House Insanity Repairs

Wrapping It Up

I need to get my kitchen finished because I want to move on to some other things. Over the past couple of days I’ve been:

looking into volunteer opportunities
thinking of how to design a letterpress system
investigating woodworking classes so I can build a dining room table
buying a collection of sample paper to learn about different weights, colors, types
pricing table saws
looking into joining TechShop in Detroit, even though it’s five hours away
thinking of some new quilt designs
looking into vacation ideas
thinking of moving this blog from wordpress to octopress

If I’m lucky, the countertop comes tomorrow. If not, it won’t be until next week. I’m fine with either one, but am definitely starting to plan my next project. Once it’s installed, I have to finish the plumbing, which will take some time. And then finish the trim around the windows and parts of the floor. Not complicated work, but finishing work is usually not my strong suit. This is probably going to take all the patience that I have, so I’m apologizing in advance to anyone I snap at in the next few days.

House Insanity

Cabinets In

Spent a couple of hours finishing my cabinet installation last week. The last ones went in on Sunday morning. The Ikea directions were a bit of a pain, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy. My biggest problem was the blister that I got on my hand from using the screwdriver so much.


Now I just need to measure for the countertop and pick out the color. Hopefully, I won’t have a hard time making a decision.

House Insanity

Another Cabinet Down

I went to Home Depot with Julie today. She wanted to buy paint, I needed to get an assortment of wood screws and a board to put behind the sink cabinet. With that board, I was able to install the cabinet. I also put the fronts on and it looks ok.


I also started leveling the other two cabinets to get them ready to install next. Would have done more work, but today was the first day when I could stay in and watch all the World Cup games and I wanted to do that. And I’m also still a little bit worried about whether the dishwasher door is going to hit the handles on the drawers of the cabinet next to it. I think I have enough room, but I’m thinking that I should buy the dishwasher before I install any handles.

My one problem today was that one of the undercabinet lights I installed fell out. This is why I wanted to buy some more wood screws. I got a fewer longer ones and those seem to work better. At least the light hasn’t fallen out in the few hours since I put it in. We’ll see if it stays up.

House Insanity

A Mistake

Last weekend, I wanted to install the new track lighting I bought to go over the sink. When I went to attach the bit that gets hooked up to the electrical box, I realized that I used a regular box in the ceiling when I should have used a ceiling box. This just seems dumb to me and I remember installing the box and not thinking much about it. I basically just bought a bunch of deep, square boxes and put one wherever I wanted outlets or switches. But the part of the light that attaches to the ceiling is designed to go onto a smaller box. When I discovered this, I just assumed that I’d be able to get an adapter of some type to allow me to hook things up. I looked at both Ace and Home Depot and couldn’t find anything like this. So then I tried to come up with something else that would work. The problem was, anything I came up with required me to remove the drywall ring (I don’t know what it’s really called) that was already installed. This meant that I also screwed up the drywall around the box, as everything had already been taped. After much messing around I finally got things up and working. Unfortunately, I also have to fix the drywall around the box.

Can you tell which light I put in and which was put in by a professional?


House Insanity

Oven Hood

Spent the last weekend working on the installation of the hood over the oven. This turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. First off, I wasn’t sure exactly how high it should have been installed. There seem to be a number of different opinions out there. I thought I had measured this all out before the drywall went up, but I stupidly didn’t write this information down. In the (very poorly written) instructions for the hood, there was no mention of how high it should go. All I found was on a sticker inside the hood that said it should be more than 24″ from the cooktop. So I put it in a little higher than that.

I should have realized I’d made a mistake when I tried to screw in the lower two screws. They clearly didn’t go into any of the wood that I had added for this purpose. So I should have known that it needed to go a little higher. But, that didn’t occur to me and I proceeded to finish hanging the oven.

The next step was to hook up the electricity and make sure that it still worked. Once I was ok with that, I needed to connect the vent. This proved to be problematic due to poor design. There were two screws that I needed to use to attach an adapter to the vent. Stupidly, one of the screws was like 1/4″ away from the wall. So it was very difficult for me to get a screwdriver in there. Eventually I got it in and the whip attached.


At this point, my problems began. First of all, it took a number of attempts to get the bend in the vent so that it would fit beneath the cover. Below you can see how close it ended up.


Then, I found that the silver cover I had for the box was underneath the cover for the vent. So I had to cut a small section out of the cover so that it would fit flush with the wall.


With all that done, I found the huge mistake that I made, where I hung the entire hood too low. The cover for the vent was too short to get to the ceiling.


I now had two options, either take everything down and rehang it a few inches higher. Or just not have the vent cover go all the way to the ceiling. My sister came over and let me know that it looked ok to her, even though it didn’t go all the way to the ceiling. It was such a hassle hanging it, that I didn’t really want to move it either. So I decided to just leave it as it was.


That’s how it looks with my old stove back in place. Not too bad.

House Insanity

And it’s over

So much for saying that I was having a good month. I thought I’d finish off the electrical work today and hook up the last outlets. All was going well until I turned the power back on. I’ve set things up so that in each box, the outlets on the left were on one circuit and the outlets on the right were in another. I have gcfi outlets in the first box where the power comes up through the basement. So it’s easy for me to turn off one circuit or another.

After hooking everything up, I turned the outlets on and all seemed good. However, then, I turned off one of the gcfi outlets. When I went to check the power, both outlets were on. Not good. I then switched the outlets that were on and off and had the same problem. Then, I turned off both outlets and found that I still read a little over a volt in each outlet. That seemed really strange to me. So then, I turned off all the breakers that I put in and didn’t read any voltage anywhere. So, I screwed something up. Now I just need to find out what. Since it’s somewhat late, I’ve decided to turn off all my breakers and relax for tonight. I’ll try attacking the problem again tomorrow.

Update: This is apparently a common issue when using a multimeter to take readings. They’re far too sensitive and detect phantom voltage. If you plug a load into these outlets that supposedly have no power, the voltage drops to zero. I still don’t quite understand why this happens, but it’s apparently quite common and not something I need to worry about.

House Insanity


Since I came back a day before I planned, I had some time to work on my house on Monday. So I decided to paint my kitchen. After a little hiccup where the paint I bought was yellow and not white (said white on the can), I got started. It didn’t take too long, but I did find a rather large mistake I made when we installed the window. I think I should have raised it up a little because there’s about a 1/2″ gap along the top edge.


So I think I’m going to have to take the window out and set it on a thin piece of wood and then reattach it. It shouldn’t take too long, but I will have to ask one of my siblings to come by to help me lift it.

House Insanity

Hood Vent

One thing I had to finish before my awesome drywalling party was to install the vent in the wall for my oven hood. I had to drill a 6″ hole in my brick house.


The hole in the insulation is the size of the hole that I needed for the vent. Note the 1″ hole in the upper right. That was the size of the drill bit that I had. So I was going to be making a lot of little holes to make the big hole.

Bizarrely, some bricks were quite easy to drill through and others proved to be impossible. You might not be able to tell, but I had to move the position of the vent up a little since I couldn’t drill through one brick on the bottom. It took a little over an hour, but I finally got this.


I also felt like Wile E. Coyote from a Road Runner cartoon where he kept vibrating after he quit holding on to a jack hammer.

Next I had to get the piece of vent in it. I mixed up some mortar and tried to fill in as much as I could.


Then I got up on a ladder on the outside of the house and pushed the pipe and cover through the hole.


Lastly, I took more mortar and tried to fill in all the gaps around the vent cap. I think I did an ok job, but will go out and check again when I have a taller ladder.


In classifying jobs that I did or did not enjoy, this one falls into the category of something I’d rather not do again. It was hard, difficult, noisy and messy. But I’m glad it’s done and I think my vent is going to look great.

Family House


Finally got the pictures up from the drywalling party. They are here. I owe my niece Abby a movie for being a fabulous photographer. Words cannot express my gratitude to everyone who came and helped out. I love you all more than you can possibly know. I got most of you to sign the back of one of my cabinets to be a part of my kitchen forever. I’ll try to catch those who didn’t sign it before I hang the cabinet, but if I don’t it’s ok. You all are the people who mean the most to me in the world.


Family House Insanity


It’s been a while since I posted, but not for lack of activity. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I have been so busy. Things got so much out of control that I think it contributed to me getting sick earlier in the week. So I decided to take some action and start saying no to some things.

The good news is that the drywall party was great. I am close to a fantastic group of people who all came over and helped me out. I have pictures that I have yet to take off my camera and post. They’re coming soon. My brother got me someone to do the taping, so that was finished the week after the drywall was hung. I finished priming everything yesterday and even pulled wire through all the conduit. Yes, I should have painted before I did that, but I’m an idiot and like doing things out of order. I’ve been looking up dishwashers and stoves and think that I might have to move the outlet for the dishwasher. Not far, but according to the installation directions, it’s currently in the wrong place. Shouldn’t be hard to move since we didn’t put drywall on that part of the breakfast island. It doesn’t need it, since it will be behind a cabinet and dishwasher.

Aside from the chaos at home, work was a little intense as well. But things seem to be slowing down now, which makes me very happy. There are a few things I want to learn and I’d like to have a little time to do that. Tonight, I’ve been reading up on gnuplot, which I think should become my goto plotting program. It really makes nice plots and I think it will be a very useful tool to have in my arsenal.

So, yes, life has been insane of late. But the other thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve been really, really happy. I think that’s mostly because I can finally see the kitchen coming to an end. And it’s not so much that I’ll have a new kitchen, which will be nice. But it’s the sense of accomplishment that I’m enjoying. I wanted to try to do this, as much as I could, by myself. And I think I’ve succeeded. Hopefully, I haven’t done anything stupid, but you can’t fail if you don’t try.