When I decided to recaulk and repaint my lap siding I thought it was finally time to do something about this eyesore on the north side of my house.
|Refrigerant lines, condensation drip, and control power for my|
minisplit air conditioner inside wall unit
|This is the penetration through the wall|
The rest of the situation is pretty abominable though. I screwed something to the wall like a giant hook for storing ladders for the technician to secure the lines to when he installed them. Then when I put up the siding I replaced it with a small Simpson Strong Tie bracket and wired the lines to it. The algae growing on the insulation is pretty embarrassing.
Clearly that pipe insulation needs to be replaced. And as long as I'm painting I should remove the insulation and paint underneath with less junk in my way. And then I should put the whole business inside some kind of enclosure.
|This L bracket fiasco is my own doing|
I tried to figure out a way to do it with round aluminum duct. I was thinking of that kind that has a crimped seam on the long edge that you push together to make a cylinder. It would look cool, but I couldn't figure out how to do the L bend at the top.
So I went to work figuring out how to do it with vinyl K-gutter. This stuff is stupid cheap. 10' sections are less than $4. I bought one piece and brought it home to play with it. I was thinking I could just put it over the lines with the flat side against the house. But it wasn't deep enough. So I decided to figure out how to make a clamshell out of it. I got a preformed inside corner and an outside corner and some joiners and started figuring out how to cut it.
Cutting PVC gutter
To make the clamshell work I had to cut the folded over parts off the bottom half of the shell. This is a two step process and takes two different tools.
To cut off the lip on the flat side I used a 4x4 clamped to a table as a rest for a jigsaw. I pushed the saw through the vinyl, then slid the whole business back, repeating until the whole length was cut.
|Use a jigsaw and a block to cut the lip off the straight side|
|The fiber cement siding shear is the perfect tool for cutting PVC gutter|
|Clamp the flat side of the gutter to the fence of the chopsaw if it's warped|
I finally had the long overdue inspirational thought, "What you need is a skyhook." So I went in the shed and got one. In this circumstance the skyhook is my big ladder with a standoff and a length of rope I use for tying boats to my car.
|Skyhooks are real|
|Safely remove the old bracket. I caulked the screw holes.|
|In progress. Aluminum drip ledge moveable to ether side for access.|
I slipped the aluminum drip edge under the shingles above the chase. I'm going to call it drip ledge because it's massive. I secured the back piece of vinyl gutter to the wall with some sheet metal screws. I taped the slit in the end of the gutter by the hole for the penetrations. I also reinforced it with a piece of gutter cut from the same curved portion. My PVC cement was all dried up so I used the glue for the foam insulation. That product is the messiest glue I have ever used. I was so glad I was wearing disposable gloves.
I put the new insulation on the refrigerant lines. I glued all the joints unlike the original installer. I'm thorough that way. I'm hoping this batch of insulation will last a lot longer covered up. It's expensive.
The bottom of the vertical section is held away from the lap siding slightly. I shimmed it out from the ribbon joist of the house with a piece of PVC molding scrap I had in the shed.
|Found a piece of PVC molding that fit just right|
|Found a long sheet metal screw that looked good for going through |
to the 2x12 under the fiber cement
|Two screws at the bottom and one up top seem adequate for the vertical section|
I decided I needed some reinforcement at the top of this whole business so I went rummaging through the shed looking for something that would work. I found a bracket of unidentifiable provenance that looked promising. I modified it with a hacksaw and then hit it with some primer since it was probably some junk from IKEA and would rust if I put it in the shade and then breathed on it.
|Primer just in case|
|This end reinforced|
|Big honkin L bracket|
|End capped with wood didn't want to fit tight|
The weather stripping stacked up at the back of the chase in the photo below is to stop the drip ledge from settling down so much it can't drain. On a sunny side of the house I would expect lizards to go in between the chase and the drip ledge, but in full shade they probably won't.
After I was done connecting the front and back of the clamshell together on top I ran two screws through the aluminum into the vinyl at the front edge. That secures the front section to the wall without depending on the back piece of vinyl. Also stops wind from lifting the aluminum ledge.
The end of the vertical section ends in a molded outside corner. I drilled a hole for the condensate line to come through. The post in the photo below is a reused gate post, thus the hole. The sole purpose of that post is to hold the hose bib. The footings around the posts of the house make it inconvenient to run the pipe up them. This existing post conveniently allowed the perfect amount of clearance for the chase.
I needed the end of this outside corner open to be able to work the hose bib handle. I shoves some extra foam insulation up in the end of the chase to stop critters from going exploring up there.
I secured the clamshell halves together with plenty of the stainless steel screws along the overlapping edges. I used about twice as many on the K profile side.
After I finished the chase I sent my brother photos. He told me I need a trap for my condensate line because wind washing makes biofilm grow. I rigged up something out of PVC parts I had on hand. It still drips into my reused toilet tank condensate catcher. If I decide I like keeping a little vessel constantly full of water right there I can paint it to match the post.
|Clamshell fastened together on top with screws|
|Drip edge secured to front of chase with sheet metal screws with rubber washers|
|Condensate line comes out a hole in the last fitting|
|The west side of the molded outside corner is open|
|Along the flat back side I didn't need many as screws. Painting partially done|
|I put a lot of the short stainless steel sheet metal screws on the curved side|
|Stand back and admire the work|
I was happy when I was done and I could clean up all the PVC dust in the shed once and for all. I was looking forward to painting the lap siding, a job I could do listening to podcasts.
When I stood back and looked at that side of the house that big white thing on the wall just seemed unnecessarily prominent. I decided to paint more of the trim around the windows white, to draw the eye away from it. I guess it's better, I don't know.
Finally I replaced the hose hanger on the side of the house and I call it done.
It should be straightforward to take the chase apart if the refrigerant lines ever need to be replaced or serviced. I shopped for little plastic rivets to use instead of stainless steel screws to connect the halves. I didn't use them for two reasons. 1. They are stupid expensive 2. All HVAC techs have a screwdriver, but rivets might stump them. It's entirely possible this piece of kit will outlive me. If nobody thinks to look at the web archive to see how I built this they need to be able to figure out how to take it apart just by looking at it.
In conclusion: DO NOT ATTEMPT. This project came out fine. I didn't hurt myself. I didn't spend a ton of money. But it took me a ridiculously long time to do this, like three entire days and multiple trips to Home Depot. I guess if I'd had instructions I could have gotten all the stuff in one trip, but the figuring it out with the junk I had on hand was slow. If I'd spent three days figuring out how to rough in these lines inside the wall by bumping out the inside corner by the door to the bathroom it would have been a superior solution. But building a time machine to go back to 2005 was totally beyond the scope.
Bill of Materials:
$15.92 10' gutter sections $3.98 x 4 (it's so cheap I got a whole extra one just to practice on)
$13.05 K-Style joiners $4.35 x 3
$6.54 1 inside corner
$6.54 1 outside corner
$35.97 Pipe insulation
$7.98 Pipe insulation adhesive
$3.51 Stainless steel screws
$3.18 Galvanized 5" Angle bracket
Total chase cost $92.69
Add that to the cost of the house caulking/painting project from the last blog post
$6.28 Big Stretch Caulk
$27.98 1 Gallon of Satin House Paint
$5.97 Low grip painters tape
$3.98 Paper drop cloth to cut up and tape over the orange part of the house so I didn't splash it with paint.
Total repainting cost $44.21
Grand total of 2017 Spring Project
Tiny house = tiny maintenance costs
I can paint my whole house with a gallon of paint. That's never not going to be funny to me.