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Anovoca
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First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:09 pm

So, if all goes according to plan on the seller's side of things, this little gerbil will be closing on his first home at the end of next month. I am already getting barraged with "helpfull" advice from family and colleagues about topics such as how to or not to carpet your basement and whether or not the white color paint in the kitchen is an appropriate tone to match the tile. Meanwhile my mind is circling with more important questions such as: What led bulbs should I buy? Should I tie CAT6 directly to all the coax lines to pull through nice and easy and then replace the socket faceplates or use a snake and run CAT6 along side the coax in the home in case I go back to cable later? Are all HE energry star washer/dryers built to break or can I have my cake and eat it too in regards to efficiency, quality, and low noise? What future proofing should I do in the den to make installing new sound systems or a projector a few years down the road easier?

That is why I have decided to come here to ask you, gerbil nation, for your 2 cents. What tech-tips or tricks can you offer to a first time buyer?
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Vhalidictes
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:21 pm

A few things to think about:

1) Make sure that the cable is Category 6A. Copper data standards change, but the odds you're going to rewire the house are minimal - get the best rating you can now. Don't worry about "Category 7" for now as it's tough to find the real thing.
2) If you're going to be doing any duct work whatsoever, make sure it's Plenum rated. Toxic smoke is no fun, especially in the air system.
3) If the coax plate locations make sense, sure, run them together, but... run more than one. You won't be able to easily fix a bad cable later, so run at least a few extra ones, even if you don't terminate them all at the plate. I ran 4 cables to each plate, which was barely enough in one case.
4) Think about where you're going to terminate all these cables. Chances are that you'll have enough that you should set up some patch panels somewhere.
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:39 pm

LED Bulbs: all of these should last forever (effectively), but it seems like Cree is popular here. IIRC, people liked the Cree bulbs because they did a good job of mimicking incandescents.

Washers/Dryers: Back in the thread on exploding Samsung appliances, I think SpeedQueen was the popular recommendation for indestructible appliances. I haven't run into any issues with my Samsung pair, but I also only do laundry for two adults (and we tend to do fewer, larger loads, so we will never run into the kind of wear that a proper family will see).
On second thought, let's not go to TechReport. Tis a silly place.
 
just brew it!
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 12:59 pm

superjawes wrote:
LED Bulbs: all of these should last forever (effectively), but it seems like Cree is popular here. IIRC, people liked the Cree bulbs because they did a good job of mimicking incandescents.

Only if they've gotten their QA issues under control. I've had several Cree bulbs fail in various ways, and they are still on my "avoid" list as a result. Haven't bought any Cree in over a year at this point, so maybe they're OK now.

I have had better luck with Feit brand bulbs from Costco. They seem to be more reliable than the Crees, and (at least for the lower wattage ones) are rated for use in fully enclosed fixtures.

Just make sure you get the "soft white" or "warm white" style ones (2700K or 3000K), unless you're OK with the cold, clinical bluish cast that the "daylight" ones have.
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Anovoca
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:09 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
A few things to think about:

1) Make sure that the cable is Category 6A. Copper data standards change, but the odds you're going to rewire the house are minimal - get the best rating you can now. Don't worry about "Category 7" for now as it's tough to find the real thing.
2) If you're going to be doing any duct work whatsoever, make sure it's Plenum rated. Toxic smoke is no fun, especially in the air system.
3) If the coax plate locations make sense, sure, run them together, but... run more than one. You won't be able to easily fix a bad cable later, so run at least a few extra ones, even if you don't terminate them all at the plate. I ran 4 cables to each plate, which was barely enough in one case.
4) Think about where you're going to terminate all these cables. Chances are that you'll have enough that you should set up some patch panels somewhere.

Great input, thanks. I am not planning on going overboard I just want to make sure all PCs are off wifi and any of the Rokus out of signal strength for the 5ghz AC band have a connection as well. This should ensure that any device that is connected to my PLEX server has all the bandwidth it can desire.
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GeoDragon
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:13 pm

When I bought my second house I found that the telephone cable was actually cat5e and just rewired them to work as I needed, never had an issue. With luck you could run into this as well.
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:37 pm

just brew it! wrote:
I have had better luck with Feit brand bulbs from Costco. They seem to be more reliable than the Crees, and (at least for the lower wattage ones) are rated for use in fully enclosed fixtures.
Good info. Since Anovoca would/will be doing bulbs for an entire house, getting a bunch of these from Costco would probably be good value.

