Soffits and electric outlets

Over the weekend, Matt was building our new soffits.  After several redesigns (on paper), he eventually decided to go with a simple design.  We’ll provide an update soon to show the completed result.  Or at least what we pass off as complete around here, which means fully functional but lacking finishing touches.  In the meantime, here are a few progress shots.

The plastic sheeting that has been serving as our temporary soffits (and seems to have done its main job of keeping animals from making their home in our attic) is finally gone!

Matt is pretty good about protecting himself from the sun when working outside.  He has been known to go shirtless once the sun is lower in the sky, but in the hours around noon, it’s long sleeves, a hat, and maybe even a t-shirt to protect his neck.

Meanwhile, I did a little bit of electrical work.  We had already run wire for a new circuit to our future tankless water heater, which will be installed on the south exterior wall of the house.  I decided to install an outlet on the inside of that wall to give the water heater ground fault protection.  I’m not sure whether it needs to be GFCI protected, but it seemed like a good idea since the water heater will be outside, and if it turns out to be a requirement, I don’t want to have not done it and find out when the inspector comes.  I looked at GFCI circuit breakers, but those things are about $50.  A regular breaker is only a few dollars, and a GFCI outlet is under $10, so I just couldn’t see spending that much money when I could get the same effect for so much cheaper.  A GFCI outlet protects the rest of the circuit that is downstream from it.  That’s why your kitchen might have a couple of GFCI outlets and the rest are regular.  Press the test button, and the rest of that circuit will turn off.  Kitchens have to have at least two circuits serving the outlets, so it probably will only turn off half the outlets, most likely along the same wall. 

I ended up installing a double outlet, mainly because I didn’t have on hand a single box that would attach to the side of a stud.  And can you really have too many outlets?  There is nothing else in this circuit.  Matt had already opened up the whole wall because some plumbing will need to be done in there for the water heater.  The inspector will want to see the connections in the box; the receptacles will be pushed into the box and covered with a plate later.


Then I covered it all up with copious amounts of painter’s tape, which I always do conscientiously ever since I once witnessed a spider come out of a hole we had cut in the wall.  Never again!  I also finally put a plate on the Cat-5 (ethernet) outlet we’d put in, oh almost two years ago and left hanging out of the wall with some more blue tape over it.  It took about one minute to put that plate on.  For shame.

I also replaced an old two-pronged outlet with a new three-pronged one, even though we haven’t upgrade the wiring to it yet, which means it is not grounded.  The old outlet was just loose and ugly.  The most annoying thing I’ve had to deal with in upgrading the electrical in this house is that someone painted over all the screws holding the outlets and switches to their boxes. 

Every time I need to remove one, it is really hard to get the screwdriver to bite on the screw.  I have tried scraping the paint out of the screw head with a razor blade, using an old chisel as a flathead screwdriver, and if I still can’t get a grip, sometimes I turn the screw with needle nosed pliers.  I don’t know where this tool came from or what its intended purpose is, but it worked pretty well for me this time.  If anyone knows what this is, please tell me.

I always label outlets as “not grounded” if they look grounded but aren’t - for safety and also to remind myself that a particular outlet still needs to be upgraded to new wiring.

We are making progress!  I am almost ready to have my electrical work inspected, and once that is done, we can have the water heater installed and finalize the installation of the fireplace insert.