The Cool House: electrical
Showing posts with label electrical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label electrical. Show all posts

Friday, June 18, 2010


Still no hardwood flooring in sight so work continues on the plumbing in the kitchen and the electrics in the den. The Sub Zero is churning out blocks of ice for the Gin & Tonics, the rough plumbing for the sink and dishwasher is done - and the tap outside the kitchen has been reconnected.
Yesterday I flew to Ikea to pick up the deco strip for the light rail and the drawer fronts to replace the doors on the cooktop cabinet. Unfortunately somewhere between the phone call telling me my order was in and me arriving there they had been misplaced. Five guys, two gals and a person on the end of a telephone tried for 90 minutes to make them reappear. One gal suggested I reorder and they offered to UPS them to me in "t'weeks"! I had an itsy-bitsy snarky Brit hissy fit whereupon a certain Kevin waded in and located them in four minutes flat. YAY DUDE! And in less than one hour after that the pieces were installed in the kitchen and the last handles (nos 50 & 51*) were screwed into place. Now we just waiting on the Caesarstone and we can start to cook again.
*I needed 49 handles but ordered 51 "just in case". This proved fortuitous when I decide I needed double handles on the 36" cooktop cabinet drawers. I also over-ordered cover panels and we ended up using all of them, including the ones I was going to make into a backsplash. Good thing I fell in love with those tiles...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Template Ready

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, the double wall oven and island range hood are installed and working

the cabinets are in, the electrics have been upgraded and we are awaiting the template guy to come measure for the Caesarstone countertops. It looks almost like a working kitchen again.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Miracles do happen...

The painter called at 8:00 AM to ask if he could come and touch up his not-so-handiwork. He surveyed, sighed and said "I didn't know you wanted the surface prepped, some people just want to paint over the drips and gashes - they don't care". My reply was of course to wonder if he only worked for patrons of the Helen Keller Institute and to suppose he had no pride in his work. He did sort of passive-aggressively suggest he might have to charge me extra but I guess he thought better of that... So we have smooth walls, fewer drips and the entrance to the bath is taped, spackled and painted to a smooth finish that looks a lot better than the gap he suggested we ask the tiler to FILL WITH GROUT!

The electrician came early and installed all the light trims, sconces, medicine cabinet and heated towel rack. Toasty towels on a timer will make a huge difference to our old morning shower and shiver routine. The new ventilation fan is whisper quiet - you can actually hear the sound of running water - or you will be able to once the plumber turns it on. But that's for another day.
Tomorrow the countertop guy will take measurements and we will be one stop closer to a final finish date.

Friday, January 08, 2010


It's getting exciting at The Cool House. The demolition of the master bath is done, the renovation is underway; fixtures are here - mostly. For example we have the Toto maple softclose seat but no word on the toilet yet. I'm in two minds whether to go with my first thought and frame in the tub with wood panels or tile the surround and place a piece of Caesarstone to match the vanity countertops on the half wall. For that matter I'm still not sure if I shouldn't just raise the tub up a foot (with the extra carpentry and plumbing that would entail!).

Still there has been definite and positive progress. In place of the one working light over the vanity and the very noisy fan/light combo unit, I have two recessed lights over the vanity, two more lights over the bath, the newly uncovered shower light, sconces on either side of the medicine cabinet and an updated super quiet fan/light/nightlight. To add more warmth we have a heated towel bar on a timer so we can wrap ourselves in toasty towels straight after our refreshing pulsating shower. The medicine cabinet has an outlet inside so The Guy's shaver will be hidden away when recharging - I'm all for a clutter-free countertop.
Next stop - plumbers let loose!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climbing the walls

Lots going on, some things I want to make into a special post, others are barely worthy of a tweet let alone a line on this blog but for the moment here's a quick update:
We have granite pavers as an apron outside the garage, we do not have asphalt meeting that because the sealant places close for the winter. Check back mid-March for after photos, one "during" photo here.
The electricians returned to patch the hole in the wall. Apparently they are not carpenters so normally they'd just leave a big hole! Good to know that in advance because I would just have left the old outlet there. Also, where I come from this is known as being bloody lazy! The white cable down the outside of the house was "temporary" as one guy had run out of black and they knew they'd be back in the New Year to work on the master bath! This might have worked as an excuse had I not agreed with the other guy that there were three possible ways to do this:
a) pop off the baseboard, run the cable, tap back the moldings.
b) run a new cable in the wall from basement to the new outlet
c) run the cable up from the old outlet, through the void space and down the other wall.
The electrician favored option c but couldn't fit self into void so decided not to bother with a or b but to go outside and DRILL HOLES IN MY REDWOOD SIDING. This is the easiest fix and is known where I come from as being an idle bugger; this is also the reason we don't let Verizon anywhere near out house. I think they understand now that no one touches my redwood siding, OK? And surprise, they decided option a was the best way to remedy the situation. I guess I'll be paying for their time twice though...
New extension brackets for the wood blinds in the master bedroom have been mailed and these guys are really sorry...
We have the big blue sectional and rug in place... but you'll have to wait for Friday for the big reveal. Until then: sneak peek
The tree is still outside...

Monday, December 17, 2007


Yesterday the power went out a couple of times. In this house there are always consequences from a power outage and even though we have surge protectors, there's always stuff to fix when it eventually comes back on.
We are pretty much wireless here, at least the computers are wireless and the phones are VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol or telephone via the internets), so if the power is out they don't work. That means if your neighbor phones to ask if you've got power as his just went out, you don't get the message until the power comes back on. Now you can set the phones to transfer the calls to the cellphones, which is very useful IF you have cell phone service in the house. We don't, so without power we are cut off, and we have to reboot the Airport before we can get to the internets again.
Then, while my lovely iMac will automatically save documents when it loses power, Steven's laptop running XP, won't. But it will tell you the file you were working on doesn't exist, or is corrupt or numerous other versions of "I refuse to cooperate with you". When you have to be finished with a very important proposal by the end of the day this will cause much screaming, swearing and kicking of furniture when the power comes back on and you discover the whole weekend's work has apparently disappeared.
Then there's the TV. When the comes back in the volume has been reset, so it sounds like it's being transmitted through a cotton wool muffler. That's an easy fix, though, requiring only that we press the volume button on the cable box to max. And I have to reset the clocks on the appliances: washing machine, oven and microwave, too. All expected, if slightly annoying.
But there is always a kicker. A little something you never imagined would be affected by the outage. A little surprise to deal with. Yesterday it was the alarm system. When the power went out the loudspeaker, the one that scares the entire neighborhood whenever I overheat anything in the kitchen by booming "FIRE, FIRE, VACATE THE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY", started to vibrate like a drum. Of course this is hard-wired, you can't just take out the batteries, and the wires were soldered together. I'm sure this is a very secure system but when the humming and shaking are driving you crazy there's only one solution and it involved a chair, a torch and a pair of wire cutters. A little drastic maybe, but we were desperate.
So today I have to fix the loudspeaker, and I have to work out why the system tells me three of the door sensors have been compromised and the medical emergency button, too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Prank calls

It's been so long since anything odd or unexplained has happened around here that I got used to normal. Hmm, there's nothing like another scientific impossibility to set you right back to nuts, is there?
The weirdness started around 2 AM Saturday morning. The phone rang. It's horrible when the phone rings in the middle of the night, panic sets in even before you've answered it. And even if it's just a drunk dialing the wrong number, it takes ages for the body to calm down enough to go back to sleep.
I picked the phone up and the id reads: STEVEN. And then it stops before I have time to answer it. That's the id of my husband's cellphone, who I now notice isn't in the bed beside me. I thought he'd just gone downstairs to throw the cat out. But why would he be phoning me on his cell? Strange, and what's stranger is that cellphones don't work in this house, or even in the surrounding area.
So I'm thoroughly confused and run downstairs to find Steven with the house phone in his hand and a perplexed look on his face. "I answered the phone", he said, "but there was no-one there and when I checked the caller id, it was my cellphone calling".
I'm very practical, so my first thought was he'd lost his cell and someone had found it and pressed the "Home" button to locate its owner. But, as Steven pointed out, he'd phoned from his car on the way home Friday evening, and he hadn't been anywhere since, and the cell was still in his car. Uh, oh. My next thought was that the car had been stolen.
As Steven made his way to the garage, phone in hand, it rang again. The id was still STEVEN, and when he answered it again no-one was there. Freaky. The car was still in the garage and his phone was in there, not switched off but powered down. He switched it on and attempted to phone the home but, as normal, there was no signal. Then, and this is the weirdest thing of all, as he is standing there with both phones in his hand, the cell idle but not off, the home phone rings a third time: STEVEN. I grabbed the home phone out of his hand, not surprisingly no one was there. Steven switched his cell phone off. We made a hot drink and waited. After twenty minutes or so we decided it was safe to go back to bed, and that was it. No more unexplained calls from a cell phone that was off and doesn't get a signal here. Nothing, except on the call list on the home phone are three calls: 12/15 2:11, 2:14, 2:15 AM.
If ANYONE has any idea why or how this happened, please take a moment to let me know. Put me out of my misery. I'd just about got over the whole mystery automatic light thing (got over but not solved, since I thought I found the source of the problem the lights have come on by themselves a couple of times. But I've learnt that if I turn the exterior lights off first I can control the den lights. And it's all about control, isn't it?) but this phone thing brought a whole new meaning to bizarre phenomena.

And now I can't get the Animal song out of my head.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Controller floodlight?

controller floodlight?
Originally uploaded by modernemama
I think I may have solved the mystery lighting issues we have been having in the den. Solved them, but not begun to understand them.
This floodlight is situated on the front drive, and I actually didn't discover it until late last year when I did a lot of pruning on the north edge of the property. When we moved in three years ago there were huge raggedy old junipers on the edges of the driveways and buried in these were lights that had been hit (probably by the snow plough). They had once been crescent shaped modern post lights but by the time we dug them out they were busted and rusted and there was nothing left to salvage.
I had an electrician put in new lights at the end of the drive and the only thing that's slightly irritated me ever since is that they aren't automatic. Gradually as I took out overgrown plants, weeds and tons of ivy, I discovered other light sources scattered throughout the flower beds and I began to put uplighters and floodlights on these. They are all connected to the same switch that the drive lights are on.
On Thursday I was outside tidying up when I noticed that the lightbulb on one of the floodlights had been smashed. So I replaced it. Since then we have had no gremlins in the den lights.
I can only surmise that at one time this outdoor lighting system worked on a timer and motion sensor system that was also connected to the den lights. For some reason when the lightbulb was gone (and only shards of the bulb remained) the sensor kicked in. This doesn't make very much sense to me but why else would the lights in the den have given up their independent ways?
I wish the original owner had thought to post a cheat sheet in the control panel of all the x10 lights when he installed them. Or just a guide to which switches control which lights. Anything would have helped. Three years and three months in the house and we still have figured out the electrics. Heigh ho.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I was wrong - the magic continues

I have no problem admitting that I was mistaken about the cause of the scary light syndrome in the den. No one went near the garage, or the remote controlled door openers yesterday evening and still the lights came on.
First the built-in lights came on at 7 PM, then the chandelier came on at 9:56 PM. Then I went to bed, leaving them on. They could burn themselves out for all I cared at that point.
But magically at 12:20 AM when Steven turned the outside lights off, all the den lights went off, too.
Now that leads me to believe that there is some complicated light sensitive stuff going on here that is controlled by the outside light switch. But it must also be timer controlled because I've tried turning the outside lights off before, many, many, many times.
The outdoor lights aren't on a timer (at least we've never discovered one) nor are they on a light sensor (although I've often thought they should be). So WHY?
Why is this happening and what can we do to turn this into a plus? Lights that go on and off when we're not home - that's an anti-burglar system.
And if we can't do that, at least tell us how to make this stop. For good.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

La, la, la

Originally uploaded by modernemama
That's my attempt at denial.
That's what I did last night when we were watching the 8 pm repeat of The Daily Show and this chandelier came on. On its own. With no human help. We have gremlins. I don't care. I am ignoring it. Steven will take care of it via the control panel in the basement.
I have decided (I, too, am the decider) that the problem is related to the remote controlled garage door opener. So I have decreed (I am also the decreer) that this evening Steven will park outside the garage and walk to the front door. we will then wait for the lights in the den to play their crazy game.
If they come on unaided, I was wrong (unlikely, but always a possibility) and we must seek another solution. If they don't, we have solved the mystery, which will give us a great deal of satisfaction but won't help us sleep any easy because WE STILL WON'T KNOW HOW TO FIX IT.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Light... and water

