Friday, March 21, 2008

Burning Down the House

Here's hoping that title is only satirical, and not prophetic: today, my father and I did an exploratory mission into the attic to deal with the rest of the old, old wiring that's up there - wiring that is all of the lighting and outlets on the second floor.

Thing is, of all the things that I thought I would be able to handle as a homeowner, electrical work was at the bottom. But it turned out that I had something of a skill for at - at least it made sense to me, and as long as you're really careful and thorough in your work, you can feel pretty confident about it. Whereas things that I thought would be easy and straightforward - replacing the gutters, for example, turned out to be a symphony of incompetence.

Anyhow, the plan is to replace the cabling for the ceiling fixtures and outlets in the hall, master and guest/baby room. Thankfully, when we redid the bathroom over the last couple of years, I had an electrician come in and run not one but two new lines up for it, so the load on the one circuit breaker that up until that point had powered the entire second floor and the attic has now been split by at least a half.

The new cables will run through the beams, rather than resting on top of them, which means I can lay down a nicer floor and maybe make the place less of a hellhole overall. First things first, though - we need to get all of the crap that's up there out, which amounts to a couple of truckloads of thirty years of junk that the family didn't want but couldn't bear to throw away - such as my father's collection of Scientific American that goes back to the mid-60's.

I'm a pack rat myself (I am my father's son, after all), so I can sympathize, but when you have issues of a science journal so old that later issues start to disprove the earlier ones, I think it's probably time to just send them to the recycling pile. And given the current editorial voice of the magazine, that's probably the way they'd want it.

We're also going to replace all the crappy old insulation. The most difficult removal will be the old ballast tank for the original radiator system. By my estimate, it's probably about three hundred pounds - which means there's no way we're carrying it out of here. If we try, they'll have to carry us out. Various solutions come to mind - torch cutting, rolling it over to the window and tossing it out - but none are particularly appealing. I can see why it was left up there after its days of service were over.

Anyway, that's my spring and early summer, in a nutshell. Somewhere in there, the master bedroom will be patched and painted - the last room on the floor to be done. And whenever I do that, I replace the ceiling fixture and outlets. The fixture in the master bedroom is a light/fan, and it's probably approaching three decades of service. Oh, the sounds the fan makes. So that will be good to get rid of.

Again: all in the future, and a busy future it looks to be. But today? I fixed Yesenia's nightstand lamp. New socket.

One step at a time.


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