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Posts Tagged ‘wishful thinking’

In reading Nick’s Day 60 post, it struck me that this isn’t really the 60th day of our renovation, but really just the second week. But that’s okay. As Nick said, seeing that toxic purple glue on the PVC pipe was like a glimmer of hope.

But about that PVC pipe. PVC is an extremely toxic substance, both to manufacture and to just, well, be around. (That “plasticky” smell of vinyl shower curtains–that’s the smell of PVC, plastic that’s softened up with phthalates, a chemical suspected of disrupting the endocrine system, which can lead to health problems, especially in children.) The only alternative I know of is copper tubing. It’s a lot more expensive, but I think it would be a lot healthier.

This article on Builders Websource gives a great overview of copper pipes vs. PVC tubing. The basic summary is that copper pipes won’t harbor bacteria, they don’t contain any chemicals (and lead is no longer part of the copper alloy), and they are a time-tested choice. Drawbacks are they can be noisier than plastic when water rushes through at high velocities, they don’t do well with acidic water, and they aren’t insulated, leading to thermal loss.

PVC, like most plastic things, is easier to work with, lightweight, durable, and cheaper. The major drawback, as I said before, is that it’s just not that good for human health or the environment due to how it’s manufactured.

My green dream would be to have copper pipes running throughout the house. I suspect the reality will be a microcosm of our times: cheaper, faster, easier, plastic.

UPDATE: According to¬†BuildingGreen, in some ways copper isn’t any more environmentally friendly than PVC, due to the intensive nature of its extraction from the earth and accompanying manufacturing practices. Let’s hope our new pipes our polypropylene. I’ll let you know what the plumber lays down…

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I’m a little sad to see the stairs leading up to our “second” front door gone. (In case you don’t know, our house only has two doors–and both are on the front of the house. There are no windows on either side of the first floor of the house, and no door in the back.) When I was at the house doing demo, I liked to take a break by opening that second front door and stepping out onto the top stair landing, from which I could look down our street and see Casco Bay.

But, like the back stairs behind the old kitchen, those stairs are gone now. It looks like the builders found something else, too. Under our vinyl siding, there’s something possibly even more garish: asphalt sheet siding stamped in the pattern of bricks. It’s really quite hideous. Nick and I were harboring a secret fantasy that underneath the vinyl we’d find old cedar shakes that needed nothing more than our loving touch to come back to life and restore dignity to our little old house. But, instead we found what one blogger has termed “ghetto brick.”

I do sincerely hope it doesn’t contain asbestos. We need to take some of it down to replace the four windows in the old porch room. Some quick Google research seems to indicate this kind of siding was more popular in the 30s and 40s, so hopefully it will be asbestos-free. Regardless, we will probably just have to leave it where it is right now, and replace the old vinyl siding once we’re done with our repairs. It’s possible there are wooden clapboards under the asphalt siding, but I can’t even imagine the work it would take to get that looking good again.

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