Podcast 245: Moving AC Equipment, Concrete Patios, and Becoming a Home Builder
Matt, Kiley, and Patrick hear from listeners about pink bathrooms and pillows before taking questions on moving an AC condenser, DIYing a concrete patio, and staying comfortable with a single-zone HVAC system.
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Homerr commented about the conservation effort to save pink bathrooms. Zachary shared a Reddit page dedicated to Too Many Pillows. Mike wants to know if he should move his AC condenser to the shady side of his house and Adam wants to know if he can build a concrete patio over stumps. John looks for advice as he contemplates a career change. Andrew asks about sub-slab vapor barriers and Joel wants to know why parts of his house are too cold.
Listener Feedback 1:
Listener Feedback 2:
Zachary writes: Hello FHB podcast, Thanks for everything you do. Having you all continue your podcast and even add to it during this time has been a great reassurance.
In episode 241 your first listener question at the end asked why designers insist on filling furniture with pillows. Well I just wanted you all to know that he is not alone in his dislike for too many pillows. In fact, there is a great Reddit page called Too Many Pillows that has some examples that makes you just wonder “why?”
Jeff: Oven issues
Patrick: Liam’s bedroom
Question 1: Should I move an outdoor AC compressor to get it into a shady location?
Mike from Richmond writes, What up FHB guru’s! I have a NG furnace and AC whole house unit for a 1 story 1750 sf ranch. I’m looking at replacing the 20 year old AC unit. The unit is in garage with outdoor unit that bakes in the sun for most of the day. I built a 4′ fence to help hide the unit and provide some shade. Doesn’t seem to do much blocking the sun’s rays.
What are your thoughts on relocating the outdoor unit on the far end of the house where it will be in shade 100% of the time? The current outdoor unit is about 25′ from the A coil. The additional distance would be about 25′ for a new length of about 50′. Not sure the additional cost. The crawl space has a decent amount of room to get around in.
So, do the guru’s think it would be worth the additional cost to run power and piping? Or am I over thinking this like I normally do?
Thanks for the awesomeness of your show!
- How Much Will Shading Your Air Conditioner Improve Its Efficiency? (greenbuildingadvisor.com)
- Central Air Conditioning: Bigger Isn’t Better
Question 2: Can I pour a concrete patio over old tree roots?
Adam from Virginia writes, Hello all, I’m starting a new concrete patio project and could use your help. The size will be roughly 12×14 with an integrated concrete fire pit. I’ve designed the pad to be in sections separated by 3inch lines of white stone. This serves two purposes, one it’s a nice decorative addition and two, allows me to pour the pad in small sections and focus on finishing one area at a time.
My biggest problem is removing the stumps and roots. I looked in to renting an excavator. The rental place told me I need a 7500 lbs machine. My truck can’t pull that and it would eat up my blacktop. So I’m having them ground down. The biggest stump is 12 inches. All the rest are single digits. 12 stumps total. I’m Hoping a 3.5 inch pad with rebar will hold up to the decaying organics.
I have a concrete mixer but no finishing tools.
Any recommendations you have to help me along are greatly appreciated.
Question 3: How can I find a good construction trade school in my area?
John, in Southern California writes, I just started listening to your podcast and love it. I was given the magazine as a gift and re-subscribed as well as bought the online membership.
As you can see below, I have an architectural renderings business. This means my eyes have been burned out of my skull for the past 12 years from staring at a screen for long stretches of time. During busy periods, it’s not unusual for me to pull at least 1 all-nighter a week. I’m 45 now…. this wrecks me. Add to this my desire to actually work with my hands has brought me to a mid-life craft crisis.
My career and work history up to this point has been varied and complex. I started working when I was 15, retail, mowing lawns, painting houses, whatever. I proceeded to become a reprobate until I was 23. During those “formative and adventurous” years, I worked menial positions in trades…. and by that I mean digging ditches…. and stuff.
