Terrific Broth

Beijinger in Denver | 北京人在丹佛

Category: DIY (Page 1 of 4)

Installing a New Tankless Heater

Meet the beauty, who now lives in our home:

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And here she is, undressed:

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The other side of the room however, now looks significantly worse:

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With PVC dust that is impossible to clean:

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Following the breakdown of our water heater last Saturday, we got the insurance company straightened out and the old water heater pushed aside. We decided to cash out of insurance claim and invest it towards a tankless water heater. To save some $$$, Slav decided to install it himself.

Wednesday night, Slav and I went to Lowe’s and picked up the only gas tankless water heater they have in stock, along with a few supplies. It had been five days without hot water at this point; the cold showers really motivated us to push forward.

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Slav did some research and determined that the Rinnai one Lowe’s has in stock is sufficient for our house. It has 7.5 gallon per minute output, which supplies a couple sinks and appliances (washer, dishwasher, etc) and a shower at the same time. It has temperature settings from 120 degree to 150 degree, which is similar and above the temperature we have set our tank heater in the past (~125 degrees). This unit also qualifies us for $100 X-cel energy rebate being high sufficiency (>90% energy factor), and we received a tax-free wavier from the Arvada city hall for purchasing it locally.

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The water heater is $899 in Lowe’s now. With all the rebate ($100) and tax waiver, this unit now costs us only $800. We are getting about $550 from our insurance company, and Slav is installing it himself with a permit ($69) from the city. So for the heater itself, the price is about $320. We did need a bunch of fittings and PVC pipes, which cost a couple hundred dollars in total, but with tons of left overs for future projects. In the end, I think we are paying out-of pocket ~$500 for this heater.

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The two metal pipes ($10 each) on the right are for cold and hot water. Slav also purchased a pair of isolation valve ($99) to connect them to the water heater. The yellow pipe at the bottom (similar) is for gas. We could use black iron pipe, but this flexible pipe makes the final 2 feet of connections much easier. We bought 25 feet and the leftover pipe will be used to connect the future gas stove in our upstairs kitchen.

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Slav also bought some PVC pipes and elbows for fresh air supply and exhaust. The building codes dictate how long the PVC pipes could be between the heater and outside, and the use of any elbow will count towards the length. Therefore, it is important to check the installation manual and local building codes to make sure that the heater is not installed too far away from an exterior wall. Our ranch is very narrow, so it is not a problem for us to install the heater right at where the old one was.

Slav opened up the ceiling a bit more to make the PVC pipe installation easier:

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And he worked through Thursday to install the heaters on the wall:

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Our initial plan was to fit in an utility sink underneath, but unfortunately, the installation manual and building codes prevent us from mounting the heater any higher. I guess we would still do an utility tub if we want to.

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The heater is connected to the cold and hot water lines and the gas line from the bottom. The yellow flexible gas line is connected to the black iron gas pipe with a shut-off valve:

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It is a big upgrade from our old gas line, which is no longer up to code in our city:

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Later on, we learned that by code, we needed to establish electrical continuity between the black iron pipe and the new flexible metal pipe. So Slav connected the piece of copper wire between them using two clamps:

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The clear pipe coming out of the heater is for condensation. Tankless water heater like ours requires two condensation pipes, one from the heater itself and the other one from the exhaust pipe. You can see in the picture below a skinny PVC going straight down from the exhaust pipe to the condensation pump.

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We installed this condensation pump during the HVAC installation. It has four receiving ports, one for AC and furnace, the other two are occupied by the heater. This pump is connected to the washer drain, which directs any condensation down the floor drain in the utility room.

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The cold (blue) and hot (red) water lines are connected to the bottom of the water heater, with the two isolation kits in between. The isolation kits are technically not needed – you can connect the hot and cold water pipe directly to the heater. But they make future diagnose and maintenance a lot easier. The side valves on these isolation kits function as drainage and an access point for flashing the heater, which is a recommended yearly maintenance.

The copper pipe on the side of the hot water isolation valve is an emergency valve. If there is a buildup of hot water for some reason, this valve will open itself with certain pressure to let the hot water out, so we are not risking an explosion. We are not sure at this point where we should connect it to yet, a question for our inspector.

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Connected to the top of the heater are fresh air supply and exhaust, which are two 3 inch PVC pipes.

