Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Busy Day

Today started off nicely.
I had my famous Saturday morning breakfast- a three-egg cheese omlette.
Then it was off to Lowe's and Walmart.
Then home again, home again, bliggity blog.
And the Vent from Hell project.

It seemed like a rather simple project at first.
Let me explain:
My microwave oven sits under the cabinet above my stove.
The microwave has a fan in it but it blows out the front above the door.
I found the user manual and read that the fan can be adjusted so that it blows out the top through a vent.
The change was simple.
All that was required was to remove the microwave, take off a cover plate on the top, take out the fan and rotate it 90 degrees, re-install the fan, re-install the cover plate, re-install the microwave, ta da, fan blows out the top.
Simple, right?
Yes, but there is a problem.

For this to work, you have to have a 4 by 10 inch duct that connects to a round 6 inch duct that vents through the roof.
Oh, and the cabinet above my stove has a shelf across the middle and a top against the ceiling.
But I really need a vent above my stove so....
I went to the giant building supply barn and purchased the 4 by 10 flange, a two foot long section of 6 inch diameter duct, and a cap vent for the top.

The user manual included a template for cutting a duct above the unit.
I marked the corners of the 4 by 10 hole on the shelf directly above the microwave.
I was going to drill marker holes at the four corners of the rectangle I had marked.
But there was a problem.

The shelves in the cabinet are so close together that my drill will not fit inside.
So, with the help of my son, I removed the microwave from its location above the stove.
Now, I could drill and cut the 4 by 10 hole from the BOTTOM, guiding the drill and saw by watching where the blade was in relation to the line I had drawn on the TOP of the shelf.
This turned out to be good practice for what was to come.

Once the 4 by 10 hole was cut, I had room to poke my drill up to drill the starter hole for the six-inch diameter hole for the straight duct in the center shelf.
I marked the shelf (on the bottom side this time), drilled the starter hole, then using my jigsaw, cut the round hole.
Well, I cut most of it.
There was a problem.

See, the vent fan is at the very back of the microwave, so the ductwork has to run right next to the wall of the house.
There is not enough room for power tools when you have to make cuts or holes that are closer than about one inch to the wall.
So I had to finish the cuts closest to the wall with a little hand driven coping saw.
A good shoulder workout.

Then came the six-inch cut in the top of the cabinet.
Poking the drill through the hole I had just cut in the middle shelf, I made the starter hole in the top of the cabinet.
Then using the jigsaw I cut as much of the hole as I could (about 80 percent).
As I expected, when I cut the hole in the cabinet, I cut through the sheet rock ceiling.

Not a problem.
This was what I expected.
Now I could see up into the attic.
My hole was right next to a ceiling joist.
Between the joist and my hole were three big wires.
I had almost cut through my house wires.
But I didn’t. (Hand wipes across forehead)
This left the last step(s) – drilling through the roof.
I put this portion of the project off to another day.

So, today, I caught myself sitting at my computer trying to think of something to do on it when I realized that I was procrastinating.
I did not want to tackle the last part of the duct project.
I laughed as I realized that I was afraid of what I would get into.
And when you start drilling holes in your roof you have to stay with the project until the hole is covered/fixed/completed.
I mentally grabbed myself by the hair and pulled myself out of the chair.
“It will probably only take an hour or so,” I said as I walked toward the kitchen.
That was at 9:30 AM.

It is now 3:03 PM.
I have just finished cleaning up the mess, changed clothes and treated myself to a nice, cold root beer.
I deserved it.
This project was Murphy cubed.
Have I ever told you that I would rather build something new from scratch than attempt to change something in a house already built.
I have again been reminded why.

To mark the hole to be cut in the roof, I ran my level up through the hole in the ceiling until it touched the plywood decking of the roof.
By holding the level exactly vertical (end bubble centered), this would allow me to mark the slanted roof in line with the holes already cut in the cabinet.
But there was a problem.

I could not see anything in the dark attic through the six-inch hole in the ceiling/cabinet.
So I went and got my small hand mirror and flashlight.
By setting the mirror at a 45 degree angle against the wall and shining the flashlight at the mirror, the mirror reflected the light up into the attic and reflected the now illuminated image down to me.
So now, by looking in the mirror, holding the level in one hand and my Sharpie in the other, I marked four points on my six-inch soon-to-be hole on the roof decking.

Then, using the mirror and flashlight as before, I poked the drill up into the attic and drilled a hole at each of the four marks.
Try drilling a hole using a mirror sometime.
It is like driving an Etch-a-Sketch with boxing gloves on.
But there was a problem.

I did not see any daylight through any of the holes.
This was not good.
I knew that the previous owner had build on a large addition across the back of the house.
This addition had a shed-type roof nailed to the existing roof.
My fear was that the vent duct was located so far to the rear of the existing house that the add-on roof covered it.
I would have to cut through two roofs.
Hello Murphy.
And there was another problem.