Steven thinks he has cleansed the den of its random lighting curse. Yesterday morning he managed to turn on all the lights in that room and turn them off again. Wanting to demonstrate his newfound electricity controlling skill, he turned them on again in the evening but, of course, nothing happened. He went off to bed mumbling about lighting and x10 and a few minutes later all the lights magically came on. But this time, I was able to turn them off at the switch. A delay, sure - but it beats running down to the basement to turn them off. Success.
The payback came around 3 AM. A loud CLUNK, followed by a whirring sound from the basement that woke both of us up. It was the sprinklers, which are programmed to come on at 10 AM because they make so much noise, but had obviously been seriously set off course by us having to turn off the electricity every other evening. I've switched them off for good now, we should be ok without them at this point in the year.
Hopefully that's an end to our lighting problems but I'm waiting to get through this evening with no lighting issues before I declare this chapter of "the house is trying to kill us" closed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Way beyond funny

This happened again last night. 7:30 just before Steven came home.
For anyone counting, that's once every other evening this week. Twice with these lights, including one time with the chandelier doing a "now I'm on, now I'm off thing" as well, and once with these lights. Each time we have to turn off the electricity at the panel to switch these lights off.
Now, is it just coincidence that this has happened twice just as Steven was arriving home? And it happened once while I was out. Could it be connected in some way to the garage openers? But we use them continually during the day so why just in the evening? Could it be connected to some ancient x10 automatic security light on a timer? But why has it just started this week? And why every other night? And why won't the lights turn on and off at the switches?
Am I obsessing about this? Am I crazy yet? How much more can I take?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weird lighting issues

den built-ins
Originally uploaded by modernemama
This is starting to freak me out - big time. This evening I went to have a sundowner at the beach and watch the sun set. I left at about 6:30 and although it was too hazy for a proper sunset there was a true harvest moon to make up for it.

When I got home, though, I was greeted by this in the den, The lights over the built-ins had come on. Not the bar lights that scared me on Monday , but the ones on a different switch.
I didn't put them on, in fact I haven't touched any of the switches in the den except the table lamps since Monday night because I was afraid I'd have to go to the basement again and turn the entire house off and on, which means I have to rest the airport and the TV cable has to reset itself. A hassle.

So, WHAT IS GOING ON? Help, somebody, and quickly, please.

The chandelier over the coffee table in the den (you can see it in the photo between the built-ins) came on and five minutes later went off again. Is this some new random motion sensor thing? Again, HELP...........

Monday, September 24, 2007

Conspiracy Theory

High cabinets

Is there a conspiracy to deprive me of a full night's sleep?
Last night I'd just dozed off when Steven (who'd stayed up to get the cats in) came and woke me up. As usual he didn't just tell me what the problem was. He likes to work every last nerve by increasing the tension and anxiety level.
"Can you come to the kitchen?"
"Why, what's there?"
"Just come to the kitchen"
"But I'm asleep"
"No you're talking, so you're awake, so please come to the kitchen".
Now, you'd think after all these years I'd have learnt to JUST SAY NO, but I always fall for it.
I could hear the beeping on the balcony.
"Is that it, that's what you wanted me to hear?"
"Just come into the kitchen"
"It's a cicada"
"In the kitchen?"
By this time I was through the kitchen door and I switched on the lights and pointed to the alarm system.
"Stand on a chair and take the battery out of the motion sensor" You can see that I'm not at my politest when I think I've been woken up on a fool's errand.
Steven takes the chair and moves over to the wall ovens.
"It's coming from in there"
"Well open the cabinet then"
"I'm not going in there"
"Well I'm not standing on a chair". I opened the oven but there was nothing inside and the beeping continued.
Then Steven jumped on the chair, unscrewed the overhead halogen light bulb directly above the wall oven and the beeping stopped.
Then he screwed it back in. Nothing. He put the chair back, I turned off the lights and we went to bed.
He went to straight to sleep and I spent the night alternately fuming that he couldn't have sorted that little problem out without my help and wondering what caused the noise, and why unscrewing a light bulb fixed it.