Thursday, June 18, 2015

Antennas Direct C2-V-CJM ClearStream 2-V Long Range UHF/VHF Indoor/Outdoor DTV Antenna with 20-Inch Mount

This nifty antenna lets us watch over the air TV (as in football) without having to shell out a small fortune every month for cable.  It is particularly good for VHF stations (many antennas work great on UHF - but this one does it all!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wilmar Performance Tool W80008 Pro Screwdriver Set, 8-Piece

This basic screwdriver set had the torx bit (T15) that fit the torx head screws on the Neuton mower battery case.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Neuton Mowers CE6 Battery - Replacement UB12100-S Universal Sealed Lead Acid Battery

I like my Neuton CE6 mower, but I do not like spending $100+ each time I need to replace the batteries.  I found these at and just replaced the 3 12v cells inside my Neuton case. It took me 15 minutes. A small torx driver is needed to remove the 2 screws that hold the case on.  Replacing the cells was less than 1/2 the cost of buying a new battery pack from Neuton.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LSP P-06399 Hammer Arrester silences water hammer from LG washing machine

We have an LG front loading washing machine that works great except for some pretty noisy water hammer (apparently this is a common issue with appliances with fast closing valves).  After trying a Sioux Chief unit and much more expensive unit from Watts, we finally tried this water hammer arrester from LSP:

It screws right into the back of the washing machine. I used a wrench and vise grips. No soldering or teflon tape is needed.

The LSP arrester is a little bigger than the Sioux Chief arrester.  For us it seems to work a lot better.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3

So the carpets were dirty - but there was too much clutter to bring in a carpet cleaner. What to do? I looked into renting a Rug Doctor from the supermarket, but the nice young man helping me pick one kept gagging from the stench that emanated from said rental units.

I bought a Rug Doctor Mighty Pro X3

(I got mine from Costco, but you can get them from Amazon too).

It worked pretty well. No setup to speak of, just get it out of the box, put mix up some hot water and their OxySteam cleaner in a bucket and get working. I did not use their directions to do a single pass. Instead I did one pass with detergent/water, one pass with water to rinse, and then one pass dry to suck up the excess water. It paid for itself in one use. I ran the ceiling fans and the heat/ac (alternating) to help speed up the drying.

Here is some dirty water after a few passes (gross - all that dirt in the carpet!)

Here is a sorbet stain (raspberry) on the carpet:


The Rug Doctor got it all:

Overall I was pretty happy with my Rug Doctor. It's nice not to have to drop a bunch of cash and stay home for the cleaners just to do some spot cleaning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Haven't watered Habiturf lawn in over a month ...

So I just realized I have not watered my Habiturf lawn in over a month. The soaking rains in July combined with the occasional rain in August has been enough to keep it pretty green. It's all grown back since the July mowing and there are new seed heads (I may mow again after either a heavy rain or the return of cool weather). A few spots have got a little brown - otherwise it looks good.  It is definitely not a turf lawn (the long grass does can irritate bare ankles) and if we were using the lawn a lot I would probably keep it mowed shorter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mowing Habiturf lawn for first time at 4 months

In between heavy rains it seemed like as good a time as any to mow my Habiturf lawn. This was the first time this lawn has been mowed - it is about 4 months old now.  It was pretty easy to mow (I used my Neuton CE 6.2 battery powered mower for this). This mower's highest cut is 3" - I would have preferred to leave it a little longer.  However with all the expected rain (and we got several inches of rain a few hours later) I was not too worried about stressing out the grass. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Watering a Habiturf Lawn

During the recent dry periods I have been watering the Habiturf lawn every 2 weeks per the guidelines published by the instructions at the wildflower center. With the recent soaking rains this weekend's scheduled watering will be skipped - the lawn will not be watered till the last weekend in July (if we keep getting soaking rains this too might be postponed).  It's nice to have a lawn that will stay green and also allow me to comply with the watering restrictions currently in effect.  No excessive watering. No mowing yet. No fertilizer. The grass does not need this and it will just encourage weeds.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Austin Habiturf lawn at 8 weeks

Below are some pictures of the Habiturf lawn at 8 weeks. The grass is mature enough now to be on an every 2 weeks watering schedule. In the areas that get full sun the grass has put out seed heads that are about 15" tall or so. The rest of the grass is 6" or so.

