Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Ceiling II

My father is my electrician. (He's also a former Navy electrician and currently a property engineer where we both work.) I usually do the heavy lifting and the demo work while he plays with the electricity. So I asked him to come over and help me 1) relocate the bathroom light from the hall to inside the bathroom, 2) wire up the new light / fan, and 3) help hold up the drywall while I hang it on the ceiling.

We actually tried to get it squared away last week, on Wednesday. But we discovered that the wiring was extremely wonky. We could have worked around it, but it would have required multiple splices into multiple cables. Instead, I bought a few more parts, Dad spent some time thinking about a more elegant solution, and we waited until today to try round two.

First, Dad put up a new junction box. It took the old feed to the light switch (in the hall) and split it off to power the same lights and same outlet, but it also powered the new fan and light and will be able to support a new GFI outlet when I eventually gut that bathroom. Since the ceiling was open, Dad popped up through the beams and made pretty quick work of it.

Next, we opened the wall a good bit. Where they used to be just an outlet, we made room for the switch to control the existing lights and a switch to control the soon-to-be-installed fan and overhead light. We were hoping to keep the outlet in place and put the new double-gang box on the other side of the stud (to anchor it.)

Unfortunately, we bumped up against an unexpected EXTRA stud. Two, actually. One (seen in the picture to the left) by the outlet that completely eliminated the space we were going to use for the double-gang box. And one by the medicine cabinet.

After a bit of a scramble, Dad said we could move the outlet to the smaller space, widen the original hole, and put the double-gang box against the original stud. There we be a briefly ugly spot in the middle, but I'd fix it later.

We mounted the fan, with only a little bit of trouble and then put up the "greenboard" I had cut earlier.At which point we discovered that the fix was way too tight. We couldn't shimmy them into place at all.  I had cut the dimensions by measuring stud-to-stud rather than wall to wall. Even though it was only half an inch on each wall, the margin for error was too strict. I had to trim all the edges. But then they fit into place.

HOWEVER, we had mounted the fan too high. The metal rods that hold the decorative piece in place didn't reach down low enough. And of course we figured this out AFTER the ceiling was in place. So I had to crawl up into the attic, on my belly, over the antique insulation and we worked everything down an inch. Terribly hot and uncomfortable. It made me realize why renovation work is so expensive to contract out.

Eventually, everything went into place. And for a change, I used drywall SCREWS and hung it using a cordless drill. MUCH easier on the arms and neck. I'm never going to manually hammer drywall nails again. I've pledged myself to The Way Of The Screw. (Laugh it up, Chuckleheads.)

And with the villainously painful work out of the way, Dad wrapped up the wiring, made everything pretty, tested his handwork, and we called it a day.

Next step: get Troy to mud and sand it. Then Cindy cuts loose with the paint. And we're done. With this project.

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