Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spending $7.00 to save $75.00

We were having some more drain problems.

The laundry tub was draining very slowly, so when we were doing laundry it was filling up. Since we don't watch the washer & dryer like a hawk we didn't notice this until we also did a load of dishes at the same time.

The laundry and kitchen sink drain through the same stack, so they conspired to fill and overflow the laundry tub. Luckily we have a floor drain right in that area so there was no damage. The drain was blocked BEFORE the floor drain, other wise we'd have had a bigger problem.

I could have snaked the drain if I had a snake or if I could have gotten the brass access plug off of the stack. So I went with Plan B.

In this case, Plan B was liquid drain cleaner. At $7.00 a bottle it's much cheaper than a plumber. IF it works.

I gave it a couple of tries according to the manufacturer's directions and didn't notice any appreciable changes, it still drained verrrrrrry slowly.

Hoping that the chemicals at least started breaking things up I decided to give it a little force. One of the two tub drains was plugged and a hose was stuck in the other one. A wet towel was used to seal around the hose as well as possible.

After a few seconds of pressure from the hot water heater I could hear things break loose and the water started draining quickly.

I'm not sure if it was the pressure or the chemicals or a combination of the two, but the job is done and I didn't have to call the plumber to snake the drain.

Granted it might not be a bad idea to have somebody come out and scrape the pipes, but at least I don't HAVE to do it now.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Getting the Garden Started

It was a nice day so I decided to get started on the garden. I've had the tarp down over the grass for about 5 days in an effort to kill the grass.

It didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped, probably because I didn't cut the grass real short before putting the tarp down.

The ground was still pretty damp, and since our ground contains a lot of clay it didn't till as well as I had hoped.

Either way, the tiller did a pretty good job cutting through the sod. The tiller was certainly worth the price I paid (free).

Over the weekend, if the weather is good I plan to hit the store and pick up some landscape timbers to frame the garden. Then a few yards of topsoil to fill it in and I should be all set for planting.

Since it's late in the season to start with seeds we'll just put in plants from a local greenhouse.

More to come.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beautifying the Ranch

No, I'm not putting pictures of me in front of the place, but thanks for the thought.

There is a planting bed at the front of the house. It's got a southern exposure so it gets plenty of sunlight. Last year my wife picked out the plants for it, and her theme was "Flowers that Jeff hates."

This year I beat her to the punch and picked up some plants from Menards. I got a half-dozen different styles/colors, including some grasses.

To prepare the bed I finally got a chance to use the rototiller. It was a tight fit in this narrow bed, but it chewed through the ground without a problem. Well, it should, it's only lightly compacted dirt. I did the same on a planting bed on the side of the house, but haven't picked up the plants for that area yet. I still need to remove the stump from an old burning bush which was planted there and allowed to grow wild.

I also started preparing a spot in the back yard for a garden, which should really give the tiller a workout. Currently the spot is covered with a thick layer of grass. I could possibly till right through it, but if the grass is still alive it'll start growing right away once I plant and water the garden.

The goal is to kill the grass. Yeah, I could remove it with a sod cutter or a shovel, but that's a LOT of work that I don't want to do, so I went with "Plan B".

Plan B is covering the ground with a dark tarp and letting the heat generated do the hard work for me. Between the heat and the lack of sunshine I should be able to accomplish the goal. I could also use a lot of grass killer, but would rather not.

Since the days are longer now I'll probably break out the tiller after work in the next day or two and break the ground up. Then it gets covered up again for a few days before tilling again. Maybe it'll be ready to plant in a few weeks.