Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Door Knob Lifesaver!

I managed to remove the handle to the exterior door in the laundry room today.  I was going to replace it this morning, but I ran into a hiccup - the plate on the door wouldn't come off!  There is a little thing that moved, but I pushed it in and nothing happened.  Given my propensity to exert too much force on things (and break them), I decided to just hold off for a bit to Google this situation.

I came across a blog that had a perfect description of what I needed!  I'm a bit anxious to go home and try it.  Maybe at lunch...

How to Remove a Door knob that has no screws.

I'm trying to just put something in that's newer... and works.  I think I picked up something like this:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Staining the Shelf Dowels

I let the Liquid Nails dry for a few days, since it's been pretty moist around here.  The fog's been taking over everything like the blob.  I smacked the dowels in different directions just to make sure it was in there (if it was loose, I might as well knock it out now, right?)  Nothing moved, so I moved on to staining.  

I picked this up from Home Depot yesterday.  It was actually MORE expensive than it is on Amazon.  The directions say to make sure the wood's clean and free of oils, dirt, etc.  I sanded the dowels lightly with some 200 grit sand paper.  Rough, I know.  I then used a utility knife to scrape off the extra Liquid Nails on the bottom shelf.  Very little came off, so I figured the next two should be fine.  
I tore an old wife beater in half and rolled it up.  I dipped it into the stain, then started on the top dowel.  Wiping with the grain, I went all the way around the dowel, top to bottom, then moved down a shelf.  It took about 5 minutes to register that this stuff REALLY smells.  I reached over and opened the backyard door.  

With the stain, here's how the dowel looked after two applications.

And here's the shelf with all three!

The color ending up matching really well.  I think to seal it, I have to get the clear minwax varnish and apply to seal the wood.  It's nus that this tiny can is twice the price of the stain.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Or rather, XFINITY!  Bright and early this morning, the cable guy showed up.  Before 8 AM, I had cable and internet working!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Living Room Shelves

Went to Uncle Bill's house today to cut the shelves!  I was pretty excited.  It took about 15 minutes, and the shelves looked great.  We notched the edges in the front so the front would be flush with the shelf face.

When we finally got back into the house, I put the shelves up, and they fit perfectly!  Sweeeet!

One question, though... Should I add a third shelf?

Madre de Dios...

I guess nothing really can just work at this place, can it?  Friday night, I returned home, and my key turned in the lock, but it wouldn't open the door.  WTF??  Yesenia and Sandra were upstairs watching movies, so Yesenia came down and opened the door.  With the door opened, I was able to turn the lock.  Cool.  Must've been a fluke, right?  WRONG.

This morning, Sandra and I stepped out to go run errands. She forgot something inside, so we turned around (from the front steps) and put the key in the hole.  Turn... then stuck.  What?!  Again... Turn, then stuck!  GREAT!  The freakin lock's busted!  And to boot, there's NO other way inside!  I called Crownlock to come and open the door.  The guy said he was pretty busy and it' be a while.  That's cool.  I figured we'd go to Uncle Bill's and cut the shelving then meet him back at the house, right?  It all worked out, we met him up around 4:30 PM.  He came in and spent a good 25 - 30 minutes trying to open the door.  It took a LONG time, but he eventually got it.  With the door open, the key turned the lock to open and close it.  Great.  Now we can't even trouble shoot it!

He removed the lock completely and began to look at the insides.  I looked over and it was all rusted!  The thing wasn't moving internally because it was getting stuck on some rusted parts!  Nice.  Now to get a permanent fix, I have to buy a new front door lock...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Leveling out the Shelves

The lower shelves that we got for the kitchen stove area were sagging, so I decided to get some 1 inch dowels to support and level off the ends.  I picked up a miter box and saw from Discount Builders to cut the dowels since my current hand saw was getting really dull.  .

I measured the height of each shelf from the edge where they connected to the vertical piece of wood.  I think they were all 9 3/8 inches or so.  This saw was a bit different than the previous miter saw.  It only cut in one direction.  The two directional one makes a HUGE difference, if anyone else is looking to buy.

Anywho, I but each one, then used painters tape to mask around the base of the dowels.  I applied the Liquid Nails to the ends of the dowels, then lifted the above shelf to place the dowel down.  I wiped the excess glue from the top and bottom, but figured I'd clean the rest of it later.  With a level, I checked to make sure all dowels were square to the shelf and the shelves were all level.  I had some wiggle room time, so I wanted to make sure everything looked good.

All in all, this took less than an hour.  I guess I'm getting better at this kind of stuff!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nice Cans!

Garbage cans that is!  And by garbage, I mean compost, recycling, and garbage cans!  The order I put in with Sunset Scavenger finally arrived.  I got some brand new, no holes garbage, compost, and recycling bins!  I asked for the larger recycling and composting bins, since there's a lot of yard waste to get rid of.  Pics to follow!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Contractor FAIL

To add to the contractor failings:

Sandra's sister's back up here, and she needed some stuff - like her bed and blankets, etc.  We went into the garage to check them out, and noticed that a ladder was missing.  I looked in the backyard - not there.  I checked upstairs - not there.  Did they take it!?  Anywho, I was left with no way to get up to the top storage area today.  The white wooden ladder was strewn over the couch.  These jackasses didn't even put anything away.

To make things worse, Chuy and I crushed and folded a lot of the card board boxes in my place (we actually did all of them).  I had slowly been fitting what could go into the recycling bin each week, just taking out of the uncrushed box what fit in the blue bin.  For some reason, the contractors decided to take the uncrushed box and pour out everything onto the floor!  Nice little mess now for me to clean.  Once a car's in here, there's no way they'll be able to get their truck in here, and no more shit from them I need to deal with.  They also keep stacking my sister's garbage on top of my trash cans.  WHY!?


The time has finally arrived!  After two weeks of waiting, PG&E came in and turned on the gas!  Well, I was out of town last week, so it was really only like one week.

There were some issues that needed to be cleared up, though.  The meters looked like work had been done to it.  Luckily, according to Ben (the PG&E guy), the work done to mine was done by PG&E.  He explained that they use green pipe dope, and the pipe thread on mine had green.  The other meter, though, had white pipe dope and some putty looking stuff on it.  Oh well, not my problem!

Ben came upstairs to look at the dryer and stove connections.  Apparently, the valves I got to replace the old ones had, "appliance tips," meaning the connection from the valve can go right into the gas supply line!  Sweet!  He helped me take out the extra part, reconnect it, and all was well.

He turned on the gas to the building after making sure both units' gas mains were off.  He marked the meter where the gas was currently, then turned the gas main on to my unit!  We waited a few minutes to make sure there were no leaks (the meter would move).  Nada.  Suweeeet!  Both the stove and dryer have electric ignitions, so there was no need to light the pilots.  He turned on the burners to "Light" and waited.  As the air cleared the line, I could slowly start to smell the gas.  Then, the burners lit!  It was pretty exciting.  I'll admit to being a lot more excited about seeing this than I should be, but shit - this means everything's good to go!

Ben turned on the dryer, waited a bit, then opened it.  Warm.  NICE.

We went down to the garage.  He had to loosen the pipes to the heater and hot water heater to get the air out of them, then he lit the pilot to the heater.  He then got the hot water heater set, lit, and running.  DONE.

He advised me to wait about an hour, then fill the bathtub up about half way to clear out the hot water from the tank.  The tank will refill, heating the water as it came in, saving the gas it'd take to heat the whole thing.

I waited about 15 minutes, then checked to see if I had hot water.  I had warm water, but I was still ecstatic.  I really can't tell you, nor do I want to admit to it, how many times I went over to the stove and lit the burners.  Yes, I was really that excited.

Next up: the big move.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Well, Kinda.

The stove has a bracket that needs to be drilled into the floor boards.  It's called an anti-tip bracket.  My guess is that it keeps the damn thing from tipping over if someone happens to pull on it.  Either way, that little bracket took a whole 15 minutes to put down!  The stove came with instructions and a template about how to put the bracket down.  I skipped it.  These templates have been worthless!  I pushed the stove to where it needs to be.  I lined it up with the microwave, then using super sophisticated 2010 technology, I took out my #2 pencil and traced the foot of the stove.  While looking at it, I thought to myself, "Well shit, ROB, why not just put the bracket on now, and trace that?!"  And so it was done.  I pre-drilled two 1/8 inch holes, secured the bracket using the bolts that accompanied the stove, and voila!
If only I had gas...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Contractor FAIL

It's pretty awesome that my sister's contractor parks his GINORMOUS truck in the garage by backing it in.  His awesome powers of deduction have taught him to park it well while in reverse.  His thought process probably goes something like this:  Backing up the truck, Beep, Beep, Beep, boom!  HHhhmmm.  I must have hit the couch.  Let me push it all the way back to make sure my ginormous truck fits, since I'm too incompetent to park my truck in the driveway.  Beep, beep, BOOM!  Cool.  Couch = smashed, truck = in the garage.  Time to go to work!