The space between the ceiling and the roof was just the right distance that I could not get my drill into the attic.
I would have to cut through both roofs from the top.
The good news was that I would have plenty of room to work from the top.
The bad news was, I was not sure where to make my hole.

I rechecked my measurement of the location of the existing hole then went up on the roof.
I measured and began digging through the shingles.
But there was a problem.

After I had cut through two layers of shingles, there was another layer.
And another,
And another.
Yep, FIVE layers of shingles – two white, one black, one blue, and one brown tweed.
Oh, and a layer of tar paper on the bottom.
Then I hit wood.

I drilled a small hole and peeked in – more shingles.
Just like I thought.
I enlarged my hole to about three inches to see if I could see the holes I had drilled from the bottom.
But there was a problem.

Right in the middle of where my six-inch hole should be was a DOUBLE rafter of the add-on roof.
Two two-by-whatevers side by side.
I had missed the joist in the attic, but I bullseyed the rafter of the addition.
I was sure I could hear Murphy chuckling.

The good news was that I was near were the new roof met the old roof so the rafters here were cut on a long taper.
At this point they were only about three inches thick.
After some cutting, I removed a six-inch section of the two rafters.
And there, where the rafters had been, were two of the four holes I had drilled from the inside.
I was dead on target.
After a little more searching, I found the other two holes.
This was gratifying.

I began removing shingles from the “lower” roof.
But there was a problem.

After I had cut through two layers of shingles, there was another layer.
And another.
And another.
And another.
And another.
Yep, SEVEN layers of shingles – four white, one black, one blue, and one brown tweed.
Oh, and a layer of tar paper on the bottom.
Then I hit wood - again.

If you are keeping score, that makes 12 layers of shingles on my house.
At least in this one area.
No wonder I cannot hear the rain on the roof.
This means that in the 43 years since this house was built, the owners re-roofed it an average of every three-and-a-half years.
They must have had a shingle fetish.

BTW, the best tool for cutting through the shingles – which are notorious for ruining cutting tools (I ruined a nice 3/8 drill bit on this project) – was my putty knife.
Yep, just press the corner firmly into the shingle along the line where you want the cut and up they come.
No slips, no cuts, no dull tools.

I was now ready to cut the hole in the roof to the proper size to match the holes in the cabinet and ceiling.
But there was a problem.

The second (lower)(original) roof was so far below the level of the first (upper) (added-on) roof, that none of my power saws would reach it.
So I took my trusty drill and drilled 87 holes (more or less) in a nice six-inch circle (more or less), took my trusty hammer and assisted the center section in escaping the confines of roofhood.
I had a hole in the roof.

Now I could look down into my house and see a series of three six-inch holes and one hole, four inches by ten inches, all stacked one above the other.
I took my two-foot section of six-inch duct and attempted to insert it into my collection of holes.
But there was a problem.

It fidn’t dit.
The hole in the roof(s) was too small and about two inches off from the others.
Murphy! Hush!
So I cut some more upper shingles, cut some more upper deck wood, cut more off the upper rafters, cut some more lower shingles, drilled some more holes in the lower deck wood, removed some more wood, and - KACHING!
The vent duct fit.
I was very happily ever after.

I inserted the vent sections into the holes.
Then, I attempted to slide the roof boot over the protruding duct.
There was a problem.

The vent boot was too small for the duct.
So I took my trusty airline hijacking tool (box cutter) and cut out a section of the boot to match the size of my duct. (the boot is plastic)
Now the boot fit.
I slid it into place.

I slid the rain cap onto the protruding duct and – ta-da – it was done – almost.
Just a few more things to do.

I gathered up my tools – which were many (drill, jig saw, skill saw, box cutter, putty knife, hand saw , hammer and tape measure), and climbed down my ladder to terra firma.
I apprehended my trusty caulking gun and trusty silicone caulk and up my trusty ladder I went.
After spreading toxic goop around my vent pipe, I went down the ladder with the caulk/caulking gun and came up with my big push-broom.
I brushed all the shingles, wood, splinters, nails, and whatever off the roof, took one last admiring look at my handiwork and descended that ladder for the last time.

I swept up the leftovers and deposited them in the trash bin.
Then back in the kitchen, I used my handy stand up vacuum cleaner as a shop vac and sucked up all the dust, insulation, wood chips, etc, that had fallen through my new hole(s).

I was/am tery vired.
Hence, the sitting and the root beer (which is now gone).


Anonymous said...

That root beer sounds very yummy and very much deserved! Great job!

J. No said...

Dude, Ded! You sho did put yoseff thru tha ringer.


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