Home renos

Dishwasher repair: success.

December 26, 2021 Home renos No comments , , ,

We have a Meile dishwasher that failed about a year ago.  Sofia’s sleuthing led us to believe that this little part, a fill valve, was to blame.  People with Meile dishwashers have reported having to replace this little part multiple times.

We were confident enough that this was the source of our issues, that we went ahead and cut the original out, expecting to be able to find a replacement part easily.  It turns out that it was not so easy.  To get a branded replacement, we weren’t finding anything less than about $250 (some of which had the right part number but sold in the UK where they use 220V lines.)  At that price, it is tempting to just ditch the dishwasher and get a replacement, however, this is a stupidly expensive false front unit that has a cover that matches the other cabinetry.  I don’t expect that we could have pried that facade off easily to replace the unit, and if we had to, who knows where we could have gotten a replacement facade (assuming it was destroyed attempting to remove it from the old dishwasher.)

Anyways, after way too many months of hand washing our dishes, we finally gambled on a generic replacement ($35+$10 shipping CAD):

It’s a single solenoid GE component, but it worked!  Two additional parts were required, the first of which was a 3/8″ -> 3/8″ interior to exterior elbow (somehow I had one of these in my drawer of random plumbing related crap), and the second of which was a set of crimp on electrical connectors ($6 for a package of them at home depot.)  It took me two tried to get the connection not to leak (it dribbled a tiny little bit each dishwasher cycle), as I hadn’t put enough teflon tape on the connection between the fill hose, and the elbow.

Kudos to Youtube’s Scottthefixitguy, as his video on Miele fill valve replacement video was perfect instruction for this operation!

All is now well, and we are already enjoying not hand washing the dishes.  It’s amazing how much time that has added up to over the last year or so.  We should have braved the generic replacement fill valve months ago!  Total cost (parts, shipping, labour;) was only ~$50 CAD.

Building my new “garage”

November 12, 2020 Home renos No comments , , , , , , , ,

I managed to sneak in a day off of work (split over two days), and built a space for all the tools that I used to keep in my double car garage. We’ve been in the new downtown house now for a year, and had most of the old house cleared out except for the garage. You can accumulate a lot of stuff in 20 years of home ownership, and moving from a house with a double car garage to a no-garage house, was quite a challenge. After many panic-demic induced delays, we eventually finished the renos on the old house, and sold it.  I’m really enjoying the new neighbourhood, where I can walk to just about everything I need, but there’s a few things that I miss from the old house:

  1. The garage!
  2. Parking spaces (6 not including the garage — I won’t miss shovelling that driveway!)
  3. The pool.
  4. The hottub.

However, number 1 — the garage, has been the most challenging.  We’ve had stuff from the garage all over the house, in the sheds in the back yard, and a whole lot of it on the back deck under a tarp.  We replaced our washer and dryer with a stacking unit to maximize the space, and I’ve now built some heavy duty shelves next to it for all the tools and toolboxes:

I’ve drilled three rows of holes, each 2″ apart, so that I can adjust the height of the shelves.  I’ve fixed the middle and the top shelf for stability.  I also tacked in the shelf on the bottom with a couple screws and should put some sort of fixed back brace, or a bottom piece so that the side supports cannot spread.  That will have to be later, since I’m out of wood (I had to scrounge a bit and my top most adjustable shelf is not big enough — so that one is temporary too.)

We may redo the plumbing on the other side of the washer dryer too. We have some long multiple hose runs, one of which leaked at one point, because of a degraded washer.   It would be better to put one of those tidy washer/dryer plumbing boxes right in the wall near the washer dryer instead of the current leak ready to happen system.  That would allow for eliminating all the too-long hoses, and give us a chance to fully optimize the long laundry closet for storage.  That and the opposite storage unit is the closest that we will get to a “garage” in the new house.

In the 2o year accumulation of stuff, I have a whole lot of tools that actually need to go.  Some of these were dad’s, and I didn’t have the heart to toss them, but it would be better to find them homes with people that will actively use them.  At the bare minimum, some of these excess tools should go to people who actually have storage space to be hoarders, something that we can no longer do.  Now that I have things arrayed in an accessible fashion, it’s time for the big sort, and then the purge after the sort.

Final touches for the kitchen renovation are now done.

June 22, 2020 Home renos 1 comment ,

Today included a second coat of paint, cleanup, and little bits of detailing.  The kitchen is now fully operational, and looking pretty sharp:

I also got the 2nd coat in the front foyer done today — we were saving that painting for last since we didn’t want traffic in and out of the house messing it up, and it’s looking good too (especially having removed the “popcorn” stucco from the ceiling.)

For anybody who had seen the old kitchen, observe that there is no longer a microwave embedded in the staircase for the basement (replaced with a more sensible microwave/range-hood combination.)