Wut an a$$.

Almost there!

We're so close to being down with work on the house, I can pretty much just sleep there already!  And if I do, that's pretty much all I could do.  Due to the fact that my sister had PG&E shut off the gas to the whole building, and not just her unit due to a gas leak completely contained within her unit, I can't turn on my gas.

I called PG&E today, and the first person I spoke with told me that because the person who shut down the gas told them it was for construction, I needed to pay for a gas inspection report to show them before they'd turn the gas back on!  What?!

I called again to speak to someone else. This time, I preempted the conversation with, "work was done to my sister's gas lines in the other unit, but none to mine."  Sweet.  I have to make an appointment now.  I'm out of town for a week starting Friday, and go figure that's their soonest appointment.  I scheduled it for August 23rd after 5 PM.  It'll be a done deal that day!  I'll have gas, two tv's, and an XBox set up.  What else do I need, right?

We spent the afternoon cleaning up around the house.  All the extra drywall pieces still laying around got moved down to the storage room under my kitchen.  The back room got vacuumed, and all the paper covering the floors has been removed.  The regular masking tape sticks to the floor like crazy, and it's a pain in the ass to remove all the adhesive.  Hopefully the steamer will get it off.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Front Bedroom Coming Together

Today, we brought over the box spring and mattress for the bed!  We loaded them into the house with a few other items, then brought the van back home.  We returned to begin cleaning and stuff.  

While I sorted out the items in the garage to separate the two halves (mines vs. my sister's), Sandra steam cleaned the bed frame, box spring, and mattress.  I stopped by and thought it looked really cool when she was steaming the mattress.  The steam came out the other side!

I washed the sheets that we picked up for the bed the night before, so they were ready to put on.

The $1.99 curtain rod from Ikea is now up as well.  The blanket covering the window still looks a bit funky.  we must revisit that soon.  

We picked this steam cleaner up.  If you've ever seen the infomercial, don't believe it.  This is a steam cleaner.  Not a vacuum, not a mop, just a steam cleaner.  It will super heat water to create steam and that steam will kill anything you put it to.  It will also cook your hand or face if you point it there, so be CAREFUL!  It's well worth the $50 to avoid using chemicals on everything!

Another Sunday Fun Day!

Another Sunday Fun Day!

Geez, how I long for my lazy Sundays!  Not.  Sandra does miss them though.  We spent the day at the house today staring at the cabinets in the wall and trying to figure out how to place the microwave on there.  I was impressed by the fact that the cabinets were still up.  Now, they're supposed to hold this microwave?!  Acks.

Just to be completely sure these cabinets were secure, I did a few pullups on them.  :-)  They're good.

I added the 3/4 inch plywood underneath the cabinet to reinforce the opening.  Since I had drilled the holes in yesterday, all I had to do to line up the holes was match the opening for the electrical cord, clamp it down, then drill through the cabinet bottom.

As you can see, the clamp wasn't really holding the wood too well.
Here's the center line of the cabinets.  The instructions keep referring to the center line.  I wish they'd have marked the damned center line on the back or top of the microwave!

Here's the plywood on top of the microwave.  I figured that if I used the plywood to line up the holes, I could also use it as a template for the bottom of the microwave.  It didn't turn out to be that simple.  Although the holes in the cabinet were really, really close to where they needed to be, I still had to use a drill to expand them so the bolts could fit straight down to the microwave.

All in all, we lifted the microwave about 10 times.  The was a bracket that mounted to the wall that had to be installed first.  (Looks like I didn't take any pictures of it.)  It had to be a certain distance away from the bottom of the cabinet, but with the bracket there, the microwave was too far from the cabinet (roughly 1/2 inch).  So, we lifted the bracket to get the vent to line up to the existing vent, and have the top of the microwave flush with the bottom of the cabinet.  Because the microwave hooked into the bracket then rotated back to the wall, this 1/2 inch vertical movement closed the amount of room for the rotation.  A little encouragement got the microwave past this, and Sandra quickly bolted the microwave in while I held it.

