Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress report...

Progress report...  We did a lot of different things today.

First, we replaced about 15 of those god-forsaken CFL pigtail bulbs with daylight LEDs – far more light, and at a color temperature we find pleasing (the old bulbs were about the amber of a smoky candle, and not much brighter).  Much better in the rooms we fixed.  The main challenge with this process is finding the right LED bulbs to fit the various fixtures.  This danged house must have 15 kinds of light bulbs in it!  And there are another 6 or 7 rooms left to go :)

Then we replaced the broken wine refrigerator with a new one.  The old refrigerator was a conventional compressor-type cooling unit (just like an ordinary kitchen refrigerator).  The new one uses a thermoelectric cooling unit (using Peltier devices), and consequently is completely silent (no moving parts).  Wine refrigerators, it turns out, are not a standard size – they vary in height, width, and depth.  So far as we could tell, there are no two the same.  The new one we bought is about 3/4" wider and 2" shorter than the one we're replacing.  It's under-counter, so that meant I had to cut 3/4" of the cabinet's facing off (there was plenty of room behind the facing).  I clamped a piece of wood in the right place to act as a guide, then used a battery-powered oscillating saw to do the cutting.  This let me cut right down to the floor and right up to the bottom of the cabinet top, and it made a very nice smooth cut.  It was so nice, in fact, that we're not going to put a trim strip up to cover the cut – it looks finished just the way it is.

Finally, we fixed a silly switch arrangement for the light in the walk-in closet in our bedroom.  That closet was originally an office when the house was first built.  The second owner converted it into a closet, installing shelving along the walls, but not changing the location of the switches and outlets.  One (of several) unfortunate consequences of this decision was that the light switch ended up on the inside of the closet, and worse, on the inside of a shelving unit.  To turn the light on, you had to walk into the closet, make a 180° turn, then fumble around in the dark between clothes on the shelf to flip the switch.  This is not what we wanted :)  So I carefully measured and cut a hole for a junction box on the bedroom side of the closet wall, adjacent to where the existing switch box is located.  Then I wired a new switch into that box, connecting it to the existing wiring inside the junction box that the old switch was mounted in.  Then I removed the old switch, and we're covering that old box with a blank plate.  Now we have a switch where it belongs – outside the closet, next to the door – very convenient.

In the process of doing that wiring, I used a tool that was new to me: a circuit breaker tracer.  I found an outlet that I guessed was on the same circuit breaker as the light, and plugged a signal transmitter into it.  That unit sends a low-power radio signal into the wire.  Then I took the tracer unit – the size and shape of a very fat carpenter's pencil – and ran it up and down the circuit breaker panel.  It squawked on one circuit breaker, and when I shut that one off, the outlets and light in the closet were all dead.  That whole process took about 60 seconds, and eliminated the need to shut off one breaker at a time to find the right one.  Very nice!

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