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Everything posted by innerlooper

  1. It doesn't have to be hermetically sealed. I would take one of those heavy duty contractor trash bags and cut it up, of if you have some heavy clear plastic (old shower curtain?) be creative and cut out for the drain, apply several layers, etc. Then cover with gravel or sand and that should seal most of it. If the soil is uneven, you can trowel it so it is somewhat level, first clear debris, rocks, etc.
  2. Screened opening to the living area (closet usually) so that conditioned air will keep the area under the tub dry. After you have stabilized the mold or whatever, let it dry and maybe spray kilz on it to seal it in, if you can reach there. I would seal off the dirt with plastic and gravel, and leave a weatherstripped wood panel door for easy access. Don't rock it over.
  3. Mold needs a medium to grow on, so unless the mold is on the back of the sheetrock or on wood, its not mold. Its not going to grow on the bottom of the tub or on bare concrete. Lowering moisture content is key. Seal off the soil exposure and let the area dry out. Can't hurt to shop-vac under the tub. There are folks who create screened openings to their tub drain areas, but I think that is overdoing it. Chances are if you haven't had any termites there, they aren't likely to show up now. Its quite possible that chlordane (now banned) was sprayed at the tub drain and that has kept them out for the past 50+ years. But you might still want to get a termite checkup on your whole castle, just in case. Make sure there are no leaks below the tile around the perimeter of the tub. Blast the showerhead and look for drips. And BTW, gentle readers who do not have tub drain accesses (especially first floor), the code does not require one if the tub drain is hard pipe (no slip joints). Hence COH does not require one. West U does. Bellaire does. What do they know?
  4. The opening for the tub drain can be found in pretty much any slab foundation. Likely what you are calling "mold" is just the smell of damp earth. If you have a high water table there, the soil in the tub drain area will be damp. The only rodent that can come through there would be a mole. However termites love tub drain areas. Its damp and there is yummy wood to digest. It might also be damp there because your tub drain is leaking. You can put some plastic down, and cover it with gravel. I wouldn't pour concrete in there, since someday a plumber might need to service the tub trap/ drain.
  5. I would still clear all your fixture drains with baking soda and vinegar, and remove traps and clean them as possible to clear all fouling. Where does your cooling condensate drain line run? They used to allow installers to put them straight to plumbing stacks, which could allow sewer gases to enter the AC air flow. Today they are mostly run to sink traps. Mold testing sounds good but be careful of results. The mold has to be living on something, and if RH is not high, what would that be?
  6. I would eliminate a couple of possible (but somewhat rare) causes of odor: Make sure that there are no abandoned-but-still-connected plumbing drains. For example during remodel, folks will forget a washer drain in the wall, which then vents sewer gases into walls and living space. See if all of your plumbing fixtures are properly vented. A non-vented trap downstream from another fixture can "blow out" (lose its water seal) from air being pushed ahead of the drain water. Also an unvented trap can siphon, allowing sewer gases in. Unvented washer drains (added decades after construction) are not uncommon in the Heights. Also a fixture drain that does has a vent, can have trap problems if the vent is clogged for some reason. A kitchen sink under a window for example might have a steel vent that has 90 degree elbows which can clog after 80 years. Animal has died in walls or under (built-in) tub. Is your tub drain area open to the crawl space? If this was a summer problem I would check if your AC is oversized and not removing moisture properly. Can get a hygrometer pretty cheap now like from Radio Shack etc. Much over 50% RH consistently could be a problem.
  7. Good comments all, thanks. Property condition disclosures are generally considered a joke and not worth fretting over. The only exception would be some whopper concealed problem that the neighbor is going to tell the buyer about at some point and then there may be fireworks. Note that most romex has a date stamp (and #12 has been yellow for only around 7 years) so it can be a little tricky passing work off as "old stuff." BTW permits are searchable, if you have IE6 somewhere on an old machine. May not work on other browsers. http://www.cohtora.houstontx.gov/ibi_html/sldpmtsl.htm If you feel qualified, I don't have a problem with doing your own work. Its the weekend warriors that create messes for others to clean up. As far as subpanels are concerned.... For what it is worth, the red tagged items are not dangerous. For instance, the inspector insisted that a 4th wire must run between the main panel and a sub panel, even though each panel has a grounding rod attached to it. This is acceptable per code, and previously approved by the inspector. Actually subpanels are supposed to have four-wire feeds these days, because otherwise (under the old rules) the ground is also the neutral and has current, and that makes for a lousy ground. The rods are only for dissipating lightning, not for clearing faults. You are allowed up to 25 ohms on a ground rod, which at 120v is about 5 amps, so in theory a dead short to a ground rod would not trip the breaker. There is an exception for a feed to a separate building but best practice is four wires and a floating neutral. So yes it depends on the inspector.
