Saving on Propane costs

Saving on Propane costs

I recently noticed that our propane costs have gone up a huge amount. I know the cost of propane has increased, but our usage is up as well. We use propane only for the stove and the water heater so we really should not use very much propane at all. In fact over the 15 plus years we have lived in this house I have pretty much ignored the propane bills and just let the truck driver stay on top of keeping my tank filled.

However I am paying the price for my inattention right now.

I started by setting back the thermostat on the hot water heater. There is no use heating the utility room any more than necessary. The clothes dryer does a good enough job with that.

Next I started checking for leaks. I mixed up a batch of soap and water and put it in spray bottle. I went around outside spraying joints. I started at the tank and worked my way back to the house. I checked the regulator vent as well because a broken diaphragm could be a big leak.

I finally found a joint that bubbled where the line entered the house for the stove. It had been repaired a few years ago and one of the fittings made a few bubbles. Snugging up the nut made the bubbles quit.

Next I checked around the hot water heater. It was relocated a couple of years ago when the floor was redone. Sure enough there was a leak where the copper pipe joined the shut off valve. I had to tighten the nut twice to get it to completely stop.

I had thought the smell around the hot water heater was just the kitty litter box but I guess it was the mercaptane in the propane after all. A couple of hours after I tightened the fitting, the air was much fresher smelling in the laundry room. I hope this will also translate in to lower propane bills as well.

How to install a corner shower.

How to install a corner shower.

Obtain a corner shower kit. The kits come with the glass sides and door, the base and some water proof sheets for the other two walls. I have assembled ones from both Home Depot and Lowes. I don’t see much difference so get the one that you prefer.

Begin by locating the drain. If you are working with an existing drain, you may be limited. If not then plan you drain layout first and install the drain pipes with an appropriate trap. Most of the kits come with a drain fitting that will slip over a 2 inch pipe.

You will need two solid walls to form the corner for the shower. If you already have a corner then you can use that. If you are mounting the shower along a wall, you may need to build a new wall to form the corner. The new wall can be faced with sheetrock. The shower panels will glue over the wall to make it water proof.

Once the drain is in place securely mount the base. Make sure the base is level or at least drains to the hole. Pack gout or sand under the base to make sure it is firmly supported. Screw or press the drain in place and caulk it to the base.

If you are using an existing wall, cut back the sheet rock so that the base will be against the studs. If you are building a new wall, push the base against the studs and set the sheet rock on top of the base flange.

Install the shower faucet and plumbing. Be sure to test it all for leaks before sealing up the wall. I recently had a brand new faucet fail to shut off causing quiet a mess.

Make a cardboard template from the shower box to locate the holes for the shower nozzle and the knobs. Mark these on the sheet rock for the wall and on the plastic water proof sheet that will be on that side.

Set the corner piece up and mark it on the wall. Remove it and put glue o the wall for the water proof sides. I used the appropriate styrene compatible glue in a caulking gun to secure the walls to the sheet rock. Tape them in place to make sure they don’t sag. Make sure they are level and vertical.

Apply glue for the corner piece and glue it in place. Make sure you insert the towel bar (if it has one) before gluing it up.

Install the faucet knobs and trim, Install the shower head.

Mount the first track for the glass wall making sure it is vertical. Then mount the second one. Choose which way the door will hinge and install the magnet closer strip on the appropriate side. Attach the strips above and below the door opening to that side.

Install the glass wall in the end strip. Assemble the hinge side and slip it into place. Adjust the pieces so that they sit in the center of the base flange. Level the walls and anchor them to the end strips with the provided screws.

Cut the top piece to the correct length and bend it over the top of the walls. Anchor it with the provided screws. Be sure to compare the screws to the instructions so that you are using the correct length fasteners.

Attach and top plates that are provided for stiffeners. Then attach the lower hinge plate. Set the door in place and install the upper hinge plate to secure the door. Adjust the hinges so that the door swings smoothly.

Caulk the joints where the metal frames contact the plastic parts. Allow the caulk to set before testing the water.

How to Replace a Toilet Float Valve.

How to Replace a Toilet Float Valve.

If your toilet is filling slowly or overfilling, it may be time for a new float valve. If you have one that still has a ball on the end of a long arm, it is defiantly time to upgrade.

