The Big Project
A couple years ago I finally began making repairs to my old house.
The roof – shingles were crumbling and falling apart - blowing off (2 layers, thankfully no leaks inside).
The gutters – were rusted thru.
The fascia – was rotted thru in some areas.
The furnace – was very old (probably 50 plus years) and in serious need of replacement.
I had always put off these repairs because they seemed overwhelming and I had little experience (jack of a lot of trades, none mastered); little time and even less money (especially to have this work done the way I wanted).
Finally, in my early 60s I decided to quit my job (the boss/business owner was just getting way out of line – verbally and physically) and I decided to try and make it on my very modest retirement.
So, about two years ago, with time on my hands and hopefully just enough money, I began – first doing research online – looking for the best affordable methods, materials, and tools.
I also realized that one “slip, trip, or fall” (this is what happens when old guys get crazy) could ruin me – since I had no health insurance, so finding affordable health care became another expensive task (took me a few months, but I accomplished that task).
Then I managed to re-injure my shoulder before I’d hardly gotten started – took me a good 6 months to get my right arm back.
I performed all the calculations, purchases and work myself, start to finish.
- Built a narrow deck alongside garage because I knew I’d need a place to store pre-ordered seamless gutters.
Roof (hip roof; small 2bdrm single story house and detached garage)
- The tear-off: two layers; no way to bring in a dumpster, so I piled shingles up in back-yard (compounding my labor). Also, yanked old swamp-cooler off roof (won’t re-install; maybe AC in the future).
- Old board sheathing – opened and brought new furnace into attic thru roof; replaced some sheathing; sheathing passed city inspection (with cupping and gaps, barely).
- Grace underlayment – more expensive but held up during the extended time it took me to shingle
- Service Drop – installed a mast and relocated because power was anchored to the sheathing.
- Roof vents – replaced with ridge vent
- Valley – open, ice and water shield; metal
- Shingle Hoist – bought an electric winch online from Harbor Freight and built a shingle hoist to hauls shingles and gas furnace up to roof.
- Shingles - Malarkey Alaskan (expensive, but I think they are pretty good – 100mph, class IV hail protection; like the way they lay flat – don’t care for architectural). I had delivery to pallets in my backyard (in defiance of expert advice to have them dropped on my roof) and used my home-made shingle hoist to bring them up as needed. I used a coil roofing nail gun (wasn’t sure my arm and hand could do all the hand-nailing). Took my time (and a long time it was; sometimes in the rain, wind and 90 degree heat; once even wore a headlamp and worked in the dark); lots of measuring and layout work; installed using manufacturer’s instructions (stair-step pattern).
- Made an early decision to replace all fascia (thought it would be easier and make more sense than cutting out bad sections; scrapping and painting old boards). I also thought (and encouraged by online forums) that cedar would be better than pine. That turned out to be no easy task, but I think I have a much better end product. Made myself a heavy duty plywood scaffold and saw horses (lot of work to move around, but worth the solid base to work from). Painted cedar boards laying flat on saw horses (two coats of oil-based primer and multiple thin coats of Benjamin Moore (custom color to match gutters).
- Decided on seamless aluminum. Paid for a “chop and drop”; hidden hangers 18” apart; 3”x4” downspouts; dug and buried 4” corrugated pipe to move drainage further from foundation; ordered extra gutter so I could practice my mitered corners (turned out pretty good; got fairly comfortable using red and green snips).
- Passed (first try) all sheathing, mid-roof and final roofing inspections.
Hauling off old shingles: I tried hiring somebody from Craig’s List to haul off the old tear-off, but they gave me the run-around and I finally decided I’d do that too (plus, I refuse to hire illegals); two trips to the city dump with my little 6 foot PU and I’ve still got shingles, but will get rid of them eventually.
So, I really did do this whole multi-part project start to finished – all by myself.
- After a lot of research and searching I found a company, out of state, willing to sell me a Rheem Prestige 80 (50k BTU). I chose the 80 instead of the newer 90plus models because of cost, and I don’t think the slight efficiency advantage will make that much difference in my small 800sq ft home – and I personally believe the “80” Prestige series to be “tried and true” which is what you want when you have to tear off a roof to replace it.
- Built a base out of channel iron – super solid (the old furnace was balanced on some wobbly old bricks)
- Ductwork: Had to rework the ductwork to fit the new furnace (made a template out of poster board; traced and cut metal from a roll of 20” flashing; assembled with foil tape, duct tape and sheet-metal screws).
- Vent Pipe: Cut oversized round hole in my new roof (2” bigger than vent pipe); new flashing; new B-1 pipe; vent cap; secured vent pipe with various flat-bar and other brackets – made vertical (old vent was tied in place with a few pieces of wire).
- Thermostat: fished a new 5 wire (left the old 2 wire in place); connected existing single stage programmable thermostat (when I get the money, will swap for a newer 2 stage thermostat to really take advantage of two stage burner and ECM motor.)
- Installed a two bulb, swivel flood light fixture in attic with 60 watt fluorescents bulbs and a “wind-up” timer switch (no more forgetting to turn off the light and burnt out bulbs).
- Cut-off power switch – wired in a 30 amp switch next to furnace so I can cut power to furnace without having to go to breaker panel.
- Installed a gas shut-off valve in attic.
- Found a small gas leak with soap – and fixed (cleaned up soap after testing).
- First Fire: after double checking all instructions and connections – she fired up just fine (Denver, early November just in time for a 20 degree drop in temps and snow in the forecast – heck, looking out the window - snow is falling at this very moment!).
- Observations: The old furnace was noisy, smelly (carbon monoxide detector told me I was safe – sort of) and old furnace hit you with full-on blasts of hot air in between cold spells.
The new furnace doesn’t use a pilot light; there is no smell; nearly silent; and I’ve got it set not to kick into the second stage for 12 minutes – so most of the time it blows a softer even heat – much more comfortable (will be even better when I can afford the two stage thermostat).
Its beginning to sink in that, for the first time in years, I can go to sleep at night knowing that my home will survive the blizzards blowing outside – a welcome peace of mind knowing that now I can “ride out the storm”.
So, that’s about it – my 2 year solo project – lots of apprehension – times I wasn’t sure I was going to get thru it; lots of learning and some self realization that maybe I’m not totally useless. I got’r done and just barely in time for winter!
I could not have done this without my online resources including YouTube and forums like this – so THANK YOU ALL
Quick shot of house and garage (out back) after replacing shingles, fascia and gutters: