Dehumidifier: why didn’t we get one earlier?!


When we moved into our house 4 years ago, the inspector told us that because of the way it was constructed and vented, we should always expect to have high humidity levels in our hours. No worries, we thought. That was something that doesn’t bother us as much. However, this summer it was  getting almost unbearable. It rained sooo much this summer – we’re on track for having one of the wettest years on record. Needless to say, we were feeling the effects of that in the humidity level in our house.

So, I started researching dehumidifiers. I tried to get one off Craigslist but was unsuccessful. There just weren’t many listed, and the ones I did contact never got back to me. I price-shopped online and went to several discount appliance stores only to find they weren’t in stock, and finally just ended up getting it at Home Depot. I went with a 50-pint size, which seemed to be the best size for our room. (I found this article really helpful for figuring out what size was best.) We got it in the evening and set it up in the den. When we woke up the next morning (about 11 hours later), the unit had automatically shut off because the tray was full of water. It ran all day and shut off about 12 hours later. Wow! We have run it continuously for about a month now, and have noticed a huge difference in our house. The average humidity level according to a thermometer/humidity gauge we have in our dining room, used to be around 60-70%, and perhaps higher if it was raining. Now, our levels are closer to 40%! We still empty it every 18 hours or so, but it hasn’t been too bad.


The den especially feels more comfortable. That room has so much potential but looking back I’ve realized that the humidity in the room was really affecting how much time I wanted to spend there.

We one we purchased was a GE 50 Pint Capacity dehumidifier. They got good reviews from my online research, and it was the capacity we needed. (And I’m glad we didn’t go any smaller in capacity!) So far, we haven’t had any complaints. It does a great job, beeps and automatically shuts off when the tray is full, and is easy to empty. The only downside is it’s a little noisy. I can hear it humming even from upstairs. I’ve mostly gotten used to it, but sometimes when we’re in the den playing, I turn it off just to reduce some of the noise. We also think it does increase the temperature of the room slightly – we’ve noticed that we’ve been turning on a fan more frequently than we did before, but it doesn’t make the room hot or anything.

This has been a real help and I wish we’d gotten one long ago!


Coming home from vacation

We went on a little jog down to Orlando this weekend for my nephew’s 1st birthday! We had a wonderful trip. My brother and sister-in-law just moved into their new (old) house and I look forward to seeing what they do with it! Perhaps it will inspire me to work at decor in our house.

Coming home we were greeted with a slew of issues, which is frustrating.

Shortly before we left, we noticed our bathtub is leaking. We didn’t have time to deal with it before, so we need to figure out the problem and best solution now. The downside of having only one bath/shower! Fortunately our local Y (where we are members) has showers available.

Speaking of plumbing, we also came back to a dripping kitchen sink faucet. It wasn’t dripping before we left, and it isn’t bad, but it’s still something that needs to be dealt with.

We came home to find our mailbox on its side – apparently someone decided to take it out with their car, and drive off. Sigh. So today I went and bought a new mailbox, and now that Paul is home from work for the evening we’ll figure out how easy it will be to put up. (I’m 7 months pregnant and he has an injured hand – we’ll see!)

The last annoyance is our stairwell light is burned out. I know, very minor, but involve dragging a chair upstairs and taking down the light fixture. I’m mostly exhausted all the time which makes these types of projects difficult.

I’ll post pictures of our new mailbox once it’s up and my camera is back from the repair place.


front yard daydreams

I spend a lot of time daydreaming what I’d like to do with certain problem areas around our house. It tides me over while we’re in a position that we can’t really do anything, heh.

One problem area: We live on a corner lot. Apparently, people seem to think that means that we are totally fine with them cutting off the corner and walking right through our yard. This drives me nuts. I feel like it’s rude and it makes me uncomfortable that they walk so close to our house. (How easy would it be to grab something off the carport?) Also, I worry a little that by letting someone on our property and not doing anything to stop it might invite a potential lawsuit later if they should injure themselves somehow and sue me. Yay, America and our court system. I’m sure that isn’t a very common scenario, but I’ve also been around enough people who have found themselves at the wrong end of a lawsuit to know that fighting something like that is tedious and expensive.