When I got my act together at 23, I ran a cafe, built a new one for the owner and met an electrician who hired me. I left the cafe and at the same time applied for architecture school. During my education, I worked as a helper to a bunch of trades to make extra cash. This means I saw a lot of stuff around job sites, but I never became skilled at any one of them.
After architecture school, I worked briefly for a well-known firm but never really got into the nuts and bolts of architecture. We did a lot of high-end public buildings and competitions and because of an arts background, I ended up doing a lot of renderings.
There is a common misconception that architects make money. This is patently FALSE. For education investment to income ratio…. you couldn’t make a worse choice. I ended up starting my own business thinking I’d get into design build but I quickly wound up doing renderings as that was the only thing people were willing to pay me decent money for. I usually worked on large scale projects because there just isn’t a budget for high quality images in residential. The only residential project I did was a renovation of John Lautner’s Silvertop house in Los Angeles.
My great desire is to my own custom spec design build houses. I am lacking in many skill areas. I do not want to sit in front of a computer for the remainder of my life but I’m also 45 which means starting out as an entry level carpenter might not be realistic. I could try to get a job with a contractor but I don’t have enough experience to be a foreman.
What would your suggestion be to set me on my desired path? I’ve worked for myself for so long, while working for someone else might be possible, it might not be attractive to a potential boss.
Unfortunately, Southern California has a forgiving climate and you wouldn’t believe what passes for detailing a house here……and I don’t actually know what it should really be. Think “Flashing? We don’t need no stinking flashing”
Are there schools in Los Angeles that teach people proper building practices? Soup to nuts?
Anyways, I basically just wrote a whole podcast so sorry for the long email.
Your suggestions would be appreciated.
Question 4: How should I detail the plastic vapor barrier under an insulted concrete slab?
Andrew in Wisconsin writes, Hello, We are removing our rat slab basement floor and want to pour a new slab with a perimeter drain underneath leading to a sump basin. We intend to put down two inches of foam and a 15 or 20 mil vapor barrier under the concrete floor. My question is should the foam be under the vapor barrier? And what should I do around the hole where well comes in? The basement currently has water issues due to a high water table.
Thanks, Stay Safe
Question 5: What can I do to make my finished basement a more comfortable temperature?
Joel writes, Hello FHB crew, I’ve recently finished my walk-out basement in our ranch house in Michigan (while finishing every single back episode of the FHB podcast), and am having some issues with it being quite a bit colder in the fall/winter/spring than my upstairs. It’s a pretty big difference in the Spring and Fall, and less of a difference in the winter. There is a small unfinished utility/storage area on the southernmost side of the house where we have our water heater and forced air HVAC system, 2 finished bedrooms with carpet, a living room with a floating vinyl tile floor, a small finished walk-in storage closet, a small full bathroom, and the last 25% is my unfinished workshop. The workshop back wall is all spray foamed with closed cell but the sidewall remains concrete foundation. The rest of the walls in the finished areas are also all spray foamed with closed cell, as is all the rim joists all around. The master bedroom on the main floor (north side of house) also remains quite a bit colder as it is the farthest from the furnace. There are only two dampers in the utility area that go to the main floor laundry and main floor hallway, and I turn those off in the winter, but is closing two dampers and some vents upstairs going to increase static pressure too much and damage my equipment by not working at 100% capacity? I’ve heard of bypass ducts, but not sure that applies or is a good solution.
If you need more info please ask, but I am looking for ways to fix this problem so we don’t have to freeze at night in our master, and want to spend more time in our basement. I’m a woodworker/finish carpenter that spent a lot of time building out down there and my family doesn’t want to spend much time in it! We’ve resorted to space heaters to get somewhat comfortable temps. Do I need to have it zoned? Install additional dampers? All ductwork was done to code, inspected, and signed off on by the township so I don’t think the problem lies there. There also isn’t much space for a mini split and I doubt the township would allow a wood stove in the basement. The furnace is 15 years old, so should I just get a new one with variable speed to allow it to be zoned properly? What do you guys think? Any suggestions would be welcome!
Effective roof venting
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