Gutter Dripping Sound

This morning, I stopped by the local Orchard Supply Hardware store. This has been an unusually dry winter. However, the recent storms have woken me up in the middle of the night. I don’t mind the soft sound of rainfall. What I do find maddening is the drip, drip, drip sound once the rain tapers off.

I had previously used The Silencer, which is a sponge glued to a magnet. I don’t believe that the price has changed in six years! It was still $2 and change at OSH. But, for a product that last a season or two, I was open to trying a different solution.

Beside The Silencer, OSH also had RainQuiet for $6.99. Each box contains two pads. So, that is $3.50 per gutter versus $2.39 for The Silencer. If RainQuiet lasts for more than a season or two, it’ll be worth the extra buck.


So, what you get this about a 1/2-inch course mesh pad affixed to a plastic backing. This pad can be cut to size. I ended up trimming about 3/4-inch from the long side of the pad. It attaches to the gutter via a standard office binder clip. It’ll probably rust over time, but should not wash loose like the magnet.

In a few hours, I’ll be able to tell if RainQuiet delivers a good night of sleep.


LED Bulbs

I’ve changed out some PAR38 bulbs from incandescent to LED, and the savings have been unnoticeable. Running the air conditioner to battle a hot summer can mask any energy savings that LED bulbs present.


Costco is currently selling 20 watt (90 watt equivalent) PAR38 bulbs for $22.99. I think there was a instant rebate earlier, but I don’t have a reference photo. Two years ago, Costco was selling 18W (75 watt equivalent) PAR38 LEDs for $29.99, after rebate.

However, I did notice that the floor space devoted to CFLs have diminished. Even chandelier bulbs, which Costco previously sold in CFL format have changed over to LED.


Hot Water Dispenser Leak

After six years of service, our Franke Little Butler hot water dispenser started to leak–from the bottom of the heating tank itself. I should have placed the rimmed baking sheet under the hot water tank a lot earlier.


When the hot water dispenser worked, it was convenient. But, I guess this is no different from a regular hot water heater. It has a set life span and when it fails, it leaks. Except the water heater leaks on the concrete floor of the garage and the hot water tank of the dispenser leaks on the kitchen cabinet. Big difference!

If you look at the reviews on Amazon, many people got less than six years of use from their Franke Little Butler hot water dispenser.

I am not sure if I will replace the Franke Little Butler hot water tank with another one. However, looking around at customer reviews of other brands, I see a lot of similar complaints. When searching for a new hot water dispenser, the keyword is “leak,” as in “[brand x] hot water dispenser leak.” Google that! Nothing stands out at this point.


iRobot Roomba Review

After much hesitation, I picked up an iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning robot at Costco. The popular warehouse retailer was selling the iRobot Roomba 595 for $299.99.

I was a bit apprehensive about this purchase. Sure, I had already outsourced the dishwashing and laundry to robots, but I had been acclimated to those appliances all my life. A vacuum cleaning robot seemed different.

Turns out that the critical question isn’t whether the Roomba will clean as good or efficient as a human. The Roomba doesn’t follow a grid pattern when vacuuming, so it may cover the same part of the room multiple times. However, what it lacks in efficiency, it makes up in effort by tirelessly vacuuming every single day without complaint.

Now, most people probably do not vacuum their own house every day. I certainly did not. But, the Roomba will if you set up its schedule to vacuum daily. I thought that would be excessively and was prepared to adjust the schedule until I saw the Roomba pick-up a dryer’s worth of link every single day. And all this time I thought the floor was clean.

Once you have an Roomba cleaning your house each day, I don’t think you can go back because now you know how dirty the floor is.


Baldwin Doorbell Lightbulb

I have a Baldwin Oval Bell Button installed by the front door. A few months ago, I noticed that the doorbell was no longer lit. I’m not entirely sure when the lightbulb burnt out, but I finally decided to do something about it.

Unfortunately, the Baldwin website didn’t list any replacement parts for the doorbell. But, after a quick inquiry to support, I received a e-mail notification that a new doorbell was on the way.

Here’s how the replacement doorbell appears:

Even without instructions, the replacement was straightforward and only involved four screws. The most difficult part was inserting the new doorbell back in the bronze finish since it was tight fit.


HDTV Reception Problems

I’ve had an HDTV television since 2008. I could pull in most channels, but I’ve always had problems with NBC and ABC. Since I don’t watch TV all that often, missing two major stations has not been a big problem.

