Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bagless Vacuums do not Suck

Recently our old vacuum decided to give up the ghost on us. It didn't go out with a whimper - it actually scared the hell out of my daughter who was using it at the time.

I thought she had tried to vacuum up a Lego or some other hard object, which then got stuck in the beater bar, jamming the motor. I grabbed a screwdriver and took it apart to see what happened, and found that half of the impeller blades were broken, which actually broke the whole motor assembly case. Not an easy/cheap fix, so we tossed it out and got a new vac.

The two main choices for us were traditional bag vacuums and the newer style bagless vac. We've always had bag vacs in the past, and it always seems that we're running out to buy bags. We gave the bagless style a shot this time around. A Hoover 12amp, to be specific.

In this case, the dirt is sucked in to the main chamber on the left. A fine screen separates that open chamber from the filter on the right. Small dust gets through the screen and trapped on the filter. Anything which gets past this filter gets picked up by one of two more filters. Compare that to just a single bag designed to trap everything.

On the downside, the available space to hold the picked up dirt is small compared to a bag, but considering you can just empty the collection bin be back in business in a minute, it's a small price to pay. Typically I end up having to empty the bin after a full vacuuming of the house. If I don't do this, it blocks the screen and filter too much which reduces suction.

Here's the empty vac ready for action.

After just a few minutes and two rooms, I've got a good collection of dust going. This brings up the real down-side of a bagless vac - you end up seeing just how much crap you've got in your carpets. With two kids, two adults, a dog and a cat in the house, this can be pretty nasty looking at times. Dumping the container can get a little messy, since everything isn't contained in a simple-to-dispose-of bag.

One thing I've noticed is that after vacuuming my allergies usually do not cause me too many problems. With our old vac, this wasn't the case. I'd get a bagless again in a second. The hastle of dumping the container after each use is minimal compared to how creating a dust-storm every time we clean.

Exploratory Surgery

Killing time this morning I was reading a few blogs where there was kitchen remodeling involved.

One in particular got me a little worried, as they found out a little late that removing the soffits opened up a whole world of pain due to buried heating ducts and plumbing.

Granted, this work was being done on a two-story house and I'm working on a ranch, but it still made me worry a little about what I could find if I don't do some exploring now.

Since I've got a ranch house, the only plumbing above the kitchen will be plumbing vents which are vented through the roof. There is also no HVAC ducting to deal with, as it's all run under the floor and easily accessible from the basement. There is a small amount of ductwork for the vent above the stove, but I know this runs through the wall. Hell, it's not even hooked up right now, and since the stove location will change with the remodel, I plan to change it out to make it functional. Eventually I'll post a picture of the ceiling above the stove and show why it's nice to have a working stove vent...

I do know there is at least a little bit of electrical wiring in the soffit above the sink, as there is an electrical outlet for a clock there. Depending on where those wires trace back to, I might be able to re-use them as a power source for the under-cabinet lighting I'm going to add.

This is the soffit above the sink. The ceiling has not yet been painted, and only the wall to the right has been painted since we moved in. I can't wait to get rid of these cabinets. The open door does not close properly due to stripped out screws on the hinges and misaligned closing magnets. You can see the edge of the clock outlet at the far left side of the picture.

On the other side of the kitchen (the stove side) is it's twin. Again, I stopped painting where I knew the demolition would begin.

Having never opened up a soffit before I didn't know what to expect. My assumption was that it was either going to be an open box with some structure inside or that it'd be filled with insulation from the attic. I was hoping for an open box. A couple of hammer hits told me that it wasn't going to be as easy as I had hoped.

The soffits - or at least the ends - are filled with insulation. I haven't dug around in the attic insulation to verify, but I assume this is because they are open to the attic above. Oh well, it's better than having to re-run plumbing!

Since our remodel plans include a lot of new insulation in the attic (blown-in, if possible) I'm going to push that part of the work back a few months and do it after I get the soffits removed and covered with new drywall. That'll keep the new insulation in the attic, where it'll do more good for our heating bills.

Time Flies

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of our moving in to this place.

While this house wasn't the one we really wanted at the time we bought it (our first choice sold to another buyer), it turns out to be a better house for us in a better location. 10 minutes to work for both of us, a nice 1/2 acre yard in a quiet subdivision, and close enough to "civilization".

To mark the anniversary, I plan to go out today and buy the rest of the cabinets needed for 1/2 of the kitchen.

Since I'm going to do the cabinets and flooring in two stages, I might as well buy material in that manner too. This will also allow me to figure out all the little details so I know what to expect for the other half of the cabinet work, as the second stage will be larger and more involved.

I budgeted $3,000.00 for upper and lower cabinets, and it looks like I might hit that number dead-on.