The bulkheads that on the fridge side of the kitchen are also now gone, and we were able to put in awesome floor to ceiling cabinets.  This will provide the new owners with lots of space!

patching plaster and lathe: no strapping required!

February 29, 2020 Home renos No comments , ,

I’d never had to patch holes in plaster and lathe before, and proceeded in the normal fashion, trying to slip strapping into the hole like you would with drywall.  That was really difficult (at least in the small holes I was trying to patch.)

I got smarter on my second hole, and used the lathe itself as the strapping.  All I had to do was cut the hole a bit bigger than my hole, like so:

then I was able to anchor my filler piece of drywall nicely using the lathe

my first coat in the closet side is a bit messy since that side it just plaster and lathe and very uneven

but on the outside side of this wall, where we have drywall on plaster on lathe, the patch will be nice and smooth:

This is a new switch for the wall sconce light outlet that we presume was a wall sconce that had its own switch initially.

I had some trouble using my new trick on one of my four holes, since the plaster and lathe in that section was thinner than my drywall.  In that section, I tried trimming my filler drywall edgewise, which didn’t work too well, since it cracked once screwed in, but it was good enough to hold the mud in place, so it all worked out in the end.

Kitchen progress, we have a floor!

February 24, 2020 Home renos No comments , , ,

Our contractor installed the new kitchen tiles this weekend, and I think it’s looking pretty good, even without the grout:

There’s still some finicky work with the thresholds to do, but we should be able to get the cabinet installers in to do their work soon.

We spent some time at the house too. Sofia got tons of the remaining chaos under control, and I putzed away, patching up the giant holes in Connor’s old room’s closet, which we ripped the plumbing and electrical out of (there was improperly installed plumbing and electrical in there for a 2nd floor laundry.)

The holes in the floor are because the old owner didn’t properly replace the subfloor that he massacred to run his plumbing and electical (on one side he didn’t have anything at all, and just covered it up the hole with some click-together hardwood). I have some nice solid plywood that I’ll put in here to replace the missing OSB, but I couldn’t do that this weekend (at least easily) without my table saw, which was at the new-house. I’ll also screw in a parallel section of 2×6 on the right hand side of the closet to strengthen the joist, which was also massacred a bit — that’s probably overkill, but I may as well while the floor is open.

Building a cantilever TV stand

February 17, 2020 Home renos No comments , ,

The basement den in the new house has a really nice built in TV cabinet.

The problem is that gargantuan TVs are too cheap these days, and the one we bought a couple years ago doesn’t fit.  We’ve had the TV propped up in front of the built in cabinet on a temporary stand (the one we used at the old house.)  Our plan was to build a cantilever shelf that just fits into the built in cabinet, which would support the TV, and is non-destructive.  Should we get rid of the current behemoth for a smaller TV, we could just take out the cantilever unit, and things would basically be back to the original state.

I wanted to match character with the original unit, which appears to be built from 3/4″ MDF, and has tasteful lips around all the basic boxes like so

These edges are all 1.5″ thick, 2x the width of the stock used for the box portions of the unit.  Here’s what I built (still not sanded, nor painted)

This is a big shelf, “weighing in” at 51″ wide.  Since I had a left over wide shelf reinforcing bar, I’ve used that underneath

My joinery isn’t perfect, and looked pretty bad before sanding, especially with the glue smears, showing.

After a hand-sand this looked much better.  Only the portion at the very front really needs to be sanded, since the rest will be hidden.  I’ve got to pick up my sander from the old house, and give things a good once over before priming and painting.

Because the shelf and the TV are both big and awkward, I’ve installed it temporarily, even though it’s not sanded and painted yet.  This will keep the TV out of the way for now:

Kitchen renovation progress.

February 1, 2020 Home renos 2 comments ,

We are making good progress on the kitchen renovation (a _lot_ of it over the last couple days). Here’s a couple weeks ago with the cabinets and backspash removed

then Friday with some of the tile removed:

yesterday, with the tiles, subfloor and unsavable drywall removed

and finally today, after piles of back breaking work and bruises and scratches (removing old tile is not easy!), we’ve got things cleaned up

The wall that had been butchered by the first owners of the house is rebuilt, ready for new drywall on both sides (no more microwave cavity in the stairwell.)

We’ll have to take out the electrical outlet in the stairwell, and fix up the stairwell sconce, which had been “installed” without a standard octagon box.

I was glad to see that the kitchen outlets were all run properly, so we don’t have to cut into the subfloor to run new lines back to the panel.

Next steps:

  • choose and order tile, and underlay material
  • rough in plumbing
  • drywall and flooring installation
  • priming
  • cabinet and appliance installation
  • trimwork and finishing.

