Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Electrical Outlet Installation Details

Here's a description of what I do when install an electrical outlet.  I'm not claiming that this is the only way, or the "right" way, but it's what I've been doing and the Electrical Inspector is happy with it.

This the rough-wired outlet box with the wires stripped and ready for installation. The wire marked with the red tape (left wire, above the box) is the supply-side wire. The other wire goes from this outlet to the next outlet; becoming the supply-side wire for the next outlet.

In the back of the box there are two green ground screws. The bare ground wire from the supply-side wire is first wrapped around one of those screws.

Then the two ground wires are twisted together with a third piece of wire. The third piece of wire is called a pig-tail, and is what gets connected to the outlet plug.

Next, the Hot (black) wires and the Neutral (white) wires are twisted together with their respective pig-tail wires.  A marette (the orange cap) is twisted on to the wires to hold them together and insulate each group of wires from the others.

Here you can see the Hot and Neutral pig-tails. They'll get connected to the outlet plug.

The next step is to neatly coil the wires up inside the box so that there is still lots of room for the outlet to sit comfortably inside the box as well. 

Here you can see the three pig-tails sticking out, ready for connection to the outlet. 

The wires are all attached to the outlet... the ground wire to the dark green screw at the bottom, the Neutral wire to a silver screw, and the Hot wire to a brass screw on the other side. It is important to attach the right wire to the right screw. Hot wires get attached to brass screws, and Neutral wires get attached to silver screws.

The final product.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rough Electrical Inspection Passed

The Electrical Inspector paid me a visit and I've passed my rough wiring inspection for the main floor and the loft.  (I haven't done the basement yet.)  He was happy with everything and there's no re-work required!  Now I can proceed with connecting all my completed circuits to the service panel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Insulation

Here's the insulation finished on the east wall... ready for poly. I've also got a few of the insulation baffles installed in the roof cavity.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Insulation Update

Today I installed the insulation and vapor barrier in the short roof over the kitchen.  As with the other sections of the roof, I've put in two layers of 6" fiberglass insulation.  That provides an insulative value of R40.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Electrical Details

When I first started designing the electrical system for the house, I decided that I was going to make fairly detailed drawings of all the circuits.  That way, when the inevitable "Where does this wire go?" question comes up, I'll have something to refer to.

Here's a sample of what I've done.  (Click on it to enlarge it.)

I've started installing some of the lights and light switches.  With a couple of good books on the subject and plenty of wiring diagrams available on the Internet, it's really not that hard to do simple wiring. 

The part that's difficult is getting everything to fit neatly inside the box.  We'll see what the Electrical Inspector has to say in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insulation Progress

The dormer above the living room gets insulated.  (I can hardly stand the excitement.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Housewrap Progress

I'm continuing to work on installing the rest of the housewrap, although I have somewhat changed my method for installing it.  In a post back in May, I talked about using fender washers to hold the housewrap in place.  That method worked okay, but I've found a better way.
Now I'm using 3/8" x 3" plywood strips to hold the housewrap in place.  The plywood strips get screwed to the plastic webs embedded in the ICF walls, thereby holding the housewrap in place.  The siding will get screwed to the plywood strips (and into the plastic webs beneath as well.)  That leaves an airspace between the housewrap and the siding.  This is known as a rainscreen system. 

The purpose of the rainscreen is to allow any moisture that gets behind the vinyl siding to drain down the wall and out the bottom; thereby stopping the moisture from getting trapped and causing problems.

For an in-depth description of how a rainscreen works, check out this article: www.greenhomebuilding.com/pdf/RainScreen.pdf

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Patio Doors Installed

I've recently installed the first set of patio doors.  They have an integral nailing fin along the sides and top, so they get installed in the same manner as the windows.  The door set weighs about 150 lbs, so I used my trusty winch to lift them up into place.

I had to cut away some of the existing housewrap over the opening to make room for the peel-and-stick flashing above the door.

Once the flashing was in place, I cut a strip of housewrap about 16" x 84" and inserted the top edge of it underneath the housewrap above.  Then I taped it down over top the flashing above the door. The important thing to remember is that upper pieces of housewrap or flashing always must lap over top of lower pieces. That's the only way to ensure that moisture is always forced outwards.

The completed installation, ready for trim.  Now I just need a deck.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Insulation Updates

I've finished insulating the bedroom ceiling and have installed the vapor barrier.  I'm using 6 mil poly for the vapor barrier. 

The last time I installed a vapor barrier (many years ago), the building code called for all studs, joists, and trusses to have a bead of sealant applied before the poly was installed. The sealant works well, but it's extremely messy to work with.  It's vile, black stuff that gets on everything!