And just to illustrate, I added a blue line to approximate where people are generally cutting across:

Doesn’t it look nice and inviting to cut across?
From the edge of our yard

And by the way, 99% of the people cutting across the property are adults. I actually have only once seen kids cut across. So they are very definitely people who should know better!

I have been brainstorming about putting up a fence to take care of this problem. A fence would also give me some peace of mind about making it more difficult for toddlers to run into the street. I have gone back and forth, and have decided that a fence along the shorter side would be cheaper and still look nice. Here is what I’m talking about:

Our yard on the other side

Here are my thoughts about what we should do…

First off, I’d like to remove the two random bushes. I don’t know if they can be moved to elsewhere in our yard, or if we should rehome them. I’ll have to look up what kind of bushes they are. :-) On the left side of the picture, you’ll see some gorgeous azalea bushes. I think they’re beautiful, but they are not in a good spot in our yard. It’s very difficult (read: impossible) to see if anyone is coming when you are backing out of our driveway. Also, if a car parks behind them, I can’t see the car at all from the house or the driveway – which makes me nervous and a safety hazard in my opinion. So transplanting the azaleas is something that needs to happen regardless.

Once the bushes are gone, I’d like to put a fence along the road and up our property a bit to made a corner. (I need to research setback laws for our county.) I am leaning towards a white ranch fence, or perhaps a split-rail. Something like these:

(Images from here and here)

From the very brief pricing I have done, they would be about the same price for the 100ft. length (no gates) we’re talking about. I also have visions of a pretty flowering climbing vine along the fence, or just flowers, to make it appealing to the eye. Of course, I know nothing about plants so I’ll have to talk to someone about that. :-)

So what do you think? Do you prefer ranch rail or split rail? (Picket fence would also work, but it seems a lot more expensive.) What flowering vine would look nice?


And suddenly our priority list changes…

A week or two ago, we had our first house-related emergency. Well, we’ve had the HVAC unit die twice, but both were fairly inexpensive fixes. This time, however, was not so cheap.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that our house has the original galvanized pipes. Galvanized pipes were common when this house was built in the 60s, but they are not the pipes of choice nowadays due to the fact that they break down. We knew fairly early on that we’d need to replumb the whole house someday. It was on our list, but not one of the priorities.

Shortly after a big rainstorm, I noticed there was a puddle in front of our house that hadn’t been there before. Since it had recently rained, I didn’t think much of it. Several days – perhaps even a week went by – before I realized that the puddle never went away. One Sunday, Paul crawled down to the crawlspace to take a look, and noticed it was particularly damp at the edge by the area of the puddle. My uncle (a handyman) came by and he and Paul dug around the area to find this:

A leak!

Yep, we were pretty sure our pipes were leaking! Specifically, the main water supply line that brings the water in from the street. We contacted a plumber who came out the next day and confirmed our diagnosis. He gave us a quote for a new pipe, and instructed us to contact Georgia 811 to mark the utilities before he dug.

Savannah supervises

It was all fairly painless, though we turned off the water for several days. We turned it back on in the evenings, but it was an interesting lesson in appreciating water! I never realized before how dirty my daughter got until I couldn’t wipe her mouth/face/hands/etc.

Our pipes are already deteriorating and we decided a long time ago not to drink the water. Here’s a sample of the water from our kitchen faucet after being gone for the weekend:
Our lovely tap water that we don't drink

Yeah, now you can see why we opt for bottled water!



Spring is here and curb appeal is on our minds. :-) (Can’t you tell? After this post and this post? :-)) The weather has gotten warmer and the spring rains are upon us, and my attention has turned to the backyard as our next big project. We’ve been debating for months about which to do first – the backyard or the foundation. The foundation is very important, but the issues in the backyard are contributing to the foundation problems.

