hook up this weekend before the electrician comes and wires it.

Guest House Water Softener

Today I installed a water heater in the guest house, the second to last utility room appliance to be installed before the water heater. Since the only major plumbing in the guest house is going to be a bathroom, a fairly small water softener with a built in brine tank (versus a separate tank) was a great option.

It was extremely easy to hook into the rest of the plumbing, using two flexible sharkbite lines that connected the water softener to 3/4″ pipes.

I’d highly recommend the all-in-one water softeners to anyone as long as the water throughout is enough to meet the needs of a given plumbing project.

Plumbing Lessons Learned

Most of my posts focus on successes, and hide the fact that sometimes there is a learning process, or trial and error, involved in home projects. Here’s an example of a lesson learned: In the process of hooking up the new plumbing fixtures in the guest house to the water that was brought in by the Hardin Access Pipeline, I had to go from a 1 inch threaded to a 3/4 inch PVC pipe. I first attempted to do this by going from a 1″ threaded female to a 1″ threaded female to female to a 1″ to 3/4″ brass threaded downsized to a 3/4″ threaded to a 3/4″ PVC sharkbite. This was the solution the guys at the Home Depot came up with, but it was way too complicated and caused major problems in the tightening process, since tightening either fixture on either side of the 1″ threaded female to female pipe caused the other fixture to loosen. I was able to get it 99% of the way there, but unfortunately the remaining 1% caused there to be a small drip. I tried to fix this with flex seal, which I’ve used in the past to fix leaks that occur in existing plumbing, but it was a lost cause:

Ultimately, I had to bite the bullet and cut out all of those fixtures, and simplify. I went with a 1″ threaded to 1″ sharkbite, and used copper pipes to connect to a 1″ to 3/4″ sharkbite intersection, which connected to all of my other plumbing with no leaks!

While this was a $70 lesson, it certainly beats the alternative of battling leaky plumbing in the future.

Lake House Well

After the second outdoor plumbing fiasco of the summer, the lake house well (and all associated pipes) are back in working order thanks to the hard work from Eckmayer Plumbing. Here are the final results after the excavators put everything back together and repaired the path leading up to the parking area:

That’s about it for summer and fall projects at the lake house. However, we’ve had two unseasonably warm weekends in a row here in Wisconsin, so it’s been fun to come up to the lake house, and even better with a V12 convertible!

New Basement Furnace

As the final part of our HVAC repairs at the house in Verona, we had a new furnace put in since the old furnace had been measured at 15 ppm of carbon monoxide (which is bad). We have now replaced literally every appliance in the house since buying it four and a half years ago, so hopefully everything will run smoothly for the next several years!

New Project: Guest House Bathroom

The primary purpose of building the Hardin Access Pipeline was to allow me to build a bathroom in the guest house. Before doing the framing work for the bathroom and the utility room (which will hold the water filter, softener, and heater, among other things) I am doing some initial plumbing work. My first step was to install the whole home filter, and to install a faucet on the outside back wall of the guest house for easy hose access. The water line coming into the house terminated in a 1-inch threaded valve, so I had to use a fixture to downsize it from 1-inch to 3/4-inch, which is what would go into the filter, water softener, and water heater.


I screwed a 3/4-inch SharkBite fixture into the 1-inch to 3/4-inch downsize fixture, which would allow me to start connecting the 3/4-inch lines.


To connect the exterior faucet, I used a t-junction that downsized the 3/4-inch line to 1/2-inch line going down towards the ground, and connected it to a faucet fixture that went through the exterior wall and was fixed to a stud in the wall.


Here is the end result from the outside of the guest house:


After connecting the faucet, the next step was to connect in the whole home filter. This was pretty straightforward. I screwed in a 3/4-inch SharkBite fixture into either side of the filter, and used those to connect the filter to the 3/4-inch line. I also installed a valve downstream from the filter, so that I can shut off water coming into the house, and also cut off water after the filter before it goes to all of the appliances.



Next weekend, I’ll work on installing the water heater and water softener, which will complete the initial plumbing work for the utility room prior to framing the bathroom and utility room.

Tons of HVAC Repairs

In preparation for winter, as well as for some of my upcoming projects in the guest house, I had RA Heating and Air Conditioning come to my house. Over the course of the weekend, they were able to get almost every HVAC system working in the house. Because of the size of our house, as well as the existence of the guest house, there are a surprisingly large number of HVAC appliances. Here is a complete list:

  • Main House Air Conditioner
  • Main House Upstairs Furnace
  • Main House Downstairs Furnace
  • Wine Cellar Air Conditioner
  • Main Garage Furnace
  • Guest House Air Conditioner
  • Guest House Furnace
  • Guest House Garage Furnace

This past week the following all required work:

  • Main Garage Furnace
  • Guest House Air Conditioner
  • Guest House Furnace
  • Guest House Garage Furnace


The guest house air conditioner had a family of mice living in it, and they had eaten through some of the wires and destroyed the capacitor, which needed to be replaced.


The last appliance needing repair is the main house downstairs furnace, which was deemed to be a carbon monoxide hazard and will be replaced next week.

Fall Has Come + Beach Clean Up

Now that it’s mid-September, the leaves are starting to turn up at the lake house. This was likely one of the last really warm weekends of the year (and it was an away game weekend for the Badgers), so we made sure to spend it at the lake house and went in the lake.



The walk down to the lake from the house is particularly beautiful, with the yellow leaves and the red railing:


One of the last projects before winter (we’re waiting until next spring to have the boat house built and to do other exterior improvements) was to clean up one of the beaches near the dock. We have several small beaches along the bluffs that form our waterfront, but one is very easy to get to. It is certainly not going to win any beauty contests with beaches in Florida, but it’s nice enough to be able to put some chairs out and put your feet in the sand. The big issue was that it was filled with rocks:


I’ve worked over the last couple of weeks to remove the rocks and toss them further out into the lake. The end result (aside from all the fall leaves currently covering it) is a pretty usable beach, which will be great in the spring when it gets warm again.