Kitchen Sink Replacement

I designated Sunday to be the day I would change out my kitchen sink.  It was actually more than just the sink.  It was also adding an instant hot water tank and an under-sink water filtration system.  This project has been a long time coming.  I bought the sink back in April and most of the other parts a month or so later.  But everything sat in the garage waiting for the right time.  In July, I had an electrician install an outlet for the water heater, but still, the time wasn’t right yet.  The sink was just sitting in the garage waiting for install.

With the upcoming garage door install, a renewed interest in clearing out the garage started, and part of that was clearing out that sink and the components.  I planned to do it on Sunday, initially budgeting a couple of hours.  Judging from my initial budget of a couple of hours, I then budgeted the whole day.  By Sunday’s end, I wondered why I didn’t start this on Saturday.

The process got off to a bad start right away.  Simply turning off the water under the sink was troublesome.  After a decade of never being turned, the shutoff valves were frozen and stiff from years of mineral deposits (the house has ridiculous calcium in the water).  Freeing them up introduced some minor leaks, so I had to shut the water off at the hot water tank.

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Removal of the old garbage disposal and sink wasn’t too difficult.  Having the sink removed afforded an opportunity for cleaning, which is something that happens every once in a while, where I find inexplicable messes dating back to the previous homeowners.  As soon as possible, I dry-fit the new sink in place and was relieved it fit without any issues.  The last time I looked at my watch it was 10:30 and now all of a sudden, it was after noon.  I took a break for lunch.

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Returning from lunch, I decided to plan the placement of the water filter and hot water tank.  This turned out to be harder than originally thought.  To plan properly, I needed to have the garbage disposal in place to see what room would be left over.  So I had to install the drains in the sink.  I had hoped to have the drains installed long ago, before even thinking about the sink install, but that never really happened.  Instead, I made a quick run to Ace Hardware to get plumbers putty, as well as a couple of fittings that I didn’t realize were not included in the hot water kit.

There’s not a lot of room under the sink and with the water pipes, drain pipe, and garbage disposal all in the way, my install options were highly limited.  I originally wanted the hot water on the right side and the filtered water tap on the left, but that was reversed out of space requirements.  I mounted the components on the walls and checked the clearance of everything with the sink back in place.  So far, so good.  While the sink was out and I had access to everything, I installed all the water taps for the new devices.  I wasn’t overly pleased that I couldn’t route the filtered water into the hot water tank.  The filtered water had a plastic water line in from the water supply and out to the faucet.  The hot water tank had a copper pipe from the water supply.  So, two taps were needed (one was not included with the install kit).

Next was to pre-install the faucets and taps on the new sink before I dropped it in.  This was fairly uneventful except for some confusion on how the washers and gaskets worked on the filtered water tap.  As I secured the pieces, I was highly impressed with the sturdiness of the sink material.  There was no flex like on the old sink.  Once everything was attached, it was time to commit the sink to the counter.  I laid down a line of caulk around the whole opening and dropped the sink in.  There was a lot of excess caulk to clean up, which was messy as hell.  I didn’t have any running water there to clean any of it up, so it was a back and forth trip between the laundry room sink with water, and a whole lot of paper towels.  There’s underside clips that need to be installed on the sink and because of the unreasonably tight clearance at the front of the sink, I only installed clips on the left, right and rear of the sink.  I’m sure it will be fine.

I’m still ignoring the minor leaks in the supply valves because I need to focus on the drain pipes.  I reused the gross old pipes from the previous sink (with some slight washing), but because of the new sink’s greater depth, nothing fit anymore.  Everything was a inch or so lower than the outlet pipe.  This was, at this hour, devastating.  I really didn’t know what the corrective course would be, because I didn’t know what pipes were available for me to purchase.  I took a few pictures of the pipes in their mismatched positions, bagged up some of the pipes and headed to Lowes.  It’s 7:00 now and they close in an hour.  If I don’t figure something out, I’m done for the day.

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Staring at dozens of potential options, I didn’t see exactly what I wanted.  As best I could determine, I needed a drain pipe that had a right angle and dropped an inch or so after the bend.  There’s no such thing.  One pipe caught me eye, which was a replacement drain pipe for the garbage disposal.  The illustration showed a straight pipe out of the disposal.  I didn’t know that was an option.  The disposal arrives with an L pipe.  So, if I replace the disposal drain pipe with a straight pipe, that raises everything up significantly.  But, that also means I have to extend the pipe after the T valve.  This is going to be my best bet, so I bought the straight pipe and two extension pipes (one extra in case of screwups).

Back home now, I struggle to piece everything together like some sort of puzzle game.  I had to shorten a couple of pipes to make them fit, and along the way, I had some really tight fittings that leaked until I could balance the pressure in different areas.  But I did get a leak-free drain test around 9:00.  That was as good a time as any to give up for the night.  The kitchen was a disaster with tools and rags and packing materials and undersink cleaning bottles all over the floor and counters.  And despite what seems like success, I still hadn’t addressed the leaking supply valves.  Aside from the obviousness that you can’t have leaks under a sink, I couldn’t have leaks on those valves because the hot water heater was installed underneath them and a leak would simply short out and ruin my expensive purchase.

I still had Sunday garbage to take out and I was sore.  Very sore.  Lots of cramping myself under the sink and getting up and down over and over again.  I also left the hot water shut off for the night.  I would have to open it back up first thing in the morning before showering, then close it again before leaving for the day.

The next day, I re-evaluated the leaks.  The one was easily fixed with some teflon tape.  The other required another trip to Lowes to buy a new brass washer for the inner assembly.  Of course you can’t just buy a washer (that I could find).  I bought a repair kit that had a bunch of rubber and metal washers and screws and o-rings.  All for one washer.  In the end, though, that fixed the leak.

I reinstalled the hot water tank and tested all the connections.  No leaks coming in or out.  I turned the water and electric back on and I had a fully operational sink.  And just to be absolutely safe, I placed a leak detector under the sink, so if it does start leaking at any time, I’ll get a 120db notification.

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The Garage Door

This is a project that has been stuck on the back burner for so long, it’s all but dead.  But with a growing list of dependencies, this has finally come to the fore and is going to get underway.

Obviously, the change has been on the list for a long time, and it’s a pretty large project, which contributed to the project being pushed back.  One of the smaller projects – and one fairly recently added – was coming up, and that project is the elimination of the backyard shed.  But I couldn’t get rid of the shed until I had a place to put everything in it, which would be the garage.  Also, there is a growing need/desire for a new vehicle, and I swore to myself that I would not buy a new car until I had a place to store it out of the elements, which would be… the garage.  So, with the funds saved up now, the time has come.

I had actually half-started the project a while ago when I was getting the pool redone, but let it drop because having two large projects at once was too much to deal with.  So this time, I started over from scratch.  I don’t even remember which company I talked to last time, but this time, I chose two candidates that seemed to be well-established players in my area.

The first one I called was eager enough, but when I explained the current complications, they backed off.  The complication is that there is no garage door opening.  The old homeowners converted the garage to a game room and closed it off.  This company only does garage doors.  Tear out that wall and then call them back, pretty much.  You should be able to take it out yourself.  Yeah…

The second company I called also hit the brakes when I said there was a wall in place, but they then suggested I talk to their designer about how to handle this.  Thank you, that’s what I’m looking for.  You must have someone who has dealt with a situation like this before.  I got transferred and ended up in voice mail.  When I got the call back, we discussed what kind of door I wanted (I have no idea what’s available), and what size (regular?).  We talked about the wall and she said she had a contact who worked at the company who can do the removal.  Perfect.  That’s what I need is a recommendation.  She said she’d email me the details that night (which she did, at 10:30!).

When shopping for garage doors, you will find a lot of places that compete solely on price, with blaring headlines like, “Home of the $799 garage door!”  I really do know better than that, and my last go-around, I got a rough quote that completely dispelled that sales line.  The old quote was $1500 for everything installed, and a guess of $1000 for wall removal.  So I had a mental budget of $3k.  Already far from the $800 sales pitch.  The email I got included some rough pricing.  The door would be between $950 and $1550, depending on 3 different models, the opener: $425, plus trim, bracket, framing, and permit costs.  It was nice to see all the pieces broken down instead of one number.  And it was very nice to see exactly what kind of door was offered.  $1500 for everything.  What is everything?

The biggest cost under my control was the door itself, so then it was time to get educated.  A search for the offered door models found the manufacturers website with a brochure of the features and available options.  Starting with the construction, the lowest model is kind of a no-go, because it’s essentially sheets of metal – no insulation at all.  The difference between the mid and top tier is whether the inside wall on the other side of the insulation is vinyl or steel.  It’s a $150 price difference between the two, rather small difference unlike the $450 jump between low and mid tier.  The top tier gives you more insulation and better sound deadening, but when reviewing the available options, I found the door style I wanted was only available on the top tier.  I wanted a flat front style, instead of the small inset boxes or large inset boxes.  So I guess that settles that.

While I was reading the brochure, I caught a term that demanded more research, “wind-load”.  That conjured up memories of me arguing with my homeowners insurance that my roof was installed with “wind mitigation”.  I didn’t want to have such an argument about my garage door, so I did a lot more reading.  It seems that making your garage door hurricane resistant involves adding thick braces to the top and bottom of each panel to prevent them from buckling under pressure or impact, putting retainer clips on every roller to prevent them from detaching from the track and carriage, and adding more points of track attachment to the wall.  It is doubtful that these things are included in a basic install, even though the garage door will nonetheless need to be installed to local code requirements.  Being up to code is good, but better is better, and would keep me in the good graces of my insurer, and will improve the marketability of the house at some future date.

Another branch of research involved the opener.  There’s plenty of openers out there, and there never really seems to be any discussion about them.  When you get a new door installed, or buy a new house, you just get whatever’s offered.  When it fails, you go to Sears, Lowe’s or Ace and buy whatever they have.  I guess now, there’s differentiators like smart devices with WiFi and apps and blah blah, but I’m not interested in having my door controlled remotely by me or anyone else.  So when I look at the specs for the opener, most of the details just made me shrug, except one that I hadn’t seen before.

Openers have for a very long time been chain driven.  They have always been loud, too.  Then screw drive came along and things were quieter and smoother.  Now, they have a third option: belt drive.   No noise and rattle of chain drive, no need for the lubrication of screw drive.  I’m excited for this.  Clean and quiet is what I want.  But belt drive is an option and I’m not sure it’s the default option.  So now I have two questions for the designer and possibly two additional expenses.

At this point, I am basing my estimates on the top tier door with no windows (which would surely be extra) at $1550, the offered opener at $425, and all the required parts and expenses, giving me a total of $2550.  Then I’ll have whatever it costs for removal of the wall.  Setting my mental budget for $3k early kind of softens the blow, since my old quote was $500 under and I hope I’ll only be $500 over now.  That remains to be seen.  But for right now, I am a lot more educated about garage doors.

Kitchen Lighting Replacement

The lighting in the kitchen is the last upgrade in my total LED retrofit throughout the house.  These are the last florescent light fixtures remaining in the house as well.  Inside a recessed channel in the ceiling are six 4-ft, 2-bulb T12 fixtures and one 2-ft, 2-bulb T12.  Assuming these were original with the house, these are all over 20 years old.  At one point, I did replace all the 4ft bulbs with brighter daylight bulbs, but the time is now to completely replace the fixtures.

I estimated I could do this in a full day, so having July 4 off, I started around mid-morning.  First was taking down all the bulbs.  This is cathartic in that it’s a realization that I can finally get rid of all these bulbs.  Florescent bulbs are hazardous materials, so you shouldn’t just throw them in the garbage.  So, I’ve been storing all these bulbs waiting for them all to be done, so I can make one trip to the landfill.  So I have all the old bulbs from when I changed the other fixtures out a decade ago, too.  They’re all sitting in the shed, covered with bug waste.

Anyway, after all the bulbs were down, I took the time to plan how I would deconstruct all of this.  The 2ft fixture had a separate power line to it, coming from a distinct switch.  It was designed as a evening security light.  The romex power cable for it ran through the fixtures of the other lights along the way.  That highlights a particular situation that I have to resolve.  The bulb fixtures can be considered enclosures and you can splice wires inside of them.  With my new lights, I won’t have that luxury.  However, the new lights have linkable plugs to eliminate splicing, so it’s a mixed bag.  More on that later.

First, I began at the security light and began disconnecting power wires and unrouting the cable from fixtures back to the source.  Then I worked forward from the security light and again disconnected power wires.  What I was left with was a bunch on unsheathed pieces of copper wire from inside the fixtures, a large handful of yellow wire nuts, and a few small romex bits that ran between fixtures.  Additionally, I had one long romex cable that ran from the power source across the room to the security light.

I took a lunch break to give myself time to think about and prepare for what I was going to do next, which was taking down all the fixtures.  In at least two fixtures, the ballasts had begun to leak, which is pretty serious, not only because of impending failure, but also because it indicates overheating and could be a fire hazard.  Good timing, I suppose.  After lunch, I spent the time taking down the fixtures, which were much heavier than I expected them to be.  Good riddance.

Without much delay, I began installing the new lights.  I figured I could start at the source, then keep testing the lights as I added more and more to the chain.  That worked out pretty well.  I took a short break during a sudden popup storm with plenty of thunder and lightning.  I only had two more fixtures left to install along one wall.  It dawned on me I could install them with the lights on, then plug them in with the link cable afterwards, so even though it was cloudy and dark in the house, I could still work with light.

The last remaining part with the security light, which posed a small problem.  The power source required a splice with the long cable to get to the mounting position.  All splices have to be contained in junction boxes for safety (more on that later).  So to run the power for the security light, I had to mount a junction box and splice the extension inside it.  I don’t own a box.  So I ran down to Lowe’s and because of the holiday they were closing in 4 minutes when I got there.  So the project is on hold of the rest of the night.

Back to this splicing and junction box thing that I’ve been putting off.  I said that the new lights aren’t really designed to act as a junction box, and I did have to make a splice to hop over the space where the 2ft light would be mounted.  Right now, all the splices are exposed and that’s probably against code, so I’m going to have to mount some more junction boxes to hold those splices.

I reevaluated the connections and found I had enough length in the remaining extensions to bridge the lights that were currently spliced.  That resolved a huge problem and eliminated any hanging wires and unprotected splices.  So, with that conversion done, I only needed to install the small security light.

The 2ft light was on a 3-way switch, with one switch as a dimmer.  The light was specifically purchased as a dimmable LED, as well.  After getting it all wired up, there was an issue.  At full dimmer, the light would flicker like mad.  At the lowest dimmer, it was a respectable, smooth, low level.  Foregoing any chance that the dimmer could really be used, I accepted it as it was.

At various times the next nights, I felt like I perceived a light change outside the room.  It wasn’t lightning, and it wasn’t the security light turning on and off, but it was definitely the light.  It seemed like it was slowly growing brighter, then dropping back down to a dim level.  It appears, I’m not going top be able to have a dimmer switch on this circuit.

Wrapping Up

It’s been a long time since I posted here, since a lot of the changes and improvements just seemed to be for naught since the house was going to be sold.  But, those plans changed and I guess I’m going to be in the house for a while longer.

I recently had to look at my most recent post to determine what pieces I had yet to buy for the Adorne outlet/switch conversion.  That need is because the final living area is being wrapped up today.  I hired someone to remove the popcorn ceilings and paint the kitchen/dining.living room and hallway.  And once that is done, I can replace the electrical bits and I’ll be all done with that.

It’s quite interesting to see how things have changed since I started this project.  Initially, you could get good prices on EBay and if not there, you could get fair prices at Lumens.com.  Trying to buy from Amazon or Lowes was too expensive.  Now the tables have turned.  EBay’s prices are insane, like 300% markup over retail price.  Who pays that?  And Amazon has become the cheapest source, with Prime 1-day shipping to boot.

Along with the electrical changes, I’m replacing the smoke detectors, which are probably many years overdue.  They are 120v hard-wired devices and because of my lack of planning, I paid a premium from Amazon for 1-day shipping so I could install them as soon as the painting was done.  You win some, you lose some.

In the sense of being complete with home improvements, that finish line never really arrives.  There are still some items on the list, ones that have been there from the very start.  The next major improvement will be the garage conversion, that is, converting the space back into a garage.  Then following that, it will be saving up for a new roof.  Then, bathroom shower remodeling.

Adorne, Still

When I began my renovations, over 2 years ago, my plan was to update all the switches and outlets with Legrand Adorne products.  This was a very costly decision, but I was determined to make it happen, partially by buying the pieces cheaply (or at least cheaper) on EBay and also by stretching out my purchases to only what I needed room by room.  Well, because we’re accelerating to a house sale in the near future, I can’t leave the house only partially updated.  So that is requiring me to buy all the Adorne pieces that I need quickly.  I’m still doing ok on pricing, but the scale of my purchases are pretty significant.

While finishing up the second bedroom/former office, I realized my lack of product.  I rushed and found a lot of 10 wall plates on EBay.  $70 right there.  That will cover the two bedrooms, but I still have the living room and kitchen.  I found a series of lots of wall plates and ordered 14 more – another $70.  The next day, I checked my house diagram against my “inventory” and realized I needed 22 outlets and 19 switches yet.  Holy shit.

I found a seller with outlets and bought all 22 that I needed – $100.  That actually worked out well, because the seller was having a free shipping promo if you bought 6 or more.  That saved me over $50.  Of course, I would not have even purchased them if I had to pay $50 in shipping!

I just bought 2 fan switch controls for the living room and guest bedroom – $75.  So now, I’m on the hunt for light switches.  Normal price for them is about $6.  That’s $114 at the worst.  Then at some point, I will need to confirm that I have enough wall plates for both switches and outlets.  Early on, I bought some stainless steel plates for super-cheap.  They aren’t super-cheap anymore.  Whether I will be able to utilize the metal plates in all the noticeable places is to be seen.

Project: Flooring

With the new goal of moving out, there’s a renewed urgency in updating the house, now not so much for my own enjoyment, but for a potential new owner’s.  One of the mid-term projects I had planned was to replace the carpeting with a hard surface, in this case, laminate.  It’s tempting to say hardwood, but they are not the same thing, and it’s best to be accurate.

The house is a mix of tile and carpet.  Tile in all the open areas and carpet in the living areas.  That is three bedrooms and a living room of carpeted space, plus the master closet and linen closet.  A lot of time passed between the decision that this would need to be done before the house was listed and actually moving on the project.  And the result of that procrastination is that I didn’t really get any competitive bids.  I chose one place and went with their installer program.  I was set up with an appointment for the contractor to come out and measure the rooms and provide an installation quote.

In the meantime, I roughly measured the rooms myself and whipped up a spreadsheet to get a rough idea of whether the project was even financially feasible.  I budgeted $2/sft for the flooring and $.30/sft for pad.  My room measurements came to 675sft, around $1500 for materials.  Even if installation was $2/sft, that still puts me under $3k.  That is reasonable.

I went to the store to see if there was any product within my budget.  There were a couple of options between $1.49 and $1.99, so I was satisfied.  While there, I priced out pad.  The store had a very persuasive display demonstrating the different types of pad and the sound effects of each.  When you knocked on the foam pad, it was a very loud, hollow sound.  When you knocked on the next levels up, the sound was very muted.  Now, I was a little skeptical at how accurate that sound was on the foam pad, but I was still sold on getting mid-grade padding.  Foam pad is $.25/sft, while mid-grade pad is $.65/sft.  Now my material cost is almost $1800.  Ok.  Still doable.

The contractor comes out and measures the rooms.  He arrives at 800sft. Additionally, he adds in mouldings and transitions, which I knew would be part of the install, but had no idea how to calculate.  Then there’s the cost of moving furniture, which is actually pretty reasonable at $20/room.  Then there’s the overage.  You should have 10% overage to handle things like angles and partial boards and you know, the unexpected.  Bottom line, the install is going to be $2500 and the materials will be around $2500 as well.

From an initial budget of under $3k to an actual budget of $5k.  Well, I guess that’s always how things go.  Is it going to add $5k of value to the price of the house?  That’s not the actual question that should be asked.  The question is, will the current state of the carpet result in a $5k reduction in price?  Or will it cause potential buyers to walk away?  If I was a buyer, the answer would be yes, so this is a project that has to be done.

The contractor asked what the timeline for the project would be.  Based on all my previous projects, I know if I don’t say “right now”, I simply won’t do it.  So, installation is going to happen in a week.  It will take 4 days – one room a day.

Bedroom Office Work

With the guest bathroom mostly done and my computer stuff moved out to the new lanai office, my former office is now clear for work.  The first step as usual is the removal everything from the walls and ceiling.  So the massive fan came down and all the ikea shelves were taken down as well.

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Then the tedious process of removing the popcorn ceilings.  this time I attempted to take my time and do smaller sections, but as usual near the end, my arms got very tired from holding up bags of water-soaked popcorn texture.  It made me think that there needs to be a means of collecting the ceiling debris without gaining weight.  This idea is partially in my head as a plastic chute that reaches from the scraper down to a garbage can on the floor.  I think I can create something like this with plastic sheeting.  When it’s time to do the other bedroom, I’ll be ready for it.

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After getting the ceiling scraped, the next step is priming and painting.  But, there’s another couple of issues to address as well.  The closet of this room has some fixes that need made.  First, it is my failed attempt at a centralized wiring closet for network, phone and cable.  I had it all planned out.

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And it turned out a lot shittier than I planned.

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So all that needs to come out.  I will relocate the router and UPS to the laundry room, on the wall next to the security system cabinet.  The video and phone cabling will remain in the attic.  I have the coax splitter and equipment shelf on order already.

The other issue in the closet is an almost-hole in the ceiling.  I assume my wonderful handymen put their foot down in the wrong place while they were futzing around in the attic.  I never even noticed it for months and months.  So that will need cut out and replaced.  That will be done at the same time I patch up the holes I made with the conduit.  (What was I thinking?  It’s so trashy looking.)

Guest Bath Redo

When I first bought the house in 2005, the guest bathroom was used by the owner’s two children, one of which was a typical little girl that loved bright colors.  The bathroom was painted a bright lime green.  I lived with it for quite a while like that, but then changed it to a shade of orange to match some marble bath accessories.

Well, it’s time to change it up again.  When I changed the hardware on the cabinets, I went with an antique bronze color, which was a better look against the plum-colored cabinets than nickel.  I have matching Adorne plates for the switches and outlets as well.  But the wall color is going to be brighter, the popcorn ceiling is going to get removed, and I’ll probably convert the florescent light fixture to LED.

I have a pretty tight schedule for completion and after the first day, I’m already behind.  Day 1 was supposed to end with the popcorn off the ceiling and letting the ceiling dry.  It actually ended up with all the hardware removed off the wall and prepped for patching.  This is an example of poor planning.

*Weeks go by*

And now I have the ceiling done and painted, and the walls painted, which involved removing the toilet to paint behind it.  I still have to swap out the power outlet and switches with bronze Adone pieces, install a new curved shower rod, and I also now want to change out the faucet and shower hardware to matching bronze.

For the lighting, I did leave the soffit in place, unlike the master bath where I pulled it out.  This meant I could replace the florescent light fixture with a simple LED shop light fixture.  That may be solution in other places where florescent lights are used, like maybe the kitchen.

I’m going to learn a new skill with this project, mixing and applying grout.  The toilet was secured with a grout base, which was all broken out when I pulled it off.  Without that base, the toilet wobbles just a little bit.  It should be easy, but doing anything the first time always leaves the opportunity for mistakes.

With the grout applied, the toilet is solid.  However, the color of the paint isn’t as good as expected, so the room needs repainted.  On the plus side, when I replaced the toilet, I used a new rubber seal instead of a wax ring.  They claim it can be repositioned, and I’m guessing it can be reused, which is great since the toilet needs to come back off for repainting.

After another night of painting, which included removing and replacing the toilet, I’m now ready to replace the outlet and switches.  The outlet is GFCI protected, so it was convenient that I could change out all the switches with the breaker off while having a work light powered by the outlet.  Then I turned the breaker back on and cut the GFCI circuit to change the outlet.  I flew through the changes so fast, I didn’t realize the outlet plate was made for 3 modules, while means there was a gap.  So the next day, I pulled it apart and swapped the GFCI outlet with a standard outlet and put a USB module in the bottom so it all fit.  That saved me about $30 instead of buying a new metal wall plate.

So, aside from wall hardware like towel and paper holders, this project is complete.

Relocating Network

As mentioned on another post, I originally designed one of the bedroom closets to be my “wiring closet” and my attempt at setting it all up was pretty lame.  One of the worst parts is that technically, by code, you can’t have a power outlet in a closet.  Probably something about flammable clothing and enclosed spaces and electricity and on and on.  So that meant, I had to run an extension cord into the closet to the UPS, which fed my networking equipment.

At the time, I wanted it to be a centralized place for cable, network, and phone connections.  As time has gone on, the cable and phone connections have become much less valuable, since they have more or less become obsolete.  Further, these are not connections that change often, if ever.  There’s no reason for needing them to be in an easily accessible place.  Lastly, the networking equipment has been reduced since my original plan.  Where before I had a cable modem, router, and switch, now I only have one device that does all of that. 

So the new plan is to place the router and UPS on a shelf in the laundry room, next to the security system.  There is a power outlet high on the wall to feed to security system, so that is a perfect place to also power the router.  It’s a good central location for WiFi, too.

The first thing I did was purchase an 8-way passive coax splitter for the cable.  In my original design, I had purchased an active splitter, but was quickly disappointed that it didn’t support the extended bandwidth required for digital cable.  So I was out that money, and eventually just had a tiny 4-way splitter hanging from the ceiling.  When the splitter came in, I went right up in the attic, pulled the coax cables back up into the attic and connected them all on the new splitter.  Everything worked and that was phase one complete for the relocation.

The next step will be pulling the phone wires back up into the attic.  The wires are all joined together on a joined patch panel, and I’m undecided if I want to keep that or not.  In any case, the wires will remain in the attic.

The biggest part will be done last, relocating the network and router.  Currently, I have the network wires dropped down from the ceiling, terminated at a patch panel, then patched between the panel and the router.  My initial thought was to just terminate the drops and plug them right into the router from a hole in the ceiling.  I’m so glad I didn’t act on that right away because I thought up a much cleaner solution.  I will install a work box in the ceiling and terminate the runs at keystone jacks, then patch those from the ceiling jack to the router.  So instead of having a patch panel, I just have jacks in the ceiling.  No ugly holes.

So I have four network runs and I’ll need one coax jack for the router.  That should be a piece of cake.

And then I tried to execute my plan.  I cut a hole in the ceiling and installed the work box.  Then I climbed in the attic and tried to locate the box.  I couldn’t find it.  Back downstairs and stuffed a long zip tie up there.  Back up.  Still don’t see anything anywhere.  Back down.  Pull the box out and see there’s a sheet of wood right over the hole I cut.  Sigh.  Drill a hole through the wood and stuff the zip tie in it.  Back up in the attic.  Still don’t see a zip tie or hole anywhere.

