The Pandemic DIY Home Improvement Projects

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by Salamander_King, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    As many of us are confined in the household bubbles to interact and spending far more time at home than used to, we are spending more energy into our homes to fill the void that would otherwise be spent going out or meeting with friends and family. Many media outlets report booming home repair and construction material businesses. With a help of on-line shopping and delivery, even somewhat larger scale home repair DIY project can be undertaken without much increase in risk of spreading the virus. Yeah, people need to pass the time and save money in this era of pandemic, and it is not the time you would want strange crews of construction workers inside of your secure household.

    If you have recently tackled any do-it-yourself projects around your home which you’ve had been putting off for a rainy day, then why don't you share your project with us. Any pro-tips from seasoned DIYer and/or cautionary tales of mistakes novice armature have made on the project would be most helpful for others thinking of trying.
     
    #1 Salamander_King, Nov 24, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  2. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Ok, here is my recent DIY project. It was a leaky faucet that really needed to be replaced. I remember replacing the cheap apartment grade faucet that came with the house when we first moved here 15+ years ago. What I installed was a Delta swan neck faucet with a separate handle and shower head, however with an additional soap dispenser, a drinking water faucet for the RO filtration system, and old dishwasher vent cap, a thin 20 gauge stainless steel sink had 6 holes in total. I have changed the O-ring on this faucet number of times which remedied the leak problem for a while but it always came back. Initially, I planned to change just the faucet, but with the number of holes on the old sink, I could not find a way to replace it with a new faucet without looking really bad. The sink was an old double bawl shallow 6" deep stainless steel drop-in type on an equally old gray sandstone patterned laminate countertop.

    Home Depot was having a timely sale on numbers of faucets by Flow which my wife looked at and liked. So, I first ordered the single-hole brushed metal finish kitchen faucet with a motion-activated sensor. I have never heard of the brand name Flow before. As it turned out the faucet is made by BioBidet, a company specialized in manufacturing bidet-equipped toilet seats. It is not well-known brands like Delta, Moen, or Kohler, but the review on both Amazon and Home Depot was good, and the sales price was just too good to pass. The initial impression after installing the faucet is pretty good. It is solid and quality construction, easy to use, and looks great. The only concern is that the unit seems to be self-contained and no internal parts can be replaced, unlike old school Delta faucets I am used to. We will see how durable it is.

    For the sink, we initially explored the idea of installing a custom made sink, but quickly realized how expensive that would be. In the end, we have decided on the same size 33"x22" but much deeper single bowl workstation drop-in stainless sink from Ruvati. The 16 gauge stainless steel with a 10 inch deep bawl is massive compared to the old one, but the sink was also ordered from Home Depot and delivered to our doorstep.

    Well, I thought replacing a drop-in sink and faucet would be just disconnecting the supply line and the pipes and removing the old sink and faucet and literally "drop-in" the new sink and faucet as shown in this "This Old House" video. It took only 15 min for a professional plumber. Thus even by an amateur DIYer, it should be done within no more than an hour of labor. Boy, was I wrong on this assumption! As the old adage says "If anything can go wrong, it will." When I first started to remove the wooden backsplash, I discovered that years of a water leak at the base of the faucet has caused extensive water damage onto the particle board of the laminate countertop around the backside of the sink. The wooden baseboard installed as backsplash has also decayed beyond repair, and laminate around the sink flaked off with a very easy push of a finger.

    At this point, the only way to repair the problem was to redo the countertop. A quick inquiry at Home Depot's website for custom countertop revealed that replacing an entire 40 sf of countertop would cost easily over a thousand dollars even with the cheapest laminate and that means waiting days or weeks and having an installer coming into our house, the idea that was not particularly agreeable with our current budget and stays home situation. Then I thought of maybe replacing the section of the countertop just around the sink, but there was no way that the section of the countertop would match the rest of the countertop. The final answer was to repair the water damaged countertop decking material behind the sink and re-laminate the entire 40sf of the countertop with a new Formica laminate.