However, much to my pleasant surprise, the building code has changed. The sealant is not required if the seams in the poly are overlapped by at least 4" and sealed with tape.  Woo-hoo!  What was once a somewhat dreadful job is now not so bad at all.

Having said all that... the sealant does do an excellent job of keeping the warm air in the house from escaping into the roof cavity, so I'm still using it in some places... on the top and bottom plates of the walls, and where the roof trusses meet the sill plates.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer's End

Contrary to what my lack of blog postings might suggest, I have still been working on my house.  However, now that the busy-ness that comes with summer is over, I should be able to get back to some somewhat regular posting.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Insulation Work Started

I've started installing the insulation in the bedroom ceiling and walls.  I'm using R20 fiberglass batts that are approximately 6" thick. 

The walls will get one layer, and the ceilings will get 2 layers.  That'll give me an insulation value of R40 in the ceilings.  The building code only calls for R28 in ceilings, but most new construction and remodel jobs have R40 or higher.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preparing for Roofing Insulation

I'm getting ready to start insulating my roof now. The first thing I have to do is install the insulation baffles... also known as insulation stops or rafter vents.

The roof is designed so that there will be an air space between the insulation and the bottom surface of the roof sheathing. That space allows air to move freely from the soffit vents under the eaves up to the roof vents at the peak. That air movement will help to prevent condensation from forming in the roof cavity during the winter and keep the roof cooler in the summer.

The purpose of the insulation baffles is to preserve that air space by preventing the insulation from touching the roof sheathing.  The baffles also prevent any insulation from falling into the soffit area underneath the eaves.

The baffles are made of thin styrofoam and are simply stapled to the bottom side of the roof sheathing between the roof trusses.  The molded shape of the baffle ensures that there is space for free air movement between the baffle and the roof sheathing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Rough Plumbing Completion

Now that my rough plumbing inspection is done, I was able to connect the roof vents with the rest of the drain/waste/vent system. (Just to back up a bit… the reason for not connecting them earlier was so that the rest of the system could be pressure tested.)

So far in this house project; designing and installing the DWV system was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done. I’m kind of sad to see it finished.

The photo on the left shows the capped-off vent pipe. I simply cut off the cap and then added an elbow and another piece of pipe that continued up to the roof vent.

The completed main vent line; top to bottom.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Building Inspections

I had the Building Inspector come by today to do my framing inspection and plumbing inspection.  He wandered around and looked at things and asked me a bunch of questions.  Then he said "Looks good.  Your inspections are passed."

The only thing he said that I didn't really want to hear was that I need to do my siding this year.  If I don't, I'll have to replace my Tyvek housewrap next year because the manufacturer specifies that it should be covered within six months of installation.  It's not a big deal really... of course the siding has to be done anyway.  It's just that I had planned to do other things first.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Basement Cleanup Complete

I've just finished the huge job of cleaning all of the junk and scrap lumber out of the basment and adding about 8 yards of soil to bring the ground level up to where I need it.  It looks good now though... all ready for the building inspector.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Basement Drainage System

It's been quite hot here the past week so it's given me a good excuse to do some work in the basement where it's nice and cool.  I've installed a drainage system that consists of a sump pit and pipes that wind their way around the perimeter of the basement.

It's 4" perforated drain pipe that's covered first with crushed rock, then with landscape fabric, then with dirt.  (The drainage pipe I'm talking about is the white pipe in the photos.  The black pipe is for the plumbing drains.  The two systems are not connected.)

Just to back up for a minute... When I poured the concrete footings for the house, there were two or three places where the footings were sitting on bedrock, not on soil. It's that bedrock that's causing the problem here. When all the snow melts in the spring, water is seeping into the basement through fissures in that bedrock; below the footings and the exterior drainage system.  Now, that water will now find it's way into this interior drain pipe and sump pit, where I can pump it back outside.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Getting Materials Into The Basement

I have to get a bunch of soil, crushed rock, and gravel down into the basement, so I've built a crude chute to funnel everything down through one of the basement windows.  The chute is just made of scrap lumber, plywood, and plastic sheets that I had laying around. 

At first I tried to used it with just the bare plywood on the bed of the chute, but I found that a lot of the soil just sat there... it didn't slide down the chute.  That's when I got the idea to put the heavy plastic sheets on top of the plywood.  It's much more slippery than the plywood, and the soil slides right down it.  (The heavy plastic sheets came as part of the shipping material from the ICF blocks that the house is built with.)

I simply load up the bucket on the tractor and dump it over top of the chute.  Down in the basement, I put a wheelbarrow underneath the chute and I can wheel the material over to wherever I need it. 

It aint pretty, but it works.