On to plumbing

Now that the electrical is all wrapped up, at least until it’s time to install the outlets, it’s time to move on to the plumbing. The big improvement we are adding to the plumbing is installing a vent to serve the kitchen sink. In the previous kitchen the sink was not vented properly, so it drained slow and gurgled. Normally you would tie the vent coming off the sink into the other vents so there is only one pipe going through your roof. But that main vent is clear on the other side of the house and it would require a lot of piping and some cutting into the second floor ceiling to connect the kitchen sink. Since we just have an attic above our kitchen it is much easier to just go straight through the attic and then the roof with a separate vent.

I blogged previously about how I was going to run the drain/vent pipe inside the wall behind the sink. In order to get the drain/vent pipe in place I had to drill holes in the top and bottom plates of the wall I built. The pipe is 1.5″ diameter, which is common for draining a sink (kitchen or bathroom) or a bathtub. If you combine two drain lines together you may need a larger pipe like 2″. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you need to bore a hole for 1 1/2″ pipe through a stud wall build your wall out of 2x4s and not 2×3. Though I can get by with the big holes I am putting through the top and bottom plates I could not go sideways with the piping!

When drilling a hole for a pipe you generally want to go 1/8″ bigger than the OD of the pipe. For 1 1/2″ pipe the OD is 1.90″. Rounding up you would use 2 1/8″. So I bought a 2 1/8″ diameter hole saw like this.
Hole saw
When you buy a hole saw make sure it is long enough to go through whatever you are drilling through. In my case it should have been 1.5″ deep or more. Since it wasn’t deep enough I had to stop 4 or 5 times and chisel out some of the wood so the bit could go down further. While 95% done with the last cut the bit jammed and broke at the shaft, taking my quick change adapter with it. 🙁
Broken bit
I chiseled through the rest got the piping in and this was the result.
Drain and vent

See that gray steel thing at the bottom of the pipe. It’s called a riser clamp. It’s designed to support a vertical run of pipe, called a riser. Some some reason Home Depot & Lowes don’t carry these anymore. I asked the guy at Lowes. You have to go to a real plumbing supply place, you know the kind of place that closes at noon on Saturday. That’s what day I was doing this all on. 🙁 So I had to buy something temporary at Lowes so I could get all the pieces cut and mocked in.

Down in the crawlspace there is a horizontal run of pipe. I located the hole where the riser goes through the floor so I could make supports out of leftover 2x3s with the small end against the floor joists. This is how it looks.
Pipe support standoffs
The white piece you can by at the home improvement store.

I had Irene help me line the pipe up so it has the proper slope. You want 1/4″ drop for every foot of pipe for this size pipe. Bigger pipes may have less slope. How did I line up the slope? I made a little “jig” by taping a 1″ long block of wood to a 4′ level.
Improvised pipe slope jig
Found that tip online somewhere. Irene held the pipe in place and I put the level on top, lined it up, and nailed the white hangars into the blocks I attached to the joists.

Drain pipe with proper slope
Long sweep elbow

When routing drain piping you will want to use long sweep elbows like the one above. These keep the water from slowing down as much and thus help prevent clogs. Once all the pipes are mocked in place it is time to start gluing them together.Pipes glued

The gluing was straight forward, except that the purple primer ran and dripped all over on me. I didn’t know it was that thin. I cut the pieces that will go in the attic, but have not glued them yet. I am waiting to coordinate with the roofer who will be doing the flashing around the vent pipe. Yup we have to hire someone for a small part of this renovation. 🙁 We have a leak in the flashing around our other (existing) plumbing vent and I wasn’t comfortable getting up on our roof. It has a steep slope (10/12). I did try though.

Next up is fixing up the hot and cold water (soldering) and putting up the drywall!!

Posted in Plumbing, Stud Walls | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


While setting up our 3rd party electrical inspection I realized I should talk about the process of getting permits. If you are just replacing counter tops, cabinets, and/or flooring you most likely won’t need a permit. It’s when you start changing your infrastructure, moving/adding outlets, moving plumbing, or knocking down a wall that you need a permit. It’s hard to define exactly when you do and do not need permits because every renovation situation is different. Countries, states, counties & municipalities also all have slightly different rules.

