Monday, February 04, 2013


Hey blog buddies! It's been a little while since I wrote-in with an update, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to do that.

I've been kind of lazy lately, so I haven't gotten a lot done (big surprise), but I did do SOME work.

I started fixing the electrical in the kitchen and living room. The living room already had all the outlets fixed, but I still had to move the light switch over to the left so that it would clear the new casing. So I started doing the mudding on that. Actually, I think I already posted photos of that. Oops! - short memory. I also patched those two unsightly holes in the upper corner near the new cold air stacks. Those were large holes from when they blew-in the wall insulation. They had been patched over only with paper drywall seam tape, which is why I opened them up to redo them. I suspect that many of the other insulation holes are equally poorly patched, but I’m not going through all the trouble to fix all of them (there would be one every two feet along all the exterior walls on both floors - not worth it).

The kitchen electrical is eventually going to be a big job, but I just started with moving the light switch for now, and combining it with the outlet that was only a few inches away in a separate box. I also left a centre spot for another switch for the hanging fixtures that will eventually go over the sink (maybe) and peninsula. I didn't run the wiring for that yet, but it will be ready once I get to that point.

Here are some photos of that.

This is a photo when I had just started. I was really excited about finally being able to yank off that unsightly baseboard "being used as a chair rail and poor excuse not to do the drywall seam".

The main reason for needing to move the switch and plug are threefold. In the next photo, you can see A, B, and C. A is a mark showing where the bottom of the upper cabinet will finish (18 inches up from the counter top), B is the approximate height of the backsplash, and C will be the countertop height (36"). Based on this, both outlets were too high. Because of the fire stops, they were also over the average switch height (the average height for a light switch is 48" from the floor, or lower). Some new houses have light switches closer to 36" high for handicap accessibility, but it's up to you. Most of the outlets on both floors of my house are around 50"-54" because of the fire stops, which is a bit higher than normal, but I'm only moving the ones that really need it.

Cutting the drywall (a "minute or less" job if you’re using a multi-tool):

I also moved the whole box farther away from the casing, because depending on what I use for the backsplash, I don't want the box to be right on the edge of it. I want the switches to be "in" the backsplash, with a bit of a wall-paint stripe before the casing starts.

The dimmer isn't wired yet, but it's filling the opening while I need to use the circuit (main kitchen lights).

A quick safety note: when putting two different circuits in one box, make sure that both breakers are tied together (for safety). You can use special dual breakers, or tie-bars for this.

While I was working on this circuit (the main kitchen lights circuit), I decided to finally fix the rest of it, which is just a single plug (formerly 3 of them) and a switch & light for the power room (the power room light and kitchen light(s) are on the same circuit). This proved to be a very frustrating exercise. I won’t go into all the details, since it’s long, complicated, and confusing, but basically, I got some help from my Dad (who knows way more about residential electrical and electronics than I do), and we fixed the problem.

Once I had the “power room” part of the circuit done, I returned my focus to cleaning-up and re-tacking the mess of electrical wires. I got quite a lot done.

I drilled a new hole in the floor to PROPERLY run these two wires (which were running over the edge of the basement stair opening).

A: This is a rather large and slightly alarming crack in the log. The other side is solid (no crack), and it’s not really sagging, but it’s borderline.
B: These two wires needed to be moved.
C: This is the miniature Vienna clock hanging in my Office/PC room!

And after (viewed from the opposite side):

These are all the wires that I fixed and re-tacked on some new boards/runners (B). The section marked A were done previously (about a year ago).

This last photo shows A: the new plug and light/switch that replaced the old wiring that used to be in the power room, before I demolished it, and B: newly reorganized/tacked wires. There’s still a lot left to clean-up, but it’s getting there. It’s quite time-consuming.

Next will be more drywall work, or I might do a few small woodworking projects.

OH! One last note.

If you noticed the drywall in the kitchen, you saw that they installed it horizontally. I’ve seen a few places where they recommend installing it this way, but DON’T. Here’s why:

The better way to install drywall on walls is vertically, butted-up to the ceiling. When you install it this way, all three edges are screwed to wood, and the entire perimeter is solid. The only edge with minimal support, is along the bottom, and your baseboard protects it.

When you install the drywall horizontally, however, that entire middle seam has very little support in between each stud. If you push in the wrong spot, you can easily pop the seam, or break through the drywall. It’s also at elbow height, which doesn’t help.

But the main reason NOT to install it this way is because seasonal shifting will give you a nice, permanent, and unfixable crease all the way down the wall. I took two photos from 2 rooms to show you what I mean:

This is the Office wall, just over my computer (other side of the hallway wall with the large black photo frames):

And this is the load-bearing centre wall in the dining room:

There really isn’t any good way to fix it. I can scrape it, sand it, and re-mud it, but next year it will look the same again.

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