We ultimately decided to take care of the backyard now, because we are concerned that the foundation will continue to get worse while we are saving up the money if we don’t fix the cause of the problem. The good news is we have the money now to take care of that. The bad news is it will put us that much farther back in our savings for the foundation repairs. Isn’t that life?

I have turned my attention to finding a landscaper. Here’s what we plan to do:
* debris/brush removal and grade the entire backyard
* install some sort of drainage solution to divert the stormwater away from the house and into a creek at the back of the property
* plant grass or sod to create a kid-friendly play area in the backyard

The result will hopefully have added benefits of reducing the mosquito population, and giving us a place to spend time outdoors. The backyard is mostly fenced in, so it’s a safer place for toddlers than hanging out in the side yard, as the road that runs by our house is fairly busy (especially during the early afternoon when parents are headed to and from the elementary school that’s two blocks away). Also, when this is done, I hope to put up a clothesline for some eco-friendly clothes and diaper drying!

Now, just to find a landscaper that does all that.


goals for 2011

Well, it’s the new year, and it’s time to think about resolutions and whatnot! I’m not making resolutions, per se, but I wanted to take some time to talk a little about our house goals for this year. Not sure what we’ll actually be able to accomplish before 2012, but here is a try.

1) Fix the backyard – February/March. This is important for water drainage issues, as well as bug problems. Also, I want to put up a clothesline to dry our clothes outside this summer.

2) Save up for the foundation repairs. The quotes we got ranged from $10,000 to $18,000. We have about $5k saved right now. The cheapest price is from a company that I hesitate to trust, as it was their botched estimate that convinced us to get this house to begin with – we wouldn’t have bought had we known the full extent of the damage. The most expensive price is unfortunately the price we think would actually fix everything, and fix it right. So, we need to look over the quotes again and decide which price we want to save up for. Our decision about that will affect how long it takes to save up the money, and whether we’re able to do it in 2011 or not.

3) Fix the kitchen. My reward for saving up for the foundation is to tackle the kitchen! Even though it might not make the most sense compared to all the other problems, it does make sense to have a nice kitchen for resale value, and it also affects my daily life probably the greatest. And it’s the most exciting for me. :-) As I work hard at saving money this year, I hope to brainstorm some wonderful plans to make the best use of the space. I’ll also need to come up with a realistic budget!

In between, we hope to tackle some little things in 2011. We want to replace all the light switches and electrical outlets so that they will all match. Also, I want to replace the blinds in the bedrooms. And if I can, I’d like to get new baseboards for the main level of our house. And last but not least, we need to either clean or replace the carpet in the den because the cats have pretty much destroyed it. Not sure what exactly to do about that, but I’d love to get that room back!

Right now I’m feeling positive about everything; we’ll see how long this lasts!


is our house a money pit?

Recently, we’ve been talking about our priorities and what we are thinking about our house in a long-term way. We’ve also been talking about where we want to spend our money, how tightly we want to squeeze our belts, and what sacrifices we are willing to make. It’s one thing to scrimp and save for a time, but for it to be a lifestyle – well that’s harder. We realized one thing: we don’t want to sacrifice everything for this house. It was an interesting observation, and one thing I wish we’d realized a year and a half ago. But then, we had no idea the amount of work it would take to get this house going.

I’ve talked a lot about the different house projects we have. Major projects. If someone handed me $40,000 right now, I would have it spent in no time and I wouldn’t even be touching the “fun” projects like redoing the kitchen! And that’s not even accounting all the major projects that we anticipate becoming issues in the next 5-10 years (like, needing a new roof).

The question is, where do we draw the line? When do we decide that this house needs too much work? When do we walk away, poorer but wiser?

We have no idea, but we’ve started talking about regrets. We know that all houses have issues, and that with any house there will be a never-ending list of projects and improvements. The thing is, we are struggling under the burden of our list. I was reading on a forum of some complaints by other moms who are renting their houses. The things they were complaining about were all things we are living with, and to be honest are all far down on our list of priorities. A friend came over to visit, and we were talking about the things we could do with our house. She would start with an idea, and then it would just snowball. And then she would stop and shake her head. It was almost too much.

