Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Review of Possini Euro Chrome Espresso Plug-In Swing Arm Wall Light

Originally submitted at Lamps Plus

This swing arm wall light has a crisp, contemporary look. The drum shade and espresso finish wood accents add to the sophisticated appeal. Enjoy the ideal lighting level thanks to the included full-range dimmer. Espresso finish wood accents. Linen, synthetic blend shade. Cord cover included. Chrome...


Pretty Lamp, Not-So-Pretty Install

By DIY123Gal from Phoenix, AZ on 3/18/2012

 

3out of 5

Pros: Great Illumination, Dimmer, 22, Attractive Design

Cons: Hard To Install

Best Uses: Large Rooms, Primary Light Source, Decoration, Small Rooms

Describe Yourself: Midrange Shopper

Made. In. China. That pretty much summarizes it. Pack your patience and clear your calendar to install these. I had to install this 3x before it worked. The flaw, IMO, is the screws that thread thru the back of the mounting plate -- should have been soldered onto the back. Once the mounting plate is screwed to the wall (read: 4 drilled holes, 4 anchors and 4 screws in my wall!), I threaded the fixture over these screws as instructed and went to tighten the finial screws and they could only hand tighten, then began spinning when I attempted to finish tightening w/ screwdriver. My solution was buying 4 external tooth washers, nuts and Threadlocker. I wrote about it in a blog with photos. Just search: diy123gal

Finished Product Installed

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Tags: Picture of Product

Screws not soldered to back. Should be.

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(legalese)

Installation Tips: Possini Swing Arm Lamp

If you plan on installing the Possini Euro Chrome Espresso Plug-In Swing Arm Light (#69565), you might want to take a look at these tips to possibly save yourself some time and frustration.

I purchased two of these fixtures from Lamps Plus to light up my sectional sofa. They are from the Possini Euro Design Collection. Don't let the Italian name fool you -- like nearly everything else -- they're made in China.

Out of two purchased, I had to exchange one fixture because it appeared some chemical and spilled out of the interior on to the fascia espresso finish. There was also a dent in one of the shades having to do with how it was wrapped on the wire frame. Lamps Plus was 5-stars in assisting with these exchanges. I will definitely buy from them again.

TIP: Trace and cut out a pattern of the actual lamp and tape that to the wall for positioning first and also to mark your drill holes. I gave careful thought to the reading height, etc. so the two lamps are just where I need them.

The real issue is with the hardware and poorly designed mounting plate. Those long screws that thread thru the back of the plate have nothing to prevent them from spinning. The result? After you drill FOUR HOLES in your wall and place anchors in and screw the plate onto the wall as the instructions advise, you thread the long screws through the 2 pre-drilled holes on the fixture. The "fun" begins when you think you are nearly done installing... when you go to tighten the Mounting Finial Screws on the face of the fixture. For me, they tightened to a degree by hand. Then I went to really secure it with a screwdriver. (It has screw driver indentations.) The finial screws just spin and spin. Why? Because that long screws are not ATTACHED BEHIND the mounting plate. It should have been a soldered bolt. Made in China... need I say more?

Here is the diagram of parts provided. Note mounting plate diagram in the upper right corner.
Here is what I did to fix the problem: After the first failed attempt to install, I took it to Lamps Plus to discuss this challenge I was having. One of their representatives put to nuts on each screw two keep them in place. I was skeptical and attempted to install again. No dice. The same problem Those nuts wiggled themselves loose behind the fixture, so I had to take it all down again.

TIP: Add external tooth washers on either side of the plate with a nut.
I went to Ace Hardware and purchased some external tooth lock washers to position on front AND back of the mounting plate on the long screws. I fastened with the same nuts I got from Lamps Plus (1 per screw).






TIP: Threadlocker

This is magic Pixie Dust, as far as I am concerned. It solved this problem! A 6 mL tube of Permatex Medium Strength Threadlocker Blue. Best $8 I ever spent!

TIP: Be sure the screws are perpendicular to the mounting plate before applying Threadlocker.

TIP: After fastening the long screws, test the screw placement before mounting on the wall.

Once the Threadlocker is dry, place the mounting plate on a counter or flat surface and do a "dry run" testing to be sure you can thread in the screws into the fixture. how do I know this? Because my first run, the screw was angled and I could not thread it on. I had to loosen the screw and re-tighten it to be sure it was perpendicular. Once it was dry and secure and the dry run successful, it was time to install the mounting bracket to the wall for a third and -- fingers crossed -- final time.

TIP: Use a level for attaching the mounting plate and the actual light fixture.



Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reverse Osmosis Maintenance: H2RO

I have had a reverse osmosis system installed in my kitchen since 1995. I love the benefits of tasty drinking water right out of a special tap. These systems require occasional maintenance. This system just required some maintenance so this post covers: replacing the tank, the Filmtec membrane and the Omnipure filter. I had replaced the other two filters about a month ago.

The Location of the 3-Gallon Tank

I chose to store the large tank in the left corner cabinet, rather than directly under the sink in the double doors to free up space needed under the sink.


The Original Water Storage Tank:

The bladder in the middle of the tank had developed a hole and the air charge had apparently escaped, according to a family member who is in the RO business. This made it nearly impossible to get a glass of water, let alone a pitcher of water. The prognosis? This tank needed replacing. I could tell by lifting it. It should have been light. It was full of water even though the RO faucet appeared to be empty.

(Note: The leak was only on the inside of the tank. There was no exterior leak so no damage to the cabinet etc.)


The Replacement Water Storage Tank:

Placed in the same location as the previous tank. I only had to disconnect the plastic nut and tubing and reconnect it to the new one. Easy! I left that other knob alone on the lower portion of the tank. (Once I lifted the tank into this pull-out drawer, I was able to lift it over the edge and into the back corner of the cabinet. The bright blue lever on the top is the "tank shut-off."




The Location of the Filters and Membranes:
Here is a view of my kitchen cabinets. The filters and membranes are stored in the narrow cabinet to the right of the sink and dishwasher, rather than directly under the sink in the double doors. This freed up space needed under the sink.


The Filters and R.O. Membranes:



In addition to the tank, here's two additional items that I replaced. The smaller peach and light blue filter on top is labeled "OmniPure K2333". It notes for "chlorine taste and odor reduction". Note the arrows pointing to the left for the direction of the flow. Pay attention to that arrow when installing.

The other bright blue item is a "Filmtec membrane", model number TW30-1812-36 made by Dow. "The membrane consists of several thin layers or sheets of film that are bonded together and rolled in a spiral configuration around a plastic tube." (according to my RO manual)

According to Dow's website:
FILMTEC™ elements from Dow feature a spiral wound design and are based on the FT30 thin-film composite polyamide membrane, which has long been the industry standard for RO performance. The FILMTEC FT30 membrane consists of three layers: an ultra-thin polyamide barrier layer, a microporous polysulfone interlayer, and a high-strength polyester support web. The FT30 membrane has been continuously updated and refined to provide higher rejection, improved membrane flux, and low fouling performance. Today's FT30 membrane is uniquely uniform in performance and quality, without the taped or glued defects that can cause other membranes to fail.
Sort of a complicated mess of tubing that also runs to the ice maker on the opposite side of the small kitchen. The gray tubing on top goes to the drain in this instance. It has a "Waste Flow Capillary Tube" installed inside of it. This "looks like a piece of clear nylon fishing line held by a piece of red rubber stuck in a plastic insert. The H2RO could not operate without it, since it allows the contaminants to be washed off the surface of the membrane as a slow but steady rate."


Bird's Eye View:
I replaced the small orange and blue Omnipure Carbon Post Filter. The long white tubular container was a bit challenging to open. That is where the new Filmtec membrane goes. (The white cylinder container has a blue "KE" on it in this photo.)


I ended up using the side of a wrench to slip into that embossed section on the cap of the white cylinder. Be sure to not lose the black rubber ring inside. You will reuse it again when you replace the Filmtec membrane and tighten it back up.


I left this portion of the unit out of the cabinet, on the towel for 24 hours to check for leaks. Once I was certain there was nothing dripping, etc. I felt OK to put it back in the cabinet out of sight.

Note: I had also replaced the two filters that go inside the wide blue vertical cylinders. They both measure 4-1/2" x 9-7/8" and fit large heavy duty housings. They are labeled "S" sediment.

The first one, POS5, is for "Fine Rust & Sediment - 5 microns."
The second one, POW30, is for "Medium Filtration Rust & Sediment - 30 microns."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Insulating Windows With Fabric

As part of my quest for getting my home-office as cool as possible for summer I determined that much of the heat gain was coming from my window.

I went to JoAnn's Etc. and discovered a special energy efficient fabric called Warm Window, (which is available in white or ivory). It's available in 60" or 45" widths and is sold by the yard for approximately $22-$29/yard.


According to JoAnn's website: "The Warm White Window fabric consists of four layers of different fabric quilted together in 4"-wide lengthwise channels. It is designed to reduce the flow of energy through your window glass. The layers are lined with fabric protector; Made with high density needled holo fibers; Produce a reflective polyethylene moisture vapor barrier; Have metallized mylar with air-trapping fibers."

I say: "Neat-o!"

Here's a close-up of the layers. It keeps out street noise and is room darkening as well.



Note: I do not have a sewing machine so I hand-stitched this. The person who cut the fabric did not give me much extra and the cuts were not square with the stitches. I used a triangle to get the side hems perpendicular with the rows of horizontal stitching so I rectified her sloppy cutting.


I bought a round spring tension rod (28" - 48")from Target for just $2.99, and stitched a pocket to slide that in.
I then installed it BEHIND my current Hunter Douglas Duette Honeycomb Shades so I have double insulation on this window.

On Hunter Douglas's website regarding energy efficiency they offer a download brochure entitled "We make Green Beautiful". Regarding the Honeycomb Duette that I currently have in the office they state:

"Air contained within the honeycomb cells proved to be an effective insulator, keeping heat inside in winter and keeping it out in summer."

Apparently their newer edition Duette called the "Duette Architella" claims better energy efficiency.

Here are three views of the Warm Window fabric installed behind the Honeycomb Duette. On the left is just the Honeycomb Duette Shade. The middle shows the Warm Window shade installed behind the Honeycomb Duette Shade, with the shade half open. On the right shows the Duette closed over the Warm Window shade. Hopefully this will give me maximum insulation for this room!



Here's what my finished window looks like in my 35" x 59" window:

Adding Attic Insulation

The room in my house that I use for my home-office faces west. Here in Phoenix, it's not unusual for us to have summer temperatures ranging from 100* to 115*. Sometimes the mercury even soars beyond that! This room, where I spend nearly all my time, really heats up.

I have computer equipment that kicks off some heat as well, making this room not so comfortable. I've configured my computer equipment in such a way that my scanner and printer are on a separate power plug so they can all be turned off when not in use, minimizing power usage.

GOAL: To add more insulation above this home-office so that room is cooler in the summer.

I had blown-in insulation, but I wanted to add extra insulation over this room. On one of the last remaining good weather days of the season (still in the cool 70's), I ventured up there with mask to protect my lungs and my oldest work clothes (long sleeves and pants). I would've worn googles, however I wear glasses so it was too much around my face.

First task was to measure the rafters. Mine were 24" apart. As you can see there was already "blown in" insulation. My house is 15 years old. It definitely would have been easier to just call a company who does this and they could have added more blown-in insulation to what was there already. However I wanted to take care of it myself and for as little money as possible.

Also you'll notice there are lots of wires and plumbing etc. crossing over the rafters. I went in with a piece of sturdy cardboard and scooped all the existing insulation from one rafter section to the next, giving me room to install the pink insulation as a foundation.


You can see the extra blown-in insulation piled up temporarily on the neighboring rafter section.

From Lowe's I purchased Owens Corning Pink Fiberglass Insulation R-30 (one package was approximately $68.) Specifically I purchased: R-30 Kraft-faced Insulated Batt. Batts are 48 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 9½ inches thick. Square feet: 88.00.

On their website they describe it as follows:

"Homeowners prefer Owens Corning PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation 7 to 1 because it maintains insulating power over time. Since fiber glass does not absorb moisture, PINK insulation will not hold water, preventing permanent loss of R-value. When properly installed, PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation will not settle or deteriorate to maintain insulating value. The insulating materials in PINK FIBERGLAS® Insulation are also noncombustible."




I used a sturdy board to kneel on when threading the roll insulation in between the rafters and under all the wiring. I would not recommend this task if you are not a fit person. It took some abdomen strength and upper body strength and good balance to install this. And remember that if you misstep you can actually fall through the ceiling. Fortunately I did not have any accidents, however I was quite sore after this and my knees were bruised and skinned a bit from balancing on that board.

Note: As a safety precaution if you are working up there alone, be sure to bring a charged cell phone and put it in your pocket. If you were to get stuck or in an accident in the attic and needed help, that phone may really come in handy.

Here you will notice that there is a brace and the electric box the lighting fixture, which, in this case, is a ceiling fan. The instructions on the pink insulation advise keeping the insulation away from this a few inches so it does not heat up. I cut around it and added blown-in insulation in that spot instead.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Smoke Detector Replacement

The smoke detectors in my home started randomly going off after 14 years of being installed -- they had never been replaced. This sent me researching all the different kinds of smoke detectors and educating myself on what to look for, which model to purchase. This post is to share that information with you.

Coincidentally during the time I was working on this project, there was a story on the local news regarding false alarms. Here in Phoenix we had a chilly fall day and evidently a lot of people turned on their furnaces, which kicked some dust around. The firefighter spokesperson said that the smoke detectors cannot decipher smoke from dust -- they only sense particulates.

TIP: This firefighter reminded viewers to dust your smoke regularly with canned air.

Here are the original smoke detectors that I had in my house -- there were two in a 1265 sq ft single-story home. They are not battery-powered but instead wired -- although not wired into an alarm system. This is a Firex Model G-6 120 V AC Direct Wire Ionization Smoke Alarm. (Maple Chase Company). Firex and Kidde are apparently the same company.


Once I uninstalled this smoke detector, and removed the plastic mounting bracket, here is what it looked like. Notice how the special plastic 3-prong plug is designed to fit into the back of the smoke detector.


One of the most helpful resources I found online was FireSafety.gov for Citizens There they offer the following guide to selecting the smoke alarms to protect you and your family:

Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, use these guidelines to help best protect your family:

BEST
  • IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.
  • Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
  • Install both ionization and photoelectric type smoke alarms.
  • Install interconnected smoke alarms.
  • Install smoke alarms using house wiring with battery back-up.

BETTER
  • IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.
  • Install more than one smoke alarm.
  • Install interconnected smoke alarms.
  • Install smoke alarms with sealed 10 year batteries.
GOOD

* IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.

After shopping both Lowe's and Home Depot and studying their smoke detectors, I selected this Firex/Kidde Model PE120 - 120V AC Photoelectric Smoke Alarm. Part# 21006371:


FRONT VIEW:

BACK VIEW:

Installation was fairly easy. As always when working with electricity, turn off the breaker box at the circuit breaker before you begin.

Once the mounting brace was removed, this was the wiring I was working with:


In this picture you can see that I have detatched the old wiring and attached the new wiring, making sure wire nuts are tightened so wires don't come loose. Then I gently packed the wires into the metal box so the mounting bracket could be attached.


Here was the new mounting bracket that came with the new Kidde model PE120:


Here the wires have been threaded through the mounting bracket. Then the mounting bracket was fastened tight with screws:


Here you can see the wires are connected and the plug is snapped into place. Just needs to be twisted into the grooves on the mounting bracket to be completely installed:


And here is the final product installed. This model is an improvement from the original model because it also has a 9-volt battery back-up in the event of a power outage. This way I am protected in either scenario.

A green light should illuminate on this model. After removing the protective battery tab, installation is complete. Lastly test the installation by pressing the test button.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Headphones for Skype on your ProMac (OSX)

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me "Oh we could have a Skype meeting!" or "Do you have Skype?" I would be sipping mai tais on a beach in Bora Bora right now. Skype? What's all the stink about Skype? Well, I guess it was meant to be, because I have discovered it truly is a cool convenience for bridging distance and saving time not having to physically meet. And if that were not enough Oprah uses it all the time, and I just saw it on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" too! So there must be something to this!


So this is a review of headphones, rather than of Skype itself. I do not have a webcam so to use Skype I need a headset with microphone. I have now purchased my THIRD headset in search of the right pair. Here in Phoenix, Arizona I've shopped at BestBuy, Target and Fry's Electronics.

Fry's had a mind-blowing selection -- everything from sound-canceling headphones to simple earbuds. My first trip in there I was completely overwhelmed and left the store having not bought a thing. Its not that there were not salespeople available, I just had a hard time deciding. They have price ranges from oh, like $10 to over $50.

HEADSET #1:
I initially bought the iHome LifeTalks Basic Headset, model IH-H400AB, which had an analog (not USB) connection. I paid $19.99 at Fry's Electronics for this headset.

According to the iHome website...

Features:
- high quality audio
- adjustable noise canceling microphone
- cushioned ear cups

Technical Specs:
- frequency response: 100 - 20000 Hz
- sensitivity: 99db +/- 3db
- cord length: 6.6 ft. (2m)
The problem with these was that there was only an analog connection and nowhere in their instructions did they explain that you have to adjust your Mac system preferences, so I was confused as to how to get the sound to work. I called the iHome customer support line and got a lovely, polite woman in India, who explained to me that iHome does not support the Mac! Oh sure, they only profit from the hip name modeled after the Mac (i.e. iPod, iMac, iHome). How do you say in Indian "Sheesh!"?

BTW, the only place there is an Analog Audio Line-in Port and an Analog Audio Line-out Port on my MacPro are on the back of the computer, which is not the most convenient for plugging in headphones. It shortens one's "leash." And besides a USB connection promises a better quality sound. So these were promptly returned to Fry's Electronics and I decided I must need to shell out double the money to get what I really needed.

HEADSET #2: I traded in that headset for the upgraded iHome LifeTalks Foldable USB Headset, model IH-H413UN, which had a USB adapter. I paid $39.99 at Fry's Electronics for this headset.

According to the iHome website...

Features:
- USB digital & analog audio
- adjustable noise canceling microphone
- padded ear cups & headband
- foldable Technical Specs: frequency response: 20 - 20000 Hz sensitivity: 99db +/- 5db cord length: 6.6 ft. (2m)The LifeWorks website for this model states: "The included adapter gives you an option for connecting the headset through you computer's USB port or 3.5mm headphone or microphone jacks."

The way this product is designed is, in theory, to be able to use both analog connection and USB connection. Should be versatile, right? The problem: The analog jacks fit into a chubby USB adapter, which does not fit snugly into the USB port on the front of my MacPro tower and wiggles as I move. So when I am on a Skype conference call someone says "Do we know who is causing the interference?" Yup, that would be my computer and my brand new $40 iHome (a.k.a. Does-Not-Support-The-Mac") headset. Back to Fry's Electronics it goes!

This product is nothing but poor design, and no surprise, made in China. No thinking about an actual Mac computer or how they are designed. No thought on functionality. Here is a picture the unnecessarily chubby USB port. Because of its fat design there is not room to slide the USB into the keyboard port, thus eliminating one possible option for connection. Just plain DUMB.


AND THE WINNER IS... HEADSET #3
Logitech USB Headset Casque USB H330. I paid $29.99 at Target for this headset. It is also available at BestBuy and I believe Fry's Electronics as well.According to the Logitech website...

Features:
- USB connectivity for Mac® or PC
- Noise-canceling microphone
- Adjustable, lightweight headband
- Stereo sound
- Rotating, adjustable boom
- Ideal for Internet calls

Their site says "Stereo sound in seconds -- a plug-and-play USB headset with a noise-canceling mic for your internet calls, music and movies." What more could a DIY gal ask for?

BTW, here is what your Mac OSX settings should be for this product. Just go to System Preferences > Sound > Output and System Preferences > Sound > Input. Then test the sound on Skype to be sure your settings are correct and you are good to go! Happy Skyping!




And be sure to set your Skype preferences too: