Sunday, August 15, 2010

No More leaning towers of dishes....

Throughout our lifetime, we will encounter responsibilities that will never go away. If we are lucky, we will be able to pass those responsibilities onto someone else. But the odds of that are extremely slim…The responsibilities that I am referring to are household tasks that never go away. As a youth, household tasks were usually delegated due to a punishment and/or a source of allowance. Some of the household tasks that never go away are laundry, dishes, trash removal, and mopping. I personally believe that most of the tasks mentioned are minimal in time to accomplish…But are needed to satisfy our cleanliness meter... I mean, to be honest we really don’t have to clean anything, but people would start to talk… There is one task that I truly dislike. That responsibility is dishes. Here is an example how much I hate dishes… As a teenage I actually had quit a job because I was scheduled to wash pots and pans for 8 hours straight. I could not deal with the soggy factor, thus I quit…

I honestly dislike the dish pan hands after spending 20 minutes of washing. Additionally the wasted time spend standing over a sink of dirty dishes. My problem is that I enjoy cooking. I would cook a large meal and have an excess amount of dishes. To be honest, I would be ok with cooking, if someone else did the dishes. However, I live alone in this house, but that is truly another story….

I have to admit that my dish washing quality is really not up to standards… I mean I fall short of the 100% cleaning mark by half. It’s completely embarrassing to offer someone a drink and realize a spot of muck on the glass. So when the installation of the dishwasher was next on the list, my motivation was extremely high… I was even more motivated when I realize that the dishes were piling higher and were beginning to fester something frightening.

Prior to installing the dishwasher, I had to cut an access hole into the side of the sink base cabinet. I then had to adjust the existing electrical outlet closer to the dishwasher access hole. When I installed the sink, I purposely installed the drain line for the dishwasher, so I would only need to install the dishwasher drain directly. Surprisingly the manufacturing dishwasher instructions were extremely easy to follow.

For the dishwasher, since I didn't want to hard wire directly to the power, I decided to install a 3 prong plug that came with the dishwasher. I figured in case of emergency, it would be easier to disconnect the dishwasher power without any true issues. I also changed the existing plug with a GFI (also known as GFCI) which means Ground Fault (Circuit) Interrupter.

Whenever electricity is used in a damp location, a minor fault can cause a dangerous shock even though the circuit is properly grounded, thus a GFI is used to interrupt that shock. Basically, a GFI outlet monitors the current flowing through both the hot and neutral wires. If there is a difference between them that usually means an external source is causing a current differential. That external source causing the differential is usually a person. The GFI watches for this difference and shuts off power to the circuit if an imbalance is detected.

When wet, you become a conductor and the GFI will detect the current flowing through you and shut the power off. A normal breaker will only shut off if your body happens to overload the circuit, the odds of you overloading the circuit is unlikely.

So let’s get to the point. So prior to installing the dishwasher, I wrote a little note on the wall… I figured someday someone would want to revamp the kitchen as well. This will at least give them an idea when it was last updated.

Here is the dishwasher installed prior to actually using it.

You will note the cluttered counter top with the dish rack.

Now look at the counter without the clutter… Nice, I’m extremely pleased with the new look. So now the dishwasher is installed. Next on the list will be to paint the walls and upper cabinets in the kitchen. Then install the new floor…That is it for now… until next, happy building…

Sunday, August 1, 2010

If this was your vacation, I'd hate to know what you do for fun...

Now that the bat situation is somewhat under control (I like to believe it is). I can now move onto other things around the house. Over the previous week, I’ve been on vacation from work. It was the perfect time to begin a large project. One that would require a lot of attention once it began. The biggest problem was that I had a serious back problem that required a lot of attention. So I called in re-enforcements to help me with the kitchen… my nephews. Without their help, I’d probably still be struggling with lifting the cabinets alone.

Prior to the bat situation, I’ve been patiently working on the kitchen. I started with the ceiling, by exposing the wonderful tin and installed the crown molding. I also half heartily painted the walls… I wanted to paint the walls completely prior to installing new cabinets but my vacation time was coming on too quickly. So I paused on the painting and started the kitchen update.

Let’s review the reasons for the cabinet update

Cabinet doors did not close properly
Drawers face missing or damaged
Repaired drawers with duct tape

Duct tape drawer
No dishwasher

Everything needed to be removed from the kitchen prior to actually doing any demolition. For the next week, my house was completely turned upside down from empting the kitchen.

Kitchen table with pots and pans in the bedroom
Cleaning supplies and utensils in the living room


Once the old cabinet was removed, through the wall it would appear that there was a door. It looks like the previous owners had installed a wall to cover up the door that goes into the back hallway. I’m ok with the wall because it gives more space for cabinets in the kitchen.
Next was the main cabinet. The base under the sink was pretty dilapidated. Additionally, the faucet was old and it leaked. The wooden handles were started to get moldy as well.

The plan was to remove the dual sink and replace it with a single sink. To fit a new dishwasher within the current space, I had to get a smaller sink base thus it required a smaller sink.

A new drain assembly will be needed. A new hot water outlet will be needed as well to supply the dishwasher.
Within 30 minutes, the entire kitchen was completely demolished.
I then installed a new subfloor to support the new cabinets.

For the new subfloor, I cut out holes for the water, drain and power lines. I created a template to cut the holes out.
Once that was completed, Fredy started to help out by drilling in support boards into the walls

The cabinets were then drilled into the walls, shimmed and then together.

Once the cabinets were in place, Fredy helped me put the counter top on.

The main cabinets were then installed. For the sink base, I used the same template that was used for the subfloor to cut out the access holes.

Fast forward a couple of screws, shims and heavy lifting, the kitchen cabinets were completed. The new kitchen cabinets now have an access spot for the new dishwasher.

 For the new dishwasher, I then needed to install a new water line to the existing hot water pipe. After shutting off the water supply, a new “T” copper spacer and valve were soldered on. To protect the cabinet from getting burned by the torch, I used a flame retardant cloth.

Once that was completed, it was time to install the new sink. I used blue painters tape to outline the new sink. Note the light coming through the window...

Because of the limited space using the Jig saw to cut out the access hole for the sink, I had to use a hand saw to clean out the last remaining portion of the counter. You may notice the darkness out of the window. It took a long time using the hand saw...

Once I was conformable that the sink would fit within the new access hole, I installed the faucet and drain to the sink. The new sink assembly was then installed to the counter using clips and silicone.

The next portion of the kitchen upgrade was installing the new drain assembly. The PVC piping was aligned prior to being cementing together. Note the black marker lines to ensure that the PVC piping was assembled properly. Also note the new drain pipe for the dishwasher waste line.

The moment of truth!!!!!

Yes!!!! Water is running with no leaks…

I can happily state that the main renovation of the kitchen is completed. The next portion of the upgrade is to finish painting, install the dishwasher and upgrade the floor. I also want to upgrade the kitchen hardware. I’m certainly pleased with the upgrade thus far. Yes I still need to wash dishes by hand... But not for long...

The upgrade thus far would not have been completed if it wasn’t for my great nephews, Fredy and Devyn. Without them, I probably would have destroyed my spine. The bonus was listening how they both enjoyed learning how they were able to use power tools. Well until next time, happy building...

The first shot... Hopefully the last...

You may already have notice, but, I have a strong dislike towards bats. I could use the word hate, but hate is such a strong word that it could imply that I want a total destruction of bats… What I’m trying to say is I don’t feel an extreme hostility towards bats. It’s discomfort that I just don’t want them bothering me. Too sum it up, they scare me. Basically, I scream like a baby. And when I’m running for shelter, I’m honestly man enough to scream, “Get out of the way!!! Scared little girl coming through!!!” Sorry ladies, this is one area, I would have to say, “good luck, man in shining armor I am not…” However, I’m ok with catching mice, squirrels and/or chipmunks. Yes I have some experience chasing and/or catching those little creatures. But the flying mice, that is not my department.

I have a strong respect for bats. I understanding that bats like many other creatures in our world have a function, a meaning or rather a responsibility. They have a duty, like many of us. Let me clarify, they are innocent creatures just attempting to live life and tend to their young ones. Too continue the cycle of life for their species. I had read somewhere that one bat can consume up to about 3000 mosquitoes in one night. So with that, there is a benefit of having bats… Thus, removal of any bats from my house would be humane. I certainly didn’t want to go in gun blazing with pesticides per say. Additionally, bats are protected by law in Massachusetts and may not be killed.

I was fortune enough to find someone with that met my requirements. His name was Enoi Chonmany, owner of Greenleaf Pest Management, Inc. (There is a link on the side bar for Greenleaf Pest Management). Talking with Enoi; he tries to avoid using pesticides when removing animals and/or creatures. But sometime when it is necessary, he tries to use a limited amount. When using pesticides there is a real concern of it flowing down to a neighborhood parks with the possibly of hurting kids and/or innocent animals. I was extremely pleased with that statement.

When it comes to bats, Enoi works at night. The time was about 5:30 pm when he reported for duty. He started by buttoning up the loose siding and access areas of the house. The last thing that would be sealed would be the Chimney-130 hatchway, after the bats exited for their nightly hunt… After about 2 hours, he was completed with the first stage.

We both sat at the back porch talking about his pest control business and life in general. I have to admit, I truly enjoy meeting new people and hearing how they get to where they are today. It wasn't until about 8:15 when we saw our first bat fly by. We sat on the porch for several minutes while more bats flew by. After about 15 minute we then decided to stand by the cars and look up towards the chimney, also to examine if they are exiting through other areas of the house.

That was when I started to count the paratroopers exiting the Chimney-130 hatchway. As we stood looking up towards the chimney, I realized I had a serious infestation of bats when I reached a count of 35 bats and still going.

It wasn't until I reached a count of 52 when I decided to run for cover. As count 51 flew by, we both look up and realize that bat 52 was flying towards the both of us. As if the bat wings weren't strong enough. Number 52 dive bombs us... like a kamikaze fighter. It would appear that he was attempting to defend his home. I honestly almost did a full combat roll to avoid its attack. It was more of a full duck down to my knees. Of course the exterminator was laugh while he bravely side steps the attack. I was freaking out. Number 52, then circles and takes another dive bomb towards us. I crash into the exterminator while he's laughing. The bat then flies by and into the trees behind us... At that instance I through in the towel, time for me to go, have fun Enoi... But I knew that there was more bats in that chimney, but I couldn’t keep counting after that experience... I jog into the house and hide under my unicorn blanket for protection…

About an hour later I go outside to check on Enoi, there he was up on the roof working on the cap.
Picture of the chimney button up

The following morning I had awoken about 5:00 am, and was leaving to do some morning errands… It was still dark out. My nephews were with me as we walked outside towards the car. Devyn looks up and says, "Hey are those birds?" I realize that about 5 bats are circling around the chimney. Sadly they came home to find an eviction notice and the locks changed. I said “no those are bats”. He freaks out and runs into the front seat of the car. Glad to see that I’m not the only one freaking out so early in the morning…

Later in the day I catch myself looking up towards the roof of the house. I was expecting that the bats would be sitting on the trim of the house, waiting to attack with vengeance for evicting them for not paying rent. But as I look up, I feel slightly satisfied that they were not exterminated, that the bats were only evicted from my residence. I don't live that far from a couple of old empty factory buildings. So I like to assume that they have taken new residence there.
But surely, next on the list is to get the chimney cleaned before winter. Over 50 bats in that small condensed area could produce a lot of guano. Well until next time, happy building.


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