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!


a huge step in the warmth department

Some exciting news – as I sit and write this, some men are putting up the insulation in our crawlspace!!!

It’s been over a year since we took it down to treat some bugs. We decided to wait and see about the foundation before putting the insulation back up, but when we realized we didn’t have the money to fix the foundation this summer, I told Paul I didn’t want to do another winter with no insulation. That main level gets *cold*!

I know not to expect any miracles, but I’m hoping this helps with our heating bills as well. If nothing else, I should be able to walk around in just socks again.


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.


ducts in a row

Our inspector told us when we moved in that we needed to get the ductwork cleaned. Supposedly, cleaning them results in lower energy bills and reduced dust/mold/allergens in your house. We suspected it had been a while since they were cleaned, so yesterday when I saw an ad in the mail I decided to finally call and set up an appointment.

According to the ad, it would be $110 for 15 vents and one return. What I didn’t realize is that they would have to do more than that $110 price point, so it ended up costing us almost $800. Yikes! Didn’t plan for that, but it came out of the “house renovations” budget and we have a lot of money floating around in there thanks to not having enough to get the foundation fixed. Our house has 2 returns (upstairs and down in the den), and 3 main trunks that distribute the air (one for each level I think?). So, we had to pay extra for those things, since that original price only covered one of each. Also, they had to add access panels to the main trunks, which means the system has never been cleaned in the 50 years this house has been around. (More $$$.)

Another thing they did was inspect the furnace. Unfortunately for us, the original owner was quite a DIY-er. I don’t want to put down DIY projects – they are great if you can do it well and do it right! However, this guy either didn’t do it right or didn’t do it in a way that it would last. Our HVAC unit was put in 1997, and it was hooked up completely wrong. I can’t remember how it is – I think it’s cooling the air before it’s filtering it… but whatever it is, it’s causing the unit to get gunked up with air particles and run more inefficiently. Someday when we win the lottery we really need to replace the whole thing with a unit that works correctly.

So today they cleaned the whole furnace – the AC coil, the heating coil, and the blower house. These really, really needed to be cleaned for the reasons I mentioned above. So even though that added $$$, it was good that we went ahead and got it done.

While the ad didn’t lie, I feel like it was a bit misleading about the price. They should have mentioned that there are other things involved that you *have* to do (you can’t just skip that part). Oh well.

I told the guy about our house heating unevenly, and he said that putting insulation in the crawlspace and putting in a return for the main level would help with that. Apparently the return that’s in the hallway upstairs is sucking up some of the warm air from downstairs. We’ll add that to our list, though it will probably fall in the “only if we stay here 40 years” category, right under replacing all the paneling with drywall.


adding to our list

Originally posted at twentysixcats.com

The arrival of summer has shown us a few more issues with our house that we’ll need to take care of. First off, it’s really really hot in here! I have the A/C on, and the thermometer reads that it’s only 78 or 80 inside, but sweat is just pouring off me! I don’t tend to be warm by nature, so I am wondering why.

I have a theory but I’m not sure how accurate it is. Our house is really humid – it’s not vented properly so we have had some issues with humidity even in the winter. I notice it mostly with the windows – mold builds up on the frame, so we have to keep cleaning them with bleach (like, every 6 months… it’s not REALLY bad). Humidity doesn’t really bother us much (heck, we live in Atlanta) but now that it’s summer my guess is that it’s REALLY humid inside. And that is making it feel much hotter than it is. What do you think of my theory? Plausible or totally off-base?

It could also be an issue with our A/C. The inspector told us that it was hooked up wrong, and we would need to get a professional out to take a look at it. Worst case scenario, we need a new unit, but I don’t think that will be necessary right now. I need to get someone out here; I’m just worried about the cost.

The biggest thing that will help with the humidity will be to put in attic vents. Our inspector last year told us that the easiest way to do that will be to get them put in when we reroof the house, which is still a few years away (hopefully!). I know putting a vapor barrier in the crawlspace will help, too – we’ll get that done when we fix the foundation. Any other ideas of bringing down the humidity in the house, short of putting a dehumidifier in every room?

I already mentioned the mosquitoes we’ve been having trouble with. Not sure what to do about that, either. What are the things that make those pesky bugs worse. Standing water? Tall weeds? We need to try and figure that out. It’s worse around our carport, so that’s a place to start.

We have been daydreaming recently about what we want to do with our yard. Those of you privy to my Facebook updates will know that we have some trouble with people walking through our yard since it’s a corner lot. Also, the way our house is situated, our side yard is actually the biggest area and probably where our kids will play. I’d love to have some sort of natural barrier along the sidewalk to keep our kids in and unwanted people out – perhaps some poplar trees?

We’d love to get our yard to a place where we can spend time outdoors. Keeping the bugs to a minimum is key, but also making it a nice place to be will help. We talked today about tilling the whole backyard (there isn’t a blade of grass, only weeds) and planting grass. Someday, someday! There are some things we need to think about first, like how to divert the water from pooling in our yard when it rains. I really know nothing about landscaping so what I have in my head might not even be possible. We’ll see!

