March 20, 2013

A Snails Pace

Our little, "Let's just see what's behind this mantle" has somehow thrown us into full out Family Room Reno Mania. We've demoed, we've scraped the ceiling, we've built a wall and installed a fireplace, and now we're at that frustrating part of the reno I like to call the "Dink and Dunk Stage."  It's that part where the walls are all open and you have to complete a bunch of little, time consuming projects before you can put everything back together and make it look nice again.  It's why for weeks it can look like you're making no progress when you're actually spending every free second down there.  Here's a few of my dink and dunks...

A few eagle eyes might have noticed in the fireplace post that the cabinets that were formally sitting on the left side of the room:

Had disappeared:

Well, not disappeared, they're right here:


The Hubs and I had to move it so that we could get access to the outlet behind it.  One of the requirements of our new fireplace was that we run an electrical source to it.  We decided to save money on this part of the install and run the wire ourselves.  I had to race over to City Hall over my lunch break, which turned out to be the second hardest part, since conveniently they are only open during the hours I'm normally at work.  Once I obtained the permit, (taking a moment to introduce myself to my inspector and make him my BFF), I tore open the sheet rock, drilled holes through the studs and ran through a new 14-2 wire.

I had to turn the corner, which was a hot mess, but luckily this will all be covered up anyway.  

When we were done we just had to place strike plates over the studs (so you can't accidentally drill through the studs and hit my new wire), then covered it back up with sheet rock.  Luckily no mud and tape was necessary since our cabinet fits back over this wall and completely conceals it. Unluckily, the hardest part of the electrical was still ahead of me.  My city requires that whenever you pull an electrical permit that you change the braker on that circuit to an arch fault braker.  Which means I was doing a little of this:

 It looks a lot more intimidating than it really is.  After a pretty intense game of Follow the Wires I was able to locate the correct hot and neutral wires and install my new braker.   When my BFF inspector showed up he was all smiles and signatures.  Boo-yah!

Even though we weren't thrilled to move the cabinet, it turned out to be a blessing, as it helped us solve the big lack-of-heat, freezing-our-tails-off mystery.  You may remember that the primary reason we started this reno is because this room is so, SO cold in the winter, and we wanted a working fireplace.  There are only 2 heat vents in this pretty large room, and one of them was located at the base of this cabinet, which you can kind of see in this old photo.

I took a bunch of photos of this next part, but there was an incident involving a 4 year old and a camera (I don't want to talk about it), so I found a few photos online to help me illustrate the situation.  Turns out these cabinets weren't original to the house, they were added by a previous home owner.  When they added them, the base of one of the cabinets landed directly on top of the heat vent, and instead of adjusting or rebuilding the cabinet so that the heat could be properly vented, they just plopped it down on top of the vent and called it a day.  
Not my cabinet, but pretty good photo I found to describe the situation.
Which means there was little to no warm air coming out from that vent in the kick plate.  Most of the hot air was trapped under the cabinet, keeping the mouse poop warm.  Efficient.  

So once the electrical was done we had to do a bit of duct work and wood working before we could put the cabinet back.  That big hole in our floor is the vent.

Basically I attached a 90 degree angle piece sort of like this: (Sorry folks, my photos were better, but this is the best I could find on the interwebs.)

Then I attached a stack piece like this to it so that the air could flow directly out of the vent, turn the 90 degree corner, the straight out through the bottom of the cabinet.  I used foil duct tape, not actual duct tape, left over from my previous bath fan install projects (in the Downstairs Bath and the Main Bath) to connect my joints.


Then I had to rebuild the bottom of the cabinet so that the base no longer came down in the center of the vent, but created a channel that my new venting could fit into.

 So when we finally placed the cabinet back on the venting comes straight out in line with the kick plate of the cabinet. 

Now all I had to do is place a air vent plate in front, which of course couldn't be easy and requires that I cut the new vent we bought to fit.  Dink and dunk.  We'll get to it eventually.

The next little project was preparing the wall for our TV which will be mounted.  I love the cord hider product that we used to mount the TV up in our Living Room, so the plan was to do that again.  

Unfortunately these basement walls are insulated with a stiff foam board behind the drywall, which prevents our cords from being able to fish through.  So first step was to find the stud, and measure out the portion of the wall I would need to remove. (I find the stud first so that when I go to patch my drywall back up, I have a stud to attach it to.)

 Then I used my favorite tool, our Dremel Multi Max to quickly cut out the drywall and foam board behind it.  I also used our hole saw bit to drill holes at the top and bottom of the channel to feed the wires through.

Ignore that second hole down at the bottom, it was made by a previous homeowner.  I'm not sure why.

With the foam removed from the channel, and a path cleared to run the wires, I could patch our wall back up with drywall.  Don't worry Dad- I do plan to spray foam insulation back in this channel after we run the wires so we won't be letting in all that cold air.

Messy mud and taping to come next, and then hopefully we can finally start painting.  In the mean time we're working on a few more big projects down there.  I can't wait to show you what's next! But what about you guys- has anyone else been in the Dink and Dunk stage of a reno before?  Am I the only one who can't stand the snails pace of it all?  I know I said I was going to take it easy this time around and go slow, but just want to get this project complete already. 

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