Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Week - 2013


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving day! I did for sure. My family was up at my house and we were eating good that is for sure. I am really blessed to have this family of mine... 

My dad and I worked on my greenhouse for a couple of days and then we got help from my niece and nephew as well. They worked hard and were a big help. I am gong to do a separate post on that greenhouse. 

Prior to that - I was painting, still and finished the TV Room. Here are some pictures of that-
Before - the walls were white with paint samples on them

Before - paint samples on the wall

One wall done - one still white

It took about 4 hours and I was able to watch football at the same time so it worked out good!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

How to replace a doorbell chime - easy to medium project!

Easy DIY project  - replace the bell housing and your doorbell

Tools Required;
Power Drill

Optional tools but really helpful;
Wire tool

How many of you have one of those ugly door chimes that were installed when the house was built and have been painted and re-painted? My house had one of these ugly, plastic boxes, and then it started to buzz... buzz not ring... so I pulled it apart and undid the wiring. Which meant that I didn't have a functioning doorbell at all, which isn't a huge problem at my house but still it needed to be fixed. Here is how to do it and yes, you can do this yourself.

Step 1 - Remove the old doorbell casing and chime.
The plastic houses that cover the chimes just usually snap on and off. Look for a latch or other catch point and wiggle it carefully to get it off.
This is my ugly plastic box
Under the housing you will see something that looks like a bomb but is just the bell mechanism. It will most likely have a 2 or 4 screws holding it to the wall so you will need to find those and unscrew them. Also, just use a screwdriver to loosen the screws only the wires and take them off. 
Loosen screws and remove wires as well as from the wall - before removing the wires, note which color goes to which screw.
This is what it will look like when removed - a hole with wires sticking out. 

Step 2 - Mark new hole placement and drill for screw anchors
The new housing will need to be attached to the wall so position it on the wall and make sure it is level. (yes use a level for this..) Then mark with a pencil and drill holes for the plastic anchors.

This is my new doorbell kit with housing and chime mechanism

Position over the wires and mark the holes with a pencil. There is an UP mark on the housing so make sure you look for that.

Most walls will need to have hollow wall anchors so drll those first. My kit actually told me the drill bit size otherwise get one that is a slightly larger than the anchor.

Step 3 - Hammer in the hollow wall anchors
Most people will have the doorbell in a hollow spot on the wall, in other words not near a wood stud. You will need to use a "hollow wall" anchor in order to use the screws. They are included in the kit and are a plastic sleeve that goes into the hole you drilled, and will hold the screw in place. Be gentle with these when you are putting them into the wall as they are very weak plastic by design and I have crushed many of them in my past.
Gently - Hammer or push in the wall anchors. Gently!
 Step 4 - Attach the housing and re-attach the wires

Now that you have all the anchors in you can attach the housing. Take the housing and pull the wires through the hole again and move them out of the way. Starting with the screw on the bottom, hand start it so you know it is going in straight, then you can use a screwdriver. 
Screw the housing to the wall
This is the wire connections - "front", "trans" and "rear"
Attach the wires back to the box - in my case the black wire is the power wire so it goes to the "Trans" screw in the middle. I only have a front door so that was the green wire. 
Wires attached to the housing
Test the bell now
 After all the wires are connected and the housing secure, test the bell before you put the cover on it ! If it works, great, you can move on. If not, try moving the wires around to see if you have them on the wrong screws.

Done - except for patching and painting where the old one was ... painting never seems to end...
Now that you have a new inside  chime what out your doorbell itself? My doorbell was this little round button and that wasn't going to work. Replace it!

Replacing your doorbell

Your doorbell is one of the things you see without noticing, but what does it look like? Mine was pretty plain, just a little push-button style that didn't work. Replacing this doesn't require that you replace the chime inside, so you can do this as often as you want.

Step 1 - Remove the old doorbell
My doorbell was actually attached to the siding via silicone, so I carefully used my screwdriver to cut the seal and pull it out so that I could work on it.
It just popped out when the silicone was cut.
 Step 2 - remove the wires by loosening the screws where they are attached
Bell removed
 Now my wires were a mess with electrical tape and silicone so I had to carefully remove the gunk and get the wires clear to attach to the new doorbell. These wires break easily so you need to be gentle. Once the wires are clean, attach them to the screws on the new bell.
Wires attached to the new bell - test it at this point, before screwing in.

My new bell is much larger than the little button so I had to drill holes for the screws first and then attach using screws. You shouldn't need wall anchors because you are either attaching to wood or some other solid structure. If you have siding that is brick, stone, stucco or other material that you can't or don't want to drill into, use silicone around the outside of the bell to attach it.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Favorite Tools- #1


A lot of people probably think that I have a large assortment of tools, and they would be right. I get it from my dad who has more tools in his workshop than Home Depot. But for a "normal" household, there just a few basics that you need to handle the tasks that come up everyday. One of those is a screwdriver set - but the problem with those is that you can get one that 30 to 50 screwdrivers and where would you keep them? And do you really need that many? No...

Here is one of my all-time favorite tools by Kobalt, and no, they don't pay me to say that.
Love this!
It is an all-in-one, ratcheting screwdriver with the bits stored inside the handle. I like this so much that when I dropped my original one down a deep hole, with no hope of return, I went back to Lowe's and bought 2 of them. (They were on sale...) Which allows me to have one here in Mokelumne Hill and to have one here in Walnut Creek. It was only about $8 but I use it all the time. Great quality tool as well... Kobalt should pay me now that I think of it!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bat Update - They are gone!


For some reason I forgot my camera this weekend when I went up to the house.  But the good news is that my flash tape seems to have made the bats leave. See below what I did last week I was up there:
My deck looks like a forgotten parade float!
It doesn't look very good but hey they left.. just in case you missed are the pictures of the 20 plus bats that were living under my deck. I looked them up and they are called "Pallid Bats" and are really common in California. 
I guess the question is now, where did they go? I checked the bat house and it doesn't seem like they are there. I just hope they didn't find another nook or cranny in my house to relocate.. 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Yard Stuff, Bats and Cave Tour - 11/2/13

Daylight Savings Time is here... ACK!

Lake Comanche

Very Interesting weekend - I actually got to go on the cave pictographs tour that was sold out! It was an all day event and worth it.. and of course I have lots of pictures but can't post them online. The cave is easily accessible to those who know where it is so they make you promise not to post any pictures electronically. If you are interested you can contact me and I will share them with you... off-line. I do have some generic pictures from the walk that I can share.

Morning sun coming through the tree before our walk started.

The lake is really low.

This is a little succulent growing on a rock in the shade, looks like a tiny Aloe plant. Just amazing that it can survive like that- no soil, little water but it hangs in there!

Yard Update 

VERY LITTLE RAIN! This is bad, bad, news as I usually am able to turn my watering off by the first week of October. I watered everything this weekend and then turned everything off because it is getting cold and I don't need any pipes to freeze and burst. I am getting the different areas worked and ready for the winter. I am building up the layers in the large planting area by the asparagus bed. The lasagna gardening is working although when I explained it to the folks at the nursery I go to they gave me that glassy-eyed look... oh well!

Path is done and planting area is almost done.

Worm and castings from under the plastic bags!

View from above

If you are wondering why there are plastic bags in a row, it is because I use them for weed block. I usually buy a lot of soil amendments and hate throwing the bags away and I don't like weeds. So I started laying the bags down and holding them down with all the rocks I find in the dirt. It works and I don't have to buy weed guard fabric. And it gives the worms a place to hide... which I like a lot. The soil level has come up now about 1 foot from when I started this type of gardening. I need a couple of more years I think to get it where I want it but it is a 1000%  better than what I started with!


The bats under my deck are not bothered at all by the sonic noise generators I stuck out there and they don't seem to want to move to the custom built bat house my dad made for them. So I am trying more tactics that will convince them to move without harming them.
1 - I staples mylar "flash tape" that you usually use to keep birds out of your garden around the area they are roosting. My sister read on the internet that this messes with their sonar and they don't like it. (If it is on the internet it must be true!) My deck looks like a left over birthday party!

Party on my deck!

The wind really moves them around..
2 - I hung bird netting on the front of the deck where they like to leave so that they have to go out the sides. It is loose and they can go under or around it.. so it is just an annoyance to them. Make them uncomfortable.

I also raked up all the poop again and threw it over by the bat house but who knows if this will work. I really, really like bats! I just don't want them under my deck! 
If anyone else has an idea let me know...