Author Topic: I want it - do I need it?  (Read 1488 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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I want it - do I need it?
« on: January 20, 2019, 12:40:29 PM »
What: Non-combustible mantel
How much: $1,000 (+$400)
Why I need it: Current mantel is made of pine and sits over a wood stove.  Not up to code and presents risk.  It also doesn't look great.
Why I don't need it: Heat shield on current mantel keeps it under 200F, so negligible risk of house fire.  I would also have to replace my center channel speaker on it, and the only model that matches my speakers and is small enough to fit on the new mantel is around $400.
Alternatives: simply remove existing mantel and go without a center channel.

What: carpet cleaner/steamer
How much: $100
Why I need it: filthy carpet in sun room, made even filthier by pet accidents from new shelter dog.
Why I don't need it: Only carpeted room in the house.  Could scrub more by hand. 
Alternatives: Also needs to be replaced anyway, and a self replacement project with vinyl wouldn't be a bad idea. Could also replace with a more durable, easier to clean carpet.

What: Trailer
How much: $1,500
Why I need it: I can use it to collect free firewood on craiglist (i.e. fallen trees I'd have to buck, split, haul, stack, and season myself.  But I have all the tools for that).  Saves $600-$1200 in heating costs over the winter.  Even more important, I can stay warm in the event of a power outage.
Why I don't need it: I would have to have SUV or truck to tow the trailer.  Having the SUV or truck probably wipes away half of the savings just from annual gasoline usage.  I already own (no loan) a SUV, but it may make more sense to trade into a civic.  It's also hard to heat with wood at temps higher than freezing since I was dumb and didn't get a catalytic stove.  I easily get the house uncomfortable hot (75+ for me) if outside temps are too high.
Alternative: delivered firewood is about the same cost as natural gas.  I can burn it during the coldest days and have a heat source that doesn't depend on electricity.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: I want it - do I need it?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2019, 02:51:27 PM »
What: Non-combustible mantel
Why not simply apply a flame-retardant coating (e.g. Flame STop) or paint it with fire retardant paint?

What: carpet cleaner/steamer
I'd favor tearing out the carpet entirely (since it needs replacement anyway).  Baring that, you can rent a commercial carpet cleaner at any big box store (e.g. Lowes, Home Depot) for about $25. 

What: Trailer
You do NOT need an SUV or truck to tow a trailer. Even small modern sedans can take a class II hitch (tongue weight of 300lbs, gross towing capacity of 3500lbs).  That's enough to tow a 1/2 cord of seasoned firewood. Also, you can find trailers for a heck of a lot less than $1,500 on CL - I bought a 4x8' utility trailer in great condition for $500 a while back, big enough to haul full sheets of ply (or whatever else I want up to about 3,000lbs) behind my civic.

bottom line:  your wants can be fulfilled for a small fraction of what you are quoting above.


  • Bristles
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Re: I want it - do I need it?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2019, 02:59:25 PM »
1.  For the mantel, live with it until you can come to a cheaper alternative.  Risks here don’t seem too immediate. With time, you’ll come to a more reasonable option.  Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher near the fireplace, just in case. (Which would be important no matter what mantel you have.)

2.  Rent a steam cleaner. (If you had more carpet in your house, the buying a steam cleaner might make sense, but we’re talking oneroom with carpet that will eventually be replaced.

3.  Get some firewood delivered. This whole scenario is a very expensive way to procure “free” firewood.