Category Archives: Maintenance

Windows at PKWHOA

Recently, a neighbor sent me the following email:

 

We recently had our windows washed. In the process the washers indicated

that a few of our windows had lost their seal. As original owners we

contacted JeldWen for an inspection.

 

Today the representative of JeldWen conducted his examination of our

windows. He identified 42 windows in our end unit for replacement.

 

Currently, scheduling for the replacements is out beyond the middle of August.

 

Fortunately, as an original owner we are covered by the warranty.  Others

may not be as fortunate.”

 

The warranty I read stated, “We warrant to the original owner for which the products and components as identified below are initially installed…” It appears that secondary owners may not be covered.

If you have questions, I would call Jeld-Wen (or other manufacturer if applicable).

Here is the website for contacting Jeld-Wen:

https://www.jeld-wen.com/en-us/product-support/customer-service/contact-customer-support

Their phone number is: 800.535.3936

 

The window washers:

Fleur de Lis

10479 Sw Amanda Ct

Tigard, OR 97224

Phone number (503) 639-8479

 

 

 

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Water Heaters

Electric water heaters

One of the most underappreciated home appliances is the water heater.  We seldom give them a second thought until we take our first (unplanned) cold shower.

{You may consider switching to Heat Pump Water Heater for economic or environmental reasons.  If so, please read Heat Pump Water Heaters and  HPWH update .}

If you are considering a new water heater because the current one is not working properly, there are a few things to consider first.  It is my opinion that in most cases, unless it is leaking, your water heater can be fixed for a fraction of the cost of purchasing a new one.

The oldest water heater in PKW is probably about 12 years old.  This is about the time that some of the parts may start to fail. In this article I will discuss: recirculation pumps, reset buttons, thermostats, and heating elements.

Recirculation Pump (see photo at bottom of page)

In theory, this pump provides instant hot water to the farthest sink or shower. It is my opinion that it is not needed for most of our homes.  I have unplugged mine.

These pumps are advertised to work for 15-20 years. I have heard several reports the pumps not working in our neighborhood after 3-5 years.  It will cost $200-400 for a new pump.

I did notice that the pipe on my water heater leading to the RP was corroded.  Eventually it started to leak.  The cause of the failure was “galvanic corrosion.”  An electro-chemical reaction to two dissimilar metals being joined without using a “dielectric nipple”. Basically, the plumber who installed the water heater connected a copper pipe directly to a galvanized pipe. This may be an anomaly in our community, but is easy to check. (see photos)

No hot water

The first thing to check is the breaker switch for the water heater.  This is usually located in the back of the garage.

If it is not tripped already, you will want to turn it off for the next step.

Reset Button

This red button is located on the upper thermostat (see photos).  If you push on it and it clicks, then it means that it had been tripped.  Resetting it should turn your HWH back on.

But what caused it to trip?  Possible causes are: a bad thermostat, shorted heating element, or loose wiring.

If you do reset the button without identifying any problem, be careful.  You may have scalding hot water in a few hours.

Thermostats

The thermostat controls the operation of the heating elements, keeping your water at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When this fails, the water heats uncontrollably.  The reset button on the thermostat kick out, automatically turning off the water heater when it reaches 180 degrees F.

The links below will walk you through how to test and replace your thermostat.  I am not a plumber or an electrician and I found the process fairly easy.  You can get the upper and lower thermostats for $14 and $9 respectively at Home Depot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TH3mSVbEmc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCXmyhEY_k4

Elements

If the thermostats are working properly and the reset button trips, you may have an element that is shorting out.  If you suspect this, make sure the breakers for the WH are turned off, then test the elements.

https://www.familyhandyman.com/plumbing/water-heater/diy-hot-water-heater-repair/view-all/

If the reset button and the breakers have not been triggered and your water is warm, you possibly have one element that is bad. If you are not sure which one, I think it is best to replace both. Continue reading Water Heaters

Time to replace your water heater?

This is a follow-up to my previous posting about Heat Pump Water Heaters and replacing your existing water heater.  As I mentioned, all our community’s water heaters are entering their expected “end of life” phase of 10 – 15 years.  It is a good idea to be proactive so you don’t get stuck with a cold shower!  There are also a lot of financial incentives available which are slated to expire at the end of 2017, providing another reason to be proactive.  See my presentation and the quotes below.

We have reached out to several vendors who have been out to our community and were willing to provide a quote for PKW homeowners.  While these are reputable, licensed and bonded vendors, please note that these vendors are in no way “approved” by me, the HOA board, or the management company.  This list is provided as a courtesy to help you make your own decision on water heater replacement.

Our HOA board also provided pre-approval for the installation of a condensate drain (required for heat pump water heaters) which requires penetrating the exterior wall near the garage.  Fill out this form ARC HPWH and follow the instructions to be able to move forward immediately with your water heater replacement and not have to wait for any addtional approvals from the HOA board.

If you have additional questions, please let me know at davekresta@gmail.com

[*Editor’s Note: The PKW HOA Board of Directors has approved installation of these water heaters using the guidelines described in the ARC HPWH example.  The BOD will consider a resolution to clarify this procedure at its November meeting, but you do not need to wait for it in order to have your application approved.

** The Board of Directors for Peterkort Woods has not selected or endorsed these vendors.  They are provided for you information only as vendors who can install this type of water heater.]

Regards,

Dave Kresta

Heat Pump Water heaters

[to view an update to this post click on Time to replace your water heater?]

To: Peterkort Woods homeowners

From: Dave Kresta, homeowner

I was asked to present at the August 14, 2017 annual HOA meeting on water heaters. You will find the presentation material attached.

PeterKort Water Heater Presentation

In addition to being a PKW homeowner for nearly 5 years, I have also worked at the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance for over 7 years. A considerable portion of my work there has included exploration of savings opportunities with water heating.

My goal is to provide PKW homeowners with information about new high efficiency options for water heating, and help pave the way for easier water heater replacements. Water heaters normally last 8 to 14 years so we can expect that many PKW units will need to have replacements sometime in the near to mid-future. I have personally heard about 3 replacements that have already occurred this year due to water heater failures.

Heat Pump Water heaters (HPWHs) are now widely available, saving an estimated $250/year on average versus old technology standard electric water heaters. With existing rebates and tax credits totaling $1200, HPWHs are an option to seriously consider. For those who want to install a tank that is larger than 55 gallons (most of the larger PKW units have 66-gallon tanks), new Federal regulations actually require installation of a HPWH. If your tank is smaller than 55 gallons, it is optional

Unfortunately, the plumbing industry is very slow moving, and many plumbers are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with HPWHs and therefore try to steer people away from them (or simply don’t mention them). This includes telling people with larger tanks that they must downsize to a smaller tank so that they can continue installing old technology. This not only costs the homeowner money in the long run, but with the rebates and incentives available, it can cost money in the short run.

The primary challenge in installing HPWHs is that they produce a small amount of condensate (water) which must be drained to the outside. I am working with the HOA Board to get this procedure pre-approved (it requires drilling through the exterior wall) so that individual homeowners do not experience delays in getting this approval. HPWHs also blow out cool, dry air. This does NOT need to be vented to the outside, and I personally find it a benefit in my garage.

I am also working with my employer to get a list of plumbers who have been to our community and are willing to provide competitive quotes for HPWH installation. This information will be disseminated when it is available, hopefully within 4 weeks.

If you would like to be alerted via email with updates on this subject, or if you have additional questions, please let me know at davekresta@gmail.com

 

Regards,

Dave Kresta

Chemicals used in Community

There has been some concerns raised recently regarding the use of chemicals in our community.  The HOA employs various vendors who apply herbicides, insecticides, moss treatments, etc.

For each chemical used, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is posted on TMG’s website.  I have also posted them on this site under the landscaping tab.

If you have any questions regarding the materials or methods used by any of our vendors, please contact TMG or send a message to this site and I will pass it along.

Sprinkler system leak

The following information was provided by Duane Damiano on SW Windwood Way.  At the end of the post, there is a link with photos of the pipes in question.

 

On Saturday, May 13 we noticed a small bulge in the ceiling adjacent to the fire sprinkler in our master bedroom.  I immediately went into the attic and discovered that a plastic pipe fitting attached to that sprinkler was leaking.

I place a pan under leak and collected approximately 6 ounces of water per day for next three days.

On May 16th, I shut off the main water valve in garage and released the water pressure by opening a kitchen faucet. I turned the water back on after a few minutes.  The pipe no longer leaked.

On June 2nd there was still no water leakage.  My plumber (Kenny from Lovett Plumbing) inspected the pipe.  We agree that the best course of action is to do nothing.  I will monitor the situation and call Kenny if it starts leaking again.

* Cause of the Leak

The cause is unknown.  One possibility is that shutting off the water and releasing the water pressure on May 16 caused the AquaPEX pipe to re-shrink around the fitting.  As bogus as that explanation sounds, it’s been offered by three people – two plumbers and one knowledgeable friend.  I don’t buy it, but I don’t have a better idea.

A couple of people have suggested that the ‘leak’ could have been water coming through the roof and dripping on that spot.  I think that’s unlikely for the following reasons.

1. The leak was discovered on Saturday, May 13.  It rained, by similar amounts (about 0.08″ per day) every day from May 11 through May 17.  The leak stopped on May 16 and the time of stoppage is exactly coincident with the time that I briefly shut off the water valve.

2. The sprinkler head was covered with blown in insulation, which I had to push aside.  The insulation above the sprinkler was dry.  The only wet insulation was below where the pipe attaches to the sprinkler head.  The ceiling material below the pipe was also wet, as can be seen in the first photo.

3. If you look closely at the foil pan in the second photograph, you can see a couple of drops of water in the pan, under the pipe.  I took that photo shortly after putting the pan in place.  I could see drops falling into the pan.  I didn’t measure the frequency, but it was a drop every 20 seconds or so.  It seemed obvious to me at the time that it was coming from the pipe.

* Things You Should Know When This Happens to You

I spent a lot of time phoning and emailing sprinkler and plumbing companies.  Almost all that time was wasted.  Here are the key points.

The AquaPEX pipe used in our sprinkler systems is made by Uponor.  Here is a video that describes the system.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC0VWabiUtY

This is the Uponor “Find an Installer” web page.

http://www.uponor-usa.com/find-an-installer.aspx

When you fill out the form, don’t forget to select “Fire Safety Systems” from the choices at the bottom.  If you do this now, it will return only one installer, Wolcott Plumbing in Troutdale.  When I called them, a woman named Gloria told me that I lived too far away for them to send a service truck.  She suggested Ed Mullan Plumbing and Gravity Plumbing.  Ed Mullan is in Hillsboro, but he does not do any repairs except on systems that he has installed.  Gravity is in Oregon City (almost as far away as Troutdale).  The Gravity guy said he could do it, but he was many weeks backlogged with work.

Don’t be discouraged.  When your turn comes, maybe the Uponor site will offer more choices.

I finally found Kenny, who works for Lovett Plumbing (503-737-8423, lovettservices.com).  He knows about AquaPEX pipe, and he carries the pipe and fittings in his truck.

* Want to Fix It Yourself?

I’d think very hard about that.  You’ll need the expander tool, which costs about $400 or can be rented for $40 per day.  If you watched the video, you saw how easy it is to use the tool to attach the pipe to a fitting.   However, the video does not demonstrate how to remove pipe from a fitting.  The accepted way to do that is to heat the ring and cut through it with a knife.  After removing the ring, heat the pipe some more until it slides off of the fitting.  Not too hard, but what if the fitting is a sprinkler head that is designed to spring open at 135 F?  Do you want to point your heat gun at that?  Kenny from Lovett Plumbing says he can remove the pipe without heating it.  I hope so.

 

An updated album of photos, with captions, is here:

https://goo.gl/photos/KmvPwGX3syvEZ6EP6

Continue reading Sprinkler system leak

Update: COMMUNITY CLEANUP DAY APRIL 22nd, 2017

Update April 25, 2017: We had our annual cleanup day this past Saturday.  28 PKW residents helped with: garbage pickup, mailbox cleaning, cleaning walls inside the clubhouse, breaking up pallets and power washing (behind clubhouse), and some gardening.

Original post: More than 20 PKW residents participated in last year’s event.  The group broke up into four groups: wetlands cleanup, mailbox cleanup, picnic table assembly, and plantings.

Help cleanup and beautify the areas surrounding our wonderful community.

We’ll break into teams and tackle several different areas in the community.
We’ll meet at the Clubhouse at 10am for assignments and work together till noon. Lunch will be provided at the Clubhouse.
We will have basic supplies on hand such as garbage bags but please bring your own gloves if desired.

If you have a t-shirt from a past clean-up day, wear it.  If you need a t-shirt, fill out a contact form ASAP and include your size.

Please RSVP by April 5th so we can get a count for lunch.