New Couch Coming Soon

And that means, say goodbye to the old couch.  This couch has been here for, I don’t know, close to 15 years.  It was purchased at a contemporary furniture store that had a lot of eclectic stuff, with corresponding eclectic prices.  This couch met the needs of the time as far as style and budget and to be honest, has been pretty solid the whole time.  That’s not to say it’s been great.  The white vinyl stained and the chaise cushion continually slid out of place, leaving the back cushion to fall down.

The staining of the vinyl led to an experiment with painting the vinyl.  The initial appearance was really good, but the durability was absolutely terrible.  And with the couch now mostly painted, and looking in poor shape, it wasn’t eligible for donation.  I could do it, but not in good conscience.  So off to the dump.

How to get it to the dump?  Well, I have a station wagon, so let’s see if it will fit.  I took some rough measurements and the couch is almost an exact fit.  Lucky me.  However, I can’t get the two pieces of couch to interlock together so I can take them together.  So that means there’s going to be some destruction involved.

IMG_20210917_193954_01The first thing to do is to get the legs off.  Here you can see that I did not spray paint the non-visible parts of the couch, to save paint.  So no one would want to buy a couch like that, even from a thrift shop.  The legs, you can see, are removed and sitting on the coffee table.

Then it’s a matter of dragging the couch out to the garage to figure out how to take it apart.

The first thing I tried to do was take a sledgehammer to the back and sides.  I don’t really own a sledge, I just have a tiny hand sledge that I just use to pound things.  And so, pound I did, and nothing was really giving.  So it was time to do what the pros do – break out the Sawzall.

IMG_20210917_194009_01The Sawzall is one of those tools that is used in just about every DIY or home remodeling show.  I swear these people think it’s the greatest tool on earth.  I’m neutral on it.  I don’t have as much use for it, but I guess I should be glad to have one, because the few times I did use it, there wasn’t really any other alternative.

The first attempt at cutting was sort of lame and left me feeling stupid.  I didn’t think about the blade I was using and was using a course-tooth wood cutting blade.  I put the blade between two seams in the frame and started cutting.  It went smoothly for a while, then stopped.  I pushed through that and then realized, I had just cut through a screw.  I should be using a fine-tooth blade for metal cutting.  Duh.

A swap of blades and things went much smoother. Once I had that one piece separated, I had a better look at the construction of the couch.  It’s just a bunch of wood frames with vinyl streched over them, screwed together.  Gee, I could make one of these if I wanted.  But anyway, I saw the way the pieces were secured together and I thought it would just be better to find the screws and unscrew them instead of sawing through them.  So I did.

I used a utility knife and cut the fabric and vinyl to expose the frame, found the screws, which had been bent with a hammer to prevent any poking from happening, and removed them.  The back of the couch just slipped right off.

With the one half of the couch in three pieces, I could easy stack everything together into one bundle for transport.

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That’s all there is to the couch that took up all my living room.  Next weekend, it’s going to a landfill.  And I did get an answer to a question I had about the couch earlier,  It absolutely is a hand-made piece.  They used drywall screws throughout the construction.  Again, I could make one of these if I wanted to.

Studio Room

Formerly known as guest bedroom.  The room was completed last weekend and is now being utilized as designed.

So the first thing was finding a chair for the desk.  I had a desk planned out – moderately cheap Ikea – and wanted a decent chair.  I ended up with this one, which seems more and more of an oddity the more I consider it.

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All of the furniture was moved out to the garage for planned pickup by Salvation Army.  And then I had to get the desk from Ikea.  I was comparing the desk options to what I already had in my main office and the desk top I wanted was a little smaller than my existing one.  That memory is important and led to my first mistake.

At Ikea, I was just trying to be quick about the purchase and after finding out where the items were found in the warehouse, I went and grabbed the pieces.  The desk top was 55″, which is smaller than my desk, which is 63″.  I also bought the coordinating desk frame and rushed them home.  I built the table right away and when it was complete, something felt really off about teh finished product.

It was too small.  I measured it again.  Yes, it is 55″.  I measured my office desk.  Yes, 63″.  I looked online at Ikea’s catalog.  Oh.  The desk top I should have purchased was 62″, still smaller than my office desk.  So, I suddenly had a backup desk for the room.  That’s not too bad, because it was actually part of the eventual plan to have a craft desk in the room.  It just happened sooner than expected.

Back to Ikea to purchase the right size desk.  At checkout, I planned to pay cash and when the two pieces were rung up, it was more than I expected.  How do I keep screwing this up?  So I split the payment between cash and card, rushed the items home and built them up.  Now I had the right size desk.

And later, I reviewed the receipt from Ikea and it turns out the cashier rung up two desk frames instead of a frame and a desktop, which explained the extra $50.  Lesson learned.

So anyway, I had all the pieces.  Along with the desk, I had purchased new studio monitors and also a power strip to switch everything off and on at once.  With everything in place, this is the result.

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Chairs. Just Chairs.

A couple posts ago, I mentioned that I was looking for a high-quality chair for what will become my studio room.  Elsewhere, I discussed the aggravation in finding a suitable chair in the flood of garbage on the Internet.  The result of all of this has been a bit of capitulation on multiple fronts.

Primarily, since we’re talking about the studio room, I have decided I don’t require a top-grain leather office chair for this.  Comfort is still important, but since it’s going to be a low-utilization piece of furniture, I can let it slide.  I based part of my decision on my history.  Way back when, I used kitchen chairs as desk chairs.  They were comfortable and they worked absolutely fine.  So I opened my options up and went shopping.

And that’s the second bit.  Internet shopping is good for some stuff, but not really for furniture.  Not only for the fact you have to experience what you’re buying, but when you’re buying a single chair, you can find some interesting options in clearance areas of furniture stores.  One-offs, singletons, scratch-and-dents.  While I love and put a priority on quality, I do love a good bargain, and I like rescuing things, too.

Yesterday, I visited a furniture store I’d never been to before.  I assumed it was all fancy, formal stuff and I wouldn’t find anything, but it never hurts to look.  I used to love just browsing stores, but COVID sort of put a damper on that activity.  Anyway, in this store, they sold Stressless chairs and once again, I am astounded that anyone purchases those things.  I can’t see spending over $3k on a chair when you can get a sofa for 1/3 the price. 

But anyway, I did make it to the clearance section: a room with no AC, on the top floor in the corner of the building with half the ceiling lights turned off.  (If they were trying some sort of dissuasive psyche tactics on shoppers, they went way overboard.)  In the farthest corner of the room, there was a chair with no matching anything around it.  It was white wood and cloth, but was as basic as it could be and it sort of drew me in.  They gave me a quote of $100 for it and I left it for consideration.  Today, I think I’m going to move on it.

But yesterday, I didn’t have my mind made up.  I stopped at another store (actually 3 other stores, but the others were fruitless) and found a decent top-grain leather office chair that wasn’t obnoxious.  I looked at the price tag and was only mildly shocked.  It was on sale, $50 off!  Sale price: $850.

So here’s the final capitulation.  I had budgeted $300 for my “nice” office chair.  Research had shown me that a $300 budget was ridiculously low for the quality I was demanding.  Not that $300 won’t get you quality, don’t mistake me there, it is just not “lifetime” quality, which is what I am seeking.  $800-1200 is pretty much the going rate for a chair that will really last.  And I still don’t buy into the $3k Stressless chairs. 

Adding to all that, finding a style that is agreeable to me, and is not stupid expensive, and is top-grain leather, is definitely a rare find.  To be sure, I’ve looked at every major furniture store online and in person and not found another model that meets those criteria.  So I guess I’ve found my next office chair.

So there’s a $100 chair and a $850 chair added to my list.

Living Room AV

So the plan was to simply go to Ikea and buy a Besta unit and be done with it.  However, it appears that the pandemic has caused a severe inventory problem for Ikea.  Nothing is in stock and no idea when that will be resolved.

Not being interested in waiting longer than I have to, I began looking online for other AV units.  In all the different images, a few caught my eye.  Some had to be discarded because the dimensions wouldn’t work out.  Eventually I settled on one.  And in a strange way, it’s just the right one.  It’s a larger version of the credenza I have in the master bedroom.  Ok.

The delivery came last night and I wasted no time in putting it together and getting everything into it.  By the end of the night, I was able to listen to some music and the cats were jumping around the room.

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Here’s the initial placement with the speakers.

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Then with the components in place.

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Everything now in place.

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And all fired up.

I think I’m going to shift everything just a little to the right to line up the speaker with the end of the wall.  Not sure if I’m going to remove that artwork that’s partially blocked by the TV yet.  Still determining what d├ęcor items to fill in the empty spaces.

Guest Bedroom Redux

The actual title is “Guest Bedroom“.

Since this isn’t the blog for personal ruminations (look elsewhere for that story), this will just focus on the effects of the changes to the house.  And to sum up the changes, I’m getting rid of my guest bedroom.

So, the future plan is to make it another music room.  I have my music room right now, which I term, “the listening room”.  This new room is going to be a studio room for my music equipment and recording.  So maybe I need to rename these rooms “recording” and “playback”.  And with the bathroom situated between them, that should be called “pause”.

Now, on to the plans.  First of all, old furniture needs to go and new furniture needs to come in.  I called a donation center and was told they don’t take mattresses, so I planned on taking the mattress to the dump.  While searching for a moving bag for the mattress, I saw a vacuum bag, which gave me the idea to just compress the mattress and store it.  Maybe at some point in the future I’ll need a guest mattress.  If it’s compressed, no big deal.

But I will need to dispose of the bed frame, which is not good enough to donate, and the dresser and night stand, which can be donated.  They can go with the old TV stand from the living room.  All the other storage units in the room can stay.  And then, it’s time to get new stuff.

I will have my keyboard stand, guitar, and a monitor stand that also holds the recording computer.  That’s what I’m starting with.  What I’m looking forward to is not using a mini keyboard/trackpad on the computer and not having to stand or sit on a hard barstool.  I will get a nice table top where I can have a full keyboard and mouse and room for the mixer and other peripherals.  I’ll get a nice comfortable chair where I can spend an extended period working over song mixes instead of giving up after 30 minutes from body aches.  And I’ll have room to move instead of being crammed into a corner.

Tentative budget:

  • Table: $150
  • Chair: $300 (not going to skimp on this)
  • New studio monitors: $300

The timeframe is two months, tops.  Lotsa pieces coming together right now.  New TV stand arrives tomorrow.  Mattress bag over the weekend.  I can schedule a pickup of the furniture next week, chop up the bed frame for the garbage.  If things work out, I’ll have a small windfall of cash within a month to finance this and much more.

Say goodbye to this mess.

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The speakers in the lower-left will be out in a couple days.  The box on the floor is the new stereo for the living room.  The PC on the left has to stay.  We’ll make that work.  But anyway – progress!

I told myself: The house is yours, you should use all of it.  I listened.

Living Room Progress

The most recent thing I’ve been “working” on is redoing the living room.  The plan I developed had a few stages:

  • Replace shelving units
  • Replace couch
  • Replace AV system
  • Replace TV/AV cabinet

This list is pretty much in reverse order of execution.  Although the couch is ordered, by virtue of the current state of manufacturing and also the general practice of that manufacturer means I won’t see my couch for 20 weeks.  So in the meantime, I can work on the remainder of the items.  First up: the TV cabinet.

This is what I’m starting with:

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The plan is to replace the AV unit with actual tower speakers instead of little speakers.  This means I need to raise the TV to be higher than the speakers.  This is accomplished with the new planned TV cabinet.  However, the new speaker set has a center speaker that, when placed in front of the TV, blocks the screen.  I need to raise the TV even higher to compensate for the speaker.

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The problem with the TV is that the base is just a massive flat platform.  There’s no way to really raise it up or put something under it that’s going to be aesthetic or even functional.  In a moment of inspiration, I remembered the wall-mounting holes in the back of the TV and with a quick search, I discovered that you can buy replacement TV stands that utilize these mounting brackets.  And they’re cheap, too.

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So I quickly bought a stand that was compatible with my TV size.  When it arrived, I assembled it with little problem, removed the TV’s base, and attached the new stand, which is really just a couple of legs.  Unfortunately, I did not do any measuring in advance, so while the stand did fit my TV, it did not provide any additional vertical clearance over what the original base provided.  The whole point was to elevate it over the center speaker.  So back online to order a bigger stand.  At least these things are cheap.

The new stand arrived and after assembly and installation, I found it was more than adequate to raise the TV over the speaker.  With a little experimentation, I found that it resulted in a perfect fit, where the TV would sit right at the speaker’s top.  So that step is now complete.

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As far as the AV system goes, I have received the speakers (obviously, since I’ve been testing out the fitment) and I’ve also acquired the new receiver/amplifier.  I decided on the Denon AVR-S540BT because it had the most flexibility in connections and also 2 subwoofer outputs in case I wanted to have stereo subs.  Using a gift card earned from credit card rewards, it only cost me $70.  I can’t complain.

Reconsidered Living Room

Since most of my remodeling work is done now (next mid-range project is bathroom tile redo), I’ll have a small set of posts on my plans for the living room.

One of the more fulfilling projects was the completion of my music listening room.  There wasn’t much to it, just the purchase of equipment and a little furniture.  Well, the building of the CD shelving, also.  The room has been a great place to listen to music in excellent quality and I do it fairly regularly, whenever I purchase new CDs, to give each a fair listen in their entirety.

One day, while picking up some CDs, the store also had a season boxset of Futurama, and I picked that up as well.  I don’t watch a lot of TV at all.  Prior to having the listening room, I used to listen to music using Plex on my TV through my home theater system in the living room.  This was “wind-down time” each night and the cats would always happily accompany me, winding down their night before we all went to bed.

While I was working though the Futurama DVDs, I noticed that the cats were joining me and seemed very relaxed and happy.  This was something they did not do often in the music room.  For one, there is a cat tree in there, so if they’re in the room at all, they’re climbing and playing and not really chilling out.  So, I sort of got the idea in my head that “wind-down time” needs to come back, for everyone’s benefit.

The system on which I watch TV and listen to Plex is a Panasonic HT-in-a-box bought new in 2005.  A 5-disc DVD changer, 5 speakers and a subwoofer.  It plays sound, but I figure it’s geared more to movie playback than audio playback.  So I think I’m going to swap it out.  I have a spare high-quality DVD player that will play all the CD formats, the Pioneer Elite DV-47ai.  I just need a few other things.

Speakers – on a quick online search, I see that Woot is selling a 5pc speaker set from Jamo.  Jamo is the maker of the subwoofers in my listening room and I have no complaints with them.  They’re pretty stylish, too.  The kit price is $50 more than buying just the tower speakers alone, so that’s not a bad deal.

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To fit the speakers and also to provide a better environment for the audio components, I’m going to have to replace the TV stand.  The one I have now is very low to the ground.  It’s always seemed a little too low.  I can get an Ikea stand that just about perfectly matches up with the height of speakers – the Besta.

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Now, the receiver/amplifier.  I could get away with using one of the ones I already have, but there’s couple functional differences between how I want to operate in the living room vs. a listening room.  For one, I do want everything to be remote controlled, where I don’t really want that in my listening room.  So, I’m going to have to buy a new device.  And not only that, I’ll be working with more modern devices, like the Roku, so I’ll want HDMI connectivity.  Two of the front-runners are a Denon.and a Yamaha.

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While the choice of receiver is still up in the air, I do know I’m going to use CC rewards to pay for the majority of it.  I can get a $250 gift card from Best Buy to offset the cost.  I can’t do it today, but soon.  Maybe in 2-3 months I’ll have enough points.  There’s a lot of considerations I have to make based on the inputs and outputs, more than a normal person would put into the purchase.

So this plan can’t be knocked out right away, but can be worked on in stages, and I’ve discovered that’s a really good thing for me.  In fact, the speakers are already purchased and are on the way.  They’ll sit in boxes for a couple of months, but it will be a good feeling to have them ready when I am ready.  The TV stand I can pick up this week and actually put it in place right away.  The receiver, like I said, is a couple months away, and that’s the final piece. Or is it?

A while ago, I extended the lifespan of my living room couch by changing its color with fabric paint.  To be completely honest, it was acceptable, but in no way was it durable.  Any section that took any amount of usage wore the paint right off.  I do have an extra can of paint I could add more layers and maybe make it more durable, but it’s not worth the effort.  I think it’s time to replace this couch.  I mean the couch is from 2005 as well.

And that might be 2 months of effort just to find the right one for me.  My standards are exceedingly high (which will be exceeded even further by the cost).  Obviously, I plan on making this the last couch I ever buy.  To be fair, I feel I’m at a point in my life where many of the things I do will be the last time I ever do them, if I do them right.

A quick search for leather couches returns hundreds of options.  That’s about as far as I can go at once.  It’s going to take many more attempts at dipping my foot into the pool to actually commit.  And then, I have to determine if the savings of buying online will be worth the risk of not passing a butt test.  My suspicion is that I will probably buy from a physical store for the additional reason that they may haul away the old couch.

Anyway, that’s the long-winded plan for the living room.  Details will be coming in future posts.

Guest Bed Improvements

This blog has been pretty quiet.  It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot I have been doing with the house.  I took on a small project today for something that was a small annoyance.

The guest bed, which used to be my primary bed for many years, is a simple Ikea frame.  At one point, the mattress was upgraded to a Tempurpedic and as part of that upgrade, the frame needed improvement.

Those memory foam mattresses don’t like to be on open slats.  There should be a solid platform for them to site on, or at least minimal space between the slats.  To solve that deficiency, I purchased additional slats from Ikea and doubled them up, making a solid base.  Problem solved.  Somewhat.

At some point, it began to be an issue where the slats would slide out of place and fall down.  At the time, this was resolved by placing a piece of old garden hose between the slats to hold them flush wit the outer frame and keep them from sliding.  Problem solved again.

At some even later point, the bed was disassembled and moved around and the center hose piece was discarded.  At the time, it wasn’t a big deal because there was a nice new bed to use (with its own problems, fixed and documented here)..  But sometimes, I will use use the guest bed for napping and once in a blue moon, someone else may use the bed.  And in these instances, slats will fall.

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A few days ago, I set my mind to thinking about how I was going to fix the problem.  I didn’t have the hose anymore.  I didn’t want to buy a hose to replace it because that was a hack solution anyway.  The better solution would be to have a wood strip between the two slats to seal the gap.  But I didn’t have wood like that and the idea of me cutting a long thin strip of wood was sure to end in disappointment, especially when the gaps between the slats weren’t uniform.

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As I was disassembling the bed, I found I had two different versions of slats, each with different widths.  Additionally, I found some of the frame rail screws had worked a bit loose.  So I tightened up all the screws and put all the slats of one type on one side.

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Then, my solution was to “extend” the other slats to fill in the gap between them and the other side.  The method I chose for this extension was: screws.  Cheap drywall screws, of which I had plenty sitting around.  I bundled up a bunch of slats, got some screws and a power driver and drove one screw in the the end of each slat.

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The screws effectively lengthened the slats by an adjustable amount.

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Further, each screw could be individually adjusted to compensate for any difference in gap width, which was caused when a frame screw jutted out too far from the rail.

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You can see the slight difference between some of the slats.  There was also a difference towards the center.  Apparently, the frame is bowing out wider in the middle from age and use.

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With all the slats in and adjusted to prevent any horizontal sliding, the bed is once again rock solid and all set for a nap.  Which is exactly what I did right away.

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The Numbers

I’ve waited two months to get these house numbers.  And I have to say, I’m disappointed in the end result.  Not because of the product, but because of my installation.  I took so much care and preparation and still, it didn’t work out.

When I first got the numbers, I installed their posts and used a piece of cardboard to make a drilling hole template.  I pushed the numbers’ posts through the cardboard to identify the hole placement.

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I even used a straight edge to ensure they were lined up.

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After a few adjustments, I had a template ready to go.  I taped it to the wall and drilled small pilot holes.  I did that because the masonry bit I had to use has no precision at all and I didn’t want the bit to slide and begin boring a hole off of my exact placement.

And despite my best efforts to accomplish that, that is exactly what happened.  And once you have multiple holes in the wall, there’s no adjustment you can make.  I actually didn’t see the end result until I had put in the last number.  And this is the end result:

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If that last 2’s lower post was only slightly more to the right, it would be perfect.  I’ll have to see if I can come up with a way to offset that post somehow.

In fact, now comparing the end result to the pictures of my template, there was a lot of variance in the placement of the first 2 as well.  I suppose maybe it will come down to pulling them all out, patching the holes, repainting the area, then repositioning them elsewhere.  To my credit, these numbers are only held in place with plastic anchors and no silicone sealant.  They are more than secure this way.

Not my finest work.

New Roof

And now, one of the biggest expenses in my house fixup.  The pool was probably the biggest, but this one is right up there.  It’s the replacement of the roof.  I eventually settled on a quote for $9600 from the same contractor that has been doing my other work.

The roof was last replaced in 2005, right after the rash of hurricanes.  Things have changed in those 15 years.  I got dropped from one insurance carrier because of the age of my roof.  Not specifically because of the age, but because of the age and the fact the roof is 3-tab shingles.  No one uses 3-tag shingles anymore.  Everything is now Architectural shingles.

The workers showed up around 8 in the morning and immediately got to work.  I was not prepared for how loud the whole removal process would be.  Then rain was threatening in the area, but the foreman explained that as long as they got the moisture barrier in place, things would be fine.  There were some rotted panels and other wood that needed replaced.  Who would have figured?  I didn’t know.

There were storms around and when i went to lunch, there were showers just  little ways down the road.  In my area, that means nothing though.  When I got back from lunch, there hadn’t been any rain at the house and the foreman told me they were finishing up the “dry-in” barrier and after that, it didn’t matter if it rained or not.  The crew worked late, almost 12 hours, and they got quite a bit done.

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The next morning they came back and finished up with more noise. 

After it was all done, how was the result?  Well, most noticeably, the attic doesn’t pop anymore at night when it’s cooling down.  That must be a telling sign that there is less heat buildup.  I did climb up on the roof a couple days after and put my face near one of the new vents.  I could feel the hot attic air streaming out of it.  I gained two additional vents on my roof, so there must be some benefit to that as well.  The vents are a different design and they seem like they’re designed to not allow storm wind and rain to blow into the vent – important for hurricane country.

So, with the thicker tiles, the modern, improved barriers, the additional vents, and the light color tile, this must all be adding up to a much cooler house.  Time will tell if my electric bill goes down.  I recently changed the standard house temp from 72 to 75, so that will also help things.

This is the one last major item to be fixed to make the house reasonably marketable, should it come to that.