Begin by shutting off the water supply. Hopefully there is a valve on the floor by the toilet. If not, you may have to cut off the water supply to the whole house. In the worst case, you may have to cut off the supply at the meter, but be aware that most utility companies don’t like you messing with their equipment.

Remove the lid form the tank and set it aside in a safe place. Open the flapper valve and drain out as much water as possible. Use a towel or two to soak up the rest of the water. Note that any water you leave in the tank will run out on the floor when you remove the old fill valve.

Unscrew the supply tube from the fill valve. An adjustable wrench or small pipe wrench should work for this task. You can usually leave the tube connected to the valve at the floor.

Unscrew the lock nut from the valve assembly. Older ones will have an actual nut while newer ones will have a plastic ring. It is OK to break the plastic if necessary to get it off. If it is stubborn and will not unscrew, use a hammer and screwdriver to tap it a few turns.

Lift the old float assembly out of the tank. Clean the area around the hole in the bottom of the tank. Make sure there is a sealing gasket or ring on the new float assembly. Slip it in the hole in the bottom of the tank and line up the rubber tube so that it can connect to the center overflow tube.

Put the hold down nut in pale and tighten it so that the valve will not move around. Reattach the water supply tube. Some new float valves have a mechanical reset to keep then from cycling excessively. If your new n has such a device, attach the chain clip to the flusher lever so that the mechanism trips when the handle is flipped.

Turn on the water and check for leaks. The tank will begin to fill. If not, check the trip on the mechanical reset device. Check the water level when the valve closes to make sure it is at the correct height marked on the back of the tank. Adjust the float if necessary.

Once the level is set, give the toilet a test flush. The tank should start to refill as soon as the water starts to drain. The little tube should direct a stream of water to the overflow to help sweep the bowl.

If the water does not flow, the reset may not be triggering properly. Adjust the chain as necessary. Once the tank refills, check for leaks again. Tighten the pipe fittings as need to correct the leaks.

How to Replace a Bathroom Sink Faucet

How to Replace a Bathroom Sink Faucet DIY

Years ago, if you had a leaking faucet, you went to the hard ware store and got some rubber washers and maybe a new faucet seat. You disassembled the knobs and installed a new seat and washer. Now days, I just replace the whole unit.

Normally you will be working inside a cabinet. Do yourself a favor and make sure every thing is removed form the cabinet so you can move around and get the wrenches in the proper position. Lying on the corner of the cabinet bottom can be very uncomfortable so use some towels to pad the edge or use a work mat.

To remove the old faucet, begin by shutting off the water. Hopefully, there are valves under the counter that shut off the water to just that fixture. If not, you may have to cut off water to the whole house. In the worst case, you may have to shut off the water at the meter. Just be aware that most utility companies don’t like you messing with their equipment. Some are pickier than others about it.

With the water off, open both knobs to let off the residual pressure. The fitting at the faucet is normally ½“ pipe. If there is room, you can use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the feeder tube from the faucet. In most cases, you can leave it attached to the valve at the bottom.

Next remove the hold down washers. These are normally plastic and thread on the valve body stems. Sometimes you can use a large pair of pliers to catch the tabs and turn them off. If they are stuck, like most seem to be, use a hammer and a screwdriver to tap on one of the tabs until it turns. Don’t worry about breaking it if you are replacing the unit. The new one will have new washers.

If this is a bathroom faucet, there will likely be a drain lift. Loosen the clamp screw and lift the plunger out of the fixture. Then lift the old fixture out of the sink.

Clean the area where the old fixture was. Then set the new fixture in place using the new gasket if included.

Put the new hold down washers in place and tighten them until the fixture will not move around in the sink. Slip the drain plunger down the hole and connect it to the drain operating lever. Tighten the screw.

Inspect the water supply tubes and the gaskets that the top. Replace if necessary. Tighten the supply lines on the fixture firmly but not so tight as to damage the plastic threads on the fixture.

Slowly open the water valves and check for leaks. If any are found shut off the water and check the tightness of the connections. If they are tight and still leak, replace the washers or the entire tube assembly. Normally the bottom is 3.8 compression fitting and the top is ½” pipe.

Once you are satisfied there are no leaks, open the faucet knobs slowly to let the air out. The pipes may bounce around as the air purges so check for leaks again after the water runs smooth and clear.

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