Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Perils of Great Architectural Details

We really love the style of our house. We love the coved ceilings, dormers and little details that you only notice after spending time in a room. All this awesomeness does come with some downsides though; especially when you are trying to update the wiring.

Nate and his friend An were able to really bust out the majority of the downstairs electrical a few weeks back and since we don't use the upstairs on a daily basis we had taken the approach of out of sight out of mind for the upstairs electrical. Nate and An had ripped out the old wiring upstairs and ran the circuit wires up and that is how it stayed... with no power.

Then we got a little kick in the pants. Nate's dad booked a flight to come and visit us (more on all the awesome work they did later) and since our guest room and guest bath are upstairs we thought it appropriate to at least get the power on in one guest room and the bathroom.

We started in the bathroom because we thought that it would be easier. We did not knock on wood (shame on us) and so it was not easy... all because of the architecture we love.

This is not the greatest picture to demonstrate the issue but bear with me. You'll notice that you do not see any outlets in the picture above...

or this one

or this one

This is because the only outlet pre-electrical redo was located behind the mirror here

Needless to say, this was a pretty ineffective/useless outlet especially because it wasn't working. We wanted to add more function to the bathroom so we decided to add a 2-gang outlet on the right side of the mirror (a total of 4 plug in spots). This side was easy to wire (more on how we went about wiring the house later) since we have access to the attic so we could drop a wire down.

We already had the hole for the old outlet so we made the decision to try for 10 minutes to get it wired. The reason this one was not as straight forward as the other one is because of the dormer. The outlet was too far under it to access it from the attic so we had to get a little creative. We initially cut a slightly bigger hole so that we could assess where the wires were coming and going.

This is an aside on why the outlet wasn't working. After we cut the hole for the new outlet we saw horizontal wires that were running over to the old outlet. All the circuits in the house were off so I gave a little tug on the wire to see if we could maybe attach the new wire to the old wire and pull it through. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't... this time it didn't. When I tugged I met no resistance... because it was not attached.... This is one of the issues with knob and tube wiring... sometimes it breaks and this is one of the reasons it's a fire hazard.

We tried a bunch of different tricks trying to get the new wire to the old outlet to no avail. Our ten minutes had turned into 4 hrs and a bigger hole to patch. We were about to give up when Nate had one more idea. When we rewired the overhead light, we replaced the ugly, huge, florescent light with a much prettier, but not a bright light. His idea was to drill a hole for a light above the mirror and hope that we could get the wire through the one stud separating the light hole from the outlet hole.

After we made a few more checks to see if this seemed reasonable (we knew there were wires going from the old outlet to the attic so they had to go through that stud somewhere) we drilled the hole. We finally got lucky. First we were lucky because the wires we knew ran up went through the stud right where we drilled the hole and secondly we got lucky because we were able to pull the new wire through using the old wire so we didn't have to feed it through the tiny holes.

Can you say woo hoo! We definitely did a little dance when we finally had all the wires in place.

Everything else in this room was really easy to wire. Once all the wires were run we could install the outlet and light boxes, outlets, lights and covers. Then it was time to hook up the circuit and make sure everything worked (which it did).

We still have to do some patch work but we finished everything so that Nate's dad could actually use the bathroom.

This half  full day job took way longer then expected but the end result with the new light and working, assessable, outlets was totally worth it. In case you are wondering, yes the mirror is off center, yes it is a little big and yes we will be replacing it... eventually. Until then we are basking in the light of our fully powered bathroom.

My Repurposed Life House of Hepworths

1 comment:

  1. what a job on this bathroom Cassandra! It looks great, but will look better after you get it just the way you want it. :)