Showing posts with label installation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label installation. Show all posts

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Adventures in closet building

The closet before

The boy has a man cold (poor little bunny) but we soldiered on and installed our Martha Stewart closet organizers this weekend. Part of that soldiering on might have been Greg drinking tea in bed while I sanded and painted but I'll never tell since I made him use the table saw while I cowered on the kitchen steps.

The system is actually pretty easy, though we had a few extra prep steps. Follow along!

For starters you'll want to get rid of this old timey shoe rack. I am totally down to keep stuff that is original to the house, but this is right smack in the middle of where the main closet unit will go.

Hey, that's the dishwasher! Wave to the kitchen--the kitchen that you can now see from the bedroom!

Take off the trim that used to hold up the shelf and scream your freaking head off because there's all kinds of ancient dessicated spiders back there. Make Greg get rid of them and then roll your eyes when he leaves LEGS behind.

Marvel at the system you've jury-rigged in the living room.

Add 2x4s and drywall to the space where the shoe rack had been.

Make sure to measure a few things wrong so you have to hack down the drywall with a kitchen knife. Measure a few more things wrong so you have to shim your 2x4s to get the drywall to sit flush with the wall. Then tape and mud your seams with some old joint compound you found in the basement. It's a little dry, but what's the worst that could happen?

Attach the metal rod thing to the wall studs. This is all that lies between your shelving system and disaster, so do it right. Accidentally knock the drill onto your big toe and throw a temper tantrum, declaring that you're hungry and you need to take a break. Go eat pizza, you big baby.

Spend a good hour or so trying to make sense of the various boxes that are in your office. Ponder why on earth you would have ordered four sets of 12-inch shelves. Once you've made sense of where things are going, hang the shelves on the metal rod thing. But first make sure to sand your new drywall ahead of schedule, ripping the tape. You know what? More dried out joint compound should fix that.

The smart way to do this would be to stop, let the compound dry, let the paint on the area where the trim was dry, paint the drywalled area and let THAT dry, but meh, screw that. Let's build it now! You can paint that area the next time Greg goes away on business. You wouldn't rather be eating a big salad and watching Vampire Diaries and sleeping with all the pillows; you're gonna want to paint some spot in the closet you never look at.

Assemble your system. Make the most beautiful pilot holes the world has ever seen and brag to Greg that if people got Academy Awards for drilling holes, there would be a little gold man on your mantle right now.

Stage your closet like they do on websites, as if people have the room to place one pair of shoes on a shelf. Once the pictures are taken CRAM, BABY CRAM.

Pour yourself a glass of wine and eat the spaghetti sauce from a jar because you're so freaking tired. High-five each other incessantly. You did it! You didn't kill each other!

Seriously though, we're really happy with our system. Of course, these shelving units are being held to the wall solely by a notch that attaches to a metal rod. And the notched units are made out of pressboard. These aren't going to last forever but they're pretty good considering we spent $350 for the whole system.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Earthquake preparedness

Man, have there been a lot of earthquakes lately or what?  Haiti, Chili, Mexicali, Spain . . . in Oregon we're right on the area where the Juan de Fuca plate is being subducted by the North American plate.  Basically, two plates are pushing against the other, creating increasing pressure.  Eventually the pressure hits a crucial point and one plate jumps a little and moves over the other.  The North American plate is overtaking the Juan de Fuca plate and all that action is taking place along the Oregon and Washington coasts.

I love dropping this knowledge at parties. Before I went to library school I intended to become a geologist.  

They estimate large earthquakes happen because of this subduction every 300-500 years.  The last one, the Cascadia quake, caused a huge tsunami in Japan and widespread damage in the Pacific Northwest.  It took place in 1700, so we're due.

I've been meaning to put safety straps on my water heater so it wouldn't fall over in the case of an earthquake.  I finally got around to buying the straps but then I was stymied by the cement walls in my basement.  I didn't want to create a potential water leak by drilling into the cement walls.  I decided this was one of those things I should hire out.  At the very least, if they make it leak I can call them and make them fix it until it's right.

I used Neil Kelly and the carpenter they sent out was absolutely the NICEST skilled laborer I've had at the house (and I've had some really nice ones).  He waterproofed the bolt holes with some sort of tar-like substance.  He also cut PVC piping to measure so the water heater wouldn't rock and hit the wall.  I definitely wouldn't have thought to do that.

All told it took an hour and $105 to complete.  Since I was already down there I decided to finally flush the water heater.  They recommend doing it once a year to get rid of the sediment that builds up at the bottom of the tank.  You just cut the power, grab a bucket, and open the valve at the bottom.

Commence brown yuckiness!

Here's to hoping all this is unnecessary and that the big one doesn't hit for another 100 years, hopefully after we've retrofitted all the bridges in Portland!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A proper range hood

There was no ventilation in my kitchen over the stove.  I did have this charming little shelf, however.

I love that shelf.

But trying to sear meat or do anything that created a lot of steam was a real pain.  I'd end up smoking out the whole house.  I hired a contractor to put in a hood because it involved cutting cabinets, electricity, duct work, and going into the attic where THE SPIDERS, OH MY GOD, THE SPIDERS are.

Did I mention I did this the Friday before Thanksgiving?  I'm stupid.

This was messy business.

It was totally worth the mess.  He even cut down my shelf so I still have a place to put my salt and pepper. I'm not sure how I would have pulled off Thanksgiving without it.  My only regret is that I bought a used hood on craigslist rather than buy a new one.  This hood is old so it will be difficult or impossible to get replacement parts, and it's LOUD.  Good thing I'm sort of deaf.  Bummer to be my perfect-hearing roommate!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The new garbage disposal!