 This area gets less sun but it has still filled in nicely:

No mowing yet - it has been so dry that I don't want to stress the turf too much. If we ever get a good soaking rain a regular mowing schedule may begin. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Habiturf Lawn at 5 weeks

It's rained a lot the last few days here - to the point where there are mushrooms growing in the part shade areas of the lawn.  A lot of hand weeding has been required - mostly for purslane. The lawn seems to be getting established enough to out compete the weeds now. The areas that are part shade are growing - but slowly.

 The true full sun areas have quite a bit of turf. It is patchy but over the next few days the grass should start sending out runners to fill in the bare areas.
On a slight slope (not shown) the heavy rains seem to have washed a lot of the grass away, there are enough plants and sun that given time and weed control it should fill in.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Habiturf lawn at 28 days

This is a pic of the Habiturf lawn at 28 days.  It's looking more like a lawn now and I can walk out on it when it is dry and pull weeds.  Still no runners from the turf plants - hopefully they show up in a few days and start filling in the bare spots.  One disadvantage of using a contractor was that they did the whole job in one day - probably it would have been better to do a few cycles of watering and tilling to really suppress any weed seed in the soil or compost that was added.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Habiturf lawn day 14

Just hit the 2 week mark on my Habiturf lawn. A lot more grass has sprouted but none of the grass has gotten very tall yet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Habiturf Lawn day 5

5 days after my habiturf lawn was installed some small green sprouts were visible in the yard.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Habiturf lawn for Austin TX

After the drought of 2011 destroyed almost all the St. Augustine grass in the backyard, we decided to have a Habiturf lawn. Habiturf is a mixture of native grasses, and is supposed to require much less watering and mowing than conventional turf grasses. Our landscaper is scheduled for early April (I'm hoping this is not too late to seed in TX). Right now we are keeping the existing weeds and scraps of grass mowed short and digging up any visible weeds before they go to seed. It's supposed to rain tonight which should help trigger germination for any weed seeds which have found their way into the yard. More to come ...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Insinkerator cover control review

I got this nifty Insinkerator garbage disposal via Amazon Prime. The price was great and my plumber had no problems replacing the old 1/3 HP builder model garbage disposal with this new one. A homeowner could probably do the installation themselves, but I prefer just to have a pro get it done.

The "cover control" feature means the disposal can't run unless the cover is in place - this is a great safety feature - especially for those of us with little ones around.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Roof replaced after Texas hailstorm

The roofers came last week and redid the roof. The damage from the hailstorm last March in NW Austin did not produce any visible damage, but an inspection by my insurer revealed the roof was totaled (apparently the granules on the shingles can be dislodged by hail - this exposes the heart of the shingle to the Texas sun and photo degradation). I went ahead and had a full length ridge vent installed, as well as polaralum heat barrier made by Heat Barrier Systems. It was all topped off by Class IV impact resistant shingles from Malarkey roofing products. I used the lightest color shingle they had. On a sunny day with my old roof, the attic floor typically would be at least 30 degrees hotter than the shaded north side of the house (I used a nifty LaCrosse thermometer with multiple sensors to tell me this). Now the difference is less than 20 degrees. Today it was 97 outside, and only a max of 113 in the attic. This is pretty cool, as AC ducts in houses are typically run in the attic. Even though the ducts are insulated they still absorb some heat - a cooler attic can only help my geriatric AC unit. The impact resistant shingles will qualify me for a 17% discount on my homeowners policy (the discount varies by region - in some parts of TX it is lot higher).
The payback on these two items will be long, at least 7-10 years. If we have another hailstorm and my roof survives though, the class 4 shingles will have paid for themselves by helping avoid an insurance claim and deductible.

Saturday, June 13, 2009