Saturday, November 16, 2013

Things That Make You Go Hmm..

Our deck certainly makes me think hmm...  I've spent a fair amount of time under there trying to find the most likely failure points, and morph together when each section was built in relation to each other.  Each time I was under or on our deck though, I looked this dryer vent in disappointment.  At least I can attempt to something about that this year.

The inspector said "Ah, a homeowner special" as we walked by it.  We could tell.  I have no idea why they would put through the deck.   Keep out animals?  Keep it from being buried in the snow?  Those are my best guesses, but honestly, I have no idea.

Figuring out how to fix it was a more challenging then I had anticipated.  When we bought the house, the dryer was crushing a large rolled up pile of the flexible vent.  To it keep it un-crushed, we needed to move the dryer out, which hit the heater, which made us move the whole thing awkwardly to the side.  To complicate the matter,  there's a stud right near the corner of the wall, so we couldn't have exit vent all the way to the back. One of the goals was that we wanted the dryer to stick out only as much as the washer, and not eat up the toilet space (Ew, that sounds wrong).  We were hoping we could get the dryer far enough back that it would fit behind the heater, but that wasn't a huge deal.  We can always cut down the counter at the end of the bathroom to fix that.

One option would be making the dryer vent right out the side.  Googling led me to believe that doing that, in that small of a room, would be really,  really tough, so that was out. 

So, we pretty much bought every kind of dryer vent solution we could.  telescoping low profile, plastic elbows, adjustable metal elbows, long straights, etc.  I think this project had more returns than any other project I've done.  Finally we came to some sort of crappy plan and just went with it.

First I had to climb behind the dryer and pulled out the old dryer duct.  That duct was around 10 feet long.  Surprisingly, it hadn't accumulated as much lint as I expected. Then I climbed back out and pulled took the vent off.  I won't give much more climbing blow by blows, but, I'm gonna say, I got good at climbing in and out of there (and am much less claustrophobic).

I unscrewed the old vent and took it off.  Then there was a I punched a jagged shaped hole in the wall with my rippling DIY muscles!  Come on, you know you'd do it too :)

Back inside, I used the bottom of a small paint can, the same size as the 4" vent's duct, to trace out a circle.  The duct that came on the back of the vent was 'rigid duct' but still too wiggly to trace it easily. And because space was so tight between the wall and cabinet, I couldn't fit any tools in there.  So instead, I employed the help of just a jigsaw bit.  Yes.  Just the bit.  Totally ghetto, I know, and my hand was aching but the end of it, but I made a REALLY nice circle.  It was sweeet!  (Since then though, I've decided that a jab saw is a good purchase, though).

Like the inside materials, I had to buy more than one dryer vent as well.  This was our first one, and it wasn't made for vinyl siding.  In fact, I had no idea how I could reconcile to two together. Thankfully I stumbled on one with integrated J-channels at our local building supply store a few weeks later that was perfect (after Jon struck out on finding one in the big box stores).  

Somehow, my sort of random hole in the wall ended up being perfectly centered in one piece of siding.  That. Was pretty lucky.  I figured a decent strategy to cut the outside hole so that it aligned with the inside.  First I placed the dryer vent backwards in the hole (from the inside), so that the rigid duct was up against the plywood.  A little bit of measuring led me to a general area and I was able to drill I pilot hole.  With that I could see enough to make a small enough hole gauge where I the edges were.  Then I used the jigsaw to make cuts across vertically and horizontally until I was just barely not touching the duct. I brought out the paint can again and used those 4 points I just cut to get my circle.  Now I could jigsaw the circle out easy as pie.

Flexible duct, like what came with the house, is not recommended for dryer vents.  However, I found online that semi-rigid ducts are acceptable.  I went the simple route and just bought a short roll of this stuff, and it seems to work fine.  We decided to have the vent above the dryer for a couple reasons.  It meant we could push the dyer all the way back, flush with the washer, but still exit in a way that would avoid the stud next to the back wall.  Plus, we can access the attachment point for easier cleaning of the duct.  It is a little ugly, but I'm hoping to make some sort of cover.

The last part of the repair was fixing the old hole.  I'm gonna have to confess, it sat un-fixed for about a month.  I did place a little bit of house wrap of the top of the hole, but that's about it.

But once it hit 30°F for several days, I started panicking.   I had other pressing holes in the wall (which I'll blog about someday), but I still didn't like this small one either.

I had commandeered my Mom's rigid oscillating tool, and made the circle a square.  (Sidenote, I love my Mom's oscillating tool.  Every homeowner should have one, it's so helpful.  My Mom has this one, which works great, but Jon and I are thinking about getting this one.)

I had a tough time cutting the bottom section because the plywood was so spongy.  At first I was worried that condensation had caused it from leaving the hole open for a while, but when I felt around a little more in that area above the deck flashing, all that plywood fell yucky :(  We expected we'd have to replace sheathing when we did the deck, so it's not a surprise.  But still not something I want to think about.

So since the bottom area is likely going to be replaced next year when we do the deck, I clearly didn't bother to do a very good job.  It was 30°F when I was outside doing this, you know.  I might fill it in with "Great Stuff" though to keep it more weather sealed later.

So that's where we ended up!  Thankfully, because I was adding one hole and covering another, I was able to shift around the siding in that area evenly.  Although the area around the vent would look better as once piece instead of two, it's so nice to finally have siding in that section of the building.  (and I know, I still have put on a piece for that little gap, which is... somewhere (?) in my house).  I  need to buy siding for other parts of my house at this point, so I could revisit this area again... but I'm telling you, figuring out the company that made our siding is turning out to be a REAL pain.  We'll see how that pans out.

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