Sunday, April 22, 2007

Now the Laundry Room Sucks, Too



It's taken a decent chunk of two Saturdays, and there's still a couple of hours to go, but the laundry room now has an exhaust fan that blows to the outside. We put this in because the room had no natural ventilation, and it was starting to smell moldy.

Smelling moldy is bad.

I had bought a light-and-fan combo a year ago to put in our Lehi laundry room, but hadn't gotten any further then measuring a support stud for the attic. The laundry room light in this house was already attached to a large ceiling joist, so I didn't need to add any extra support.

But there were other challenges. The biggest was the large piece of press board that was covering the entire laundry room area and had to be taken up without destroying it, as it provides the main access to the HVAC unit. Getting the board up wouldn't have been too hard, except that a couple of phone lines and a heating duct both went through it. I cut the board so the duct now went through a notch instead of a hole, and stood the board up on its side, being careful not to pull the phone wires out.

I then took the existing light fixture out, measured a spot for the fan box, then somehow cut the hole an inch and a half too wide. Fortunately the fixture is large enough to cover the excess hole and the aluminum duct tape I sealed it with.

By the end of last Saturday, I had a functional light and fan, but there was still work to be done yesterday. The light and fan were wired together to the same switch, and the fan just blew into the attic. So yesterday I put a T in the dryer duct so the fan would exhaust to the outside, and I ran a new wire so the light and fan could be switched separately.

I decided that putting another hole in the roof was not a good idea. I hate going up there anyway, and for some reason this roof has a very steep pitch. Maybe that's so both inches of annual snow fall will slide off easily and not collapse the roof.

But since the laundry room air needs to go outside, I had to find a way for it to do so. I opted to tap into the dryer vent, which comes up fairly close to the fan. I was afraid this would be the hard part of the job, but it turned out to be the easiest. I got to use metal cutters (which I bought) and a duct crimping tool (which I found lying around the attic) and lots of duct tape.

I don't think I've ever used duct tape on an actual duct before.

I figured running a new 3+ground wire would be fairly simple - just tape it to the old wire and pull. I put Anna down in the laundry room to guide the new wire up. I knew the old wire would likely be stapled to a stud, but I (deludedly) expected it to pull loose with a little wiggling.

What actually happened was that the outer casing of the wire stripped off, and I ended up with the old wire in the attic, the new wire in the laundry room, and no wire in the wall.

Remembering that Anna was just on the other side of the ceiling, I tried to limit my swear words to the fake ones I learned at BYU-H (as opposed to the ones I learned at Kahuku). I then regained my composure and tried to make a joke while figuring out what to do next.

"We don't really need a light in the laundry room, do we, Anna?"

"Well, I guess we could use a flashlight..." she answered, in all seriousness. She even asked Kara if we needed a light in the laundry room.

I tried several different ways to feed a makeshift fish tape through the wall, but it was clear that the only way I was going to get a wire run was to remove the switch box, feed the wire through the wall, and then put in a new box.

Fortunately I had a few electrical boxes left over from the now-abandoned "Ethernet in Every Room" project. (And no, Wi-Fi won't work, unfortunately.)

I didn't want to cut and patch a big hole in the drywall, so I made the executive decision to pry the box off of the stud (I only broke one screwdriver doing this) and let it fall down into the void between the studs.

I know. Shame on me.

However, once I did this the rest of the project went smooth as silk and quick as a sneeze, which is what happens to people who spend too much time in the attic.

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