Monday, May 08, 2006

Working in the basement

This weekend Mom and I spent some quality time in the basement getting "that" much closer to being finished.

The first day was spent trying to pull the 10-3 (10 gauge, 3 wire w/ground) cable for the 240v electric baseboard heaters from the basement into the garage, where the main panel is. This wouldn't have taken entire day except for the fact that the wall that I have to pull the wire through is full of the 1-1/2 inch ABS plastic pipe that the previous owner put in while the house was being constructed thinking that it would make it easier to pull new wire into the basement. The only problem is that you can't pull wire through the pipe given the two 90 degree bends it makes in less than 6 inches. I imagine that the one wire that was in there was put in while he pipe apart since I couldn't even get my fishing tape through the pipe.

The only solution was to remove the pipe, or more accurately the two 90 degree bends, so that I could run the wire through the hole where the pipe used to be. This required about 2.5 hours of cutting, twisting, nipping, and Dremeling, all through a small hole in the drywall while standing at the top of a ladder and trying not to damage the one good wire inside of the pipe. I finally got the pipe out with the wire intact, but it was serious work and it tore up pretty much every knuckle on my hands. I was exhausted from the work and decided to call it a day.

The next day I took it slow, but I was able to get speaker wire pulled for the rear speakers, a 1/2" soft copper gas line run in the soffit space, and the soffit finished.

While finishing the soffit I managed to shoot myself in the left thumb with the air nailer. Luckily my hand was about a foot away from the air nailer when it happened, so it was more like hitting the knuckle on your thumb as hard as you possibly could, instead of the more painful option of driving a nail through my thumb.

The problem with the air nailer is that while working in awkward locations, if you push the nailer too hard after pulling the trigger, you'll push the nailer back onto the wood after the recoil, but before you can release the trigger. Since the nailer cycles automatically, and quickly, this leads to double nailing as the trigger is down and the tip is depressed when it hits the wood again. The secret to preventing this is to have a light touch on the nailer. But in awkward locations, that's sometimes hard to do. In this case, the tip pushed against the wood just enough to activate, but not enough to cover the nail hole. The nail came flying out at an alarming rate of speed and my hand just happened to be "down range".

The thumb is fine, stiff, and has just a small cut, belying the true violence of the event. I was only a few boards from being done with the soffit, so I pushed on through the pain while the thumb was still usable. Today it's quite stiff and I doubt I could pinch an ant between my thumb and forefinger today. It's not swollen, however, so I imagine that nothing's broken.

All that I think to do in the basement is to put in the return air ducts in the return air plenum, wire up the boxes for the electric baseboard heaters, wire up the thermostat for the baseboard heaters, run a flexible gas line from the upstairs into the basement to connect with the soft copper line, and put in some insulation in ceiling to help deaden the sound from the basement. I'm sure there's something else I'll think to do before drywall, but it looks like I've got only about another weekend's worth of work (assuming I don't remember something major). Yea!

Monday, May 01, 2006

South Dakota

This weekend Sara and I took the Jetta down to South Dakota for her brother's Confirmation. It's a long drive, over 350 miles, and the Jetta TDI delivered nearly 39mpg even though our average speed was over 75mph. It was raining the entire way there, and most of the way back. There were some points where the rain was so fierce that I really wanted a third, faster, speed for the wipers. Passing 18-wheelers at some points was really taking your life into your own hands. The spray from their wheels was nearly impenetrable and they always seemed to edge into our lane at that point (it was quite windy).

We only had to fill up the tank at the beginning of the trip and about a hundred miles into the return trip. However, after over ten hours of sitting in a car seat over two days, not to mention sleeping on a hotel bed, I'm pretty sore and rather sleep deprived.

At this point I'm hoping that I'll a few weekends at home to myself so that I can finish up the basement. The biggest remaining task is to put in the return air ducting. I'm not sure how I'll do that. I can either cut into the main plenum with the vent and put it in the soffit, or I can put some ducting into the wall and run that into the return plenum inside the soffit. Just putting the ducting into the main plenum seems the easiest thing to do, so I'll first verify if that's allowable or not. I'm hoping it is. Once that's done, I bet I can finish up the rest of the work and be ready for drywall by July (though I'm shooting for June).