Housekeeping – Late 2016

Been awhile since I shared some projects I’ve taken care of around the house, and with the completion of a couple more I figured it was a good time. I’ve posted this in several categories, it will be interesting to see which side of the site this gets published to.

Our house is 45 years old now, built during a period that really isn’t well-known for great designs or longevity. Ours was remodeled and added-on to about 15 years ago, and the results are decidedly mixed. Not our fault, we moved in after, right about eight years ago. Some of the projects I’m just getting around to were noted on the inspection. What can I say, I’m a procrastinator.

I’ll start with the project I just completed. We have a whole house fan in our hallway, and it had two controls – one big monstrosity of a panel on the left here, and a manual timer on the right. Note, this picture was taken after I was done, so the missing button and dial were there before.

Well, the dial control is supposed to have a automatic shutoff, but the clockspring has been broken since probably we moved in. I can’t honestly remember. While I was at Lowe’s shopping for items for another project, I saw a digital timer that met my criteria. Many timers only go for as long as 60 minutes, but I wanted something more like eight hours. This one goes up to four, or there is pure manual control. That worked for me, and it was fairly cheap.

It turned out that the big control box was a thermostat, long since broken. The only thing relevant was the power button that reset the manual timer when needed. I pulled the dial timer and discovered only 14/2 wire, and I needed a neutral. On a hunch, I also pulled the thermostat and found that neutral I was looking for. If I put the timer where the thermostat was, I could eliminate the dial timer and junction box completely. It was fairly trivial to get the wiring correct, there were three 14/2 wiring runs coming into the double box. One was hot, one went to the fan, and the other ran inside the wall to the dial timer. It was only a matter of determining which run to assign the line/load to, and I guessed correctly. I put in an old work box where the old timer was, and a blank plate. Then I used a two gang plate and a blank insert in with the old thermometer space.

Speaking of a thermostat, shortly after we moved in I replaced the analog thermostat with a programmable one, a seven day unit. It had worked well for a long time, but with the addition of some home automation things (Phillips Hue, Amazon Echo), I wanted a smart thermostat. I had my eye on the Ecobee3 for a bit, and picked one up when it went on sale just before Black Friday. Again with the wiring, I didn’t have enough wiring in the wall (needed a common). However, Ecobee includes in their box a kit to convert five to four at the furnace. An extra hour or so (trip to store for some connectors), and I had it hooked up and running. It’s very nice to be able to see how the weather impacts our heating and cooling, and see just how much and how often the furnace or AC kicks on. It also comes with remote sensors, and you can see the temperatures in other rooms and identify hot or cool spots. After a month I’ll be able to see a detailed report, even more than I’m getting already.

Our house did not have any external outlets until earlier this year. I installed one in the back of the house to run the lesser extension cord for the shop, and on Saturday I installed one on the front to run holiday decorations and what-not. This was the project I completed right before the fan timer. A much needed addition, and I have plans for at least one more in the carport for the vacuum and when I need to bring the compressor down.

I posted a few weeks ago on Instagram a picture of a networking board, a neat setup of my networking equipment on an easy to access board mounted to a wall. I got a new router, so it’s time to redo it. I got the new router up and running Friday night, but by Saturday morning the internet went out and hasn’t come back at the time I am writing this (Saturday night). When this gets posted, the internet will have been fixed.

Next up I think is some more wiring and general improvements. I want to add an outlet at our kitchen computer to mount it below the counter. Probably add a 3.5mm and VGA connections as well. I have a bit of that already on hand from when I thought I was going to do it several years ago. I’ll also start wiring for our bedroom TV wall mount, and future living room wall mount. Perhaps finally run some ethernet cable to the living room instead of using powerline.

That’s pretty much it for this time around. Might have a followup at some point next year when these other things get taken care of.

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