Bubbles ain’t just for champagne toasts

I can’t see clearly now, the wrap is up. 

I can’t see with those bubbles in the way.

A rewrite from the iconic Jimmy Cliff song lyric: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.”

Lemme show you sumthin’:

I can’t see clearly now, regardless of rain

A window wrapped in bubbles.

A tip I discovered online. Sites specifically for folks living in mobile homes — and the unique common challenges they present such as thin metal walls with no insulation, drafty windows and frozen pipes and septic tanks.

My mobile home rental is windowed-up the kazoo. Includes two walls with little but window! Well, 9 feet of window PER wall, to be exact! 

Plus two large patio sliding doors. Plus a buncha regular-sized panes.

That’s a lot of heat loss. A LOT.

Not gonna get all technical about heat, heat loss, heat retention, R-value. Plenty of material online if you’re inclined to self-educate.

All you need to know is that bubble wrap is useful for more than protecting items during shipment. 

It insulates.

On the cheap!

You can use the big bubbles or little. Many contend that the big bubbles provide somewhat better insulation than the small ones. More air pockets = more insulation. Makes sense. And that the view is somewhat better and less obscured with the big bubbles over small. On that point I concur.

I lucked out when I bubbled-up. OfficeMax not only had giant rolls of both sizes but a “buy 2 get 1 free” sale. I needed that much wrap, uh huh uh huh!

My wrap’s only 12 inches wide. The 24-inch widths are also available but I didn’t wanna order online.

With my usual meticulousness and precision, I trimmed the wrap to size at each pane. For panes that demanded overlap of wrap, I simply bonded strips with clear packaging tape. Neatly. Can’t tolerate or live with sloppiness!

As a Master of Organization, I devised a system to organize some 2 dozen bubble strips for many panes.

In the corner of each strip I taped on a tiny piece of paper coded with its location. “C-M-1” … “C-M-2” … “C-M-3” …  deciphered “cental middle window” and numbers indicating their order on window from top to bottom. See the discreet labels there at the top?

  

If you get the impression that I could’ve been a military secret coder, you’d be correct. ūüôā

Anyhow. Bubble wrap’s quite effective as an insulator. 

And applying is sooooo simple! Simply lightly spray water on the pane and apply the wrap with BUBBLES AGAINST WINDOW.

Voila! 

The wrap’s easily removed and reapplied should you want to take it down and enjoy the unadulterated view. Or if you simply grow weary of living in a bubble cave. ūüôā

If the wrap’s left on indefinitely or the air’s dry, the wrap begins to loosen off the pane. Just respray. Simple!

Bubble wrap’s made a huge difference with my two sliding glass doors, where heat loss is especially significant due to both their size and aluminum frames. (Metal’s exceptionally bad at heat retention / severe for heat loss.)

patio doors bubble-wrapped (privatized too)

patio doors bubble-wrapped (privatized too)


BTW, I can’t winterize by sealing those patio doors off, they’re my way in and out! So the wrap’s very appreciated.

Yes, bubble wrap obscures the view. A small price to pay for warmer and cozier digs AND economic gains. I don’t like paying to heat the outdoors.

Plus it still lets in light. For me, that is beyond huge. It’s VITAL. On the value of light, I know of what I speak, having barely survived the god-awful gray sunless cold damp miserable Pacific Northwest. (Shudders still.)

In short, bubbles ain’t just for champagne toasts. They’re great for taking the BRRRRR edge off those basements and back rooms and any room on a budget. Cheers!

For comparison, the Before & After pix, in reverse:

After Bubble Wrap

After Bubble Wrap

Before Bubble Wrap

Before Bubble Wrap

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No pain in bidding buh-bye to these panes!

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone …

Can’t help but hear that Jimmy Cliff lyric pulsing in my mind. On this eve of a momentous venture. The replacement of windows in my mobile-home rental!

As written prior, the rental is a fixer-upper. That much was clear — speaking of Jimmy Cliff’s song — when I took occupancy about 2.5 months ago. I’ve completed various repairs and upgrades, including painting the entire interior — on my own time and dime.

The windows. Ah, the windows. This mobile home is circa 1960s. Enough said? Maybe no. Single-pane windows. Crank fin-style windows. You’ve seen ’em. They look like¬†this:

finwindows

I’ve got giant picture windows. Two walls that are almost entirely windows. A third¬†wall of mostly window. A fourth wall of average-sized window. Here’s just one¬†small portion of the picture window.¬†Those horizontal lines on the left, behind the invisible screen, are fins that are (somewhat) raised and lowered by a crank.

oldwindow

Those panes never seal even when cranked tight. Talk about d-r-a-f-t-s! Chiiiiiiiiiiilly drafts!

windowcrank

Then there’s the rotted or disintegrated wood framing. Where once stood wood is foil tape, clearly — there’s that word again! ūüėČ — a Band-Aid solution to a longstanding problem left unaddressed.