An easy fix for a loose electrical outlet

September 1, 2019 Home renos No comments

We’ve had a dangerously seeming loose wall outlet since we moved in, and I’ve been meaning to deal with it forever. This was one of those little projects that I procrastinated forever, since it was one that I figured would be messy, but also one that I knew I wouldn’t know what I had to do until I started.

Here’s the outlet with the cover off

one side sticks out about 3/8″ of an inch, and the whole thing is loose, with about a 1/4″ of play in many spots.

As it turned out, the stud that the outlet was attached to was rotated about 35 degrees, which was the root of the problem. You can see that in this picture, if you look closely, as I have the blade of the drywall saw at the bottom of the hole perpendicular to the wall surface, and touching the back edge of the stud:

I ended up cutting a giant hole, big enough that I could try to run a new parallel stud. However, reaching in to my giant hole, I found that there was enough slack that I could reroute the wires to the unused box beside it. That unused box had an unused telephone wire it, and has always had a blank cover plate on it:

Despite being a box for telephone wire, it wasn’t a low voltage box, but was a standard electrical grade box, so I was able to fix the loose outlet by just recycling the unused box for the once loose outlet:


Now I just have a hole to patch:

I’ve put in strapping to anchor the drywall patch to, but it seems that I’ve thrown out all my drywall scraps, so the next steps will have to wait a bit.

The danger of a loose electrical outlet (and sloppy wiring)

September 8, 2018 Home renos No comments ,

Check out this scorched electrical outlet and the inside of the cover plate:

It’s a bit hard to see from this picture, but the screw is actually partially melted.  This happened when Sofia pulled her computer’s A/C adapter out of the wall, which resulted in a large spark, and that circuit blowing, leaving her in the dark.

I think this one is not actually the fault of the last owner of the house (who I won’t name, and who did lots of dangerous wiring), but was due to the effects of time, and a slightly lazy electrician.  The electrical box is slightly deformed pushing it on the right towards the hot screws of the outlet, and the outlet was wired up with the “quick wire” method, with the wires plugged directly into the back of the outlet, not using the screws on the sides.  Unfortunately, the hot screws were left sticking out fully (although the neutrals were screwed in nice and tight).  In the thirty years since the house was built, I think the outlet loosened enough that the furthest out hot screw touched the outlet box when the outlet was moved slightly pulling out the cord.  This shorted it nicely (scaring the hell out of Sofia), and toasting the outlet nicely.  Needless to say, I did not try to recycle this one, and it’s going in the trash.

There’s another loose outlet on the first floor that I’ve been meaning to fix.  I’m definitely going to get that opened up soon, and tighten it up — seeing the giant scorch marks on this one really highlights how dangerous that could be.

The original owner of my house didn’t like grounding circuits?!!

August 27, 2018 Home renos No comments , ,

Each time I open an electrical outlet in my house that looks like it wasn’t original, I expect to be horrified. The original owner of my house did some very sloppy wiring. I had dangling wires all over the basement (he hid those with a drop ceiling), but I was able to tidy up without too much trouble.  He also seemed to have a general aversion to physically connecting any ground wires.  I found another example of this when I took off the old bathroom light:

Notice how there’s no ground wire attached to this box. It was even more mysterious before I starting trying to cut into the drywall beside the outlet, which was exploratory. I wanted to see if the ground wire had been cut before it was fed into the box. I was also curious about the non-standard electrical connector (i.e. it’s not a clamp) that had been used to feed the wire through.

What I found was another electrical box that was plastered over, which I believe is an Ontario electrical code violation. Here’s what it looked like after I took off the cover plate:

The wire that was fed into the box that the bathroom light was connected to passed through a piece of gas fitting pipe, which was loosely connected with a pair of twisty nuts (one removed in the picture above). I suppose that there was some ground connection of the secondary box through the gas-fitting pipe, but it wasn’t in very securely, and isn’t what I’d want to protect my house from catching on fire due to bad electrical wiring.

Incidentally, that secondary box wasn’t physically connected to a stud at all. What held it in place was:

  1. The loosely connected gas fitting pipe.
  2. Plaster.
  3. Kleenex or toilet paper that had been jammed into the hole, against the side of the box like so:

The Kleenex had some drywall compound on it, and it was that combination of drywall compound, Kleenex, and the loose gas fitting pipe that was supporting the light. Needless to say, that light sagged a bit, but I hadn’t gotten to handling it until now.

We now have a light that is properly grounded, and physically connected to the original wiring box:

I haven’t actually filled in the hole left by removing the secondary octagon box yet, and have temporarily installed the light in the bathroom so the space is usable. I thought I was almost finished the patching in the bathroom, but now have some more to do.

%d bloggers like this: