Category Archives: Fix-ups

I’m still pretending to be a plumber!

I’m a glutton for punishment! My half bath needed an update from the plain chrome faucet with plastic ball handles. I also was tired of the gawd-awful builder-grade glued ceramic/plastic towel rod and TP holder. I watched various videos on installing faucets to see if I could do it. As with my earlier Korky installation, the videos make it seem much easier than it really is. I also believe the job would be much easier with a 2nd person to help with the above-the-sink holding-things-in-place job.

pipes under bathroom sinkFirst problem is the small size of the cabinet in a half bath. Crawling in it to reach the gizmos holding the faucet in place is a challenge and requires a sturdy pillow to prevent pain on shoulder blades. Regular wrenches are useless. However, in the videos I watched I was introduced to two very handy tools.

tools needed to remove faucetsThe first is a Rigid Faucet & Sink Installer (red tool in photo). Follow that link to Rigid and you can watch a video of how versatile this tool is. In my case it didn’t work to get the nut off when I was removing the old faucet because my copper pipes were curved. This tool only works with straight pipes that can go in the tool’s opening. But once the pipe was removed, I could then use it for the piece that screws up tight against the sink. It worked just great when installing the new faucet.

The other metal tool is called a basin wrench. It can be extended to reach the top hex nut when arms are too short. The top black part has wrench teeth to grip the nut while you turn the bottom rod to leverage your strength. That top also flips over to other side depending on the direction you need the teeth to grip.

Delta Porter bath faucet

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I’ve partially got the new Delta faucet installed. Looks good from the top! Underneath I’m still working on it. The flexible connectors that I bought to replace the copper pipe is not fitting the pipe fitting that comes out from the wall. It seems the threads may differ. I may need to visit a plumbing store or last resort call a REAL plumber! 😦

I did just fine in removing the old GLUED towel & TP rods. I used a box cutter to slice around the glued parts so when I eased the ceramic off it wouldn’t tear off a large piece of drywall paper. I applied spackle a couple times, sanding in between each layer. Then I covered the spackle with a primer and sanded again. Finally I rolled on the paint to match the walls. When dry, I installed the rods. VOILA!

UPDATE EDIT: I called a plumber to help with the final connectors. He was impressed with my tools (pictured) and thought I did a great job considering how narrow my cabinet was. He said I did the hard part. That made me feel good.

I now self-identify as a plumber

I’m sure I’m not alone in doing some minor “fix” which exponentially explodes into a full-blown project. That recently happened to me … AGAIN! The toilet in the half bath wasn’t doing a good job of flushing. It appeared that the fill valve was lower than it should be to allow the tank to fill with sufficient water. Several years ago my daughter had installed a Korky Quiet Fill in this toilet. It worked very well until recently. I suspected it had “slipped down”.

I turned off the water supply below the toilet then unscrewed the two attachments at the base of the tank. Then I pulled out the Korky unit and tried to extend the tube. It had ratchets that lock the tube in place once the right height is determined. Well as I was working with the height, the ratchets locked in place and I couldn’t get them to unlock.

I checked YouTube to see if there were any instruction videos. There are MANY! I picked this one from Korky itself. Notice that this video is 1.52 minutes long. In it the gal does the complete installation. Trust me … it takes longer than that! 🙂

Korky Quiet Fill ValveThe main thing I noticed from the video was that the ratchets on my old unit were different. I suspected there was a problem with the old design, so Korky revised the design. So off to Home Depot (my fav store) to buy a new unit. I put the new unit in with no problem being careful to position the height as instructed.

Then I reattached the solid chrome connector to the tank and the faucet bar. Once done, I turned the faucet back on. Water dripped from the tank and from the nut near the faucet knob. @#$%^&*!!! I won’t go thru the multiple steps I tried to fix the drips but let’s just say the toilet was out of commission for a few days.

toilet tank connectorBack to Home Depot where a terrific guy told me to use a flexible connector then throw the old solid one away. (The flexible connector has better washer system in it.) Voila! It worked great, easy to install AND it worked. No leaks!

I was so confident in my skills(?) that I bought another Korky and flexible extender for another toilet. Took me only 30 minutes this time and NO LEAKS! The extender I bought is a little longer than needed but I was afraid to buy too short cause I didn’t want to have to make another trip. I’m so proud of me!

NOTE: If any plumbers read this, you’re worth every penny! While I saved money on this project, there are a couple projects yet to do that I will need to hire a plumber because they’re beyond my ability. So there’s that!🙂

Take A Chance With Your Landscape

Last May I wrote about putting in a new landscape bed next to the back of my home. I selected some plants that I wasn’t familiar with so was eager to see what they looked like this year now that they’re more established. The middle plant is a Butterfly Bush which I had had at another home.

Landscape bed

Two of the shrubs were Ninebark Coppertina. They are living up to their hype, changing colors seemingly each month. They will be large shrubs, 8-10ft tall, if unpruned. Since they require more sun, I put the two plants at either end of the bed to get either morning or afternoon/evening sun. The one that gets the afternoon/evening sun is slightly larger than the one that mainly only gets morning sun.

The other plant I selected is Ligularia ‘Midnight Lady’. It likes shade and moist soil. It is said to be a good plant near a pond if shaded. I don’t have a pond but the hose faucet is nearby so I can keep it moist if needed. It is doing VERY WELL in this spot. So well that I think I misjudged it’s eventual size and will have to divide next year. It is sometimes referred to as elephant ears and the leaves definitely fit that description. (Compare the leaves to the birdbath bowl.) It’s supposed to produce tall daisy-like flowers midsummer to fall, but it didn’t do that last year. Hopefully it will this year.

Ligularia dentata 'Midnight Lady'

ligularia with flowers
Here is a photo from the Internet of what the Ligularia looks like with flowers. I hope mine eventually looks this spectacular. ⇒⇒⇒

I love trying “unique & unusual” plants. Over the years I’ve had successes AND I’ve had failures but it’s fun to experiment. Time will tell whether  this landscape bed will be a success or need to be redone.

Related story:
Follow-up to May 2015 planting

Hard Work Is Being Rewarded

On May 25 I wrote about the hard work I’ve put into my yard over the years. My LAST project was to put new plants in along the back of my house. I added 900 lbs of top soil to raise the ground level up for proper water drainage away from the foundation. Around each new plant, I used Scotts® special soil for shrubs & trees which includes fertilizer. All the rain we have had has helped enormously!

Here’s what the new plants look like now! The Ligularia haven’t sprouted flowers yet but they are a mid-summer/fall bloomer. I really like the Coppertina Ninebark as it keeps changing colors. It and the Butterfly Bush will eventually grow as tall as the bottom of the windows.

New Plants Are Growing

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Notice that Murph is “supervising” in the background!

 

Blood and Sweat … lots of both!

I’ve been working on my landscape like a crazy lady this Spring. I have fairly large landscape beds all around the house. So far I’ve put down 100 bags of mulch with one more big bed yet to go. I also just finished putting in a new 5′ x 24′ bed which required just under 1000 lbs of top soil to raise the level so it would slope away from the home.

Backyard - long view

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This photo is of my back yard. The spruce and viburnums have been in about 10-12 years as has the pear tree on the right. It’s now taller than the 2nd story windows. The variegated winter creeper (front) is providing shade and hiding the AC unit.

privacy screening

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maintenance-free landscaping

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The east side landscaping was selected to be fairly maintenance-free since it’s furthest from the faucet. My son-in-law, who is a supervisor at a landscape firm, suggested the Olentangy limestone boulders to block erosion of the slope. They were costly but really make a dramatic statement. He scored points with his mom-in-law with that idea! The white shrub is a dappled/variegated willow. If unpruned, it gets quite large – above that window behind it. Each fall, I severely cut it down. It is now in the process of growing new limbs.

colorful perennials

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A few years ago, I had the builder-provided landscaping removed from the front and all new plants installed. They’ve grown quite a bit since then, plus I’ve added some perennials on my own. The red/green shrub is pieris japonica. The light green plant to the right is bee balm. It will get about 3ft tall with brilliant scarlet flowers. It only looks good for the 3-4 weeks that it blooms then it needs to be cut down. It spreads like crazy, so I’ve divided it and planted some elsewhere for the hummingbirds. Toward the top of the photo are three white phlox that also get tall and contrast nicely with the bee balm.

large barberries

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The west side has large plants to deflect the effects of weather on this side. In between the large barberries are green/white striped ornamental grasses that grow to about 6 ft with draping fronds.

new landscape bed

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Ninebark Coppertina

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My last project was to build a bed along the back of my home (above) (the brown “thing” by the tree is Murph). I am unfamiliar with two of the plant types so am anxious to see what they do. On each end of the bed are Coppertina Ninebark which can grow 8-10 ft and 6 ft wide. They are to get a brilliant bronze-red in the summer.

Ligularia

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The other plant is Ligularia. It will have very dark black-purple leaves then in summer grows tall daisy-like yellow-orange flowers. It will be about 30″ tall and hopefully contrast well with the Ninebark and the white Butterfly Bush in the middle.

 

 

If all goes as planned, the Ninebark and Butterfly Bush should grow up to the bottom of the windows. The only project left to do is to add a deck … so I can relax and enjoy the view!

backyard screening

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BTW, last summer I attended a neighborhood picnic. I was asked where I lived. When I told the person, she said, “Oh, you’re the lady with the landscaping!” I guess there’s worse things to have neighbors call you. 🙂

Tree Trimming – best left to the pros

Maple tree - untrimmed

Before Trimming

A 19-yr old maple tree in my front lawn was very thick with many crossed branches and some dead branches. The trunk was damaged several years ago with a late sub-zero freeze as the sap was rising. To remove the risk of strong winds blowing over the top-heavy tree, I decided to have it trimmed.

Davey Tree trimming It was fascinating watching the ease with which the trimmer climbed the tree and used one of his 3 tools to cut off the branches.

 

 

Trimmed maple tree

Trimmed Tree

 

Besides having a healthier tree, I’ll also have a lot fewer leaves to rake next month. That’s a big positive!

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