The best advice is to contact your city/township/boro/incorporation, whatever it’s called where you live, and tell them what you want to do. They will advise you on what permits are needed if any. Most municipalities these days have websites and they may have an email address listed for the codes department. Ours did and that is how I contacted them to ask what permits we might need. I love the convenience of email. After providing a description of what we wanted to do I received a prompt response that we would need electrical and plumbing permits and I should bring some drawings or sketches to the township office for them to look at.

Know Your Codes

Chances are your municipality uses industry standards for codes vs writing their own. This saves them a lot of time. For everything but electrical my township adopted the International Building Code (IBC) which is the defacto standard now-a-days. Actually there is a separate International Plumbing Code (IPC) but the IBC encompasses it. If you want access to this code you will have to buy it online sadly. For electrical everyone will have adopted the National Electric Code (NEC). The NFPA, the organization that puts the NEC together does offer free online access. But they don’t publicize it much. They would rather you buy it. And the online access is through a Java applet that keeps you from printing, copying, or saving the content. For access go to the homepage for the NEC. Do not go to the catalog section. There will be a link to gain online access to the code. You will have to signup for an nfpa.org account. Currently, at the time of this post, the NFPA is offering free preview access of the 2011 NEC.

Making Drawings

Drawings are how engineers communicate what they want made to those that are making them. You know the old saying A picture is worth a thousand words…. I am a mechanical engineer and I deal with engineering drawings all of the time, so making up a set for our renovation wasn’t a big deal for me. I can see how this step would be intimidating for the layman. Drawings for each discipline of engineering and construction have their own formats and specialized set of symbols and terminology. This is especially true for the electrical drawings.

Sample Electrical Schematic

Sample Electrical Schematic

Electrical Drawings

I was surprised to find relatively little help or guidance on creating permit drawings online. I also found that the electrical symbols for things like lights and ceiling fans can vary. It seems that some drafters like to get fancy. ask-the-electrician.com has a good list of common home electrical symbols and an example drawings. You will see that in the example the drafter got fancy by drawing out the blades of the fan and using colors. LOL The book I bought to read up on electrical stuff, Creative Homeowner’s Guide to Wiring, also had examples. By the way, I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn about doing your own electrical wiring. The author does a good job at going from the basics to fairly comprehensive instructions for a lot of tasks. And there are lots of great illustrations to help you.

You don’t need to use a CAD program like I did to make permit drawings. You can still draw them my hand. Some graph paper will help in this endeavor.

My tips for creating electrical drawings

  • For the electrical drawing you need to draw the walls, doorways, windows, etc of your home.
  • For kitchens you’ll need to show the countertops and cabinets, sinks, and any appliances that are fixed in place such as ranges, cooktops, wall ovens, dishwashers, and your fridge.
  • For bathrooms show the sink and vanity, bathtub, shower, and the toilet.
  • You do not need to draw these things in detail, only show a representation of each one. Don’t show couches, beds, chairs or any other furniture. Look at the example drawing on the link I provided above for how this is done.
  • You need to show the location of outlets, switches, fixed lights (don’t show lamps or anything else that plugs into an outlet) and fixed appliances by placing the correct symbol on the drawing.
  • Show how these devices will be interconnected by drawing a line between them. You don’t need to show where the wire will go, only how the devices are connected.
  • Don’t attempt to show the lighting and outlet (power) circuits on the same drawing. The drawing will get very busy and unreadable. Ask me how I know! Make two separate drawings. Still show the symbols indicating each device on both. But only draw the lines representing the interconnections on one.

Plumbing Drawings

Like the electrical drawings you do not need to show exactly where your pipes will go, you create a schematic showing how things are interconnected. This time though, instead of a bird’s eye view, you create an isometric drawing. The isometric drawing can show multiple floors of your house in one view. Vertical pipe runs are still drawn vertically. But horizontal pipe runs are drawn on a 30° angle. Towards 2 o’clock is one direction (X) and towards 10 o’clock is the other direction (Y). Many plumbing schematics don’t even adhere to this 30° rule. As long as you can illustrate the 3 dimensions to the reader. Askthebuilder.com has a good example of a hand drawn plumbing drawing and some helpful tips.