    For this, I had to order two sheets of 8x4 Formica laminate again from Home Depot and wait for 5 additional days for the delivery. After having all the materials on hand, I have removed the old sink and started to repair the deck. I have stumbled upon more problems along the way and the progress was much slower than I first anticipated, but after a week of due diligence, I was able to finish the project. As a finishing touch, I decided to paint the walls and window trims, which has made the entire kitchen much blighter and spotless.

    Was all of this worth it? Hell yes... I probably saved thousands of dollars DIYing. My skill level and knowledge are nowhere up to par with pros, but my labor cost is free. I am staying home 24/7 right now. I have no commuting to do. Most of the materials are delivered right at our doorstep. I also picked up a few new tools and skills along the way that I can use for my next DIY Home Improvement Project.

    upload_2020-11-24_19-54-41.png
     
    #2 Salamander_King, Nov 24, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    well done! plumbers are the most expensive and difficult trades people to get around here.

    i sanded down the threshold of our back door, which has been sticking for years, especially when humid. mrs b put on a couple coats of poly, and we're good to go. opens like a breeze now!
     
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  4. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, same here. I personally hate the plumbing job more than any other choirs around the house. I have been using a plumbing company for jobs beyond my capability for the entire time we have stayed at our house. They are very reliable, but if I had to hire one of them for this job, I don't know how much they would have charged me. Certainly, they would not have re-laminated the counter top and painted the wall.

    What I thought was a small job turned into a big project but worked out great. Now, I have an entire floor to re-do. We hate the wall to wall carpet we have now but underneath is unfinished paneling. I have to explore what I can DIY in this situation.
     
    #4 Salamander_King, Nov 24, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    engineered flooring is pretty neat, and easy to install
     
  6. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's what I am thinking. Pergo laminate flooring is sold online and at local Home Depot.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    we've used it twice, 12 years later, looks like new. the variety has really grown since then, a lot of beautiful floor styles
     
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Late in the spring I re-roofed my chicken coop with sheets of corrugated galvanized steel. Now it stays nice and dry in there and the eggs are still delicious.

    I can't remember which thread had the details but I built some raised bed garden boxes this spring. The onions didn't take at all, only one head of lettuce came up. But we did get upwards of 20lbs of roma tomatoes, 10lbs of bell peppers, 6lbs of jalapeños and a good amount of violet sparkle and shishito peppers.

    One July morning my wife reported to me that it was raining in the basement. I shut down the water and discovered a perforated pipe. I fearlessly grabbed the saw and hacked out a ~15ft section of copper 1/2" pipe including a ball valve and a couple of tees as this bit of pipe was the main distributor under the old kitchen.

    I got the local Dome Hepot to sell me a roll of the new crosslinked polyethylene plumbing tube and some fancy push-fit parts to replace the tees and valve. I used their new curbside service and loved it! It took about 45 minutes for them to answer the phone and walk the bag of parts out to me, but this was completely worth it vs. 2 hours of scouring the shelves myself looking for mis-stocked parts. I'll never set foot in their stores again, but they'll keep my business!

    Anyway we had the water back on 4 hours later. I folded up the old copper one to go in the recycling, found no fewer than 4 repair patches along that length of pipe.

    I spent Labor Day weekend (all of it) applying latex sealer to my large asphalt driveway. 128 gallons of the stuff. I'm just glad I got the non-stinky kind.

    Over a couple of days in October I removed a dozen 48" fluorescent light fixtures from a perimeter cove installation in my kitchen and replaced them with LED fixtures. Sounds simple re-reading what I've just typed, but these things were on the ceiling, wedged between the outer wall and exposed oak beams, so it was a tight space to get into. I had to replace most of the wire linking them together as well. These were some of the last not-LEDs in our house.

    Of note, the old fixtures were whatever no-name brand manufactured right down the street 65 years ago, the replacements have a big brand name and came from across an ocean.