  8. "The ignorant jerks at the City consider us all to be morons when it comes to electricity. The way it ought to work is that we get the permit regardless of our status as licensed professionals, and the City inspectors red tag any work that isn't up to snuff." The problem with this scenario is, what happens after the red tag goes up? You will ask the inspector what is wrong, and he (or she) will say, "You need to talk with your qualified professional electrician." Because they are not your unpaid partners/ consultants in your enterprise. I have been present when a semi-clueless flipper begged the city guy for guidance with all kinds of screwball items, and the inspector just smiled and went on his way.... to the next screwball project. Texas has a long border with a poor, overpopulated foreign country, that disgorges numerous mendicants our way, who will do anything for a pittance, and that includes electrical work. Jus' sayin'. Given the staggering amount of improper bootleg repair and remodeling that goes on in this city (never mind the county) I would paraphrase the above quote and say "The weary jerks at the City consider us all to be ignorant morons when it comes to electricity, and they would be right." The price of a device (whether $2 outlet, or 35 cent plastic device box, or $12 light fixture) has no relation to the cost of the labor it takes to install it safely. This is Big Box Syndrome, where the eager shopper puts The Shiny Item in the shopping cart and assumes he is halfway there. Electrician buddy of mine put this list together. He loves redoing amateur work. Its his retirement. If you can somehow manage not to do any of the below items, you will be at the 95th percentile of quality work. Weekend remodelers and flippers are encouraged to copy and paste this list with 18pt or larger type and epoxy it to the front of the fridge. Sorry I dont have a spanish version. Common homeowner/ handydude electrical mistakes: Replacing two-wire receptacles (on a two-wire circuit) with three wire type. This can only be done by code with GFCI devices and still would have to be marked "No equipment ground." Reverse polarity at receptacles (and at light fixtures/ paddle fans). If you don’t know the difference between the black and white wires, don’t do wiring. Ignoring grounding requirements at appliances and lights. Use of lamp cord for permanent wiring. Fluorescent lights on a dimmer (unless specifically designed to be dimmable). Receptacle on a dimmer (ouch). Paddle fan on a dimmer. Also three-speed paddle fan should not be on a separate fan control. No wall switch for a paddle fan. No light switch at attic entry. No light switch (or switched outlet) at room entry. Covering up garage GFCI with workshop pegboard, shelving, freezer, etc. Limiting access to breaker panel with shrubs, heavy furniture, garage junk, etc. Running Romex at inappropriate locations, such as in the great outdoors, inside cabinets, and in damp/ wet areas. Not putting connections in a junction box. Not putting cover on junction box. Putting bathroom lights on the GFCI. Not usually required and leaves occupant in the dark if GFI trips. Monkeying with the breaker panel, like using wrong size breakers, wrong size wire, etc. (photo taken actually not far from the Yale bridge...coincidence?)
  9. Yale bridge weight limit lowered to 3000 lbs per axle..... http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/video?id=8829056
  10. I was thinking more "Kitty Genovese" and less "George Zimmerman"..... Nothing has happened so this guy should have the benefit of the doubt. But can't hurt to pay attention.
  11. Oh that was you Niche, OK, no problem. No crime. Just creepy behavior.
  12. There is a guy in a white Chevy minivan who slowly cruises the Blvd, up and down, between 5:45 and 6:45 am apparently ogling the joggers. He's been doing this for a month or more. He's been seen at the Nicholson bike trail also. 55-60, anglo, smoker, shoulder length hair, deep wrinkles. This is weekdays and weekends. HPD has been alerted (by others) but don't know if they actually have made contact with him. Last four digits of plate are -X802. Updates welcome.
