It’s Great To Be Home . . .

a homebody’s guide to home renovation and more

Grab Bars Be Gone March 2, 2009

Filed under: Reno — Liz @ 08:42
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Anyone purchasing a home that has previously been lived in by someone else may find that a few details of the home do not suit their needs or lifestyle.  Luckily, most of the time these details can be easily fixed with just a little time and a few ideas.


That was the case with the bathtubs in our home.  When we moved in, each of the three bathtubs was outfitted with a plethora of grab bars (I’m talking at least three per tub).  

Grab Bars
(Alas, I did not have the foresight to photograph the grab bars in our tub, so we’ll just have to make do with this (slight) exaggeration).

Although these grab bars were necessary for the prior homeowner, we did not need them and found them to be a little unsightly and distracting so we decided to remove them.

At the time, we knew little to nothing about tile, or how to fix holes in tile – we thought that we were going to have to chisel out each of the tiles that had holes in them from the grab bars and replace them with new (and hopefully matching) tile!!  Luckily, it turns out that the remedy was a lot more simple and a lot cheaper.  Grout!!  Unsanded grout, to be precise.  According to the DIY Network, we needed unsanded grout, as opposed to sanded grout, because the holes that were going to be filled were less than 1/8 of an inch in diameter.  (Click here for a tutorial on how to mix and apply grout).

  After filling in those little holes with some white, unsanded grout to match the tiles, the holes blend in almost perfectly – I couldn’t believe it!


Unsanded Grout in Tile

After removing the grab bars and filling in the holes the bars left behind, each of our bathtubs instantly looked new and fresh.  The transformation was really amazing.  Go ahead and give your own bathtub a little sprucing up!!


Toasty Every Time February 25, 2009

Filed under: Reno — Liz @ 07:56
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It may just be that I am inept when it comes to faucets, but it seems like every time I take a shower I’m either scalded, frozen, or spend half my time fiddling with the handles to find the perfect temperature.  So, imagine my delight when I learned that there was this spiffy little contraption that could take the place of your regular shower valve and give you the perfect water temperature – every time!!!  I know, it sounds too good to be true.

Let me back up a bit.  I first encountered the thermostatic valve (yes, that’s the name of the perfect-water-temperature-creating device) while scoping out our contractor’s work before we hired him to renovate our house.  I went to the home of one of our contractor’s former clients and while I was checking out the tile work in the bathroom the homeowner began talking about the fabulousness of the thermostatic valve that our contractor had installed in his shower.  I, of course, had no idea what he was talking about and inquired “thermo-whatey-what?”  I’m sure he was very impressed.  

Turns out this thermostatic valve is a simple little device that takes the place of a regular shower valve (the shower valve is what you turn to select your water temperature).  It looks just the same as a regular shower valve, but instead of leaving you to fumble around with the water temperature the thermostatic valve allows you to pre-select a water temperature that will be maintained for every single shower you take.  Talk about awesome!!!!  Thermostatic valves are also great for children, because you can set the water temperature to ensure that little ones never get scalded (of course, you should also make sure that your water heater’s maximum temperature is set to no more than 120 degrees as recommended by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission).  

Here’s a pic of the thermostatic valve that we had installed in our shower:

thermostatic valve 

The little handle on the left is the “thermostatic” part of the valve – you set that little baby in place at your favorite temperature and then leave it alone.  When you turn the big valve on the right – bingo!!  Perfect temperature every time.  I’ve been really impressed with how well it works – I haven’t had to fiddle with the water temperature since it was installed, which is pretty awesome!!  Together with our recirculating pump, the thermostatic valve makes for an awesome shower.  

Click here to find out a little bit more about thermostatic valves.


Cold Shower? Not Anymore February 15, 2009

With one water heater and almost 2,700 square feet spread out over only one level, you can imagine that anyone waiting for a toasty hot shower in our house had a pretty long, cold wait.  Until now.

Enter the recirculating pump.  What is a recirculating pump, you might ask?  Well, it’s a cool little device that a plumber or an ambitious DIYer can connect to your water heater to provide hot water to all of your fixtures, practically instantaneously.  Check out an example of a recirculating pump right here.  While we briefly thought about installing a tankless water heater instead, we quickly realized that recirculation pumps are about 1/3 the cost of tankless water heaters – decision made!

Not only does a recirculating pump keep you from freezing while you wait for a hot shower, but it can also save you buckets of money in utility bills – if you do it right, as we learned the hard way.  At our house, we installed a second hot water heater AND a recirculating pump, guaranteeing that we’d never again take a cold shower.  However, we were shocked when we got our first, gasp-inducing gas and electric bills – how could this be??  Once we actually thought about it, the high bills made a lot of sense – the gas bill was high because the hot water heaters were constantly heating water, and the electric bill was big due to the recirculation of water throughout the house.  But now that we had the culprit behind the high bills figured out, how could we fix it?  Well, the hubs had the brilliant idea of installing a timer on the recirculating pump, limiting the time that the recirculation pump was operating to those times that we would actually be showering (with different settings for weekdays v. weekend).  Pretty cool, right??  Now we have hot water when we need it AND cheapo gas and electric bills!

Got any great tips for keeping your bills down?  Stay tuned for more water heater fun…