June 22, 2011

Electrical Work Begun

Well, perhaps I should say preparations for the electrical work have begun. Now that Fort William is at a good stopping point until cold weather is imminent, we are able to turn our attention back to the next big house project, the kitchen.

Top of the list here, is to move the circuit panel from it's eyesore location behind the stove on the kitchen wall....

Note circuit panel behind the stove

... to the more logical (newly created) utility room. This requires not only putting in a new panel and some rewiring, but also moving the electrical wiring on the outside of the house....

Kitchen window on the right

Here's how they did it back in the day.

We're not sure when electricity was added to our 90 year old house, but we only have 60 amps going in, which explains why everything flickers when something is turned on. It desperately needs to be upgraded.

The other thing that needs to be done, is to have the meter moved from the utility pole out by the street...

Our electric meter

... and attach it to the house as is customary! We are puzzled why previous owners never had that done, except perhaps the expense of the upgrade (this is not a do-it-yourself job!) As it stands now, the electric company is responsible for everything going to the meter.  We are responsible for everything from the meter to the house.

The line runs from the utility post, through
the branches of several crepe myrtle trees

When we had estimates done for this job, one of the electricians recommended that we have the line buried. Good idea. According to the electric company, we first had to locate and preferable remove the old, buried, heating oil tank, which happens to be where the underground lines will go.


Like every other project, we always debate whether to pay someone to do it, or to save the money for something else and do it ourselves.


Dan finally decided to start on it himself. It's a round tank, 69 inches long, 48 inches in diameter, and partially filled; the oil level reads 19 inches on the measuring stick. All of this translates to heavy.

That's where we stand today. How in the world we're going to get it out of there, and what we're going to do with it (and the oil) after we do, is the current topic of discussion. After that we can get on to the fun part.

Ah, the joys of buying a fixer-upper.

Electrical Work Begun © June 2011 
by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/

You can also read this post at Before It's News

25 comments:

  1. You have my sympathies! One of our early projects was to replace our oil tank, located in the basement (It is illegal to bury them in Maine). Of course, since the old tank had been installed, the bulkhead door had been removed.

    The old tank had to be cut into pieces and a special order new tank sized to fit through the basement door and down the stairs installed. Ch Ching! We had our oil company do it as it was cheaper in the end since they removed the old oil, considered a hazardous waste.

    Good luck with your project! At least it is not leaking and a big clean up job.

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  2. Wow your are getting alot done! Good luck with it all!

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  3. It always feels good to get on with a new project. I shudder to think of the 'environmental' issues that would crop up here in the Northwest. I have heard horror stories of the expense of 'the clean up' that some feel is necessary 'just in case'. We can't even get our septic tank pumped without worries of the system not being up to the latest standards...strange how many of the neighbors seem to need brand new systems put in when all were working fine!

    It will be nice to not have your wire going through the trees. At our Vancouver house, we have no wires above at all in our area of the county, everything is underground and we hardly ever lose power in our wind or ice storms.

    Have a wonderful Wednesday!

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  4. Oh, I sure don't envy you the oil tank dilemma! Ugh. I love old houses but they sure do come with a lot of baggage. Good luck!

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  5. as to what to do with the old oil....try finding someone that does/makes biodiesel fuel. They may have a use for it. Best of luck with the remodel. We just got done remodeling our kitchen, dining room, living room and powder room. Seems like it took forever!

    Tina

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  6. Ali, thanks! It may not be legal to bury them here anymore either. I know that old oil burner is no longer up to code. It was ancient. We never used it, but it was in use until we bought the house.

    Julie, thanks! It's nice to be getting back to the house.

    Sherri, our neighbor has/had a buried oil tank too. When he first moved in, he called the local EPA office about what he needed to do to get it removed. They said fill it with sand and leave it. Well, that doesn't sound like a good idea to us, so out it comes. If it were leaking, environmental clean-up would be astronomical I'm sure. I'll just be glad to have it gone.

    Mama Pea, so true, so true.