When my parents came to visit they generously asked about a housewarming gift, and was there anything (aside from many, many fattening and delicious restaurant meals) that they could get me?  I responded, "Oh, gosh, I don't know, you don't need to get me anything . . . A GARBAGE DISPOSAL, ohpleasebuymeanewgarbagedisposal."  I'm subtle.

My old garbage disposal had some bolts and metal parts rattling around in it when I moved in.  I fished those metal parts out, but I suspect they were pieces that actually helped the disposal work.  The disposal could sort of grind up things, as long as they were soft, like tomatoes.  Anything more solid than that (apple peels, potato, lettuce) would just sort of bounce around in there until I fished it out with a spoon.  My roommate had more faith in it and would put all manner of things down it, which I would later have to fish out.

My parents and I trekked to The Home Depot and looked at disposals.  They have a helpful little box with buttons that let you hear how loud the disposal is supposedly going to be.  They have a button for the super expensive disposal (Insinkerator) which sounds like your mother, humming as she rocks you to sleep.  The next step down (still an Insinkerator) sounds marginally louder, more like someone clearing their throat.  The third button is for the Badger brand.  It sounds like a motorcycle which is being destroyed by a snarling bear with a chainsaw.

"You're not getting a Badger," Dad decreed.

They bought me an Insinkerator and even offered to pay to have it installed but I'M AN IDIOT, so I said I'd install it myself [meaning: I'd call Bill and make him flounder through it with me].  How hard could it be?

You just remove the pipes and cut the electricity to the old disposal.

You twist the unit off of the flange and disconnect the electrical wires.

Easy, breezy!  We're like a Covergirl commercial up in here, except that I neglected to shower that day, so Bill got to be all cozy with my stink, under the sink.  I'm a rotten friend.

Spend the next TWO AND A HALF HOURS trying to unscrew the flange without damaging your very old sink.  Call your friend Keith, who's in grad school and trying to write papers, for help.  Call the hardware store and see if they have any tips.  Roll your eyes when they tell you they're not familiar with the Sinkmaster 750 and just how old is it?  Finally take a screwdriver and hammer and bust the flange off, using brute force and a couple of good swear words.

High fives!  Your flange has been freed in a storm of winging plastic shards!

Give Bill a beer while you speculate about what type of superepoxy they used to glue this cusser together.  It was probably the stuff that they use to hold bridges together.

Start installing the new disposal.  This is so much easier!

Bemoan the fact that your old pipes don't fit up with your new disposal.  What a difference an inch makes.  Put all these pipes in a bag and take them to The Home Depot where you buy new pipes and extenders.  The next step is very important:

*Leave the bag of old pipes sitting on the floor at The Home Depot.*

Get home and realize that you left the bag of old pipes at the hardware store and pray that your new pipes will all work.

Thank your lucky stars that they work!  Make sure that one page of instructions, the part where they tell you to punch a hole in the dishwasher input so your dishwasher can drain through the unit, is folded under so you don't see it.  Test the disposal and scratch your head over the fact that your dishwasher now won't drain.  Really start sweating because Thanksgiving is next week and you're hosting ten people and sweet jesus, do you ever need your dishwasher to be working.

Take the disposal apart and then finally realize that you missed a page of instructions.  Punch that small-but-important hole in the dishwasher input and then marvel over the fact that everything works and nothing seems to be leaking.

Buy Bill dinner and promise him that you'll never ask him to help with home repair again, but keep your fingers crossed behind your back.

Get super excited about your new disposal which is super quiet and super effective.  Ignore that guy from high school on Facebook who claims he used to be a plumber and that garbage disposals cause more problems than they fix.  Also ignore your friend who tells you that you should never put food down your drain because it's bad for the water quality.  Pout that NOBODY EVER LETS ME HAVE ANY FUN while you feed orange peels down the drain, just for fun. 


Monday, October 5, 2009

The new furnace

I don't know why, but hiring professionals to do things makes me nervous.  The crew at Jacobs did a fantastic job on my furnace, but having to be present in the house while they installed got me all amped up.  What was that noise?  Does the fact that he asked X question mean that he doesn't know what he's doing? 

I would hate to work for me.  I'm particular, I ask too many questions, and I get my panties in a bunch at the drop of a hat.  The young man they sent over asked a lot of questions about where ducts should go, where venting should come out of the side of my house . . . things I felt he should know.  It turned out this is normal for them, that they like to arrange these things with the customer.  But at the time it seemed odd, and I came down after the first day to see the furnace looking like this:

With the white PVC ducting crossing in front of the furnace it looked . . . homemade. Like something I would build.  It really bothered me.  I suspected it would bother me for the next 25 years.  I started to worry that they had sent me an installer who didn't know what he was doing.  I called the company that morning and voiced my concerns.  They sent out a manager the next morning to smooth things over.

The installer agreed to redo the PVC exhaust so it would run behind the unit.  The manager was really nice, he assured me that everything was going well.  I was feeling better.  Then he told me, "Relax."

Have you ever had a contractor or repairman tell you to relax?  It makes me do the opposite.  It makes me angry; it's so dismissive.  Should a contractor ever stumble across this blog, DO NOT TELL WOMEN TO RELAX.

 In the end they redid the ducting and I'm very happy with everything.  The new furnace is so quiet you can barely hear it running.  I would use them again in a heartbeat, even if my blood still boils a little when I think about that stupid five letter word: relax.  Grrr.