(I'd do it myself, but I am still renting for the foreseeable future.)
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Anovoca
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:41 pm

superjawes wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
I have had better luck with Feit brand bulbs from Costco. They seem to be more reliable than the Crees, and (at least for the lower wattage ones) are rated for use in fully enclosed fixtures.

Good info.  Since Anovoca would/will be doing bulbs for an entire house, getting a bunch of these from Costco would probably be good value.

(I'd do it myself, but I am still renting for the foreseeable future.)

I actually started using LED bulbs in my old apartment. It seems like a waste at first, but I was going through so many bulbs every month due to the thunder footed teenagers upstairs I just said to heck with it and put something in without a fragile filament. Plus, now I have 8 perfectly good bulbs I swapped back out with the dead ones that I can now take with me.
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mattshwink
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:10 pm

In regards to appliances, Sears Outlet is amazing.  Bought a short sale last year and been renovating extensively (all appliances).  Bought Fridge and Dishwasher on Sales Tax holiday last year and then was shopping for other appliances (range, wall oven microwave).  After researching and figuring out what I wanted starting shopping.  Sears Outlet has stuff on sale (usually at half price or better) for floor models, dented or scratched, etc.  Everything we have gotten has been top quality and the scratches/dents are not even noticeable.  Picking up a washer and dryer tomorrow (Samsung, yes I know about there recent issues - but the models picked haven't had issues and are rated well).  Two front loaders for a little over $1,500 total (they each retail for more than that individually).

The only issues with using Sears Outlet is that they don't offer free shipping.  You can pay to have most things shipped (still cheaper then retail) or pick them up yourself (I did that for everything but the range, which would have been really difficult to haul myself).  Also, no haul away.  So you have to dispose of existing appliances yourself.

Good luck!  And Congrats!
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:11 pm

Anovoca wrote:
Great input, thanks. I am not planning on going overboard I just want to make sure all PCs are off wifi and any of the Rokus out of signal strength for the 5ghz AC band have a connection as well. This should ensure that any device that is connected to my PLEX server has all the bandwidth it can desire.

You're welcome! Something that I didn't put in my earlier post... I had to re-wire a friend's house, years after the first job, because some of the rooms were re-purposed and computers had moved around.

1) We didn't have any cables run to the kitchen; he didn't need a PC there.. until he got a TV and a HTPC.
2) We didn't have any cables run to the basement... which he had finished in the interim and suddenly needed PCs down there for a renter.

You don't have to be insane about it, but think about having a network jack in every non-utility room, even if you don't think they'll have a computer.
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:18 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
......even if you don't terminate them all at the plate.


That's very bad advice based on building codes in my area, all cables ran in the wall must terminate at both ends.
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:25 pm

In addition to running multiple cables to each jack location, be sure to leave a couple feet of spare in the wall for future re-terminations.  If you plan to set up a home theater, look for possible ways of running surround speaker cables while you're still in a cable-pulling mood.

tanker27 wrote:
Vhalidictes wrote:
......even if you don't terminate them all at the plate.


That's very bad advice based on building codes in my area, all cables ran in the wall must terminate at both ends.

There's usually good reasons for that, but with low voltage cables, I wouldn't worry about it provided they're all bundled together, marked, accessible behind the wallplate, and terminated at both ends or neither end.
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Vhalidictes
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:26 pm

tanker27 wrote:
Vhalidictes wrote:
......even if you don't terminate them all at the plate.


That's very bad advice based on building codes in my area, all cables ran in the wall must terminate at both ends.

I wasn't aware, but if that's true, it's going to suck. Hopefully in that case he can test the link as it's run.

If you didn't know, tanker27, long runs of UTP tend to crimp... which is fine until they un-crimp and the internal wires snap. Which doesn't always happen right away.

EDIT: Yes, they would be un-terminated at both ends, and they have to be labeled so that you know which one to switch to at both ends.
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:37 pm

Advice from my first time home purchase last year. LG Washer and Dryer - skip the smart stuff, skip the pedestals, build them yourself and save both your wallet and back. Kenmore Canister Vacuum - often better than Miele and 1/3 the price. Gerbils will cover your HT - I still prefer the 70's gear for audio.
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Re: First time home buyer

Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:38 pm

Hmm, well from your OP it sounds like you will have an unfinished basement, no included appliances, and all incandescent light bulbs.

First thing I can think of is to change the furnace filter immediately, and drain the hot water heater within the first couple months of moving in.  If there's no service dates recorded on the furnace (usually they write date of services on a sticker on the unit) get a tune-up scheduled in your first year (wait till this spring so they can check freon levels in the AC unit while they're there).  You never know how responsible/irresponsible the previous owners were with those type things.

Obvious things like extract the carpet and do any painting before you move your junk into the house.

Our washer and dryer are Frigidaire front loaders.  The previous owners installed them on a nice pedestal with a cubby under each just tall enough to fit a slightly heaping laundry basket.  Very nice setup.  If you've never owned a front load washer, make sure to dry out the groove in the rubber membrane that the door seals to after each load (no idea what beneficial purpose the groove serves) and always leave the washer door slightly open so it can dry out inside.  Otherwise you get a washer that smells like Shrek's dirty underwear.

Light bulbs:  Check out YALBT Forum
  • I always buy 2700K or lower color temp when buying LED bulbs.  Even then, some bulbs I've tried have a greenish tint, others have a yellowish tint, etc.  It's infuriating that light bulb shopping has become so complex that you basically have to use trial and error.  Makes me miss the good 'ol days of incandescent bulbs.  
  • I've had a very tough time finding LED flood lights that look decent and don't cost an arm and a leg.  
  • I've had good luck with "Luminus" brand A19 LED lights from Menards.  On sale they're dirt cheap and they have good color.
  • Don't get too infatuated with LED bulbs.  I've found CFLs to be much easier to buy (4 pack of econobulb for $1) since they have consistent color characteristics.  I don't get too hung up on the extra 3 watts a CFL uses over an LED when you're already 1/4 the wattage of incandescent.  Some people hate the CFL "warmup" lag, some bulbs are worse than others, but not many bother me for indoor use.  I have a mixture of CFL and LED bulbs in my house, depending on where they are and how much they get used (no need to put a $5 light bulb in the closet under my stairs that gets turned on less than once a month for 10 seconds). In cold Wisconsin, LED is a must for outdoor lights though.
Networking:
This really depends on what sort of condition your house is in, and/or it's age, and how crazy your networking needs are.  My house was built in 2010, so there's coax to every room already.  Little/no ethernet cable runs anywhere though.  We don't have many connected devices.  My TV sits in front of our modem, so it's easy to hardwire that.  Everything else runs off WiFi except my gaming PC upstairs which has been reliably connected via Powerline Adapter for the past 3 years without issue.  We don't have a land line phone, so that's a non-issue for us.

Some other odds and ends:  
  • If you're going to finish your basement, be sure to plan on a sizeable space for storage.  Americans have a lot of "stuff".  Even if you don't, the next owner might, and if the house has a nice area in the basement for storage, that can be a great value add.
  • On finishing basements:  Fight to keep ceiling height as high as possible.  Most basements already start with lower ceiling height than the main floor(s).  When contractors build houses with unfinished basements, they rarely have any regard to the depth of the duct work they're running under the joists.  Then another contractor comes and finishes the basement later and runs 2x4s or 2x6s under that duct work and the next thing you know you can touch the ceiling drywall with your head by standing on your tip-toes.  I just added a basement bathroom last summer and was able to raise a large area of sofit covering ductwork by 4".  I had to replace a 6' secion of 8" diameter return duct with a rectangular duct and simply put a little added thought into redoing the framing the the previous contractor had installed.
  • Depending where you are in life, a chest freezer in the basement (since it's cooler down there anyway = energy savings) could be a great investment.  It's nice to be able to buy a 1/4 beef or 1/2 pig and be able to store it.  We just have one of those half-length chest freezers (about 3' to 4' long).
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:53 am

Apart from the above advises, i would check if neighbors are not @sshole. Just a suggestion as you will be spending the rest of your many years beside them.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:51 am

just brew it! wrote:
superjawes wrote:
LED Bulbs: all of these should last forever (effectively), but it seems like Cree is popular here. IIRC, people liked the Cree bulbs because they did a good job of mimicking incandescents.

Only if they've gotten their QA issues under control. I've had several Cree bulbs fail in various ways, and they are still on my "avoid" list as a result. Haven't bought any Cree in over a year at this point, so maybe they're OK now.

I have had better luck with Feit brand bulbs from Costco. They seem to be more reliable than the Crees, and (at least for the lower wattage ones) are rated for use in fully enclosed fixtures.

Just make sure you get the "soft white" or "warm white" style ones (2700K or 3000K), unless you're OK with the cold, clinical bluish cast that the "daylight" ones have.


Every bulb in my house is a Cree TW bulb, and they work quite well. Cree TW is the closest to incandescent light that I can find, and the bulbs are reliable, in my experience. I use the regular-size 60W bulbs as well as the candelabra-shaped ones in lamps and some ceiling fixtures. Amazon has them in bulk for cheap.

I tried CFL and other LED bulbs, but the missing colors bothered me too much. To me, it's either Cree TW or incandescent.
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just brew it!
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:15 am

I think I may have dropped Cree before the TW came out. I was an early Cree adopter, and regretted it. It wasn't the color rendering I had an issue with, it was the (lack of) reliability.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:14 am

just brew it! wrote:
I think I may have dropped Cree before the TW came out. I was an early Cree adopter, and regretted it. It wasn't the color rendering I had an issue with, it was the (lack of) reliability.
That's been my experience too with Cree and the Home Depot brands. LED longevity is betrayed by poor power circuitry.
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:21 am

I'm coming up on my 1 year anniversary for buying a house.

A couple of things I did before hand:
[*]Went through a slew of inspectors to find anything erroneous with the property (mold, asbestos etc.)
[*]Verified functioning appliances (AC, water heater, smoke alarms etc.)
[*]Had an electrician do an inspection too

There was a tangible upfront cost for me but they caught a few issues that was able to negotiate with the seller. The big item was that there was a tree that was struck by lightning a few years back and had started to rot. Down the road that tree was pretty much guaranteed to fall on the house so I was able to have the seller pay for its removal. Considering that it was a ~150 year old oak that overhanged the house, that wasn't cheap. There were a few other minor things caught in the inspect that weren't up to code like the outlets near water sources were not GFCI but the property predates when those were added to code.

I did have a minor repair during the summer due to a freon leak for the AC that wasn't caught during the inspection. Home owner warranty covered it in my case without issue.

After buying the house, I had an electrician upgrade the 100 amp service to a 200 amp main. I have a lot of computers that can eat power. On that same note, I also went through and swapped out all the incandescents to LEDs to reduce power consumption of room lighing. I used a mix of Cree, Fiet, Philips and Sunco depending on the color temperature, bulb size and brightness I wanted for a space. I'd stick to one manufacturer for a particular type of bulb to maintain consistency but except to change manufacturers when you need to change size and/or temperature. Also I have a personal preference for ultra bright lights which makes my kitchen brighter than what comes in through the windows at certain points during the day. I have killed two LEDs before I realized that they're on a 3-way dimmer switch. Incandescent work there as expected but anything else pretty much dies quickly. I have since rewired this to a simply 3 way and removed the dimmer functionality.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:51 am

the wrote:
After buying the house, I had an electrician upgrade the 100 amp service to a 200 amp main.  I have a lot of computers that can eat power. 

This is important. When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:58 am

remember, if running new cable isn't going to work out for you, you can still get Ethernet over Coax / MOCA adapters and get wired ethernet by using your existing coax cables if you have them. Cat 6A is definitely better, no doubt, but any kind of wired ethernet is going to be more stable than wireless. I have 3 PCs and an access point connected to my router using MOCA 2.0 adapters and I'm very happy with their performance. You could try and re-purpose existing telephone wiring for ethernet, but that ended up being a waste of time for me personally
 
DPete27
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:38 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
the wrote:
After buying the house, I had an electrician upgrade the 100 amp service to a 200 amp main.  I have a lot of computers that can eat power. 

This is important. When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)

That's not necessarily an issue with the main service to the house though.  Also, a 10A breaker would trip at 10A*120V = 1200Watts....either you have a beast of a computer, circuits you plugged into were overloaded, or that breaker switch was bad.  Keep in mind, multiple outlets are typically serviced by the same breaker switch.  Simply plugging your PC into every outlet in a given room means nothing.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:47 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)


Are you sure? That's pretty unusual, so if those circuits really did have a 10 amp breaker, there might have been a reason (substandard wiring).
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:22 pm

Not that this advice is exactly what you asked for but here is what I learned that might make life easier:

Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by focusing on stuff that's not required right away.  Focus on getting settled in with the necessities and work on unboxing everything.  I then lived in the house for a bit and started planning out the changes I was going to make.  Obviously if renovations need to happen before you move in then do them now.

I bought all of my appliances as floor models/returns from Sears, I saved thousands and couldn't be happier at the quality and longevity of them.  At the time they carried the same return/warranty as new units, hopefully they still do that.  I did this for my parents while growing up too and I've never regretted it (I was in charge of remodeling/house maintenance when I was a kid).

Now your real questions:

I buy my bulbs from Costco.

Keep Coax in locations you could foresee putting a cable modem in.  It's hard to plan but if you don't have kids, keep that in mind, your office may become a bedroom later and you'll want the cable modem somewhere else.

My HE units have all been great so far.  

No comments on the sound system/projector as I would think that would greatly depend on what you end up getting.  Keep in mind that the first layout of your living room may not stay that way.  Mine certainly didn't and I'm glad I never got around to getting it setup until after it got moved by the misses!
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:34 pm

DPete27 wrote:
Also, a 10A breaker would trip at 10A*120V = 1200Watts....either you have a beast of a computer, circuits you plugged into were overloaded, or that breaker switch was bad.

It gets better: circuit breakers won't instantaneously trip until somewhere around 2.0 times rated load.  A sustained overload will eventually trip for less, but on the order of a minute or more.  In any case, a residential AC service with 10A breakers has got to be a very rare bird and probably needs more help than just a panel rebuild.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:55 pm

Glorious wrote:
Vhalidictes wrote:
When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)


Are you sure? That's pretty unusual, so if those circuits really did have a 10 amp breaker, there might have been a reason (substandard wiring).

I'm fairly certain that the house electrical systems weren't up to code, but I can't really get into the details, sorry. 

Also, the weird way that the circuits were layed out, it would't surprise me at all if other stuff / lighting were shared with my PCs (I was running two identical rigs at the time, long story).
 
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:58 pm

Vhalidictes wrote:
This is important. When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)

:o Only 10 amps?! How were they able to do anything besides have lights?
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:47 pm

DPete27 wrote:
Vhalidictes wrote:
the wrote:
After buying the house, I had an electrician upgrade the 100 amp service to a 200 amp main.  I have a lot of computers that can eat power. 

This is important. When I brought my computer over to my in-law's house, it tripped a breaker no matter where I plugged it in, because every circuit was only 10 amps(!)

That's not necessarily an issue with the main service to the house though.  Also, a 10A breaker would trip at 10A*120V = 1200Watts....either you have a beast of a computer, circuits you plugged into were overloaded, or that breaker switch was bad.  Keep in mind, multiple outlets are typically serviced by the same breaker switch.  Simply plugging your PC into every outlet in a given room means nothing.


The thing about my house is that there tons of old school incandescent lights on a single circuit. To prevent overloading, pretty much every individual light in a room had its own switch. I strongly suspected that the previous owners could flip the 15A breakers if they turned on all the lights in a room. Similarly there were several outlets also controlled by wall switches.

I did have an electrician come out and add a few 20A circuits out of the breaker box for some electronics I have. I also got a new breaker box with the upgrade from 100 A to 200 A service.
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Re: First time home buyer

Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:40 am

superjawes wrote:
Washers/Dryers: Back in the thread on exploding Samsung appliances, I think SpeedQueen was the popular recommendation for indestructible appliances. I haven't run into any issues with my Samsung pair, but I also only do laundry for two adults (and we tend to do fewer, larger loads, so we will never run into the kind of wear that a proper family will see).


Saw this article the other day on SpeedQueens: http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companie ... ailsignout
Currently have a basic top-load GE manual dial washer which was good for the last 16 year but now stalls out in the spin cycle. I'm liking that sexy non-digital SpeedQueen model with all metal, analog-sweetness. I have three kids and I'm helping the wife with laundry every frigging day now.

Owned a few homes and recently did some kitchen and flooring upgrades. My local Home Depot did well on a flooring replacement job where we replaced old parquet tiles and put in darker laminate boards. I recommend getting the thicker versions which reduces noise. I do not recommend Sears contracting services which we used for kitchen countertop work and back-splash tiles. The contractors were good and the company who custom made a solid-surface countertop was great but Sears did a lousy job coordinating the work and schedules. What should have been completed in 2-3 weeks took almost three months.
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