    Tina, that's a good idea actually. In fact, we could make biodiesel out of it. :) We took a class offered by our cooperative extension, and know it's very doable. Trouble is, everyone with used oil sources has caught on and is selling at a premium price. Makes biodeisel not so cost effective anymore. Another use is to treat fence posts!

    I'd love to see your remodeling, do you have a blog?

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  7. Our home is 115 years old and over the last 16 years we have done many upgrades. Such hard work but all satisfying. Rememeber to put a price tag on YOUR hours of work when deciding what to do yourself and waht to hire out. Sometimes it is cheaper in the long run to get a professional especially when it deals with stuff like oil waste. So nice to see another old home get to live because of hard workers like yourselves

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  8. I thinks always leads to another, doesn't it? No project is ever simple, especially in an old house. Good luck.

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  9. That seems to be how every project goes. There is always something that stands in the way of getting something finished. Here is a thought. Maybe if you advertise on craigslist that someone can have the tank and its contents for free, they may come and dig it up. Times are tough and that oil might be worth it to someone, plus you would get the job done. Of course that idea could go horribly wrong too ;) Best of luck on solving this problem.

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  10. I was going to suggest Craig's List, but I see Jane has beaten me to it.

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  11. Wow, that is a huge project. I admire you all for doing even part of it yourselves. And I love your large kitchen. So bright and spacious. What are you going to put on the wall, over the stove, once you move the breaker box?

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  12. Donna, most of the time it boils down to what we have in the piggy bank! LOL. We've had about a 50/50 satisfaction rate with hiring others to do things for us. The roof was a big one, hired a top notch professional company with the highest recommendations, they did a terrible job and left a terrible mess. They finally agreed to come re-do the worst of it, and I was picking up cigarette butts, roofing nails, and scraps of shingle for months. Also had a professional tree trimmer knock some power lines down. Then there was the electrician whose son was wandering alone in our house, while his dad and Dan discussed the work needing to be done. Dan often feels he can do a better job, which I believe he can. His concern for the tank was getting someone who would tear up the yard and kill our trees in the digging. Sales reps promise the moon, but unfortunately the laborer usually isn't payed enough to care. I don't mean to sound so down or pessimistic, but it's one of the things we consider before hiring out a job.

    Candace, ain't that the truth!

    Jane, I suggested that to Dan as well. I think first though, he wants to make sure he doesn't have a use for it. Not sure what that would be, but a tank like that would be expensive to buy if we ever needed to.

    Benita, great minds think alike. :)

    Eleanor, thanks! After the breaker box is out, we'll tear down the tongue & grove and insulate that wall well. We will probably replace the window, then put up wall cabinets and a tile backsplash, to cover where the box is now. Hard to believe this is actually going to become a reality soon!

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  13. how I can relate to that - you just never know what you dig up or what you'll find when you knock something old down:(( I hope you'll find a solution - esp. for getting rid of the old oil:((

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  14. I agree that it is great that the tank isn't leaking. when we moved in to our place the septic soon failed. When the contrator came & dug it up it was a wonder it ever worked. It was rust lace! He left it out a day so I could see it when I got home from work. Nice cement tank now, which is over-size, so I don't have to worry about pumping it.

    They do put the breaker boxes in fun places, don't they. Mine is in the closet in the master bedroom. At least I don't have to reach over a major appliance!

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  15. When I lived on our farm in North Dakota we had our meter on a pole. To be truthful I'm not sure why but I suppose it was how things were done when they installed power many years ago. I know the meter reader only came out once a year. My mom used to read the meter, fill out a coupon and send what was need to the the power company. Now there are no meter readers at least not around here. Anyway good luck with this project.

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  16. I agree you all really are getting a lot done! Look so forward to seeing the finished project!

