Electrical and Plumbing Problems

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I had another one of those really bad days working on the tiny house yesterday. It was almost as bad as that day a month and a half ago when I decided to quit working on the tiny house entirely. Of course, after swearing off the tiny house for a month, I started working on it again just two days later. So my guess is that I will feel better by tomorrow.

The good news is that I actually slept pretty well last night. It seems like every time I swear off working on my tiny house, I’m suddenly able to sleep again. I just wish I didn’t have to choose between working on my house and sleeping. That’s kind of a crazy choice to have to make.

I think what made yesterday so difficult were all the unexpected problems I ran into. Now that I’m basically done with the interior siding, I’m back to doing things that I don’t really know how to do and that generally means lots of new problems. It seemed like everything I tried to do yesterday resulted in some kind of problem that was five times more difficult than anything I had anticipated or had energy to solve. Worse yet, the problems just kept coming. No matter what I put my hands on, it seemed to involve some kind of horrible, unexpected difficulty.

Here are some of the problems that I can remember from yesterday:

  • The electrical conduit that I ran out of the wall two days ago ended up being just 1/8 inch too far to the right. This meant that the cabinet I had planned in the corner for the electrical panels and water tank wouldn’t assemble properly. I ended up having to re-build the whole cabinet 1/8 inch longer so it would clear the electrical conduit. The only other option would have been to completely disassemble the wall and pry all of the interior siding off until I could get to where the conduit was screwed into the wall.
    Start of Mechanicals Cabinet (Re-built 1/8 Inch Bigger)

    Start of Mechanicals Cabinet (Re-built 1/8 Inch Bigger)

    Conduit Right Up Against my Cabinet

    Conduit Right Up Against my Cabinet

    Water Tank Installed and Strapped Down

    Water Tank Installed and Strapped Down

  • I discovered yesterday that pushing three lines of Romex electrical wires through a 90° conduit elbow is exceptionally difficult, especially when one of those wires is 12 gauge and one of them is 10 gauge. I eventually got it and was finally able to screw the conduit onto the back of my fuse box with the wires going through it. However, it nearly killed me. I had to push, pull and twist with all of my strength to get the wires to move even an eighth of an inch at a time through the elbow. It was awful.
Romex Run Through Conduit Elbows

Romex Run Through Conduit Elbows

  • After I assembled the cabinet for the mechanicals and attached the conduit to my fuse box, I discovered that the conduit was not as flexible as I thought it might be and that it ended up pushing my fuse box an inch further to the left than I had planned. I considered disassembling the conduit so I could cut it down by an inch, but after all the work I went through to get the wires to the elbow connector, there was no way I was pulling them out again. Having the fuse box one inch further to the left meant I no longer had room for the water pump where I thought it was going to go and had to come up with a new plan for that. It also meant that the plan I had for installing a kitchen cabinet panel around the fuse box wasn’t going to work either. I’m still trying to come up with a good solution for that.
Fuse Box Attached to Conduit

Fuse Box Attached to Conduit

Fuse Box Installed - Pushing Water Pump to the Left

Fuse Box Pushing Water Pump to the Left

  • One of the last parts of my waterline system I need to figure out yesterday was where to put the city water inlet. I thought I was going to put this inlet underneath the house somewhere, but I crawled around under there yesterday morning and just couldn’t find anywhere that would work. I finally decided I was going to have to install it on the back wall of the tiny house which meant cutting yet another hole in my siding. I really hate cutting holes in my siding. I spent a good deal of time debating about whether to put it to the side or below the water tank inlet I had already installed. That is when Sheila came by to visit and suggested I put the city water inlet above the water tank inlet. For some reason, I had never thought of that and once I did, I realized that location was going to be perfect. It was one of the few problems yesterday where a good solution just given to me and once I had it, I finally felt comfortable moving forward with putting yet another hole in my siding.
One Strip of Siding Removed

One Strip of Siding Removed

Unfortunately, the installation of the city water inlet ended up being a huge nightmare. I started by pulling a piece of siding off the house and carefully measuring and cutting just the right size hole with my jigsaw. Luckily, that all turned out okay. Unfortunately, when I then went to cut a corresponding, smaller hole in the sheathing of the house, I unexpectedly ran into solid wood which was definitely not good. To solve that problem, I ended up having to pry off some of the interior siding panels that I had installed yesterday and pull a bunch of insulation out of the wall so that I could get to, disassemble and rebuild a two by four frame I had built around the freshwater inlet the day before.

Hole Cut for Water Inlet

Hole Cut for Water Inlet

Wall Pulled Apart to Create Hole in Wall

Wall Pulled Apart to Create Hole in Wall

Siding and Sheathing Holes Caulked Before Installation

Siding and Sheathing Holes Caulked Before Installation

City Water Inlet Installed (Finally!)

City Water Inlet Installed (Finally!)

  • The final problem I remember dealing with yesterday was the installation of the removable interior panel I had created the day before to go behind the stove cabinet. I had made this panel with a nice hole for the freshwater inlet. Unfortunately, once I installed the water tank yesterday, I realized that the water tank overlapped where the panel needed to be by about a half an inch. There was no way to fish the fresh water inlet through the hole and then get the panel past the water tank. Luckily, Sheila came up with a great solution for this as well. She suggested turning the hole for the freshwater inlet into a slot. It was a solution I was too tired to come up with on my own, but as soon as she suggested it, I realized it would solve the geometry problem. Sheila used the jigsaw to modify the panel and then it installed perfectly.

The worst thing about all of the problems I ran into yesterday was the fact that I was actually solving them, but not feeling good about it. It was really weird. I was so upset that I was making such poorer progress than I expected to make yesterday that I just couldn’t get myself to feel good about the fact that I was actually solving some really, really hard problems. I should have been praising myself for what I was accomplishing. I should have been happy for what I was actually getting done given the difficulties I was working through. I just couldn’t get myself to that place. I couldn’t get past being angry at all the difficulties I was experiencing long enough to feel good about my ability to overcome those difficulties.

Although most of my day was pretty difficult, I did have a couple of brief highlights. Here were my favorite parts of the day:

  • When Sheila brought me some lunch at about 2:30 PM. I had just about reached my breaking point and was about 30 seconds from setting my house on fire if when Sheila arrived with a sandwich and a plate of fruit. Given the crappy day I was having, I really can’t describe how wonderful it was to both see my wife and to see a plate of food magically appear in front of me. The half of the peach that she had cut up into slices for me was one of the best peaches I have ever had. As soon as I put it in my mouth, my world just kind of stopped, all my problems seem to go away and that was all I could focus on. Yes, it was that good.
  • The other highlight of my day yesterday was going to visit my friends, Gregory and LeeLee, at the end of the day to see how their tiny house build was going. They just started building yesterday and when I got there, they were just finishing putting the subfloor onto the trailer. It was nice to see them. For some reason, I found it calming to see somebody else’s tiny house build, I think because it helped me to forget about my own for a little while.
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