Tales of Rookie Homeowners

So it has been a while since I (Cory) have posted on this blog. So Beth encouraged me to write the next post. 🙂

A new home = new experiences (aka work)

Since moving into our new house, I have become a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to repairs and upgrades. I honestly like learning new things and being a DIYer, but some of the “fixes” I have needed to do are just plain annoying. This is a chronological story of the new home experiences:

We closed on the house at the end of July, but we still had our temporary apartment through at least the end of August. Therefore, we took our time to move things over to the house and get things from the storage unit. I had already been in the search for a washer and dryer and purchased a used/scratch n’ dent set two days after our closing. It was delivered the following week, only to find that the dryer cord was not long enough to reach the installed outlet in the garage. Usually one installs the outlets for said dryers near the floor, since the cords come from under the unit. This one, however, was installed even with the outlet for the washer, which was about a foot above the top of the unit.

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Unusually positioned dryer outlet

I understand wanting both outlets next to eachother, but since the washer uses 110V and the dryer used 220V outlets, it didn’t really make sense to need them right next to eachother, since they can’t be wired together anyway. So the delivery guy came back later with a longer cord, only to realize the outlet that was installed was the wrong outlet type: apparently the outlet that was installed in our garage was actually for an oven and is not supposed to be used with dryers. This is where my first work began. I went to Lowes, which has become my greatest asset (besides Amazon Prime), when getting things for the house, and purchased a dryer outlet. Unfortunately, I purchased a 4-prong outlet when I needed a 3-prong outlet (how was I supposed to know?), so I had to make two trips. When I got back to the house, I opened the breaker box to see which breaker switch I needed to turn off before I started disassembling the outlet. Unfortunately, most of the labels were old and did not indicate everything that was connected to each switch. Plus, NONE of them were 220V breaker switches…so somewhere there was another breaker. So I went outside and over to the air conditioner condenser: nope, only a switch for that unit. So I then go on the OTHER side of the house and finally find the third and final breaker box. This one has absolutely no labels, so I go back to Lowes, get a multimeter, return to the house, and use the trial and error method to figure out which switch turns off the dryer outlet. Finally I get the outlet turned off, disconnected, and the new outlet installed. I get the delivery guy out there one last time to install the right cord onto the dryer and plug it in. It works!!

My second job I knew was going to take some more work: Before we moved anything of value into the house, I wanted to replace all the locks. I was very excited to find that Lowes carried Kwikset door locks that allow you to re-key any lock in seconds, letting us use the same key for every door in the house. I purchased new handles and locks for all the necessary doors and then got to work on installing them when I got home. It wasn’t completely just a remove and replace: For the front door, instead of getting a normal round door knob, I went with a drop-style handle and fancy deadbolt, which required me to drill an extra hole in the door for the bottom of the handle to attach.

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Front door…welcome!

The current hole drilled for the locking mechanism wasn’t drilled straight, so I also had to fix that so the handle would lock. The garage and back door were a piece of cake, but then came the biggest job: The garage also had a door going into the side-yard. Since this was the most vulnerable entry, I wanted to add a deadbolt. I had purchased a special drill and template for cutting new door-knob holes, so I went to work lining things up and cutting the large, circular hole in the door for the deadbolt, then I had to cut the horizontal hole for the lock mechanism. Finally, hours later, I had all the doors completed. I was so proud.

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New deadbolt on side door in garage

The next few days we spent time moving some things into the house, but nothing we didn’t need to still live out of the apartment. Beth and I went refrigerator shopping and picked out the one we wanted. I had measured the height and width of the fridge space, but knew it was going to be a tight fit since the countertop had about a 1-inch overhang instead of being flush with the cabinets. When the fridge was delivered, it still didn’t fit. Though I had measured the exact width of the opening, I missed the crown molding around the base of the opening. So, I got out my screwdriver, knife and chisel and took off the crown molding and then cut the edge so that the fridge could slide past. It was still a super tight fit, but it did fit!!

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That’s a tight fit!

Later that week we noticed water dripping from UNDER the roof of the house at the overhang in front of the garage. This isn’t normal in any instance, especially if you haven’t had rain going on 3 weeks! I climbed up into the attic and found the drain pan for the air conditioner full of water (its an attic unit). Thankfully, that was covered by our home warranty, so we had someone come out and clear out the clogged drain line. Despite not being able to fix it myself, we both learned that the drain has a special port for cleaning with a water/vinegar solution about every month or so.

My next small project was to install a self-closing hinge on our garage door, per inspector recommendations for fire safety regulations. I bought one hinge and installed it, but the crown molding around the door was too thick, so I had to shave a chunk off so the hinge could open.