With the cold season upon us, I fully understand the 1,000-plus staples in the walls around all the aluminum frames, flush to the wall, when I moved in. They held plastic sheets against gawd-awful drafty aged single-pane Plexiglass. The ONLY deterrent, short of replacement, to frigid Arizona winters.

Previous tenants didn’t only staplestaplestapleandstaple giant¬†plastic sheets to the walls — leaving me with their staples to remove, tediously, patiently :). They also used strapping tape, duck tape and double-sided tape, included in those temporary winterizing window-film kits — as evidenced by layers upon layers of old adhesive stuck on the aluminum frames.

Which I removed. And lemme tell ya, that was a MONUMENTAL task of scrapingscrapingscraping, containers of Goo Gone and Goof Off solvents designed to remove SUPER GLUE and even then the project required massive elbow grease! My elbow grease!

Anyhow, after a week or two of¬†painstaking scraping of old adhesive off aluminum frames, in preparation for painting, the landlord stopped by. I proudly displayed my workmanship. Later that day, an email arrived. “Stop the scraping! I’m going to replace your windows!”

Too late. I’d just finished!

She assured me that replacing the windows has been on her back burner a long while. Still, I reckon my incredible hard work and commitment to taking excellent are of her property inspired her to get on it now.

I should add that the degraded windows all have¬†cranks that are on e¬†turn away from death. Windows are¬†drafty as hell — an oxymoron. Believe me, my brain was working overtime soon as I moved in when the weather was still toasty warm and sunny! on how I was gonna survive a winter in that icebox.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic when the landlord informed me of the plan to replace the aged windows — eight¬†in total! Ecstatic!!!

Naturally I held off an any treatments for the bare windows until the new ones — of different design, shape and style — are installed.

Tomorrow!!

That’s when the project begins. With presumably eight being replaced, it’s a big project with an unknown completion date.¬†In the nick of time too! We just had our first snowfall a few days ago. More coming supposedly Monday. Uh-oh. Early winter and a hard one ahead. My farmer’s almanac bones know.

Then, once they’re in, I can get started¬†on winterizing a¬†place sooooo badly needing it. (Zero insulation on walls, frosty floors … the livin’ ain’t easy.) Those¬†crappy old windows are a HUUUUUUUUUUGE heat loss, true. In fact, I didn’t even bother turning on the heat during the snow and below-freezing temps … until my landlord instructed me to do so. To prevent the pipes from freezing and flooding.

Like watching money flutter out the windows! Literally!

Reportedly the new windows are similar to the two small ones¬†in the bedroom that were redone some time back. Double-pane sliders with sills. That’ll help a lot with retaining heat and reducing drafts!

Which circles us back to the start: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.”

Well, the rain isn’t gone. On the contrary, thanks allegedly to El Nino.

As for seeing clearly now, I can’t say until I actually see the new windows in place. “They’ll have more screens so you’ll probably lose some of your view,” warned the landlord.

I’ll take that compromise for the greater good: warmth, protection from winter and drafts like mini-gales. But most importantly, I’ll take that compromise for the greater good of health. That’s a very private and historic matter; no details shall¬†be divulged. Suffice it to say that I was prepared to sleep in my car, parked outside the mobile home, for a healthier space.

P.S. I’ve slept in my Subbie¬†many times; after a coupla days, it’s not real fun or comfy.

From Jimmy Cliff to Bob Dylan: The times, they are a changin’. Windows too. Whooooo-hooooo!!!!

A swiveling pub chair, silicone and serious Germanic focus

Dammit! Gonna write a blog post if it kills me!

(Actually, not writing might kill me; alas, that’s another story, quite!)

There. That said.

Mobilizing Home Beautification

I’m 3 weeks into my adventure in a mobile home. Not so mobile, actually. It’s a rental parked in a mobile home park. To be clear.

It’s old. It’s dated. Circa 1970s. It’s not in baaad shape. Wouldn’t make Better Homes & Gardens though.

It’s in need of repairs and prettying up. And I’m the girl to do it. For no pay, by the way. Because it needs it. Because it needs to be done.

The reward is¬†making a place the best it can be and leaving it¬†better than I found it. It’s what I do. Places and spaces. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. The way some people are totally passionate about animals. Or teaching. Or sports. It’s their calling. Mine’s places and spaces.

I digress … though on a noteworthy mention.

The Gaps. Not the Stores.

The gaps around the swamp cooler in the kitchen window made of plexiglass are just one ailment. “Easily addressed” compared to others.