If you look at the time stamps, it's easy to think that this took us about 5 hours.  I'd say it took us about 3 weeks.  I kept staring at it all, very afraid to install any of it.  It's up now.  Let's hope it stays that way!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

East Bay Trip

After a fun day at the house, Sandra decided she wanted to see Felicia out in Hayward.  We took this trip out to the East Bay to also stop by Ikea and check out the light fixtures.

I want to get rid of the hanging orb in the hallway since it does such a horrible job of lighting the hallway.  It lights the stair case, but that's about it!  I think track lighting in the shape of an L would be sufficient.  The Ikea Sanda system would work well for what we need.  It will, however, cost about $300 for everything we need.

We passed on buying the lights now and picked up two curtain rods for $1.99 each and a sheer curtain for the dining room.

Cabinet Time!

Enough bitching around, yeah?  Just put up the damned cabinets already!

I know I've been reticent about installing the cabinets on my own.  So much could go wrong, that I just wanted to make sure they were done right!  With the help of millions of people (more like 2) on the internet, I garnished the bravado to attempt this on my own (with Sandra's help and input).

We had everything we needed to put them up: a level, 3 inch self drilling wood screws, liquid nails, the cabinets, and an entire day!  Naturally, we started the day by picking up some burritos and having lunch at the beach.

Our hunger satiated, we went back to the house to begin the task at hand.

Here's the wall:
It's a little hard to see in this picture, but we drew lines on the wall to mark where the cabinet will go.  It was a very un-scientific method.  We did it by holding up the cabinet to where it should be on the wall and marking where the studs will be on the cabinet.  This was so I could pre-drill the holes for the screws.

I used a 3/16's inch drill bit to pre-drill the holes in the cabinet. After I drilled the holes (two on top, outside the cabinet, two on top inside, two on bottom inside, and two on bottom outside), Sandra applied liquid nails to the edges of the cabinet.  This thing needed to be SECURE.

It went up like a charm!

I marked the wall next to it for the other cabinet, pre-drilled the holes again, and Sandra applied liquid nails again.

After securing it to the wall with the 3 inch nails, I wiped off any excess liquid nails that came out of the sides.

The cabinet ended up being a little too tall to be flush with the center cabinet.  The bottom, though, should line up to the metal edge of the microwave.

We left, so this could all settle.  Hopefully it'll all still be up tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Painting the Heater Vents

The base boards and walls were pretty much painted in the living room, dining room, and front bedroom.  One thing that always kind of bothered me was how ugly the heater vents were.  We couldn't find any place that sold newer replacements for these vents, so Sandra removed the existing ones, and I cleaned them off in the backyard a few days ago.  Keep in mind that by cleaned them off, I mean I hosed them down.  That was a much needed hose down, too.  All of them had grayish water streaming from them.  I also sprayed them down with TSP to further reduce the gunk.  We left them sitting inside to dry.

Today, I painted them with the semi-gloss.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Closing up the Sink Wall

We took a few days away from the house to go to Giants games and forget about the whole washing machine incident.  Whoever trained that thing in Judo deserves an award, cuz that was a CLEAN throw.

Anywhere there was just wood exposed, I stapled some black roofing paper.  I also secured a piece of wood on the left in order to have something solid to secure the hardibacker to.

Since I was able to see from directly underneath the kitchen up the walls, I wanted to seal all that up from bugs and cold air.  I used about an entire can of "Great Stuff" expanding foam to seal up the bottom of the wall, then sprayed some from underneath.

I used some of the leftover pieces of hardibacker to cut up to patch the walls under the sink.

Due to space limitations, I couldn't just cut one large piece and slide it though to the other side.  Instead, I cut a piece long enough to go to the stud, then another piece to go from one stud to another.  There they are secured in.

The other side went pretty much the same.  I tried to use bigger pieces if possible to avoid having too many gaps.

Then, as usual, I used some joint compound to seal the seams.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bathroom Pipes

So the whole PVC piping in the bathroom finally got to me, and I caved.  I bought a pipe cutter from Home Depot and the extra chrome pipe pieces that I wasn't able to salvage from Sully's truck at U-Save Plumbing on Lawton Street.  I basically needed a right sided swing arm waste line.  Odd thing is that they had them there!

The key to cutting pipes (or anything, for that matter) is to cut a little bit at a time.

Here's how it all came out:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pipe Dreams...

For some reason, most people think of drugs when someone mentions pipes.  Why?  Remember how the bathroom sink backs up?
 (  It's been annoying me forever.  I finally was able to schedule some time with Sully to show him what was going on.  He came in on Monday to look at the stuff.  He said it wouldn't be too hard (he actually said it'd be easy).