  13. Red you know very well that The Taurus Judge and The S&W Governor are not SBSs. Otherwise they wouldn't be unloading them by the wagonload at the GRB every other weekend. BTW I've tried them for skeet and couldn't hit anything. "You'll need to start with making them legal." Quote Sec. 46.05. PROHIBITED WEAPONS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly possesses, (3) a short-barrel firearm; (10) "Short-barrel firearm" means a rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches or a shotgun with a barrel length of less than 18 inches, or any weapon made from a shotgun or rifle if, as altered, it has an overall length of less than 26 inches.
  14. Niche I know you don't necessarily believe in this liability, but where did this notion develop that a private property owner has a duty to prevent crime in a public street abutting the property? Looks like judges need to be quicker to dismiss, and juries to get real, otherwise a lot of folks here (yes you gentle reader) could be on the hook for what goes on in front of their cribs. I can't afford CC cams, never mind a guard. I guess I'll just have to post signs on the sidewalk that say: "WARNING CITIZEN: THIS IS A DANGEROUS NEIGHBORHOOD/ STREET. YOU MAY BE ROBBED, ABDUCTED, RAPED, TORTURED, AND/ OR MURDERED." Will that do to reduce liability?
  15. Definitely a grand place in its day. They've removed the asbestos siding so probably its going to be torn down. Was a funeral home for decades. I don't know that anyone would want to rehab it at this point. HPB was on the NW corner of HP and Waugh, where a new office building is being finished. It was in a one story brick church building.
  16. Good points. the law should be written for the uninvolved citizen minding her own business and not necessarily to someone who starts something or escalates. "Carrying responsibly" ironically turns you into a wuss, because you have to affirmatively avoid any kind of confrontation. Running away is always option #1. Good Cato discussion from April here, esp about Florida, if anyone is interested. http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=9141
  17. I can assure you, he has no fans in the carry community. We want him in the slammer for a long time. Its jackasses like him that ruin it for the rest of us.
  18. I carry, usually .38 or .380, so confrontations are not on the program. Calling The Man to take care of The Problem is recommended for folks like me.
  19. OK city hauled it all away today. 'nother day in Baghdad on the Bayou.
  20. I don't know that they didn't know the owner there, but still, this is construction waste and they are clearly contractors... Thanks
  21. What is city policy on heavy trash and construction waste? Seems to me that contractors are not supposed to leave their mess at somebody's curb for city. Who do you call when some enterprising folks unload in your 'hood? 311? 911? Three letter agency? Fugghebaboutit? These guys were unloading, for this weeks pickup.....
  22. Karst is usually associated with carbonate rocks, which are pretty scarce around here.
  23. Um, I don't have a dog in this fight but today there were lots and lots of parked cars pinching off Bissonnet (much like Dunlavy all the time actually) near the dreaded hi-rise site, and I wonder if this is part of the new "dirty tricks"---I mean "you ain't seen nothing yet" campaign..... Must be a beech not to get traction in district court and have to take it to the streets.....
  24. Actually owning and managing rental property is a brainer. Flipping houses successfully just means watching your dollars to make sure you aren't just being someone's free general contractor for six months. Rentals involve The Human Factor, dealing with professional deadbeats, liars, slobs, animal breeders, absconders, substance abusers, cheats, hostage-takers, free-spirits, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam of society. Yes stay at or above the Lower Middle Class if possible, that helps reduce the hassle factor, and you can do a lot of background checking, but in the end you will learn a lot about human nature that they don't teach in school or portray in the media. Dallas has an online eviction index available, but not here. Texas is pretty landlord friendly. You can get a constable to show up and move them out relatively easily. That doesn't happen in "progressive" cities like SF and NY and Boston. You just have to hope that they haven't trashed the place too badly. If you can factor in your time, and the aggravation of dealing with the occasional a##hole, then knock yourself out. Doing the numbers like mortgage, insurance, and taxes, is the easy part. Leigh Robinson's book Landlording is still in print and was updated in 2010 (the cover art though hasn't change in 33 years). He was in the rental trenches in Berkeley where a Nice Free Place To Stay is a Human Right, and he made it work there, so it is possible. He offers this one great tip: go see where they are living now. That will tell you what they are going to do to your place. And meet the gentle Pit Bulls and the couch-surfing brother they forgot to mention. To be fair there are lots of fantastic renters out there who keep places tidy and pay on time. Its a puzzlement why they have not bought, but its a fact, they exist. Happy hunting.
  25. Thanks. I should know better and should spend time there but S-L is so.....random and confusing. I like old fashioned fora like here.
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