This is getting pretty frustrating.  I take measurements of my outlet hole relative to things like the AC vent and the lighting fixture.  I go back up and by the same measurements, my outlet hole is just on the other side of a large wood structure, capped with drywall.  I go out to the shed and get an old, old drill bit I had used many years ago.  It’s like 18 inches long for drilling through ceilings and stuff.  I drill a bigger hole in my outlet, then use the bit to see if I can get to the drywall above it.  Just barely.  I try as hard as possible and then head back into the attic to see if I pierced it.  I didn’t.  By this time, I am completely worn out from squeezing through rafters and joists and balancing on 2x4s.  But I kept trying.

Next, I grab my drill, put a hole saw on it and came in from above.  Once I cut the hole, I peeked down to see if I could find the holes I made coming up from the outlet.  I didn’t see them.  I tried to make out what I was looking at and noticed the the surface below the hole seemed yellow.  Then a sick realization dawned on me.  I went back down and walked around to my front entryway.  I had just drilled a hole in my ceiling above the plant shelf.  The plant shelf was inset on the wall and was above the point I installed my wire outlet.  So that means I’ve also drilled a hole in the floor of the plant shelf as well.  I could see beside the large hole I drilled in the ceiling a heavily damaged part of ceiling where my 18” drill bit but barely managed to touch.  This is a total disaster.

Back up in the ceiling, I get more aggressive trying to locate the outlet hole.  There was a AC conduit hanging in the way and some sheet insulation and a bunch of blown insulation in the way, but I did eventually see light from below.  There was about a 1/4” of space between two wooden beams that I could slide wiring between.  And so I did.  Until I realized that two runs from the back bedroom wouldn’t reach.

So now, I had to hack up an extension for those two runs to reach their destination.  Back down and up a few more times and I ended up creating one extension and breaking another.  All I want is Internet back on my desktop.  Please.  I give up in the attic for the night and terminate the two runs from the office.  I struggle the UPS and router up on the shelf and connect the network runs.  Miraculously, it worked.

At this point, I have to extend the network lines from the bedroom, re-terminate the bedroom jacks with Adorne jacks, terminate the bedroom lines at the other end and install the face plate.  Then I can worry about fixing the holes in the ceiling in the other room.

The Future Office Progress

This room.  Originally it was an office, then it got cleared out and was pretty much empty, except for some random bins.  Then I finally got my ass in gear and had the ceiling fixed, which was a disaster in itself.  So then the room sat again.

In a tiny bit of motivation, which I thought would spur further work, I disconnected all the electrical outlets so the room could be painted.  The room sat again.  Sometimes we would need to run the window AC unit and would not have to run an extension cord from the bathroom across the floor.

In another small moment of inspiration, we primed the walls in preparation of painting.  That made a nice improvement, brightening the room, which was sort of a brownish shade.  And then the room sat again.  All this time, the conduit for the power is sitting outside, getting rained on and rusting slightly.

I brought the conduit inside finally and started at least making mental preparations to repaint it.  At around the same time, I purchased the paint for the room, so there would be one less excuse for not working on it.  The day came for painting and the color made the room more inviting.  However, not having electric in the room made it uninviting.  We still had the power cord running across the room.

The next idea for the room was painting the trim… black.  It was a bold choice.  While the trim was being done, I set to work finalizing the electric.  I painted the conduit and drilled a hole through the cinder block so I could mount a power outlet outside.  Then I reinstalled the conduit and outlet boxes, running the extra power line outside to the outlet outside.  After it was all connected, I turned the power back on and it all worked without any fires.  That’s a good sign.

Meanwhile, the black trim was turning into a wonderful design choice.  Where the borders of the windows stood out in white paint against the dark brown aluminum frames, painting the borders black made the windows blend in.

The last major thing to do to the room is to curtain the windows so it doesn’t get so ungodly hot in there and also to provide a little privacy and less sun glare when I move my computer stuff in.  Then, it’s putting some shelves on the wall and decorating.

Over the weekend, we queued up a couple of other projects to try and complete: an art wall in the bedroom, new curtains for the front window, and an exercise bar for the future garage.