As far as books go I purchased Taunton’s Plumbing Complete after reviewing it in the store. I’d give this book a C+ or a B-. It has been helpful and informative but sometimes I wish they would go into more details. For instance when talking about pipe supports they cover how to support horizontal runs of pipe but not vertical. Another example is showing how to rough in a bathroom sink but not a kitchen one. It seems the focus of the book is more on repair than the type of alterations I am doing. If you want a book on how to fix pipes, this is a good one.

Posted in Electrical, Permits, Plumbing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We passed our 2nd rough-in inspection!! Day 35..

I have been forsaking blogging for getting work done on the kitchen. I have to admit that much of the past week has been grueling and frustrating. But the payoff is worth it. Yesterday we had our second rough-in electrical inspection and this time we passed!!
Passed electrical inspection!

So exactly what have I been up to to get ready for the inspection? Let me show you.

I installed the ceiling boxes, that will hold our lights. This picture was taken yesterday evening, after I got the passing grade. I was anxious to get a light back in the room. Working with just the light from the dining room at night sucked.
Ceiling boxes

Above that blue box, in our attic, this is what it looks like.
Celing box from above
The metal bar that goes between the ceiling joists slides and retracts for different joist spacings. Unfortunately some of my joists are less than the standard 16″ on center. And that is the smallest those particular ceiling boxes go. So I had to cut one to get it to fit.

Adding to my frustration with the ceiling boxes is the fan box. I had already installed a ceiling fan brace in the kitchen for the white fan and was just going to move it. It is like that blue one above except all metal and the bar is much beefier.

Ceiling Fan Brace

Ceiling Fan Brace from Raco

Again the joist spacing was less than the standard 16″. Because of the way the brace is I couldn’t cut it. So I went to the store and got a different type of box. I would use a leftover piece of 2×3 to go between the joists. Sounds simple right? Well it would have been if one of the joists was not tilted on it’s side! Measured at the top the two joists were 3/4″ closer than at the bottom! This is on the extension part of the house. So I had to cut the lumber on an angle, otherwise I couldn’t get it to fit. And this took a few tries to get the length right.
Fan support

After that it was time to build my bulkhead and deal with the wiring that goes in the cubby near the stairs. The bulkhead was necessary to hide and protect the wiring in this area.

The wire that goes all the way across is for the basement lights. The switch for them is on the opposite side of the wall to the left. The wire that is on the right is for our upstairs bedroom light. There is a switch at the bottom of the stairwell, on the opposite side of the wall to the right. This turned out to be a pain to rewire because of obstructions, bracing, etc. It took me the better part of one day just to deal with that and the other end of the switch on the second floor. And you can’t see it but the wiring for our 3-way controlling the kitchen lights is up there too. The new switch is next to the one for the basement.

The bulkhead was also providing a second function. In this cubby we will be placing an 88″ high pantry cabinet or high cabinet as they are called by Ikea. They advertise that the cabinet is 88″ tall but that is without feet! You need feet or you need to build a structure under the cabinet otherwise the door will be on the floor and it won’t open. In my mind they should be advertising the cabinets as 92″ or 93″. Don’t get caught by this if planning your kitchen!

Our ceilings are 8′-1″ high, or 97″. So 97 minus 88 gives 9 inches of room. That is how much room I thought I would have above this cabinet. To small to do anything with but too big to just leave. The Ikea cabinet legs are 4.375″ stock but they adjust all the way down to 3.5″. I figured we would adjust them down to 4″ even. That brings the height of the bulkhead down to 5″. Just big enough to serve it’s function.

I got the raceway for the fridge all in place.
Raceway for Fridge

And I finished the in wall wiring for the LED lights. Because the voltage and watts of these lights are so low they don’t use regular Romex wiring. The inspector required that the wiring be Class 2 and the LED vendor said I should use 18 gauge. So here is that combo. you can find this at Lowes marked as 18/2 Thermostat Wire. I’m sure Home Depot has something similar.
18/2 Class 2 Wire

One of these small wires goes down into the basement where the voltage transformer will be located.
Ready for LED voltage transformer
120V-AC rides in on the thick white wire and 12V-DC will ride out on the small one. The voltage transformer will be connected to the 120V supply in that rectangular metal box.

