Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Laundry Room Half Bath Project – or how a Plumbing Project Touched Every Room in the Retro Ranch (and almost every exterior wall too!)

Episode VII – The Washer and Dryer Awaken (Loudly)

In the last installment I failed to mention some of the other electrical and plumbing work that had been done. In the garage we had a new wash tub roughed in behind the half bath sink. This meant a light fixture over this sink and another ground fault outlet. The plumbing vent stack in that wall interfered with the planned medicine cabinet over the half bath sink, which in hind sight we really didn’t need. In electrical news, to remove the non-functioning hose bib near the corner of the garage meant installing a new grounding rod for the electrical system as the grounding was currently attached to the old hose bib. Several more minor annoyances were checked off the to-do list! 

It was time for the finish plumbing and electrical. The sink, toilet and wash tub in the garage all went in without incident. The new super energy efficient heat pump water heater was put into place and connected. More hot water, faster with a lower electrical bill – hurray. However, when the earthquake straps were installed one of the anchor bolts pierced a water line – oops! So, the water was shut off, the drywall cut and a repair was made to the pierced pipe. So while we were not without water for very long, it meant more work for Ted the Drywall Guy and accompanying drywall dust throughout the garage. 

Before taking delivery on a new stacked washer/dryer we wanted the new supply lines and water heater installed. As you may recall from previous blogs, we didn’t want to introduce rust from the old systems into the new appliances. On a Saturday morning, 10 days before Christmas, the Laundry Fairy (affectionately named by Beth) got his new Whirlpool washer/dryer. No more hauling baskets of laundry to our condo in Astoria (dubbed the laundromat during November and December) or to an actual laundromat. Christmas had indeed come early.  Laundry soon started and when clothes went into the dryer I thought it was a bit loud. Actually, more than a bit loud. You could hear the dryer in any room in the house, even with doors closed. 

With Christmas days away and getting ready to head to Chicago to see the kids and grandkids, a functioning, albeit extremely noisy clothes dryer wasn’t on the top of my list of things to deal with. Enjoying Christmas with the grandkids brought into focus just how loud the dryer was. Our daughter, Ashley, had also done some remodeling this year and had a new stacked Maytag washer/dryer that were whisper quiet. As Maytag’s are now just Whirlpool’s with different trim it was time to get things resolved. Standard Appliance sent their technician out and after diagnosing the problem indicated that basically the entire working system of the dryer - blower, heating element, etc. - needed to be replaced. Can you say lemon? 

 I contacted our sales rep at Standard Appliance and explained that I expected them to exchange the dryer. Well this is where tariffs, trade wars and Agent Orange come into play. Seems that they couldn’t get delivery of any more matching dryers at this time. While they did offer an upgraded dryer, they simply did not have matching sets available. A mis-matched set, visible whenever you walked into the house from the garage would have driven the Laundry Fairy crazy (note from Beth - nobody wants an annoyed Laundry Fairy!) Reluctantly we let them install all of the new components in the dryer. The dryer snafu also delayed the installation of the Easy Closets cabinet in the laundry room next to the washer/dryer. The 16 boxes of materials meant the garage was still very crowded, however once the water heater was installed we could typically get the Mini back into shelter. 

I wish I could tell you the new motor, heating element and more fixed the dryer issues. It did reduce the DBA levels - down to the low 70s. But, for reference, a conversational voice is in the mid-50s. This would just not do. So Beth and I made an appointment with our sales rep to work things out. I will say that Standard Appliance made everything right and exchanged our Whirlpool washer/dryer for a more expensive Electrolux set (go Swedes) without a penny out of our pockets. They took an aggravating experience and turned me into a customer for life. Now once I figure out how to turn down the beeper on these units that chirps whenever the load is complete, everything will be great! 

Ted the Drywall Guy did his magic in the garage (behind the water heater) and the project is almost complete. Not so fast there Bucky! There is the saga of the trim and shelving systems in the garage still to come. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Laundry Room Half Bath Project – or how a Plumbing Project Touched Every Room in the Retro Ranch (and almost every exterior wall too!)

Episode VI: Return of the Electrical, HVAC and Drywall Subs

With the plumbing for the laundry room basically completed, we needed the electrical contractors to do their magic. Their schedule was backed up so things were pushed to after Thanksgiving. Their task, reposition the ceiling light in what would become the laundry area, install a new ceiling light/ exhaust fan in the powder room and add a new circuit to the electrical panel. Of course this meant cutting more holes in the garage walls, so Ted the Drywall Guy would have lots to do. While opening the walls the electricians discovered a wire almost chewed through by some long since deceased rodent (or was this the work of Ben the rat?). As part of this project’s extras (or “scope creep” for those following along) a junction box was installed in the patio ceiling so we might install a fan this summer – bonus! 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share an unfortunate “oops” during the electrical work. It seems when the electrician was backing his van up to the garage, he didn’t allow clearance for the ladder on his roof and broke off a large piece of trim along the garage eve. Troy of NWHC was able to refit the pieces that had been broken off with some glue and Bondo (like what body shops use on cars). With a lot of sanding and painting it’s now almost good as new.


The HVAC register was in a great location in the powder room but the dryer vent, which previously exited the exterior wall at almost floor level, was rerouted to vent up over the new bathroom through the attic and out the eve for the new stackable washer/dryer. Keeping an eagle eye on the project progress, while likely a pain in the tuchus for our general contractor, spotted the vent opening in the laundry room was about eight inches too low for a stacked dryer - the sub fixed it the next day. A vent for the exhaust fan was also installed. While the vent sub was there the city inspector came by and approved the work after the contractor explained the scope of work. Although not exactly in chronological order, Rick, our extraordinaire brick mason, patched the holes where the old dryer vent had been and did some windowsill tuck-pointing in about 2 hours on a Friday morning. I defy anyone to point out where the old vent had been. Rick is a true craftsman!


Once City inspectors had blessed both the mechanical (venting) and electrical, it was time for Ted the Drywall Guy to come back to install sheetrock, patch holes and slip-coat the laundry room, powder room and garage. This work spread over a weekend and he had heaters and fans going to help the mud cure. So after patching several interior walls (for hose bibs and the wet bar work) and this project we had hoped Ted was done. Yours truly two coated the laundry room and powder room walls and ceilings and first coated the repaired garage walls in a marathon painting evening as our annual holiday party was coming up in a few days. 

The Thursday before the party Robert the flooring and tile guy dropped off the marmoleum flooring and said he would be back the following week to install it. After some pleading (something about happy wife, happy life) Robert installed the new floor on Friday, the day before to the party. His techniques and skills were a marvel to watch and Beth’s bright blue floor looks fantastic. Robert was back early the next week to install the wall tile in the powder room.

The finishes were coming together so it was time for the finish plumbing, electric, delivery of the new washer / dryer and more. What could possibly go wrong? Tune in next week to learn about the world’s noisiest dryer and how you need to be careful when installing the water heater straps.