Moreover, needing immediate addressing. Winter’s fast approaching. The drafts around the swamp cooler are … well … lemme put it this way. Cool breezes are refreshing. In July. In autumn and winter, not so much.

Pencil pointing out plexiglass gaps

Pencil pointing out plexiglass gaps

 

Uh, an "unseamingly" sight

Uh, an “unseamingly” sight

 

Old silicone "sealant"

Old silicone “sealant” drooping away

 

How say can you see -- the useless sealant!

How say can you see — the useless sealant!

Danged Dominoes!

Ya start some easy Sunday project. Say, replacing weatherstripping in the kitchen. Next thing ya know, you’re paintin’ the shoe damn exterior of the house! It’s the Snowball Effect of Home Repairs. A Murphy’s Law. Or, as I call it, the Danged Dominoes.

Back to the breezy gaps around the swamp cooler.

 

I yank¬†out the old silicone formerly “sealing” the unit.¬†Here’s a start:

sucky old silicone

sucky old silicone

That actually isn’t in the original plan. Removing that much of the old sealant.

Neither is removing this pane of plexiglass, sitting in the middle this here chair:

There’s a lot of things I am. For better or worse. And a lot of things I’m not.¬†And uber-high¬†on that Not List is “Shoddy Crafter.” I do nothing¬†half-assed or {gasp!} badly. It’s not¬†in my nature. I’d need a lobotomy to even go a little bit there.

So buh-bye more-old-silicone-than-I-intend-to-strip-out! It’s necessary to¬†do the job right. And well.

Silicone Secrets. Silicone Surprise.

I must pause to say: Clear silicone is not the same as regular caulking that you’ve probably put around a tub. Silicone is an animal of a different color. It is, I discover, both a blessing and a curse. You gotta know how to work with it.

It’s imperative to note: I did not go into silicone blindly. I did my homework. Read and researched — A LOT — online. (Again, it’s who I am, it’s what I do!)

I would never recommend using silicone sealant without knowing the very basics. (I may blog on those another time.) Otherwise, it’s a small disaster waiting to happen. An unsightly disaster.

Onward

I make no bones about it. I’m a silicone novice. In fact, before this project, I don’t recall using – or needing — before.

Like I said, I rip out all the old silicone “sealing” this here¬†swamp cooler:

kinda high up there. for a short person.

kinda high up there. for a short person.

Gotta be done to do the job right. I also remove this plexiglass pane. Not in the original plan. For same reason.

Oh say can you see -- the pane?

Oh say can you see — the pane?

I then proceed to reset the pane. With silicone that I’ve never used before.

From atop a chair. Precisely this chair:

Have a seat. Or a ladder.

Have a seat. Or a ladder.

 

A pub chair. That spins.

Because I don’t have a ladder.

Is a spinning pub chair used to reach high places safe? Hell no!

But I do it for two reasons.

One, not gonna spend (can’t afford) the big bucks for a ladder for a one-time project.

Two, I’m small, light and agile. And nimble¬†on my feet. Extraordinarily so. I was called “monkey” in school, a play on my last name, nonetheless¬†highly fitting. In high school, I did the balance beam. I can STILL climb high up into trees like nobody’s business!

A swiveling pub chair does not a safe ladder make. But there are occasions for allowances and this is one.

Nimble is One Thing

Being short is another.

On the spinning pub stool, I can’t friggin’ reach even halfway across the swamp cooler! And I ain’t gonna buy an $80 ladder just to do so!

So I’m stuck. With silicone. Unable to go where I really want to go with it.

Yet where I MUST go, I can.

I reinsert the plexiglass pane. Gaps and all.

And carefully … mindfully … slowly squeeze¬†the silicone from its tube. Note: Not using a caulking gun. At a¬†most awkward angle. Not quite hanging upside down from a tree like a monkey.

Say … like trying to tie your left shoe flat on your back with the left knee pinned to the ground.

Awkward’s one word for it.

Painting. A picture.

Sorry. I don’t mean to ramble. Just painting a picture. Silicone demands above all adeptness. Or at least a willingness to learn. Attention. Focus. A bowl of soapy water and a rag.

And above all swiftness.

Sorta hard to accomplish on a swiveling bar stool with work areas fairly outta reach.

Yet I do it!

Yes. I do it.

With a bowl of soapy water ¬†and plastic knife from fast-food joint set on the swamp cooler … ¬†paper towels and a rag swollen in my back jeans pockets … my cell phone so to¬†take these pics in the front … a prayer in my heart for safety atop the swiveling pub stool … everything I read¬†about silicone-caulking in my brain … the focus of a laser light in my mind and German determination of a “crafty person” ¬†… I lay¬†the beads.

Bit by bit. Section by section.

Until the entire plexiglass pane is solidly reset and sealed with thick gooey silicone.