But, after three years of spotty reception, I finally tried to solve the issue. First, I removed the existing coaxial cable, and installed a right angle (90°) coaxial connector. The coaxial outlet was located right behind the HDTV, and I suspected that the sharp bend in the cable was somehow affecting the reception. Actually, this was all guess work since I discovered that moving around the cable affected the reception, at least on the two channels that did not come in clearly. I still do not understand why the same cable that can carry all the other channels crisply could not do the same for ABC and NBC.

Next, I installed a new coaxial cable. I was at Orchard Supply Hardware for other reasons, and picked up a new GE RG6 Quad Shield Coax Cable, that supposedly offered “maximum signal quality.” I was skeptical a coaxial cable, even one branded “Ultra Pro® Digital – HD” could make a difference, but for $10.99, it was worth a shot. Much to my amazement, it worked! ABC and NBC now works, probably much to the delight of those who will be visiting during Thanksgiving.


18W PAR38 LED Reflector Flood

During the weekly Costco trek, I spotted a Conserv-Energy 18W PAR38 LED Reflector Flood selling for $29.99 after rebate. Of all the light bulbs in the house, the ones in the home office have gone out the most: incandescent and CFL. The bathroom CFL is second.

I haven’t had to replace the living room flood lights yet. However, when that time comes, I’m willing to give LEDs a chance because the flood lights give off a bit too much warmth and really heat up the dimmer switch such that it is hot to the touch. While the package states that the bulbs are dimmable, I think incandescents are the only bulbs that offer a satisfactory performance when dimmed, which leads to two issues.

Dimmers Suck. First, 99% of the time, the dimmer is set to full blast. So, the government is imposing an extra cost without much corresponding benefit to me or anyone else. Second, dimmers work with incandescents, and not so well (or even not at all) with CFLs or LEDs. By mandating the installation of dimmers, I am pretty much locked into using incandescents. So, unless I want to change out the light switches, it’s incandescent from here on out.

4 Pin CFLs Suck. What is even worse than the dimmer debacle is the requirement of high efficacy luminaires. Even if I wanted to switch to mercury-less LED, I cannot unless I also wanted to change the entire light fixture. The twist-on light base ensures compatibility to future lighting innovation. The custom 4-pin interface–not really.


Clearing a Slow Sink Drain

During a visit to Home Depot for other purposes, I spotted a BrassCraft Zip-It. Seeing that I had a slow bathroom sink, I was willing to give the product a test, especially since it only cost $2.50.

First, I filled the sink with 3 cups of water, measuring carefully with that precise, scientific instrument otherwise known as a Legoland cup.

Three Legoland cups of water yields about this much water.

Next, I measured how long it took for all the water to drain from the sink. A disappointing 24 seconds, per iPhone.

I could insert the Zip-It really easily down the drain, but pulling it back up took some wiggling. I think all the notches were catching onto parts of the drain. The Zip-It didn’t pull up a hairball or any large masses, but it did pull up a lot of black gunk.

After wiping away all the black gunk and rinsing the sink clean, I refilled the sink with 3 cups of water. The time to drain was a much-improved 9 seconds.


Filing a Record of Survey Map with the County Surveyor

After performing a field survey, does your surveyor need to file a record of the survey map with the county surveyor? In California, Business and Professions Code Section 8762 answers that question. In general, “after making a field survey in conformity with the practice of land surveying, the licensed surveyor or licensed civil engineer may file with the county surveyor in the county in which the field survey was made, a record of the survey.”

However, in certain situations, the record of the survey must be filed with the county surveyor. These relate to the discovery of material changes or discrepancies from subdivision maps, official maps, or records of surveys previously recorded, as well as the establishment of new points or lines.


How to Kill a Tree

You really don’t want to kill a tree. This is more of a do as I say, not as I do post. Anyways, I’m pretty sure that no one actually flushes a water heater, at least until a problem arises. Well, that day arrived a few months ago when the water pressure suddenly dropped. I tried draining the water heater just in case some sediment was clogging the pipes. Turns out, that wasn’t the problem.

So, how would you dispose of 50 gallons of hot water? Living in water-starved California, draining the water straight into the sidewalk gutter would be the sub-optimal answer. So, I thought I should re-use the water for watering the garden. At first, I tested the water on some weeds. Showing no ill effect, I dragged the hose to the base of a cherry tree and allowed the water heater to drain completely.

Turns out, this was not the win/win solution I envisioned because when spring finally rolled around, a certain cherry tree was not sprouting green buds and flowers like the other trees in the garden. Yes, that is how to kill a tree. If you want to flush a water heater and re-use the water, empty it into a clean trash can or storage container and allow the water to cool first.

1 comment