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Catching up: Kitchen part 2

Finally! Some photos of our kitchen looking closer than ever to being done! At least it looks clean and usable now.

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Ok time for before and after!

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Woo hoo!  I have my kitchen back!  We still have plans to add cabinets over the stove and fridge,  refinish and paint the existing cabinets, and actually paint the walls something other than white, but we’re getting closer!

[tags]cabinets, paint, plaster, future plans, kitchen, ceiling, light fixtures, flooring, dishwasher, drywall, refrigerator, photos[/tags]

Paint Colors From My Kitchen’s Past

In tearing out a cabinet to install the dishwasher, we discovered several paint colors our kitchen had once been:

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Color Inspiration: strained peas and mac n’ cheese.

[tags]paint, photos, kitchen, dishwasher[/tags]

My super-fun amazing plumbing adventure!

I gave my post a very upbeat title today because I have a hard time getting excited about plumbing. I want plumbing to work. I’m thrilled with myself when I can get plumbing to work. I absolutely abhor the process of getting plumbing to work. So I’ll do my best to be cheerful as I write today’s entry. However, if I slip into a bit of snarky sarcasm, you’ve been warned: I hate plumbing!

Brandon and I bought a lovely dishwasher a couple of months ago and only this weekend had the time to start installing it. Neither of us has ever attempted anything this advanced, so we both knew it would be a challenge.

Our dishwasher is of the permanent installation variety, meaning we would have to put a splitter onto our hot water line that goes to the kitchen faucet, and hardwire the electrical cord. We’ve both done a bit of plumbing in the past (installing a water softener being Brandon’s experience, and whatever I retained from my high school shop class for mine) so we figured we could probably make this thing work.

However, (there’s always a “however” with these things, isn’t there?) whoever did the plumbing on our house previously did a job under the sink that would make installing our dishwasher really hard. The shutoff valves to the hot and cold lines were way up high near the faucet connection, leaving no room above them to put the split. I figured we’d want the split above the shutoff valve, so we’d have the option of cutting off the water supply to both the faucet and the dishwasher at the same time. Seems logical, right? Well, with the setup we already had down there, that was looking to be impossible unless we completely took out the shutoff valves and moved them down lower on the pipe. Here’s a picture of what we started with under the sink:

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Functional for the moment, yes, but not conducive to adding a dishwasher. We decided we needed some seriously professional assistance, so I called American Plumbing Supply. If you’re in the Des Moines area and rehabbing a house, you MUST make friends with Mr. Harland Lekowsky at American Plumbing Supply on Grand Ave. in the East Village. It’s not hard to make friends with Mr. Lekowsky since he’s one of the nicest gentlemen you’ll ever meet. Mr. Lekowsky KNOWS plumbing and he’s personable enough to help newbies like us learn the basics. I called him up at 3:30 on Saturday afternoon.

“American Plumbing.”
“Hello, what time do you close today?”
“3 o’clock.”
“Oh, well are you open tomorrow?”
“Well what do you need?”
“Uh, I’m installing a dishwasher and I need to add a split to my hot water line and maybe a new shutoff valve.”
“How far are you?”
“Not far, southeast of Union Park.”
“How soon can you get here?”
“Probably 10 minutes.”
“I’ll wait for you. Come on in.”

He’ll wait for me? Oh boy! I hustled Brandon into the car and sure enough we made it in about 10 minutes. When we got there, I explained our situation to Mr. Lekowsky, showed him the picture I’d taken of our pipes, and Brandon gave him the measurements he’d taken. Now, Mr. Lekowsky knows his business, so when one of the measurements Brandon gave him didn’t seem quite right, he asked if we were sure we’d measured correctly. Brandon thought he had, but Mr. Lekowsky wanted to be sure. He handed Brandon a two-inch piece of copper pipe and said, “You run home, measure this next to the pipe you have and come back and tell me if it isn’t the same.” Brandon did as he was told and while he was gone I worked out the details of the new shutoff valves.

We decided on the way over that if we’re going to do the hot water line anyway, we might as well do the cold water line at the same time since that valve was slightly corroded anyway. And since we were replacing the hot and cold water lines to the faucet, which we wanted to replace anyway, we decided to go ahead and replace the faucet too. My project was snowballing.

Mr. Lekowsky set me up with two flexible faucet lines, three shutoff valves (one on its own line for the dishwasher), a longer flexible line to attach to the dishwasher, and two compression couplings so I wouldn’t have to do any soldering or sweating to attach the copper pipes. And while we were waiting for Brandon to get back, he also cut and threaded a new piece of pipe to extend my shower to be tall enough for Brandon. (More about that later.)

Brandon came back and reported that Mr. Lekowsky was correct, that we had standard 1/2 inch copper pipes.

Here’s a picture of Mr. Lekowsky, by the way, with all the goodies he assembled for me on the counter in front of him:

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Armed with $135 worth of plumbing parts and a lot of encouragement from Mr. Lekowsky, we went straight home and forgot all about it until the next morning.

Armed with a “gigantor” wrench (as he calls it), Brandon set to work taking apart our old faucet and I started preparing the new one.

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Old faucet:

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We took a break halfway through the day to go see a movie. Well, in the process of getting ready to leave, Brandon somehow bashed his ankle on the edge of our clawfoot bathtub (He did it while putting his pants on. Bonus points if you can explain to me how that happened. He couldn’t. ) So for the rest of the day he was out of commission with an ice pack on his ankle.

I felt pretty confident for some reason, so I continued without him. First I turned off the water to the whole house from this valve:

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Next I turned on two faucets in the basement to back-drain the water already in the pipes. I opened the valves under the kitchen sink to let the air flow back through them.

I put the new faucet into its place and loosely hooked up the flexible lines and to those I hooked up the new valves and couplings in a dry run to make sure I had enough room to cut and keep the valves functional once they were installed.

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Once I was sure I’d have enough room, I started cutting the pipes.

Here’s my handy-dandy pipe cutter:

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A nice clean cut:

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I wrapped Teflon tape around all the threads before I screwed them in.

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Here’s how a compression coupling looks before you screw it on tight (also before Teflon tape):

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Brandon returned long enough to snap a photo of me at an angle nobody should ever have to see me at:

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Fast forward to an hour or so later and skip over a bunch of me talking to myself, getting Teflon tape stuck in places it shouldn’t go, and trying to sprout extra arms to hold things in place while I tightened everything, and we come to the finished product:

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Brandon hobbled back one more time to watch the pipes as I turned the main water line back on. We huddled around the cabinet under the sink and watched as one little bead of water squeezed out from between one thread. Brandon tightened it a couple of times with the gigantor wrench but the bead of water still appeared, so we’ll have to correct that tomorrow. In the mean time, in all that work under the sink, I only got one leak!

We then tested our new faucet and spray nozzle:

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They worked!

We didn’t accomplish our original goal of installing the dishwasher this weekend, but now we at least have a stylish looking faucet and a super functional spray nozzle to wash our dirty dishes by hand this week. And we also have a jump on the hard part of installing the dishwasher when the time comes.

Stay tuned for more details of my plumbing adventures: part 2, the shower! (Naked picture of Brandon in the shower is on its way, I promise!)

Guest Blogger: Gianfranco Berardi

Today I’m handing over the posting to my dear friend, Gianfranco. “Franco” as we (I) like to call him writes his own blog, GBGames’ Blog: An Indie Game Developer’s Somewhat Interesting Thoughts. After he and Colleen visited a couple weeks back he wrote up a great account of their trip. It’s been a couple weeks since I posted about the visit, so here’s a link to mine as well. Take it away, Franco!

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Wow, I’ve never written a guest blog post before! I can get used to this!

/me sips his martini and relaxes into his recliner.

Kelli had told me about a number of the tasks she was hoping to accomplish with her house, and when she mentioned the need to break about the front stairs with a sledge hammer, how could I not offer my services? Besides visiting my friends, I could destroy a house!

Colleen and I traveled on Friday night, at one point stopping at a gas station near an interesting sign.

Thuersday is before Caturday

When we arrived at the house, it was a little after midnight, but we still ended up talking for a bit. There was a futon setup for us, and Scratch even let us know he inspected it to make sure we’d be well rested for the morning.

What? It's Caturday!

I had to meet the mantis myself, and I was sorry to hear of its recent passing.

The Mantis

Kelli informed us that some cleaning product claims are bunk. After seeing all the work she had done, I am inclined to believe she knows what she’s talking about.

Cleaning Product Displeasure

We got a late start on Saturday, so we had a late breakfast before starting our work. Actually, we took a break after eating all that food first. It was a long break. Scratch helped.

Cat lap nap

Brandon was tasked with destroying part of the kitchen to make room for a dishwasher. I removed staples from the ceiling. Colleen worked on scraping paint off of the wall in the front bedroom, and Kelli scraped stuff off of the floor. I kept feeling like something was missing when I realized we didn’t have any house work music playing! Kelli fixed that problem quickly enough, and we were jamming.

Time to dance!

Some of the staples were tricky and didn’t want to leave the ceiling, but I showed them! I also found a spider and decided that its name should be Wally. I should have taken a picture of Wally, but instead I took a picture out the kitchen window into the backyard.

View out the back window

After Brandon removed the greased-up lampshade from the ceiling in the kitchen, I cut the wire that was left. It won’t be bothering anyone for a long time.

It's gone, for now

After a bit of work, we had a mostly staple-free ceiling, a hole where a cabinet used to be, and cleaner walls and floors. We went out for dinner and watched a DVD as a reward. Colleen went to sleep while Kelli, Brandon, and I walked around the town a bit. Kelli pointed out a number of the other houses in the area that either had been recently fixed-up or will be.

It rained the next day. I learned that there are plants growing in the gutters, which I think would be cool but then I don’t own a house with plants in the guttrs during a rainstorm. They’ll have to go soon, I’m sure.

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The basement also had a bit of water. Kelli said that she’ll have to do something to stop the water from getting in under the foundation from the backyard.

Colleen and I had to leave for Chicago relatively early on Sunday. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do too much more than pull staples out of a ceiling. The front stairs will have to wait until the spring to be destroyed. I’ll be ready for them. Still, it was great to visit with Kelli and Brandon and see their new old house up close.

My pictures from this weekend’s work

We were delighted that our good friends Gianfranco and Colleen could come all the way to Des Moines from Chicago to help us work on our house! The pictures tell the whole story:

Caution: Men at work!
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Brandon went medieval on the kitchen cabinet…
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While Gianfranco pulled staples out of the ceiling. “One… two… three…”
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“Oy, Mah-gerie, these staples! They’re killing my back already!”
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“No I will NOT put this lampshade on my head even though it looks like a sombrero! It’s dripping pig fat for crying out loud!”
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What IS that stuff anyway?
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Contrary to popular belief, Colleen does not whistle while she works.
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We had a great time and the work certainly did go a lot faster having eight hands pitching in.

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