December 8, 2015

An Even Smarter Home

When we moved into our home, Domingo and I had only loose plans to paint and re-carpet. We didn’t plan on having any work done to the house. We weren’t even planning on purchasing any appliances. That is, not until the day of our final walk through, two days before closing, when it became apparent that the previous owner had decided to keep the refrigerator after all. (It was never specified in the contract, we had only a gentlemen’s agreement that it would stay.) It was our dumb luck that the washer and drier died a month later. Then the HVAC system. Then the garage door opener.

In the past 6 months we’ve spent more than 10 times in home home repairs than in all five years we owned the town home, and we opted to forgo painting and carpeting for now. Home ownership can be expensive. At least we’re running out of the things to fail!

One of the issues we’ve been dealing with recently is the irrigation system. It’s not working anywhere near where it should be.

The biggest, but sadly not the only, issue with the irrigation system is the controller box. The old controller box was an analog system and such a jumble of lose wires that the box door could not be closed. Worse, touching the door would cause the controller would change modes. All the way open, the controller box showed no zones were running. Close it a little and the controller box showed zone 4 was running. A little more, and zone 6 appeared to be running but zone 4 was off. The zone wires were even crossed. The sprinklers in the right side of the front lawn would sometimes turn on when zones 2, 4 and 6 were activated. Sometimes, not all the time. We still weren’t sure which zone those sprinklers were supposed to be in.

Our irrigation system was simultaneously unreliable and wasting a tone of water. Given the state of California’s drought that’s a very bad thing.

Last Thursday we upgraded to a smart irrigation controller. The new controller is digital and connects to the internet. We program in how much water each zone needs when it’s hot and dry. The controller gets the weather report and adjusts accordingly. By my estimates it will have paid for itself in a year. Two, tops. Assuming no more pipes break. Have I mentioned home ownership is expensive?

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