Thursday, June 21, 2012

electrify yourself.

Hey, it's better than electrocute yourself.

We finally had an electrician over to assess the kitchen and fix/relocate a few things. First was the refrigerator.

Per its original location, the outlet for the fridge was, reasonably, right behind it. Apparently refrigerators need to be on individual circuits (i.e., you can't just plug a fridge into any old outlet. Who knew? [Spoiler: The electricians, both of them, knew. J.J.'s dad also knew.]). (Uh, side note: Check out the awesome pile-up of probably incorrect punctuation at the end of that sentence. Sweet.)

So...circuits. Yeah. With the refrigerator in its new location...

...it needed a new circuit. You might think, like I once did when I was a young'un (i.e., about a month ago), that one could simply scoot an existing unique outlet over to a new location - or that one could use a different outlet, conveniently located adjacent to the fridge surround (behind the trash can in the picture above). You would be wrong. Two electricians confirmed that it would really be best to create a new circuit in the new location. And so it was done.

Step two was addressing the range plug. Again, with the range in a new location, I figured we could have the outlet (which is a super mega major floor outlet specially designed to handle the heavy electrical load of a range) scooted over to the new location. And, again, I was wrong (seeing a pattern? It's been repeated in my professional life lately, too). And to create a new circuit would cost about $450. Which, by the by, is about $450 more than I had budgeted for electrical work. YEAH. So much for that. The electrician offered an alternative solution, which was to cut some holes through the bases of the cabinetry between the original outlet and the new range location and snake the plug through them. You might think that sounds super janky, and how in the world would people access the plug when needed? Well, (a) I'm totally down with janky but safe and cheap solutions (sorry, future owners of this Pink House), and (b) our Ikea Hack makes it accidentally accessible.

There's about eight inches of space between the back end of the Ikea dresser that we're using as cabinetry and the wall, and the drawers are (as you can see above) removable. See the black outlet where the floor meets the wall back there? That's the range outlet. And if you squint, you can see the hole we sawed through the base of the trash cabinet. We had to buy a new, longer range cord (~$20), but it was totes cheaper than doing a new range outlet. Screw that (and, again, apologies to the folks who buy our home one day). Step two complete.

Step three (in this wildly out-of-sequence tale) had already been addressed: the microwave outlet. When we removed the old range hood, we capped off the wires and left them exposed, figuring we could have them turned into an outlet.

Old range, backsplash, cabinets, and range hood.

Out-of-focus pic of the exposed wires.

When we first had an electrician come out for an estimate (in late March), he said he could easily install an outlet where those wires were - for $225. Why the high cost? Well, we planned to build our microwave shelf there, and the electrician said he needed to furnish (wait for it...) a new freakin' circuit for that. Uh, negative, Ghost Rider. We ran our huge, hulking microwave off a random kitchen outlet for almost three years without an issue. Our new microwave is way tinier and, more to the point, just no. That's dumb.

J.J.'s dad to the rescue again.

He mounted a box to the stud and installed an outlet using the existing wires. After he repaired the back wall, I painted it and installed a "floating" shelf, which created...

...our new microwave shelf!

Don't get too attached to the new toaster on the counter. It made
a ticking noise the whole time it was on - the timer counting down
- that was unacceptable. BACK TO THE STORE WITH YOU.
Sooo loving the new shelf. And the fact that reallocating the range hood wiring for the microwave outlet was free, thanks to Mr. J.J.

At this point, the fridge, the range, and the microwave were all set - which left the new range hood. The story of ordering the range hood is a long, sordid one, full of false promises, rapidly diminishing hope, and a yet-to-be determined ending. Nevertheless, while the range hood itself is still M.I.A., the wiring for the hood is good to go. I asked the first electrician who came out to the house if we could use the original refrigerator circuit wires for the new range hood, since they're so physically close to one another. He said sure!...for the low, low cost of a jillion dollars. The second electrician (whom our inspector recommended) did it for $30. Word.

The gaping hole in the wall above the range is where the original refrigerator outlet was. The second electrician cut that out and was able to pull the wires through a new hole below the upper cabinets. The nice thing about this project is that the range hood is (GOODY SURPRISE) supposed to be on its own circuit, and this was already a unique circuit, having been originally designated for the refrigerator. Make sense? Now all we need to do is patch the lower hole...and wait for our range hood to arrive so we can install it.

The other fun surprise that arose from all this was that both electricians said they needed to repair some janky wiring (apparently that's the official electrical term of the day: janky) in the basement that the previous owners had done. It appears they had re-routed some wiring in a manner that was, shall we say, not to code. Sketchy. (Janky.) So Electrician #2, a.k.a. Mr. Reasonable Electric, fixed the open joints in the romex wiring in the basement. (I don't know what that sentence means, either. There won't be a quiz, don't worry. Unless the quiz is, "Why did Cathy's basement explode in a fiery fireball?")

Anyway, the basement sketchiness was annoying, it cost money, it was stupid - but it's fixed. And the electrical work is done. I wanted to add an outlet underneath the microwave shelf, since we'll have a new expanse of countertop there and it would be great to have a place to plug in small appliances like the mixer or the food processor...but the first electrician estimated that to cost $250, and I forgot to ask Mr. Reasonable Electric (doy), so it's not there. For now.

All in all, we spent $350 to:

  • Furnish and install a new refrigerator circuit and receptacle
  • Buy a longer range cord and saw holes through the cabinet bases
  • Turn the old range hood wires into an outlet for the microwave
  • Turn the old refrigerator outlet into open wiring for the new range hood
  • Fix the janky joists in the basement
More than my previous allotment of $0, but not too shabby considering our first estimate - $1,550. HAHAHA. No. The electrician also approved the new light fixture for over the sink (it was called into question because the manual said something to the effect of "only use this if your house was built after 1980, or else risk a fiery death"), so the next electrical step is to install that (after we have a painter come and fix the ceiling over the sink - yeah, it's that bad) and to replace the two boob lights in the ceiling (with what fixtures?!). Still deciding if it's worth having Mr. Reasonable Electric furnish an outlet by the new counter space, but I think that's going to depend on the cost of the counter itself. I had someone over today to take measurements for a countertop estimate, and it looks like that might be wayyy more than I had originally intended. The unforeseen need for an undermount sink and new faucet, along with the fact that the installers are going to have to level out the new base cabinets, might do us in. So, we'll see.

As usual, there are lots of tiny fixes to attend to (fixing the toe kicks of two base cabinets, leveling and screwing in the fridge surround, creating blocks from which the range hood will hang, patching the wall hole), as well as the final big projects (countertop, flooring, backsplash, cabinet crown moulding, pantry). The countertop will be a huge, awesome step...that won't actually happen for about a month. Step by step, baby! Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Progress, lady! It is looking great! :) Can't wait to see it in person.



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