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  17. Here In MA we had a 1,000 gal.grandfathered oil tank underground. Even though it was once legal (hence the grandfathered status), there were two problems with it. The first was that if it had strted to leak the clean up cost would have been very costly, as you have mentioned. The second problem was that should we want to sell (which we don't any time soon), the banks won't make a house loan with the tank in there. So it would have to come out sooner or later. That time came when the boiler had to be replaced. Even though it wasn't leaking, the EPA still required a lot of paperwork re proper disposal of the standing oil left in the tank as well as proper disposal of the tank at a licensed facility which was out of state. So I suggest that if you can find a way to offload the oil and then someone to help with getting the tank out of the ground that you go that route. We had our oil company do the work and they were reasonable, but they have follow the local, state, and federal codes. --Sue in MA

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  18. Here In MA we had a 1,000 gal.grandfathered oil tank underground. Even though it was once legal (hence the grandfathered status), there were two problems with it. The first was that if it had strted to leak the clean up cost would have been very costly, as you have mentioned. The second problem was that should we want to sell (which we don't any time soon), the banks won't make a house loan with the tank in there. So it would have to come out sooner or later. That time came when the boiler had to be replaced. Even though it wasn't leaking, the EPA still required a lot of paperwork re proper disposal of the standing oil left in the tank as well as proper disposal of the tank at a licensed facility which was out of state. So I suggest that if you can find a way to offload the oil and then someone to help with getting the tank out of the ground that you go that route. We had our oil company do the work and they were reasonable, but they have follow the local, state, and federal codes. --Sue in MA

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  19. Leigh, I can relate! You & I have almost identical electrical woes.... though my breaker box is next to the fridge, not over the stove...lol

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  20. Be careful with the tank...even though it doesn't appear to be leaking, it could have rusted through on the bottom and the thicker "sludge" that settles to the bottom may be holding it together and keeping it from leaking - until you move it...we saw something similar on a home renovation show - the tank was in a crawlspace laying on the floor. It only had 2 or 3 inches of oil in it, but when they moved it, the oil started leaking everywhere! Just don't want to see you end up in a real mess if that is the case here. Hopefully it isn't!
    ::fingers crossed for you::

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  21. Bettina, that is so true! I suspect that the oil is worth something to somebody. Petroleum distillates like gasoline, kerosene, and diesel do deteriorate with time. Probably less likely with home heating oil, so there may be a good use for it yet.

    Susan, I've never seen a metal septic tank! Interesting. Yes, it's a nuisance reaching over the stove to get to the breaker box. When we first moved in here though, that's where the refrigerator was!

    Barb, gosh, you all must have been really isolated. Ours was one of the earliest houses on this road, so likely that was the way they used to do it. I'll be glad to get it moved though. Not only for the reasons mentioned in the post, but also it's just too easy for a prankster to mess with.

    Alicia, thanks! I suspect it will take awhile, but at least it's begun.

    Sue, I'm guessing it is no longer legal to bury an oil or fuel tank here either. It's curious, because the home inspection report never mentioned it when we bought the house. It mentioned that the 1996 oil burning furnace was probably at the end of it's service life, but in fact, that type of heating system is no longer legal! I never did like the looks of the thing and we used wood heat our first winter here. I'm guessing Dan will eventually decided to do something like you suggest. It's just too heavy and cumbersome for us to do anything with.

    Crystal, my breaker box used to be behind the fridge! We moved it and the stove. Still, I'll be glad to have it out of the kitchen!

    BRF, I think rusting is why it's recommended not to let those tanks get empty or stay that way for very long. The oil helps prevent oxidation / rust. We're hopeful this one is still intact! But we're prepared for anything.

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  22. Wow! That is a lot of shovel work! I've read all the comments and good advice associated with your post. Be careful when your in around the tank digging. You are dealing with a shiftable load in an excavation. Two very dangerous situations in one. I would hate to read about a tank rolling and pinning ya'll.

    Peace

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  23. Woody, I've really appreciated all the comments too. It is interesting that at once time, perhaps just a few generations ago, the oil and tank would have been considered resources worth keeping for other uses. I reckon folks just don't think along those lines much anymore.

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  24. You guys have a ton of work in your hands. Good luck with that, and be careful with the heavy stuff. Since it's a DIY project, you have to take care to make sure that everything will be up and running properly later on.

    Well, good luck with the electrical work once preparations are done.

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  25. Vivan, the good news is that the county building inspector came out yesterday and the work passed with flying colors. Next up is the utility company, who will upgrade the wiring, bury the cable, and connect it to the new meter which is attached to the house! It's a relief to have this project almost behind us.

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