That pretty much closes out the electrical stuff for now, so we can move on to plumbing.

Posted in Appliances, Cabinets, Electrical, Permits, Stud Walls | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flooring delivered!

Oh finally! Our flooring was delivered today! It came direct from Forbo because we’re within their delivery radius. The delivery guy came all the way from Hazelton (also made a stop at the Franklin Institute I heard and went to Jersey lol)

I didn’t get a chance to photograph our palettes but he had a mini fork lift of sorts to wheel them right into the garage. We’ll have pictures and more updates over the weekend.

Paul called the electrical inspector to get our second rough-in inspection and he’ll be doing plumbing this weekend. I am figuring out subway tile and a wall color. A lot of a little going on so here’s a picture of the truck infront of our house.

Posted in Flooring | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Life gets in the way… One month in..

Oh fun times in the Garvin household. We took the ’95 Miata for inspection and it failed (the only thing besides mounting tires that Paul can’t do on his own).

Dang this picture is old, I now have Koni shocks and Flyin’ Miata springs. lol

So “Yayy”‘s driver’s side rear caliper bit the dust. I thought it squeeked here and there, the brakes weren’t as good as the ’90 we had (I figured stock vs beefed up Hawk pads for racing) and low ‘n behold, the caliper was giving up the ghost. Paul thinks we missed a symptom so that really made things annoying so we lost a day to that.

Under normal circumstances, we always look and verify everything is okay before inspection. Our home renovation made things a little more complicated and since we changed the brakes 2 years ago and just about everything that would make it fail inspection was pretty new for a 15 year old car – we figured everything would be fine. We upgraded the rear pads to some Hawks .I loved the way the ’90 drove and broke, I thought the stock pads had a little to be desired and TireRack gets us next day delivery since they ship from DE – no brainer!

So tonight Paul is hoping to finish the bulkhead that goes above the pantry. I’m not sure what all he has in mind but I hope he can accomplish it.

Still no word on our flooring and where it might be in the port backlog but hopefully we’ll get an update by the end of the week and it atleast ships next! *crosses fingers*

One last thing, got a call from the counter top people about coming to pick out a slab! I don’t know when we’ll get to go but I’m super excited!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The last few big ticket items..

All the big items have now been purchased (we have to get lights/fan and hardware) We went to Ikea in Conshohocken for our 40% off counter top – we saved $900! It was $300 more than WilsonArt HD and I think worth the upgrade price. I changed my mind on the color at the last minute, too.

The Lunar Pearl was just too brown looking so I went for Meteor Gray. This color was more expensive and I went with a normal squared off edge. The one edging I prefer and love the most was something like $25/sq ft LOL That’s crazy! I already went above what I wanted to spend and it wasn’t something I really was upset to lose.

Meteor Gray Quartz Coutertop

I was upset we’d have to lose the free standing range hood but all that changed when we were able to get a base cabinet that was smaller so we could move everything over a few inches to get out of the way of a ceiling joist. It isn’t an ideal cabinet now but we’ll hack it into a garbage bin and use the top basket drawer for bags. I’m not sure if anyone has hacked this size but we’ll figure it out. It’ll be a little less since we got a smaller one so that’s always good for the bottom line (btw, we’re spending more than $8k but less than $10k for sure).

I also saved money on getting last years spice drawer insert (variera insert for spices). They are $4/each and were marked down to 50 cents! They are gray vs white so that coordinates with all the gray in the kitchen but otherwise, they are in a drawer. I got 6 of them so I saved $23 with tax. I couldn’t remember how many go in each drawer but I know I need a few drawers for these.

Lastly we picked up the LUFTIG HOO C50 S range hood which was $399. I’d like something more quiet but that is between double and triple so we’ll see how well this lasts. I’d imagine by the time we’d want to sell, there is the possibility we’d replace it.

