Friday, November 21, 2014

Electrical Musings

...Sounds like an album name, doesn't it?  Sure it does.

Right.  Anyway.  So, there has a big big long gap between framing the closet, moving the door, and getting the new window in. And there's sort of a good reason.

Halfway though the demo, we realized we needed an electrical permit, because we would be moving outlets as well.  We called to confirm, and yes, we were supposed to have them.

14-2G wires.  I got to see a lot of these.

This actually changed our direction a little bit.  ... and we've actually added on a fair amount of electrical work to our other plans.  That's the big reason why this 'simple' project isn't done yet, and why I haven't had any time to post...  electrical work is time consuming!  Plus having the power off in the living room where our computer lives isn't helpful either.

So what started from a super basic plan, now encompasses a whole lot more.  After talking to an electrician and taking 3 weeks deciding on priorities and budgeting, we ended up with what we were adding to the permit:

The Plan
Upgrade all switches to white ones
Upgrade all outlets to white tamper resistant outlets

Remove lightswitch from upstairs hall, and rewire other switch
Add outlet to upstairs hall

Add recessed lights for eve's room
Re-rout switch from outlet to lights
Add extra outlets to Eve's room in key places

Add extra outlets to Boys room behind dresser
Add ceiling light
Re-rout switch from outlet to light
Move switches from demp and under window

Add smoke alarms to all three bedrooms, wired to the existing hardwired smoke alarms (recommended by the electrician)
Add closet light to new closet w/switch
Add outlet for dustbuster in new closet

Add recessed lights in office
Add recessed lights in livingroom
Add extra outlets in livingroom where needed (computer, TV, etc)
Finish coax installation behind TV 
Replace and fix the dimmer switch in dining room (one switch was switching the other switch, not the light itself).
And even though we really really wanted to do more, we decided it was best to limit the scope to rooms we were already working on.  So we did shelf a few important items for later.  After talking with an electrician, it seemed like it would be fine to wait for now.
On hold
Upgrade main panel
Add GFCI outlets on 3 sides of the house (deck, porch, garage)
Install fan w/ vent in bathroom
So, I'm going to keep this short... because I honestly can't remember that many details. We decided to try the all of the work on our own.  Despite having an electrician come in and give us a quote, we decided that we could put on hold everything that was way out of our comfort zone..... and attempt just the things only slightly out of our comfort zone.  The electrician was super kind though, and gave us a lot of advice that made us feel more comfortable doing it ourselves (perhaps unbeknownst to him).  He'll be back someday to fulfill our on hold list, for sure.

::: Awkward pause :::

Hey, want to see some random pictures I took in the process with minor commentary?  Great!

We upgraded our old smoke alarms, that were definitely past the replace every 10 years mark.  I'm glad to have not expired alarms... as well as the upgrade from dirty yellow to white.

 Many of my pictures look like this, or the one at the top.  Not really anything for the blog, but record keeping of what we were doing.  Plus, the sticking the camera in the wall gave us a lot of direction as to what was happening.  By the end of it though, we knew what we were doing without having to refresh ourselves with pictures.

Closet hall getting ready for some boxes.  So easy to run wires in the open walls.

 A little harder to remove and run wires in the closed walls.  By some miracle though, my arm fits into those tiny holes. Barely though, and I had lots of drywall cuts by the time I was done. It really saved us some drywall damage where we had to add outlets. 

Here's just a couple pictures from the recessed lights that honestly, we hadn't even thought of ever doing, until two weeks after the demo.  We new we wanted some sort of ceiling light eventually, though.  The conversation went something like this.
"So.. if we have to install a switch in the new wall, maybe we should put in some ceiling lights now, like we wanted to have someday.  The electrician said if we ever wanted them, now is the time to do it."
"Yeah.  That makes sense.  Where?"
"Well.... it would be good to be the center of each of the rooms, but... I don't want to hit a ceiling fixture every time we play Just Dance."
"Oh. Yeah."
"Think we recessed lights would work?"
"Um.....  sure."
So the reason we have recessed lights is because we play Just Dance.  Whatever.  It's our house.

Cutting the holes wasn't too bad.  Although some idiot (me) mis-measured and one row of lights one side of the room are 3" off.

It. may. just. kill. me.

Joking aside, the perfectionist in me will relocate those lights if we ever do get rid of that hideous popcorn ceiling that we both hate.  Must not think about those lights.

Some where back before we started the electrical work, I framed up the wall that was going in the living room.  However, it dawned on me that we should use the hole to run the wires before we tipped it up.  The electrician heartily agreed.  So our new wall sat there on the floor for about three weeks. It's funny how many people actually preferred walking on the boards instead of the floor.  Even the electrician paced on them a bit while we were talking.  (And needless to say, my kids loved them too).

 Once the cans were wired, we were finally able to block off that opening in the ceiling with the wall.  So wonderful to finally see it in place!


So, that's all I really have to show.  It's not much.  For those not familar with the rough in inspection, it's fairly simple.  All boxes in and wires need to be run, stapled and stripped, but with no switches, or outlets on them.  Any new walls have to be exposed (no drywall), as well as new insulation and window flashing.  Any retrofit work isn't really checked in detail.

...but we broke the rule a little bit.  We were sick of having no ceiling lights in the dining and hall... and we realized that there was only one wire that was impacted by our demo. So just rewired an existing 4-way switch to a 3-way switch as planned...  but before the inspection.  It was retrofit, anyway, so there wasn't much they would check eitherway.

Oh man.  Being about to turn on these lights on after being off for 26 days of darkness was amazing.  Our hallway and outdoor lights were on that circuit as well, so that was an added bonus to have those back.  It was another 19 days after we 'cheated' that we actually had the rough in inspection done... so it was totally worth it.
Messes aren't really the priority during a reno
In the last two days we ended up rushing like crazy to get the electrical to a roughed in, inspect-able state... so I don't actually have any pictures that are completed rough-in.  We in such a hurry because eWe really wanted to be able to start sealing in the siding around Eve's window thanksgiving break (snow is coming!).

I took time of on Thursday morning inspection, which really was our last shot to make our thanksgiving goal. The inspector came... and we passed!  We didn't even need an electrician to come bail us out when we got stuck (which was actually part of our plan - try it until we're in over our heads). Felt pretty darn good.

I have to say, the Black and Decker book I picked up on a whim when I started this project really, really helped us out on many occasions. The wiring diagrams were wonderful in that book, and really helped us figure out what we had and what we needed.  I knew almost nothing about a wiring a house, and now I'm feeling pretty darn confident with the basics.

Next up though... siding and drywall!

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