punch party! (attack of the HVAC, house numbers, you grasshole, and more!

Still ironing out the wrinkles on the house. Took Thursday off to sit with the builder and an army of trades as they banged on the punch list. Lots done, but still bits to go...

attack of the HVAC

The biggest wrinkle in our ironing has been the HVAC system. The sub came out and fixed the blown damper and also hardwired the ERV into the system such that it doesn't blow when the full system isn't blowing (all it would be doing at that point is wasting electricity). Unclear why they didn't install the Bryant ERV, which better integrates into the thermostat, allowing the user to control how much fresh air is brought into the house.

We're still having major temperature control issues with the various zones, and the sub basically doesn't know how to fix it (although they won't admit it). The on-site guys say that the system does it all itself, so there's nothing to worry about. Yet we continue to have serious problems:

Byant says "The system will never purposefully cool or warm greater than three degrees from the set points." Yet that is what it is doing.

I'm not an HVAC professional, but I figure it might be one of four things (or combos of all):

1. The dampers aren't working properly, particularly the damper to the master suite. There are times when we get a (comparatively) good amount of air into the bedroom, but more often than not we hardly get any air while the system dumps air into the rest of the house.

2. The dampers are working properly, but the "factory settings" don't send enough air into the master suite. The system is "smart" in that it measures back pressure in the main air distribution center and adjusts the dampers to maximize air flow and minimize air noise through the vents. I found dealer documentation for the system online, and it says that this function can be overridden. We're at the point we don't care about vent noise. Get us some damn air!

3. The ductwork "design" is causing problems. Air flows like water: it prefers the path of least resistance. The path to upstairs is short and sweet: 3 to 20 feet in large and relatively straight tubes. The path to downstairs is also short and sweet: 3 to 20 feet in large and relatively straight tubes. The path to the master suite is a nightmare, long and bitter: 20 to 40 feet through small tubes and various right angles. It is the path of most resistance. What might be happening is that at the lowest fan speed for the system, there's too much back pressure such that the other zones open up to dump the air, and then that's where all the air is going.

4. The ductwork to the master suite is somehow pinched or blocked, which would cause the air dumping just described. Since it appears the sub may have "disposed of" pieces of insulation board in the ductwork (that may have been the problem with the blown damper), it's possible a piece of insulation board is also in the ductwork to the master suite.

I'm thinking the issue is prolly a combo of 1, 2, and 3. Since 3 is impossible to address right now (at least not without tearing up half the house), we have to hope the problem can be solved with the dampers. I don't think 4 is the issue because there are two tubes that run to the master, and both seem to have issue with air flow.

The builder is working to get a Bryant technician (not a dealer tech) out to the house to check the system. The sub sent their best guy, and his response was "I've never seen a system like this." Hopefully the Bryant tech can fix it.

we have numbers!

and they look grand! These are the numbers we bought from modernhousenumbers.com who were kind enough to make us a small zero to riff on the up-and-down rhythm of the o's in our address. The first time we put them up (we being the builder and me), we put 'em up upside down. We were so focused on placement and distance from the light that we neglected to notice that the numbers work right side up (6909) as well as upside down (6069). After they were up the first time, I'm, like, "They look good! but something ain't right...". Fortunately, we only had to change two of the numbers. Our sock-of-the-month club deliveries will now arrive safely.

you grasshole

The first time around they forgot to cut the pavers for feather grass holes. We have them now:


We now have power to the hot tub as well as the (future) stage:

outdoor speakers

The outdoor speakers are now installed.


Our neoplastic handrails are installed! Interlocking-cubist-volume hardware with a slab-of-hickory rail. We bought the rail from stairsupplies.net. Reasonable price for some real nice rails.


They put a wheel on the gate:

fill metal on the windows:

spigot on the garage:

and holes in the wire center cover in the pantry:

some laggards...

Besides the HVAC problems, a few other straggling issues...

The doorbell chime we got doesn't work with the doorbell button. Because the doorbell button rocks it hard, we ordered a chime that we know will work with the button. The only problem is that it never came. UPS says they delivered it, but it didn't show up. We had it sent to the bride's office. However, UPS says no one was home and left it at the front door at 2 pm on a Monday. Someone was at the office (they have a receptionist), so that suggests it was misdelivered. If that isn't frustrating enough, the chime supplier won't return emails about the order.

Fixing to go blog postal on 'em...

On Thursday (punch) morning I told the bride that I was going to shower in the guest bathroom to make sure everything was in working order. She looked at me like I was crazy (as she often does), but I tromped upstairs to get my scrub and suds on. After adjusting the water temp out of the tub spout, I went to engage the diverter to turn on the shower (the thing that forces the water out the showerhead instead of the tub spout). However, there wasn't one (this took a bit of time to conclude because I was sure I was missing something)!

After discussing the lack of a shower diverter with the builder and plumber later in the day and both swearing there wasn't one during the install, the builder checked in with supplier and found out they had sent us the wrong control assembly. In other words, there is no opportunity to install a diverter in the present set-up. That's bad news because replacing the control assembly requires tearing up the wall. Presently looking at tub-spout based alternatives...

This could be a blessing in disguise. The tub spout with this set-up, although gorgeous, is not terribly stable (the sealing has split several times now...) and, because of its heft, begs people to use it for leverage (which breaks the sealing and portends greater problems in the future).

Speaking of sealing issues, we still haven't dealt with the potty problems in the powder room. The toilet cantilevers off the wall, which fits the cantilever motif of the house but isn't exactly the most stable of configurations, especially when former football players stop by for a visit. The installation has left the toilet with a wobble, which breaks the sealing between the toilet and the wall and just feels ominous. After discussions with the plumbing sub and builder, the plan is to cut out the drywall (the source of the wobble) and replace it with Hardie backer and the large format white tile we used in the other bathrooms.

decorating news

Upgraded our IKEA dresser with a higher-end (IKEA) dresser:

Moving on up, baybee! (and moved the old dresser to the guest room.)

Found a cool neoplastic water bowl for the cat (he only drinking moving water...). Filtered and splashed with a UV light. Great for disco parties, too!

Found a new coffee pot. Had a cheap Black and Decker black pot for the apartment. This one fits the house better:

Also found a magazine rack for the "contemplation room". This clever little thing made out of silicon came from Kontextur. Only comes in packs of three, so we have two more to figure out what to do with...

Also from Kontextur are a toilet brush and plunger/roll holder. White and wood goes good (as it should).

coming up

More work on the punch list, more decorating.

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