Posted in Appliances, Cabinets, Counter Top | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuff in my Way

There’s stuff in my way, get out of my way I want to yell in a Grandpa-Simpson voice. The additional electrical items that the inspector has asked me to do are turning out to be a real pain. Let’s start with the “back” of the kitchen. You may remember this little area from our 1st day of demo.

Behind this area is the stairs, down to the basement and also up to the second floor. Because of the stairs, underneath each of those three walls is a doubled up joist that is the exact width of the wall. That means to get wiring into this wall from the basement I have to notch out these important joists, something you have to be careful doing and I don’t want to do.
Double Joists in the Way
In this area will be our pantry cabinet and the fridge.
I am taking care of power for the fridge by using raceway to run the wires.

Non-Metallic Raceway

Image courtesy cabletiesandmore.com

I think this stuff is kinda ugly and I wouldn’t put it over my counter tops or in a living room. But it will be hidden behind the fridge. You screw it to the wall and it protects the cables from physical damage. The other thing that needs to go in that wall, on the other side, is a light switch for the kitchen. Our side entrance is through the door next to that area and there is no switch to turn the lights on in the kitchen there. You have to go through the kitchen to hit the switch in the doorway leading to the dining room. We are adding a switch for a three-way arrangement. In addition there is a switch for the basement lights that I have been meaning to rewire (it has no ground). I am going to have to get the wires to the switches though the attic, which means cutting holes in the wall to fish wires through. 🙁

My next task was to install the ceiling boxes for our new lights. The entire 21 foot long kitchen only has one light fixture. You want lots of light in a kitchen. It’s good to be able to see what you are cutting for example. So we are adding two additional light fixtures. Where the fan is currently does not make sense for the new layout so that fixture will be moving as well. To locate the lights I split the kitchen into three even parts along the long side. Then I located a fixture in the middle of those zones. I sketched all of this out in AutoCAD and figured out far each fixture was from the wall. As it turns out the middle fixture was just a few inches from being centered on the range so I moved it to be on the center.

Next I measured along both long walls the length I needed to each fixture. I connected the two marks by snapping a chalk line. Then I measured out the center of that chalk line.
Chalk Line for Light Fixture
If you just put your tape in the middle of the short wall and try to measure out to where the fixture is you could be at an angle to the long walls and thus the light won’t be centered. I drilled a small hole (1/8″) where my mark is and inserted a spare piece of grounding wire through it. Then I went up into the attic and looked for the wire with a flashlight. Got that idea from my Creative Homeowner’s Ultimate Guide to Wiring. Unfortunately one light fixture will be underneath this set of cabinets the previous owner built in the attic.
Cabinets in Way
And in the way of another light fixture is this junction box.
Junction Box in Way
Oh bother! I can’t wait until this electrical stuff is done.

Posted in Electrical | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Yay on countertop, Nay on flooring…

Oh the ups and downs of home renovation. Paul and I are heading to Ikea since we got a yay! on the 40% off counter tops deal!

Photo courtesy of blog.silvie.com

Great news because our flooring is stuck in the Port of New York, in the huge backlog after 2 days of strike at the port. The New York workers were striking in solidarity of 200 workers who lost their job here in Philly. Oh yay. They would have kept striking (with no pay) but then they were threatened with 1 million dollar a day penalties. They aren’t sure how long it will take to get through the backlog – the people who we ordered from hope we get it before the end of the month. *sigh* The biggest part of the time line is now that floor! I am so frustrated but what else can I do? I tried to think about changing the floor colors but I fell in love with the look of it all. *sigh* I’ll keep you posted.

Posted in Counter Top, Flooring | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Ikea 40% off all countertops with purchase of kitchen…

So this is the deal I was talking about now in our design post. It includes everything, even the granite/corian/quartz.

I’m a bit concerned because this promotion started October 6th and we bought 2 weeks before and wasn’t told you had to buy cabinets to qualify. I going to give Ikea a call to see if we still qualify for 40% off – if not, I am going to be majorly upset for not holding out or being told it comes with the purchase of a kitchen in the same period *sigh* I’ll keep you posted.

Edit: Policy states any purchase made within 2 weeks of a sale qualifies. The woman on the phone said I should bring the receipt, the copy of the policy and calendar. I’m not sure where the policy is located but I’ll be ready. Darn right we will or we’ll gladly go somewhere else for a better deal.

Posted in Counter Top | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Wrestling With a Big Wire

To pick up from my last post where I was waiting impatiently for our cabinets to be delivered the delivery guys showed up around 4pm. Since our kitchen is still in shambles we had them put everything in the garage which made it easy for them. They even gave us a pallet so that the boxes wouldn’t get wet if water came in the garage. Look at all those boxes of fine Swedish furniture!
Kitchen Cabinet Delivery Truck
A Pile of Cabinets

Irene woke up in time to see the delivery and get excited by her big new sink.
New Sink!!

After all that excitement it was time to get back to work on the electrical. Over the rest of Saturday and Sunday morning I ripped out the old wire for the range and installed the new one. Our range requires a 40 amp circuit, which requires 8/3 wire. This is the big expensive wire we spent $145 on. While at the store buying this monster I also looked at the staples available for fastening it in place. I’ve used these plastic cable staples gratuitously throughout the house. They are nicely labeled with which wires they fit. Unfortunately they are not labeled for 8/3. Neither was any of the other types hanging on the shelves. There were some marked for #8 & #6 SEU cable but I didn’t know how similar that is to 8/3 NM-B. A quick search on my iPhone yielded so answers. So I went home without any with intentions to research more.

Google at home was not any more help with which size staples I should use. I was very surprised by this. I finally found one page selling metal staples listed for both #8 SEU and 8/3 NM-B. So I wnt back to the store and bought 4 packs of these guys.
Cable Staples for 8/3 NM-B
The depth was perfect for the 8/3. They are a little wide, the cable can move some side to side, but that is not harming anything.

The thick cable did not want to lose it’s twist from being in the package. I wrestled with it, pulling out 15 foot segments trying to untwist it. That did not work. The best approach to untwisting it was to just bend it the opposite way that it was trying to twist to as you are stapling it up. You have to bend it the other way past being straight to get the permanent twist out. I wish electrical books would cover this tip!

I decided to go with the wall outlet for the range instead of the floor outlet. It will make a cleaner looking installation, not that anyone will see it once the range is in place.
Range Outlet Box & Cable in Place

Next on my to do list was to add the outlet box for the dishwasher. Apparently it’s now code that dishwashers have to be plugged in. I think the actual code calls for a way to safely disconnect them from the electrical supply and an outlet is just the easiest way. The outlet will be at the back of the cabinet under the sink turned it on it’s side. I had to figure out how high I should mount it. I wanted it low, out of the way of the plumbing for the sink, but it can’t be below the bottom of the cabinet! The internet told me that the legs on Ikea cabinets are initially set to 4 3/8 inches long and the thickness of the frames are 3/4 inches thick. Then I added an inch for the cover plate. That gives 6 1/8 inches. You’ll also want some clearance between the cover plate and bottom of the cabinet so I rounded up to 7 inches. That is above the finshed floor so don’t forget to add in the thickness of your floor if it is not yet installed. For me that ended up at 7 1/2 inches.

I cut a piece of leftover 2×3 to fit horizontally between two studs and attached it with decking screws. Then attached the outlet box to it. Here is a tip for cutting small pieces of lumber. The 2×3 scrap was 14ish inches long and I was cutting it down to 11 7/8 inches. Such a piece is too small to fit over two horses! Only clamping it to one horse would allow it to move when the weight of the circular saw was on it. So I got a bigger piece of lumber that was big enough to go over both horses and put my small piece on the one end like so. This gives it stability, and still allows enough overhang for the saw to clear the clamp!
Cutting Small Pieces of Lumber

Once I got the piece of lumber in place I decided to mount it centered on my 7 1/2″ measurement with the box above for extra clearance.
Outlet Box for Dishwasher Installed
I am holding off running the cable to this box for now. I am re-purposing one of the existing 20 amp kitchen outlet circuits for the range and dishwasher. That circuit and the outlets are still in place so we can use the shop vac and other power tools.

After that was all done I started cutting the holes for the ceiling boxes, where the lights will go. But that’s another post for another day!

Posted in Cabinets, Electrical | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment