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April 2013

March 2013

New basement windows


Jalousie windows
Please excuse the ugly photo

My basement's jalousie windows, that were installed over 50 years ago, are not very energy efficient in colder regions.  So I bought a couple Thermastar hopper windows last weekend at Lowes.  


In order to install the windows, I needed to first remove the existing frame and measure the rough opening.  The jalousie glass panes came out easily.  The frame needed to be pry'd up a bit to cut the bottom of it.  After that, all the other sides came off with just a little persuading.  I had expected some screws or anchors to hold me up but didn't end up being the case.  After the frame came out, I noticed several chunks of concrete fell out of the frame and off the walls.  The opening itself was all in tact and level but the concrete inserted into the frame had slowly cracked into pebbles over the years.  Another reason why I needed to replace them it seems.

Unfortunately, the rough opening measured only 32" in width.  All the stock windows I saw at Home Depot and Lowes were that same width.  I could have special ordered smaller windows but that would have cost more and also reduced the width.  Taking B's advice, I went ahead and used 1x6 treated wood to frame just the bottom and top of the rough opening. There was no room to frame the sides so I used shims there.  We thought I might be able to just use liquid nails and concrete screws to install the top and bottom framing, but after dry-fitting I still had quite a bit of a gap between the window and wood.  So shims went in on the top and bottom as well as the sides.

After shimming, and checking for plumb and level, I pre-drilled into the concrete with my hammer drill and a tapcon drill bit.  Next up was installing the actual tapcon screws through the sides of the window. After everything was in place, I check the levels one last time.  Then I used expanding foam for windows, to fill any gaps between the shims and as needed elsewhere.  I'm not thrilled about leaving the sides unframed but the alternative was to try and chisel the concrete out an inch more for space.  I'm sure I would have ended up with a lot of cracked concrete and a massive hole.

Here's the finished product.  Now you can actually see out the window while also keeping out the cold air.

Basement window

When the weather warms up next week, I'll finish up by using exterior chalk to seal the windows outside.  And when spring gets here, I'll patch up the exterior sill and sides with a cement mixture to make it look nice again.  

I'll add framing with insulation to the interior later.  The new windows are now closer to the inside, after framing they will only be inset about 4-5 inches.  I didn't want them pushed too far in, so you'd have to reach 8-10 inches in just to open them.  Plus the air flow would get restricted since the recessed hopper window opens at an angle, unlike a sliding window.

Another benefit to going with a hoppers versus sliding windows, are the ease of cleaning.  I hate the little sliding window I have in my upstairs bathroom.  It's a pain to remove the glass in order to reach all the sides.  With the hopper, it's reachable everywhere by just opening it.


Snowquester 2013

There's an eastern snow storm expected today here in Virginia and the beltway.  If it actually arrives is another subject altogether.  The weather channel has been more off the mark than on this winter. So-called storms missed most of the state completely with only minimal accumulations occurring.

Regardless, I'll still make sure I prepare just in case.

Update: total accumulations were below what was expected in Va.  Md received hardly anything and the District ended up with most of it melting as it landed. 

'member Smithereens?

Well, the Smithereens are still together.  They played their old stuff along with the new at the State Theater a few weeks ago. Their last release was 2011 which features all new material.  B and I went since she'd never seen the theater and was a big fan of the group.

I knew I like them but couldn't recall any songs in particular.  But they all came flooding as the night progressed.  The only band member not in the original line up was the bass player.  That spot was filled in 2005/06 with the talented Severo "the Thrilla" Jornacion after Mike Mesaros decided to retire.

After the show they were kind enough to meet with folks in the lobby.  Just another great event put on by the State Theater.

Jazz drummer phenom Dave Weckl

Last weekend, I learned Dave Weckl was playing with Mike Stern at Blue Alley in Georgetown.  The venue is smallish so it seemed like a good chance to see Dave play up close.  While jazz isn't my first choice for music, I still knew it would be a good show.  And I wasn't disappointed.  

Upon arriving, I saw a line was already forming and the doors wouldn't open for another 45 minutes. B and I braved the cold while we waited.  Seating filled up quick but we were able to get a table for two with a nice view of the stage.  

There's a mandatory $12/person order so be prepared to get something to eat/drink.  Servers do a great job getting everything taken care of with minimal disruptions during the first part of the night.

I could have done without some of the vocal stylings but all in all the band played very well together. The bass player and drummer were pretty tight and fun to watch.  There was plenty of opportunities for everyone, including Dave to solo without anyone overreaching and losing the audience.

The venue is another great place if you looking for something a little more secluded to take a date or hang out with friends.