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They are directed away to the heater, running parallel to the PVC pipes of the furnace:

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These pipe runs out of the back of the house, from the opening of the old fresh air supply:

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Slav mirrored the furnace pipes. Now it looks like an art! A metal panel leftover from our furnace was cut out to cover the hole on our brick:

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One of the good outcomes from this installation is that the exhaust vent is no longer needed. It actually came out of our roof, which was just reinstalled. It could be covered if the water heater was down just two weeks early! Oops!

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The real advantage of removing the pipe is to save space in the neighboring bathroom. See the triangle shape of soffit on the very right corner? It encloses the exhaust pipe you see in the picture above.

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We think the big bump next to it is for accommodating the exhaust pipe as well. We are pretty sure by this point that there are two pipes behind the soffit in the bathroom and the utility room above the washer and dryer, which are for the bathroom vent and the dryer vent. But these pipes are not supposed to take so much space.

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We hope by capping the exhaust pipe and opening up the soffit in these two rooms, we can consolidate the pipes to make at least the soffit in the bathroom disappear. That will add so much head space in the bathroom!

With the momentum going strong in the basement, Slav is opening walls left and right in the utility room. 🙂 I am looking forward to showing you what we’ve found after the cleanup!

The Magic of Caulk – Small Upgrade Take III

You’ve heard me say this, sometimes small upgrade can make a big impact to a room. We have done quite a few small upgrades ourselves and we love how they instantly changed our lives (here and here). This time, we tackled our kitchen and bathroom, and our target is the old, dingy caulk.

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Yeah, they were pretty bad. We are disgusted by the look, and more importantly, caulk is supposed to close the seams to seal areas and corners that are susceptible to mildew and mold damage. When they crack and become discontinuous, they can no longer to keep the area around sinks and tubs watertight.

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The part we are mostly worried about is the seam right below the bathroom window. Somehow the window sill was installed wrong with a slope going outwards, so water sits there and we are so worried that the water gets into the wall.

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And the caulk here could no longer prevents water from seeping down into the wall.

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When you think that our master bath is bad, here comes worse.

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These are taken around our kitchen sink:

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And here is how bad it was around the backslash:

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If it was not dingy and moldy, it was missing:

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So when Slav finally got a couple days break from his work, he stripped off all the old caulk and applied a new layer while I was at work.

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Slav even caulked the gap between our counter top and the stove:

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Everything is SO. FRESH.

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The kitchen became 100 times brighter – without changing a light bulb! And the bathroom? With white tiles and fresh caulk, it is like a heaven:

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The window seam now looks like this:

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Slav also ran a line of caulk around the edge of each window, where the glass panels meet the metal trims to seal the cold draft.

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Quite a change, isn’t it? Who would knew that fresh caulk can have such an impact? I have been talking about painting the bathroom walls a lighter color since our moving day. But with white doors and bright new caulk, the blue walls actually look lovely. It is such a easy and quick way to make a big change!

There Are Cows in Our Living Room!

Happy Friday! I am stopping by to give you a quick update on our living room – we now have cows!

Not just cows. The Cows. Nine of them.

This cow print was sold by IKEA for 99 cents each when we spotted them a few year ago. Slav was immediately in love. He bought nine of them – yes, he bought nine identical prints! We had them hung 3 x 3 on our bedroom wall for a while and had no idea what to do with them. Until one day, an idea struck to let our friends in North Carolina decorate them. The goal was to have nice different products, from nine people/couple who made significant impact on our lives during our time in North Carolina. And all the people we asked kindly accepted the challenge! By the time we moved to CO, we had seven of them decorated in very different ways (still need to pick up the last two from NC). It is like a DIY art gallery from our friends.

And our living room could really use some art:

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We hardly had anything hung at this point so the living room looked so pale.

We picked the southern wall to hang the cows:

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I used some newspaper to map out where I wanted the cows to live, and Roxie was of course there to help:

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Maybe she smelled our old apartment from these cows? Maybe she smelled our old friends who decorated them?

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It took me about an hour to get them all neatly lined up. Now this is the view when you walk into our living room:

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Pretty nice, right? Since I had my hammer out, I also hung the new painting we got from Poland in our little hallway:

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This painting is also from Adam Faglio, the painter who did the castle painting in our bedroom.

These were tiny updates to our living space compared to most of the projects we do (grading with gravel this week, and roof next week!), but it made the space so much warmer and more welcoming. I hope you like them as much as we do!

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