Finally we arrived to move-in day and was able to gather all our things and move into the house from the apartment and the storage unit in just one afternoon! Thanks to those of you that helped!

All of the appliances in the kitchen were brand-spanking new (thank you house-flipper!), so I figured we needed to run the dishwasher to clean it for the first time. We bought all the dish detergent supplies (I had never really used a dishwasher), and started running the dishwasher. About 10 minutes later we hear a weird noise and Beth goes into the kitchen, she started screaming that the kitchen was flooding! I run in and there is water spraying out from under the kitchen sink! We get the dishwasher stopped and gather all the towels we had to soak up the water. After finally getting it dry, I inspect the plumbing under the sink: we had a garbage disposal that the dishwasher hose connected to, except that the dishwasher hose was only connected with tension: no clamp, seal, or any other connector. So I run to Lowes, buy 2 hose clamps for under a buck, and return to connect the hose. That was an easy fix! We run the dishwasher again…only to find that not all the water drained out of the bottom. Now what!? I did some Googling and found that the number 1 cause is that the intake plug on the garbage disposal has not been knocked out. From my reading, I also find that, though this is common, it shouldn’t be, since all garbage disposals come with a huge sticker over the intake that says “If you are hooking up a dishwasher, make sure you knock out the plug first!” So I take off my new clamp, pull off the house and…the plug is still there. I get a hammer and screwdriver, knock out the plug, reattach the hose, and all is good and well again.

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Unusually positioned dryer outlet

One day when Beth and I are both working on the house and she takes a break, I get her to help me determine what all the breakers turn off. We start by turning all the lights and fans on in all of the rooms. I then opened the breaker boxes and as I turned off each switch, she would call out what turned off. I had purchased breaker switch labels to replace the deteriorating/missing ones. Some of the wiring did not seem the most intuitive to me, for example, the switch for the washer in the garage was also the switch for the outlets on one wall in the kitchen, but we did manage to figure out what all the switches did. 

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Old (left) and new (right) breaker labels

While I was doing some of the work in the garage, I had noticed that the main garage light was not turning on with any of the switches. I had wondered why for a while, but now had the time to further inspect. I searched around the inside of the garage and did find another switch, but it was a reverse switch for the spotlight outside on the corner. No good. I then checked all the bulbs, but they were all pretty new, as was the entire fixture, I found out. I then climbed up the ladder into the attic again to follow the wiring from the light. It led me directly to the light switches I had tried previously. I was confused. So, I went and turned off the breakers that corresponded with the light switches. After removing the coverplate and inspecting the wires, I did not see the wire that came from the garage light. That was weird. I then remembered that one of the outlets on the wall near the light switches didn’t seem to work for me when I had plugged something in a few days prior. It then occurred to me that, with all of the other quirky things in the house, perhaps whoever installed the garbage disposal also installed some of the electrical? Anything is possible, right? So I also turned off the breaker for that outlet and took off the cover plate. Sure enough! The light in the garage was not connected to a light switch, but to an OUTLET!! So I get on Amazon and order a light switch and a few GFCI outlets (required for kitchen and any wet room applications; one even had a built-in night light)! I bought the outlets too because I also wanted to replace some non-GFCI outlets outside and under the sink. After receiving the light switch and installing it, I reset the breaker, flip the switch and Voila! The garage light works! I also bought a motion sensor for the bare bulb so it turns on when I walk in.

Click pictures for captions:

A few days later, as we are still moving things around and unpacking in the house, I notice the commode doesn’t seem to be flushing correctly. We have the fancy low-water commodes that have the two push buttons (one water droplet vs two) for liquid or solid waste, but something wasn’t right. Upon further  inspection, I noticed the water droplets on the push buttons were pointed the opposite direction from the water droplets on the commode in the other bathroom. This means the buttons are backwards. I pull off the top of the tank and turn the selector 180 degrees, put the top back on, and now the flushes match the droplets. 🙂

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Correct button position

Besides all the above quirks, there have been minor additions or upgrades I have done for the house including a new mailbox, since the last one was held to the post with one ziptie, air filters in the A/C returns, moved a hand towel holder and replaced a single towel rod with a double-towel rod that was actually centered with the window and not crooked, filled in the holes with spackle and repainted over the spackle, installed a fan-control knob for the living room fan, place carbon monoxide detectors in the bedrooms, cut down/up a few trees, and installed 2″ window blinds, but otherwise, I think (hope) all the major quirks and repairs are finished with the house for a while.

Click pictures for captions:

That’s it for now,

Cory Goff

Quick update (09-06-2016): Found out this weekend that the hot and cold water hookups for the washer are backwards. The blue knob is hot water and the red knob is cold water. The washer is hooked up correctly though, so when we thought we have been washing with hot water, we have actually been washing with cold, and vice versa. 

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