We have to be in this house until August 31, 2012, or we will have to pay back the $8,000. So at that point, what should we do? Could we sell the house without fixing anything? We would most likely have to list it at the price we paid, and be prepared for it to be on the market for a long time. Or we could take out a loan, fix the problems, and then sell it and hopefully make enough to pay off the mortgage and the loan. A possibility, but that’s assuming the housing market is better in 2 years. And it still might take a long time to sell, and we’re stuck with mortgage + loan payments in the meantime. And, to be honest if we can fix everything I would rather stay here. Or we can just live as we have been, trying to save and just praying that nothing major happens because we definitely don’t have the budget.

We obviously won’t make any decisions about this until after we pass the three year mark. However, we have been thinking about what it would take to sell it in the condition it’s in now. There are things I’d want to do, which don’t cost any (or much) money, and would make the house more attractive. Most of them involve paint and heavy duty cleaning.

Selling sooner than later would also encourage us to pursue more projects to make the house more attractive. Expensive projects like the foundation would probably be left undone, and we will definitely be penalized for that. But perhaps if we can make the rest of the house look nice, we’ll attract a buyer.

I’m probably fooling myself into thinking we *could* sell this house. To be honest, I am not sure we would be able to without fixing the foundation which is really the chunk of change that is weighing us down. Sigh. Oh well. Let’s just hope we don’t ever *have* to move, or we will be really stuck!


on the coldest day of the year…

It’s not really the coldest day of the year. I’m just being dramatic. :-) But, it’s been one of the coldest days of this season – highs in the mid-30s, I believe. Sometime last night, our heater stopped working. We thought it was odd when the house was so cold when we got up for church, but didn’t deal with it until we got home and messed with the thermostat and realized that the heater wasn’t blowing warm air. Paul checked for a pilot light, but there was none.

My uncle stopped by and he and Paul troublsehooted the heater until the found the problem – the part that ignites the pilot light went bad. They were able to replace it without too much trouble, and our heater is working again. Thank goodness my uncle was able to come and find the problem, and thank goodness Home Depot was still open!

A part of me was hoping just a teeny-tiny bit that we would have to replace the whole unit. Of course, I don’t REALLY want to spend that money right now, but if I *had* to I would certainly be glad to have a more efficient HVAC unit! Oh well. :-) I guess we’ll have to wait and do it the old fashioned way, saving up for it.


cutting corners

We live on a corner lot. I don’t think I’d buy a corner lot again, though it’s certainly not the worst thing about this house. My biggest annoyance is the people who cut across our yard. And it’s not kids or teenagers who are doing it, but rather adults – all women, sometimes with their young kids. I recognize the repeat offenders, but I’ve never seen them anywhere else but our yard (I’m assuming they do live in the neighborhood though). And because of the house being angled to the street, they actually walk right up along the house – it’s not like they’re only cutting across the corner.

I’ve been trying to brainstorm how to solve this problem. A fence seems like the obvious solution, but because this is a front yard I am hesitant to put up a fence. A nice white picket fence would definitely look the most neighborly. Again, though, the cost. My other concern about a fence is wondering about our property line. As you can see from the map, the property line (the red line on the map) is quite a ways away from the sidewalk/street. That would make it annoying to mow, if we had a fence so far from the sidewalk. I’m not sure what the fence laws are – something else to research I guess.

Another option is a split-rail fence. Both this and the picket fence idea are possibilities, but they’re both expensive so aren’t feasible right now. Plants, flowerbeds and shrubs, are good options but both cost money, require upkeep, and take time to grow. Maybe we’ll explore that idea more when we have the money to put towards something more permanent. In the meantime, though…

I saw a house in another neighborhood that solved the problem in a much cheaper way. They put up a bunch of tall wooden gardening stakes, and strung a bright rope in between them. It was definitely not the most visually appealing solution, but it didn’t look horrible either. And I priced the supplies at Home Depot yesterday – definitely doable. It would be high enough that people wouldn’t trip over it, but not so high that they’d be able to duck under it.

Today as I was researching online I had another idea. Instead of putting the rope/stakes around the perimeter of our yard, why not instead line the driveway? That would look the most neighborly, but also deter people, assuming that they would turn around and go back to the street once encountering the “fence”. And if I find people are simply hopping it, or going under, or taking it down, then I can move it and put it along the street. (I like that it’s easily movable. That also is nice since I don’t feel like researching fence laws. I have had enough of trying to decode our city and county’s laws when I was trying to figure out if we could move our shed to anywhere else in the yard.) It’s probably the best low-cost option right now. I think I’ll go measure the space right now so I can know how many stakes and rope to get. Maybe I can run by Home Depot tonight. :-)

Updated: Side benefit – we could like the “fence” with Christmas lights for some holiday decor!



First off, I’m not doing very good about keeping my kitchen clean. :-) In my defense, I probably shouldn’t have started this on a weekend. We’ve been pretty busy, so I haven’t really paid much attention to the kitchen. We did, however, finally replace the light bulbs in the kitchen – we haven’t had light in there for several days because the light bulbs blew out and both of us were too lazy to fix it. (I know, I’m just being honest here.)

Tomorrow is Monday and hopefully I can get back on track.

Last week we got the estimates for fixing our foundation and they were as discouraging as we were afraid.

Company C sent their estimate. This was the company I was most impressed with. His solution was to rebuild the footing and use piers to put the house back up to its correct height, and keep it from sinking again. This would cost $18,230. He also recommended a water-proofing system, a vapor barrier, and two sump pumps to prevent water from collecting in the crawl space and causing any further damage – that totaled about $5,000.

Company A’s estimate was a bit more palatable, but still high. They wanted to just use piers to fix the problem, which from what several of the companies we’ve had out here have said it’s not good enough. Their estimate was $10,820. However, this company was the one that missed the extent of the damage a year ago. While it was somewhat hidden by the sun porch, I don’t think it was so hidden that a professional looking for problems wouldn’t have noticed. Their $5,400 estimate was what convinced us to get the house – we would have walked away if it had been any higher. So I’m a little ticked off at this company, and not sure that I really want to work with them.

Either way, we don’t have the money right now. We are still looking at any other possibilities, but I think we might have to go the old fashioned route and save up for it. (Unknown rich relative, now is the time to make your appearance!) One of the downsides to saving up for it is that it’s going to take so long. It’s impossible to tell how much longer it will be before it gets worse, but it’s not like we’re about to fall through our floor right now. In the time it will take to save for this repair, we will have other repairs to save for too: a new roof, a new hot water heater, replumb the house, and also a new car (as our current car will be too small for us shortly as our family grows). We sort of feel we are left between a rock and a hard place.

Since it will probably be several years until we’re able to repair this, we decided we should go ahead and use the money to fix the backyard and the water issues, in the hopes that this will keep the foundation from getting worse. I’m also thinking of some other minor repairs that I’ve been wanting to do – it would be nice to take care of it now. For example, putting all the insulation back into the crawlspace, as the weather has turned cooler here. Also, I have been wanting to get our HVAC serviced and our ducts cleaned – just to see if that helps keep our heating bills down this winter. (It’s so difficult to save money when you’re paying so much to heat the house! Our house isn’t very energy efficient.)

And just because I like to dream… I like to imagine what I would do if someone handed me $40,000. I like to think about fixing the foundation, replacing the windows, putting in a new HVAC unit that’s more energy efficient, getting all new non-rusty pipes, a new hot water heater… All these things would help keep our energy costs lower and make an impact on our quality of life! But…. Alas, I don’t have $40,000, so I will have to keep my dreams locked up and focus on reality.