Today, he called me up and said he got the parts and could come in to replace the pipes underneath the house!  We used Chuy's Sawzall (I LOVE that thing!) to cut out the old pipes.  It literally cut through them like a bread knife through a bagel.

That pipe was just nasty.

Here's a side by side comparison of a new cast iron pipe and the pipe we just cut out:
Sully used the snake going up through the drain to clean out anything on the vertical side, then used a shopvac to clean out anything on the side connecting to the main waste line.  He put the bands on, connected the new pipes, and within an hour, the water was draining from the bathroom sink like the house was brand new!  Sweeeeet!

Here's where Sully messed up, though.  He asked if there was anything else I needed done!  Well, there was always the kitchen sink drain that needed to be lowered!  (

We went upstairs to take a look at it.  He priced it out, and it was cool.  Same as the bathroom.  Me and his buddy Juan started to cut a hole into the drywall underneath the sink to expose the drain pipe.  Crap.  Issue #1 - this drain vents off to another pipe behind the cabinet on the left side.
If you're wondering why the cut extends out to the right, it's because I wanted to expose the old galvanized water supply lines.  They are no longer used since there's copper now, and they were just dead pipes sitting in the walls.  We exposed them so I could cut them out.

The odd thing about this was that to replace the copper pipes, it looks like they cut open a panel from the exterior, then replaced it.  There was newer cast iron piping in the wall banded to the older pipes, with a copper pipe connected the waste line to the vent line.

We cut open the wall in the back of that cabinet to the left, too:
GREAT!  The pipe that leads to the vent pipe goes through a stud.  Not bad, though, we just have to raise that pipe and cut a new hole.  At least it's not a support beam.

We cut through the pipes underneath the sink and put a band on to connect the new pipe.

Before we cut the pipe behind the left cabinet, Sully wanted to make sure it wouldn't fall on us.  He said he'd seen it happen a few times before, where they cut the pipe, and 30 feet of pipe above it just dropped straight through the floors.  Here's a picture of Michelle's kitchen walls exposed to see what was going on up there:
From this picture, we can see that there's a T-Joint leading off to the right side which will keep the pipe from falling on us.  Cool.  We proceeded to cut.  Even though the pipes were banded together, because a panel was cut from the exterior before, we couldn't reach the screw in the band to loosen it.  We had to cut it off.

We installed all the new cast iron pipe joints and bands, connected everything, then ran the water.  Guess what?  IT WAS BACKING UP!

The new chrome pipes under the sink were allowing the water to flow faster than the clogged pipes, and somewhere down the line, something was causing it to back up.  I thought, and Sully thought it might be as well, that the down grade from the waste line to the vent line wasn't steep enough, so Juan disconnected everything and with a grinder started to slowly cut away at the base of the vent line.  He removed about 1/8 inches, and we reconnected everything.  Crap.  Still backing up.

We disconnected everything and did it all over again, this time, grinding it down another 1/8 inches.
Check out the sparks flying.  This was serious.  We'd been working on this for a few hours now, and it was turning into a nightmare.  We kept cutting more and more of the pipe to increase the grade, and it was still backing up.  We used the shopvac to clean out anything inside the pipes, then tried flushing it down.  No go.

Here's all the crap that was in there:

We were getting close to the bottom, and it was getting harder and harder to replace the bands.

The kitchen was looking more and more like a disaster area.

Sully asked what was under us, and I said a storage room.  He asked what the pipes looked like from down there, and I had no idea.  I ran downstairs to look, and I could actually see the pipes!  Oddly enough, they were copper!  We decided to see if I could push the bottom up the pipe upwards to allow Juan access to cut more of the pipe and more room to connect the bands.  As I pushed the pipe up, I heard Sully say, "Muther fucker!  AY, ROB!  Come look at this shit!"  I let go and ran up.  Juan was holding on to the pipe piece.  It was about 3 inches of galvanized pipe banded to the copper piece downstairs.  That piece of galvanized pipe was just gummed up.  It looked like someone put a hockey puck in the pipe!

We used the shopvac and cleaned up what we could, then just removed that piece of galvanized pipe!  We connected some new cast iron pipe with a band to the copper, then reconnected everything.

Instead of connecting the chrome, we shoved the hose into the waste line to test it again.  It flowed!!!!  Sully was literally here for 8 hours!  But, geez, was I thankful!  That mess would've been a pain in the ass to get done from someone else!