Am literally juuuuust able to stretch and reach — atop the spinning pub chair! —¬†in under that upper aluminum frame to reattach plexi-pane. After having removed the old silicone first. Fact: You can’t apply new silicone on top of old. Won’t adhere. Not well. Or at all.

plexiglass back in place

plexiglass back in place

 

Yes! Sealed!

Yes! Sealed!

 

Suuuuper sealed!

Suuuuper sealed!

Ditto the pane on the other side of swamp cooler.

Get a grip! Awright!

Get a grip! Awright!

The Before Shot:

How say can you see -- the useless sealant!

How say can you see — the useless sealant!

Proud Puppy!

I am one! One proud puppy!

Is it the silicone of an amateur? Yes.

But given what I’m working with — or not, i.e., a proper ladder, a short stature, no assistance, first-time “silicone-er” — I gotta say, I’m pleased with the results.

I’m pleased and proud.

This project’s not entirely complete; another post, another day.

But I will say: Yesterday brought a test to my workmanship:

A powerful thunderstorm.

Not a drop leaked through my seals!

Silicone, She Said

Silicone, I said, is a different animal from regular caulking. A creature of its own.

Turns out, I discovered, that I’ve got a feel for it. An undiscovered¬†knack. A natural / intuitive understanding and respect for the product.

Am I a practiced professional with it?! Hardly!!! Not. Even. Close!

But the (impending) northern winds no longer blow around my swamp cooler.

It withstood the test of the thunderstorm.

AND it doesn’t look like some novice just slapped in on stupidly willy-nilly and clueless about silicone’s nature.

A small pat on the back. Just no sticky silicone on the palm please. ūüôā

Bring on the Beautification! Pretty please! With sugar — I mean silicone — on top.

It’s a rental, sure.

And a fixer-upper all the same.

My new digs — as of two weeks ago — ¬†is a mobile home circa 1970s. And it shows, as you’ll discover! I’m undertaking home renovations¬†and repairs within the confines of a rental.

This is certainly a new adventure! — both living in a mobile home and park and having some say in creating a pleasing environment.

Perhaps this blog should be named: Allycat Goes on the Prowl for Positivity and Prettying-Up.

As a point-of-interest: A LOT of people have passed through this space. Not all of them good. {I’m being polite.}

It shows in the space both visually and vibrationally. Take two recent tenants. One was a lush who spent all her days drinking and drunk. The one before her was a druggie who dealt from my space.

Yep, deep need for home¬†beautification and healing and more (there’s a lot of stuff lurking in this space that requires daily cleansings; that’s another topic.)

Bring on the Beautification!

Let Us Begin

At my kitchen sink is a small view of the neighbor’s mobile home, sky and trees. Mostly my view’s of this:

A swamp cooler:

cooler1

Any time I stand at the sink, I notice this distinctive draft.

I’m thinking it’s coming through those¬†vents since they¬†open into the outdoors. And I’m thinking: How¬†am I gonna seal¬†this up for the winter fast approaching.

Then yesterday, I notice: Wow. That cool air’s really coming through!

So on tippy-toes I suss about the swamp cooler and discover:

Gaps!

Gasp! Along edges where the swamp cooler and a thin pane of plexiglass (= also, ugh, no insulation) meet.

At the sink, here’s the top of the cooler.

cooler2

I probe about with a pencil.

The silicone seal’s shot.

cooler3

cooler7

Along¬†the side. You can see the corner of the pane jutting out. It’s¬†supposed to be flush tight with the unit:

cooler5

And here:

cooler6

See the bright lateral line? That’s where two panes of plexiglass are supposed to be bonded by silicone. Clearly they’re not.¬†Apparently like our bodies,¬†silicone heads south as it ages!

I step out to further investigate and ascertain whether I can make the repairs myself. Fortunately the cooler is accessible with my new stepladder, making it a can-do:

cooler8

I find a red wire on the ground. A useful tool to ascertain just how much seal remains in that sealant.

cooler9

 

cooler10

Plus this is just a cool pic. Like one of those “identify what this is and win a prize” photos in the newspaper.

Repair of the swamp cooler {that¬†btw I don’t even¬†use} is the first order of the beautification¬†business.

More precisely, the Brrrrr business.

Air briskly flowing in through gaps in summer is A-OK. In autumn and winter, neon.

So next up:¬†Researching silicone sealants to ensure that I select the correct one — one that bonds on acrylics and can withstand the extremes of the Arizona sun, heat and cold

Like I said, it’s a rental, sure.

And a fixer-upper all the same.

Welcome to a new chapter. Whereupon Allycat Goes on the Prowl for Positivity and Prettying-Up.

Make that Purrty-ing Up.