Renovation of a circa 1903 Brooklyn Row House

Posted by Steve on Fri, 09/15/2006 - 11:00am


This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You can follow the progress here (or backwards in time if you prefer). You'll find other completed home improvement projects in the Renovation Photos in the navigation above.

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Next life, I want to be a plumber.

Posted by Steve on Thu, 10/16/2014 - 5:20pm


Back in 2011, I wrote an article about my failing Weil-McLain steam boiler entitled Got Three Estimates?  Get Three More. The article concluded with my finding a plumbing company willing to rebuild my ancient autofeed mechanism for a fair price.  Despite most heating contractors swearing that my 42 year-old boiler wouldn't survive the season, it made it through 2011, 2012 and the brutal, polar vortex winter of 2013 without a burp.

Two weeks ago, I relit the pilot light on boiler.  The outside temps were in the 60s so I didn't turn on the boiler.  A few days later I noticed that my kitchen extension floor was a pool of water.  Rats, I'd left the windows open before an intense thunderstorm.  Cursing my stupidity, I mopped up about 15 gallons of water and went upstairs.  I returned an hour later to see the floor soaked again.  The windows weren't the cause.  There were no water pipes in the extension and it was bright and sunny outside so I didn't know what was behind this.

While mopping up for a second time, I heard an occasional *bloip*, like a leaky faucet into a pan of water.   It was coming from the baseboard radiator.  When I lifted the access panel I saw water squirting out of the air valve like a drinking fountain.  At least I knew what was causing that.   It was the autofeed/low water cutoff again... probably a stuck float.  No problem, I'll call the same plumbing company that fixed it last time.




Forward to the Past

Posted by Steve on Sun, 10/13/2013 - 2:31pm


My very first DIY project at Brooklyn Row House was wiring the place for CAT5 ethernet. I decided to do this even before I had an inkling of what I intended to do with the place, or even where my office, bedroom and computers would eventually be located. In retrospect, if I'd guessed back then I would have been dead wrong.

Streaming media was still pretty much of a pipe dream in 1999 but I knew it was coming Real Soon and I wanted to be ready for it. I needed a wire soffit between the three floors for cables so I installed fourteen feet of 3" EMT tubing between the basement ceiling and a second floor closet. Through this I pulled six sixty-foot CAT5 cables, four lengths of four-pair phone wire, a pair of coax cables (my satellite TV at the time required one for each LUN) and a bunch of twisted-pair bell wire for a future wired alarm system. It fit but, suffice to say, I probably should have gone with 4" EMT.

The coax, phone and alarm wires were eventually enabled but a funny thing happened with the CAT5. I never used it. Their tails remain coiled, labeled and attached to nothing. What happened? Wireless got better. While wifi was definitely slower than wired ethernet, it served my needs so I tacitly abandoned my plans for ethernet ports in every room (along with beer taps and air compressor ports on every floor... seriously, I half considered those as well).


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