    @Salamander_King about a year ago we installed a faucet very similar to yours; I just changed the batteries for the first time. It doesn't seem to flow as well as it first did, the water heater doesn't always start in response to that tap anymore. Hmm.... new project.
     
    #8 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Nov 24, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
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  9. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Yeah, some of the newer design and patterns available are amazing. You would never know they are not the "real" thing if you weren't told. I really wanted to install bamboo flooring, but the cost and installation difficulty are not for us.

    We still have most of original light fixtures that came with the house. They are mostly ceiling lights. I really would like to change them to recessed light fixtures, but that would require major installation effort in the crawl space attic. Not the job for a novice DIYer.

    I am hoping this faucet will last as long as the sink (which would probably a life time). I installed the faucet onto the sink before dropping in the sink into the countertop. This made the faucet installation so much easier. But... now if I have to replace it again, the space behind the sink and the wall is so tight, it would be a major effort to replace it. BTW, did you try cleaning the aerator to see if that improved the flow of water? Our faucet came with a spacial tool to remove the aerator off the shower head. Without the tool, the recessed aerator is very difficult to remove.
     
  10. Prius Maximus

    Prius Maximus Senior Member

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    If you've never seen one of these, you'll need it.... I have one under the bathroom sink in case I can't find the one under the kitchen sink when I need it!

    Ace Basin Wrench 10 in. L 1 pc. - Ace Hardware
     
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  11. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    Pre-COVID, but a biggie for me: about 2 years back I tore out a tile shower and replaced with a 4-piece Fiberglas unit. Learned a bit about drywalling, plumbing, caulking, painting. Where to draw the line was paramount: wanted to do a good job, without going overboard. Kept me occupied for maybe 3 months in total, I work slow lol.
     
  12. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Thanks for the tip. But for this faucet, it may not work. The mounting plate is tightened against the underside of the sink by two Philips head screws. I do have an extra long screw driver which I used for the mounting clips for the sink, but more of the problem is the fact that under the position of the faucet, there are multiple obstacles of supply pipe and drain pipe that prevent my head to get underneath the faucet. My feeling is that if I ever have to replace the faucet, I will have to remove the entire sink off the countertop.:(

    upload_2020-11-24_18-51-17.png

    upload_2020-11-24_19-0-27.png
     
    #12 Salamander_King, Nov 24, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  13. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Suggest you photoshop image#2 to make it look like you have a GFCI outlet installed near that beautiful sink. Or install one.
     
  14. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    The outlet is already GFCI protected at the upstream line on the same circuit at end of the countertop. I have confirmed that when I had an inspector come in for home safety check.
     
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  15. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Excellent. I'd still photoshop it :)
     
  16. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    I actually bought extra GFCI outlets to replace this and another regular outlet in our kitchen when I was told the same thing by the safety inspector. But after discovering that those outlets are in fact already protected, it became clear to me that switching every outlets on the same circuit to GFCI outlet is waste of time and money. More importantly, if one outlet trips, I would not know which one to reset without going through all of the outlets. But for the sake of not provoking safety conscientious viewer's suspicion, I did Photoshop the image in my comment #2. Are you satisfied now? ;)
     
  17. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    I am completely satisfied. NFPA trolls must be few among internet trolls, but I pretend to speak for them, hoping to spare you unnecessary grief.

    Excellent sink installation BTW.
     
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  18. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Thanks. We originally had an idea of doing an addition to our house and building an entirely new kitchen in the addition, but after consulting a few contractors, we realized that the price tag would be way too steeper than what we have planned initially. Now, we have decided to save the money in the investment account instead and use the capital gain from the account to do smaller incremental facelift type improvements. Far more economical that way.

    BTW, what is NFPA?
     
  19. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    In pandemic DIY I harvested kilograms of olives and running them through the very complicated process of brining and 'canning'. It may not rise to the level of ...
     
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  20. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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