Tag Archives: home improvement

A quick peek behind the curtain

I realize that I’m not writing a lot of interesting stuff on my blog for the time being. Filling it with easy posts solely about e.g. metal music and running wouldn’t paint a real picture of my life at the moment, so I’m not going to resolve to that.

So what have I been up to lately? Well… I’m seeing a lovely girl, I’ve been to the dentist for the first time in several years (everything ok), I’m quite busy at work, I’ve been cut into by a doctor (nothing really serious but there’s a healing process), I’ve painted inside my house and replaced a few pieces of furniture, I’ve bought and assembled furniture for my terrace, I’ve cut down a tree in my garden and turned it into firewood, I’ve become a board member of the civic association in my country town, I’m planning maintenance work on my private water supply together with a neighbour, I’m in the process of getting my car approved for two more years at the biennial, statutory inspection, I’m trying to get better at unwinding and relaxing, I’m learning to appreciate good tea (but also rediscovering the joy of good coffee), I’m expanding my cultural horizon with new genres for music, movies and series, I’m thinking about how to celebrate my 30th birthday later this year, I’m starting to do gardening, and undoubtedly more.

That’s it for now.

Here’s a small bonus for my fellow metal heads:

Adding insulation to my attic

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I have finally begun the insulation project that I have been talking about for months. In the process I’m removing the old aluminum vapor/heat barrier, installing air sealing (boards directing air flow) and a modern plastic vapor barrier. It’s a huge project. In the end there will be – from the bottom – 5 cm glass wool, a vapor barrier and then 30 cm glass wool.

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A quiet weekend

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It has been a quiet weekend, more or less. I visited my parents in Thy, where I picked up wind boards produced by my father. There are many boards and they probably weigh more than 100 kg in total, which meant I had to drive very conservatively on my way back. If you’re in doubt, they are for my ceiling insulation project, where I need to direct the wind over the layers of insulation. It was super awesome that I could “order” the boards from him, and I’m starting to understand – with additional inspiration from Bonderøven – that the process of building or fixing something is as important as the end result. It’s important to involve family and friends. I also managed to sit with my rifle in a hochsitz for a few hours in the rain (without seeing anything) and to buy some art for my many walls at a charity store. When I wanted to go to bed at my parents’ house, one of their dogs – Birko – had stolen the bed while I brushed my teeth 🙂

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Actually, I had planned to start working in the attic today, Sunday, as I finally have everything I need for the first eighth of the project. It didn’t happen, though, as I had a pile of clothes that needed to be washed, the weather was suddenly suitable for a run, my conscience begged for a run, logs needed to be splitted and brought to the stove, my kitchen needed to be cleaned, a better (sturdier) toilet seat purchased the other day begged to be installed, etc. In addition, I decided to relax in an armchair this evening with a foot bath, a quietly burning stove and The Expendables 2.

As always, I’ve been digging around the net for metal stuff, and I’ve found something that means a lot to me. Back in 2003 when I started at Aalborg University, a friend introduced me to metal music. There were also other friends pointing me in the metal direction, but one friend stands out. None mentioned, none forgotten. I humbly say thank you. It was through Nightwish and Within Temptation, I learned to appreciate metal. When viewing and listening to this pot of gold – Within Temptation playing for two hours with the Metropole Orchestra in the Netherlands in 2008 – I seriously don’t understand why many people like the boring music that gets played on the mainstream radio stations. Being on the subject, let me wholeheartedly recommend the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey.

Hot shortcuts to the aforementioned pot of gold:

Within Temptation will release their new album Hydra on January 31, where we will see guest performers Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish, see this Hydra-video) and Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage, see this Hydra-video), among others.

That’s all I wanted to share for now 😉

Merry Christmas!

I’m writing these words with metal music playing in the background, my stove burning perfectly a few meters way, a handful of almonds on my coffee table and a glas of red wine within reach. Today I’ve discovered a few new bands that I will be listening to in the near future – Trivium and Aghora. I’ve also managed to get some actual stuff done today, including picking up 200 m² of vapor barrier, buying and wrapping the last Christmas present, buying groceries, washing clothes, splitting logs for the stove and changing some outdoor light bulbs.

Relatively many days have gone by since my previous post. During those days, I’ve eaten delicious, homemade pizza and tasted fine whiskies and rums at a colleague’s home, attended a friend’s 30th birthday party, attended my mother’s birthday get-together and attended a friend’s PhD defense party. At the latter party I met my former PhD supervisors, as they were also my friend’s supervisors. I only worked on my PhD for approx one year, which means that I didn’t complete it. I needed to try the “real world”, and I’ve honestly never regretted my decision. It’s three and a half years ago now. Being at the party and talking to the supervisors of course made me think about life and how you can take many paths. It was really nice to see that one of my friends – one of the co-authors on my master thesis – completed his PhD.

DIY-wise, I’ve realized that adding insulation to my attic requires me to install a vapor barrier and wind boards, which makes the project more expensive, more complicated and more time-consuming. I’m of course going to complete the project anyway. Fortunately, the work can be split into many parts.

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I’m looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Merry Christmas 🙂

Addition: Actually, another small thing happened today. While I was driving home from Hadsund with vapor barrier and groceries, a roe deer suddenly crossed the road 50 meters in front of my car. I braked hard, felt the heavy vapor barrier take off from the back seat and thought “one or more deers typically follow so do not accelerate too early”, and yes, another one followed two seconds after the first one. My heart rate was a bit elevated 🙂

Turning 29

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I turned 29 yesterday – for the first time!

Honestly, I don’t mind it. Age is just a number. I even expect not to be shaken by my 30th birthday in a year. In my universe, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. are considered more “major” numbers anyway 😉

As mentioned in a previous post, some of my geographically closest relatives visited my on Sunday, November 17, for an informal dinner and afternoon tea/coffee/cake. My purpose with the event was also to show them my house and neighbourhood. With a cloudless sky and bright sunshine the weather was at its best in quite a while. A very nice day indeed.

Yesterday, on my actual birthday, I was at work most of the day. Thanks to my co-worker Karina, my monitor had birthday flags taped to it, which meant I got a lot of greetings. Mid-afternoon I fetched some cakes from a nearby bakery.

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In the evening I helped my brother move “officially”, i.e. registering it electronically with the authorities, and I went for a short run. Some might say I have some experience regarding moving 😉 Regarding running, I have planned a schedule for the next two-three months, which will take me slowly from four to ten km.

Hmm, what else is current…? Ohh, yes, I think my car is starting to demand some kind of love. I have driven approx 20,000 km since its last service. One of the major front bulbs died, so I’ve changed the pair. The job almost made me crazy. It doesn’t end there, as I also have to change a pair of smaller bulbs, and I’ve decided to change oil, oil filter and air filter. At the same time I will make the switch to winter tyres. I might have a small hole in my exhaust system, but I’m not going to do anything about that for the time being.

I’m currently planning to add 15 or 20 cm of insulation to my attic, and I’m pondering whether or not to install some air ducts in the process. The purpose is to circulate the warm air from my stove to the rooms in the other end of the house. If I decide to install them, it should be part of the insulation job, as the ducts will be surrounded by the insulation material.

Changing my circulation pump is temporarily on hold, as I’m quite busy with other stuff and because I actually use very little electricity, all in all. I have just had my expected yearly amount lowered to 2,000 kWh, and I honestly don’t expect to reach even 1,500 kWh. The sensible thing is of course still to change the pump. Which reminds me that I need to add water to the central heating, as the pressure is quite low… Air in the pipes probably isn’t the best medium for transporting heat.

Good night!

Cheap, custom-size table

Okay, you’ve invited some friends or family members for an event, but you realize that you need a bigger table in your living room for them to have a place to sit and eat. Also, you want to avoid using the table in your kitchen, as it will be a self-service table with food and drinks. No way around it – you need to buy, borrow or build a table that can extend the table in the living room. Preferably, the extra table will have the same or almost the same width and height as the table it’s extending.

Since I’ll probably need the extra table a few times each year, I discarded the borrow option. Additionally, I can use the table for other purposes when it’s not being used for an event. That leaves buying or building. All the cheap tables and table tops for sale that I can find in nearby warehouses are too narrow. Okay… To the table building machine!

Using wooden shelves and metal legs from Ikea, planed lathing boards from Bauhaus and assorted screws I had laying around, I’ve built the following 138 x 84 cm table for approx 260 DKK. It does the trick when covered by a tablecloth.

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Connecting my stove, part 3 of 4

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After a few naive attempts with messy newsprint and a too large piece of wood, I have managed to start the first real fire in my stove. The suction from the chimney seems to work, and the oil burner’s blower doesn’t seem to disturb the fire. If anything, the blower generates more suction for the fire as well. I ignite the fire using only firelighters and kindling. In this particular case I’ve ignited top-down, which worked well.

Here’s ten seconds of video 🙂

Realistically, the final part of the saga – the house warming – will not happen in 2013.

Oh, and what else is new? Let me tell you… I attended the awesome Aalborg Metal Festival on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Sunday and Monday (yesterday) I visited my parents for Mortensaften, where we had delicious duck, caramelised potatoes, prunes, Risalamande, etc.

Excuse me – I have to add a new piece of wood to the fire 🙂

Connecting my stove, part 2 of 4

Hmm, four parts, not three? One of my coworkers pointed out that the series needed a part 4, where the stove is inaugurated with a housewarming… 🙂

Today I’ve adapted the smoke pipes using a grinder and finalized the setup. I ended up only having to cut 52 mm off one of the pipes, as the pipe going into the sleeve in the wall could just be pushed further in. The connection of the pipes to the stove and the sleeve is sealed with fiberglass cord. It was quite difficult to force the itchy cord in between the piping, but I succeeded after many attempts.

I’m convinced that the setup is tight, but to be safe I’ve ordered a carbon monoxide alarm. It seems that the oil burner blows gasses into the chimney at a rather high rate, which might disturb the stove. Time will tell if this becomes a problem.

Hopefully, the chimney cleaner approves the setup on Thursday. (Update: He did! Yay!)

Enjoy the pictures 🙂

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If you consider jumping into a project like this, you’ll need some tools 😉

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Connecting my stove, part 1 of 3

Today I’ve begun connecting my stove in the corner of my living room. The first and most difficult step is to create a Ø160 mm hole in my wall and chimney and fasten a metal sleeve in the hole using fireplace mortar. With blood, sweat, swearing, sparks, advice from my dad and a heavy hammer from a friend I completed that step today. It’s one of those jobs I don’t want to do for a living and will only ever do for my own benefit. At least that’s how I feel at the moment.

I imagine part 2 being about the smoke pipes and part 3 being about lighting the stove for the first time.

Since I’m all out of energy, you’ll have to settle with the following twelve pictures. Click to enlarge.

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Reverse engineering my central heating

I am trying to figure out how my oil-based central heating works, as I want to adjust it properly for the winter season and possibly replace the old, energy-wasting water pumps. Unfortunately, all the components are tightly fitted in a cabinet, which means that I cannot see the connections (piping) between them. The first two pictures provide an overview of the cabinet:

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Click on the pictures 😉

It is my current understanding that the cabinet contains at least the following:

  • Oil burner/boiler (grey metal at the bottom).
  • Hot water storage tank (green, huge, in the middle).
  • Expansion tank (red, at the top).
  • Manual, two- or three-way shunt valve (to the left of the bottom of the hot water storage tank).
  • Pump for hot water for radiators and underfloor heating (at the bottom).
  • Pump for hot tap water (at the top).
  • Control unit for the temperature in the hot water tank (next to the upper pump).
  • Thermometer on the supply pipe for radiators and underfloor heating.
  • Thermometer and manometer on the hot water storage tank.

Close-ups of the components:

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Rotated close-ups of the pumps, showing their specifications:

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The pump to the left, which I suspect is pumping hot tap water, is a Grundfos UPS 20-45. It is class F and supposedly consumes 44 W when pumping. I am not sure that it is pumping continously – it might be regulated by something. If it is only pumping once in a while, it might not be profitable to replace it. According to online material from Grundfos, the current pump has to be 180 mm and a suitable replacement is their Alpha2 25-60 180 mm. The replacement, in a tap water edition, seems to cost a lot, which puzzles me a bit.

The pump to the right, which is certainly for supplying radiators and underfloor heating, is a Grundfos UPS 25-40 180 mm. It is class F and pumps continously. Currently, I have it set at position 2 out of the 3. This means that it continously consumes 55 W. If it is set at 2 for the five coldest months and at 1 for the seven other months, it consumes approx 354 kWh/year, which is approx 800 DKK/year. I have no doubt that it should be replaced. The constant, high-pressure pumping makes my radiators a bit noisy, thus replacing the pump will also increase comfort. Supposedly, a suitable replacement is an Alpha2 25-40 180 mm, which is relatively cheap in a heating edition (not for tap water). The investment will probably be recouped in two years and a few months.

I want to end up with a schematic for my central heating, however, it will require some assistance from family, friends and people in DIY forums. My quite optimistic plan is to replace the latter pump myself. It is not a simple task, as the pump is inaccessible and there are no valves next to it. I might have to drain the system for water and fill it afterwards.

Before I forget: The low temperature (approx 30ºC) of the supplied water to radiators and underfloor heating is probably due to the latter type of heating – the underfloor heating. Floors will be damaged if they are exposed to water with the same temperature as the water in the hot water storage tank, i.e. approx 60ºC. The setting of 5 out of 10 on the shunt valve possibly halves the 60ºC to 30ºC.