Category Archives: Skill Building

A Drier Dryer part II

I will add some pictures later.
So the first step (other than buying the fan) is to install an outlet up in the attic. Now Kim was not happy about me working with electricity. So I asked my neighbor Wes Bodily to drop by and help. He certainly knew his stuff. But knowing doesn’t mean that mistakes won’t be made. It just means that reasonable efforts will be made not to kill anyone. Wes came over and the first thing we did was to look at what we had in the attic. He looked at the wires running all over the place and said that I needed to get a handle on what all the wires were doing. We followed the wires for awhile and looked at the open connection box. He did not like it, but it did not stop him from moving on. So Wes went over to his house and grabbed some electrical stuff. I got to look at some of the stuff he was working on. He is doing a lot. He grabbed his electrical meter and some scraps of wire, wirenuts, and his cool toolbelt and off we went again. I hit the breaker on the house and went up to the attic. He decided to work from the juntion box that was open. He cut a lot of the extra wire tightening everything up. He then simply ran another wire from the junction box to an outlet box he had attached to one of the 2×4’s close by. He moved fairly quickly stripping the wire and attaching them with wire nuts. He then shoved the new wires coming out of the junction box into the back of the new outlet. I ran down stairs and popped the breakers back in place. He said he had power in the outlet. I then went around turning off the lights and when I hit the porch light he shouted that the outlet had lost power. He had attached it to the wire coming off that switch. His assumption was that one of the wires coming into the junction box was hot. Now the choice was to look for a possible hot wire or looking some where else. We fished around and found what seemed to be a wire coming straight from the breaker box and disappearing down into the wall. It seemed to be where the outlet for the fridge and washing machine came out of the wall. There were two holes in the floor and the wire was running down into one of them. He took the wire he had brought over and ran it into the other hole. We then went downstairs and pulled the outlet out from the wall. (We had the electricity off again at this point) The outlet box was installed before the walls were put in place. It was just nailed into the stud. Wes struggled ripping it away from the stud, but when he did, he found the wire we had shoved into the other hole dangling right behind the box. He found out that the outlet was a 15 Amp outlet and the wires were 20 Amp. Without knowing what the circuit breaker was the assumption was that the outlet would catch fire before the wires and should be replaced. Since the box we used upstairs in the attic was made for attaching to drywall I ran upstairs and grabbed that box. Wes had to attach the wires to the side of the outlet rather than putting it in holes because the 20 Amp wires wouldn’t fit. With that put back together we ran upstairs ran the wire to the new outlet and we were done. We tested one more time and everything seemed to be in order. My first lesson in electricity. I don’t know what I didn’t learn because we didn’t make that mistake, but I did learn a few things. The next step will be to re-route the dryer ventilation pipe. I am still working on patching the holes and I only have 2 weeks.

Some skills will have to wait

I want to acquire skills and one of the skills I thought I was going to acquire was cement work. The house we bought was a short sale so there were some things not quite right. Actually this house is way better than a lot that we looked at. Usually when you buy a house you can ask a seller to fix things before you move in. They can always say no, but it is common to move into a house with everything in order. Well these short sales are pretty much “As Is” So it was not surprising that there were things missing. One of the things missing was a portion of the walkway. We were going to finish it off eventually, but we hadn’t quite decided what we were going to do. Well we got homeowner’s insurance and they did a visual inspection and sent us a letter that if we didn’t fix two things then they would cancel our policy. The two things were the missing sidewalk and the some tree branches that were touching the roof. Now we had to get it done quick. I wanted to do the cement work myself. I did some investigating and I figured that we needed about a yard and half of cement to fill the whole area. If I would have bought that cement bags at Home Depot that would have cost me about $250 just for the cement. I had talked to Mike Kellog who had just finished his son’s Eagle project and he was adamantly against buying those little bags from the store. So I looked into what it would take to have a truck deliver cement. It turns out that they will deliver the same for about $175. That is a total steal since it will be mixed delivered and dropped into place. A no brainer. Now I knew the big trucks hold about 10 yards. Oh yeah I had to learn about square yards since that weird English system is used. I later found out that the smaller trucks will hold about 3 yards. But I knew that I was going to have a little left over. I asked the Olmsteads if they might want some cement. Kent suggested I just call Danny Ortega in our ward and make life simple. I agreed and he came over and took care of everything FAST! He came over one day and was pouring the next. The whole job cost us $300. The balance was Danny’s portion. He probably worked 4 hours. I am sure I would have made some major mistakes and I didn’t have the stamping tools. So there we have it done! I emailed the photos to the insurance company.

Well I had to cut the branches that were touching the roof. That was something I certainly could handle. It seemed like a weird request. I mean the branches were more like leaves were grazing the roof. Look at this picture.

The only skill this required was that I had to climb the tree to make sure I got all of the leaves. Kim came out and took a picture.

A Drier Dryer

When we got our inspection report back on the house one of the things that was mentioned was that the dryer vented into the attic and that was bad. When I looked at where the dryer and the vent hole were I realized that the reason in vented into the attic was because if it went straight out the wall it would vent inside the house. We hooked the dryer up to the vent hole and the dryer took a super long time to dry any clothes. I did a little research online and found out that every dryer has a stated length that it can vent. I had no idea. If the vent hose is too long the moist air makes the dryer very inefficient and can really impact how long it takes to dry clothes. It turns out that having a dryer in a place to where it cannot easily vent to the outside is not unheard of. Then I found out a lot of other things. Those flexible hoses. Those are bad. They catch lint. There are some 20 deaths a year from dryer lint fires. I also found a couple of sites where the dryer was vented into the attic, but hose would terminate out the roof. Then I found an inline fan that would boost the air and lint out of the hose and supposedly out of the house. This isn’t completely standard stuff. I found some sites where the commentators claimed that an inline fan was strictly against building codes and the guy at home depot had never heard of them. But the guy at home depot reccommended a flexible hose and said we had to move the dryer so it would vent to the outside. I didn’t know who to believe. I went up into the attic to see what was going on and here is what I found.

I found the dryer hose just laying on the attic floor like the inspector had said. I also saw the fan that was in the laundry room venting up and out the roof. Now this was a change from the original build. For whatever reason the dryer vent used to be in another location and I found that.


This seems like a professional job because it is smooth pipe and vents out the roof. The wiring next to the old dryer vent seems like a hack job. I believe that the wiring was installed after the house was built for lighting that was added in the living room. You can see where the laundry room van and the dryer vent come together to exit the roof. Now I will have to reroute that dryer vent about 3 feet to attach to the new dryer vent. But because of what I read I am going to add an inline dryer fan that will boost the airflow and take care of the lint. The proof will be in how much lint gathers at the back of the dryer and how fast the clothes dry. I am also going to have to add an outlet in the attic where I can plug in the dryer fan.

This is the inline dryer fan booster that I bought through Amazon. It is not cheap, $250. They have a pretty compelling video that shows how they not only boost the air, but eat all the lint. The other options would require more diligence in cleaning out the ducts. I had never heard that cleaning out the dryer duct was something that should be done reguarly if not at least once a year. More information on this dryer booster can be found by searching their name which is the Lint Buster.

So finallay here is what we do now until I get this installed. The dryer just vents into the laundry room. This turns the room into a sauna. It is the only way to get the clothes dry in a reasonable time now. The garage door is open to try and help, but now that the temperatures are getting into the 90s I need to get this installed sooner rather than later.

Patching Holes

Since one my goals is to pick up skills that I haven’t had I have worked on patching osme holes in the new house that we bought. There is an ancillary skill that would be to blend the patch in with the rest of the wall. I have heard two opinions from people who are considered skilled. One said that any matching can be done. Another said that no matter how hard you tried and how long you practiced it is never going to look right. So I don’t know who to believe. I am going to give it a try, but first I need to patch those holes. I actually have a lot of fixing and patching to do in the house we are renting and leaving so I am going to get a lot of practice.

Here you see I am looking to fix the first hole. Home Depot sells this patch that is 6″ by 6″. They also have an 8″ patch. It is about $3.50 which is the same as a 24″ piece of drywall, but includes the tape and doesn’t require srews. (Boy I need to lose some weight!)

The next step is to apply the sheetrock joint compound. I applied some, let it dry, sanded it applied some more, and repeated until I felt like there was as flat a surface as I was going to get. Here is probably the fourth application and I was getting close to what I wanted. Applying is pretty easy and pretty forgiving ( I can always sand away any problems). That is why I am letting Dakota help. I am sure that there are those who could apply once and be done. I found that there was noticable dips and bumps where the patch had been attached to the wall and where the hole used to be. The patch has a little metal grate which is very similar to the netted tape. When I would sand sometimes the metal would start to show which would mean more joint compound. The compound takes about 24 hours to dry so having to apply several layers can take time.

Here the next hole to patch I am measuring and I find out that it is over 12″. So I will have to use a piece of drywall. The problem with having to use a piece of drywall is that it has to be attached with screws. A spare piece of wood spanning the hole and attached to the remaining wall and then attaching the piece of drywall to that is how it would be done, but I lucked out in this application. The first step was to cut out the hole. I think I did the smart thing and I cut out the drywall first making sure it was big enough to cover the entire hole and then I marked the wall and cut out the spot for the the drywall piece to go in. For cutting the drywall piece and wall I just used an exacto knife. Using several long strokes over the lines I had drawn got me pretty clean cuts.

Here you can see the wall was cut out. I tried fitting the piece in there and it was to tight a fit. Trimming the hole was pretty easy until I got a tight fit. A super exact fit doesn’t seem to be that important since the joint compound is designed to fill small gaps. As you can see in this picture the hole exposed a stud. That was good because I could use the stud to attach the piece of drywall.

Here you can see that I have attached the piece of drywall with drywall screws and I placed tape over all the edges and screws. There are different types of tapes. The professionals use a flat tape. The guy at Home Depot told me that he was not a professional and he found the tape that had the netting texture and the self sticking background was easier to use so that is what I bought. The next steps will be apply the joint compound to smooth out all of the edges. The advantage of the drywall in the hole method is that the edges are already flush with the edge.

Just when I thought I had everything under control things started to fall apart. I was ready to reccommend the patch as demonstrated in the first picture. I went to Lowe’s to get 2 more and they didn’t have any. Well I had some left over drywall and I thought why spend $10 when I don’t have to. So I cut out drywall to fit the last two holes. The first one had a hole over the stud like the last hole so once again I just attached the new piece of drywall to that. The next hole was not over a stud. Well no problem, this is supposed to be normal. The idea is to just attach a piece of wood behind and then attach the drywall to that. I first tried a cheap piece of wood. It was actually one of those free paint stirrers that you get at Home Depot. That did not work and the drywall screw went right through the wall and the piece of wood wasn’t attached to the wall anymore. I thought my problem was that I used to thin a piece of wood. I had an extra piece of more substantial wood laying around so I put that in and proceeded to attach it. I was overly confident so much so that I let CK put in the screws.

It was going fine until we attached the drywall patch and the whole thing tore away from the wall and fell into the wall. Here you can see what happened. This was staged. I wasn’t taking pictures when it happened.

So I cut a bigger hole in the wall and exposed a stud. I didn’t need to cut a hole this big, but it was getting late and I was trying to get this done before bedtime. Rather than cut another piece of drywall I just used one that was left over.

Here the drywall patch is attached. The tape is placed over the edges and the screws. It is not as nice and flush against the edges as the previous, but again I am in a hurry. Since I know I am not skilled enough to just put one layer of joint compound I decided to slap some on and do more the next day.

Here you can see the patches and clearly the joint compound is not evenly applied enough to call it smooth and done. I will sand and put more on tomorrow.

Now the hard part trying to match the texture of the wall. That is another post. Here you can see I started practicing on a piece of cardboard in the backyard.

Hanging a door

planing a door

I wanted to hang a door in the dressing room. Our house layout is quite different and of course I like it. Kim and I have a small bedroom, the kids (all of them) have a small bedroom and the master suite (with built in closet) is the dressing room for all. If someone wants to change they can go into shower room and that still leaves the sink and mirrors open to everyone. It would be nice to have a door with a lock on the walk in closet. There was a door hanging around the kids bedroom, unattached. I took it and hung it but it was too big. That is the first time I realized that doors are different sizes. So I went to Home Depot and they had doors for about $25. The door had a handle hole, but there was more to hanging the door than attaching the hinges. The door was a standard 28 inches. I measured the doorway and it seemed to by a little more than 27 1/2 inches. The guy at home depot said that I would have to chisel (yes with a chisel) out the places for the hinges. I marked the hinges and started using the chisel. The first thing I discovered was that the door was paper not wood. That is ok except that the chisel made a mess. I got out the rotary tool (Dremel) and it worked a lot better. I made one smart decision and tried to hang the door before starting on the other hinge. This is when I discovered that indeed the door was a little too big. I had kind of hoped that having the hinge embedded in the door would have made the difference, but after taking the hinge off and placing the door up to the doorframe I realized this was not going to fit. Close, but not close enough. I looked on the Internet for a term that sound somewhat correct. Plane Door. Up came up a bunch of results including a story about a man trying to open the door of a plane while it was up in the air. There were examples of the old fashion hand planers and there were electric planers and there was a Dremel tool attachment. I looked online and found the Dremel attachment at Amazon for $19. I then went to Home Depot. They didn’t have the Dremel tool attachment. Darn. They had hand planers that ranged from $10 to $40. They also had motorized ones for over $100. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t even know if anything would work on this paper door. I decided to drop by Harbor Freight. You can get pretty cheap tools there. Of course you get what you pay for. I found an electric planer for $30. I asked if I could return it if it was garbage and they said I could. I got home and read the instructions. I then tried it out on the door. It worked pretty good. It took several passes since it just shaves off a little at a time. The planer is adjustable so I can shave up 1/16th. I did several passes at 1/12th fitting it up to the door every time. When it fit really tight I shaved off 1/48th. I like the way it fits, now I need to attach the hinges. There is another problem because the doorknob hole is in a different place than the original door. I did make one mistake and that was to use the planer in the dressing room. I really didn’t want to drag the door from the garage every time I wanted to try a fit. It made a pretty big mess. The mess I made from that first attempt to chisel was almost all planed out. So now I am going to just use the rotary tool. I don’t know if I will find another use for the planer. It seems like a 1 time use tool. I can’t see using the planer again, but I could be wrong. Now in every project I have to learn at least one thing. I hope it is just one thing because learning usually means I made a mistake. I thought I had learned a lot in this project. Then several days later it dawned on me why the door looked funny even though it functions just fine. Look at the pictures below of two different doors. Dot you spot the mistake? Do you know what I did wrong?