Today with the help of some friends we moved a few pieces of furniture downstairs. I am excited! We also moved down our desktop computer to the den, and a few other miscellaneous items. I’m trying to turn a corner of the den into a small office, and the rest of the den will be a playroom. I think it’s going to be a really nice living space when we’re done! I told Paul that I’d like to make the living room upstairs a nice place to have guests and entertain, and the den a place where we can relax and let the kids have fun.

I look forward to working on making the living room look nice decor-wise. Though, I’m about out of money so I better start coming up with inexpensive solutions. :-)


gas is expensive!

Originally published at twentysixcats.com

So we got our gas bill yesterday – $365!! Unfortunately it’s a monthly bill. I looked at all the things we use gas for, and really the only logical culprit is the heat. We don’t cook enough (and we rarely bake) for it to be the oven/stove, we don’t take showers very often (being honest here!), and I always wash in cold water.

I thought we were being conservative with the heat – we keep it at 65 during the day and turn it down to 57 at night. I also try to turn it down when we’re not home for several hours or more. So, I’m disappointed that despite our efforts we still have such a high bill.

To be honest, this is really going to stretch us financially if it’s the norm.

We turned off the heat last night and today. The thermometer in our house said it never rose above 61 upstairs and 58 downstairs. I was so cold! Savannah and I sat in the guest room all day in front of the space heater. I could hardly bear to go downstairs. I did take a nice walk around our neighborhood in midday, but it wasn’t quite warm enough to just be outside. Maybe tomorrow!

I asked Paul if we could at least keep the heat at 62 degrees tomorrow. It’s just way too cold to have it completely off. And I worry about how it will affect Savannah – she wouldn’t nap at all today and so was fussy all day. It could have been a coincidence, but I wonder if it was because it was so cold.

This is making me rethink our priorities with our house projects. It’s really hard to save the money for repairs to fix the energy inefficiency of the house when you’re spending so much on the bills! So maybe we should bump those to the top of the list?

The biggest thing we probably should do is put insulation in the crawlspace. I hope that helps! The other big thing that will probably help will be to put new windows throughout – we still have the original 1960s single pane windows, and 3 of the windows are broken. I would LOVE new windows for the sound factor alone! But with 12 windows plus a sliding glass door and a bay window, I’m not sure when we’ll be able to afford it. (Anyone have new windows installed recently? How much did it cost, ballpark range?)

Making the house warmer would be nice! But it also would be nice to fix the rust in our water so we stop having to buy bottled water, and so that the rust doesn’t ruin Savannah’s diapers. And it would be nice to get some drainage ditches put in the yard so it stops flooding, which is contributing to the sinking foundation. And I really want carpet in the den. And of course we do need to fix the foundation which is the least exciting project. Where to put the money first??

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, fixer-uppers are fun when you have the money. :-) When you don’t… well they can just be frustrating.


welcome to our sauna!

Originally posted at twentysixcats.com

I’ve had a productive day so far. I finally tackled the linen closet. Because we moved from a fairly big bathroom to a pretty small one, I had a lot more stuff than room. So, I spent an hour organizing the shelves, trying to get everything to fit, and then putting the rest of the stuff in our bedroom to be dealt with at another time.

Spending all that time upstairs has gotten me frustrated about the temperature of our house!

I’ll start at the beginning. You see, when we had the house inspected before we bought it, we found out there were powder-post beetles in the crawl space. The cost to get them exterminated was covered when we closed, but first we had to remove all the insulation from the crawlspace. Because of Paul having to be at CNN so much, he didn’t get a chance to do that until last week. They came and sprayed the crawlspace on Monday, and we now have to wait a few weeks before we can put the insulation back up.

In the meantime… MAN I am noticing a difference in the temperature of our house without the insulation! The main level of our house is really cold. We turned on the heater to see if that helped, and it has.

HOWEVER…. now the upstairs is a sauna! It is *SO* hot up there. It’s like 80 degrees, and the heat is blasting. We have all the register vents closed, but it doesn’t seem to help. So we have to turn the heat completely off at night, which isn’t a problem, but it gets quite chilly in the wee hours of the morning. :-) (This morning, Savannah’s feet were like ice. Since Paul had already left for work, I brought her in the bed and under the covers with me and rubbed her feet until they felt warm. Poor baby.)

So, does anyone have any ideas of how we can regulate the temperature? It is really quite unbearable upstairs. Is this just normal with two-story houses, or is there something wrong with our heater? Perhaps putting the insulation back will just do the trick.

Anyways, after spending an hour and a half upstairs sorting the closet, I am back downstairs and feeling much cooler. In fact, it’s rather pleasant. When I get too cold, I’ll go back upstairs. ;-)