spectating participant

February 11, 2008

which is worse, termites or home improvements?

Filed under: house — suzanne henderson @ 10:56 am

I’ve been calling Chris a termite lately — mostly because of the latest steps taken to get more of the wiring replaced in our lovely old house. This has been a bit by bit project since we moved in, basically he’ll tackle and outlet or switch at a time and usually it isn’t too complicated. But, I think all the simple wire replacements have been done and now all thats left are ones that are a little more invasive.

The first sign that this might be a little more project than I was prepared for was the not so small hole that was cut into our bedroom wall. To give him lots of credit, it is in a very un-obvious place and, of course, can always be patched. But, this was needed to access staircase wiring that needed replaced — and, this was actually an out of the way access hole that after many valiant attempts, failed to provide the needed access and necessitated another, more visible hole in the hallway. He did try to less intrusive step first, but old houses have a way of not cooperating and you never quite know whats behind the wall until you break it open.

These access holes are the gateway to the super drill bit, which is a couple feet long, that is hopefully precisely pointed down through the joists/floorboards and into the lower level. But, well that hasn’t always been the case due to various nuisance common to old houses. Though, my favorite is the drill bit that appeared through the living room ceiling much to mine and chris’s surprise (that was also one of the last straws before admitting defeat and making the access hole in the hallway).

Saturday night, I come home and there is a new hole in the living room wall, this one is a nice outlet size, so not something to get nervous about, another peek-a-boo hole in the living room ceiling (accompanied by a sheepish oops), and a very ample access panel in the office upstairs. Each access panel usually results in at least two attempted holes drilled down through the floor/joists/ceilings, hence my comment that he’s worse than termites lately. Luckily, he realizes this too and isn’t doing all this extra destruction just for the fun of it. Sadly, if we want wiring up to par with this century’s safety standards, then we’ll just have a patch a few (dozen?) holes in the process.

Oh, and in other fun wiring news, he discovered another wiring mishap when I couldn’t get the bathroom outlet working. After tracing and testing (and much head scratching) the cables from the box and through the attic (seems there are some gratuitous splice box usage up in the attic), he eventually discovered the problem. Seems that whoever installed the GFCI outlet in the downstairs bathroom felt like saving a few pennies and just connected it to the one in the upstairs bathroom instead of installing a second one. Take a moment to consider the wiring hoops this required - the wire must go from the downstairs bathroom, up and out past the kitchen to the outside wall, up the wall past our bedroom to the attic, across the full length of our bedroom and then the hallway, and then down into the upstairs bathroom. I’d think that another GFCI switch would have been cheaper than all that wiring.

So, we’re considering how to eloquently word the reminder that if the upstairs bathroom outlet isn’t working, one should proceed down the stairs to the other side of the house and press the button on the outlet in the other bathroom. Perhaps a reminder isn’t needed, because surely thats the first thought that would cross one’s mind if the bathroom outlet wasn’t working, right?