Nothing is Simple. Or Fixed.

Hi All. It’s been… uh… a week.

First off, last week I mentioned that we’d had a lot of rain, and that as I published it was raining again but there was no big storm that everyone was concerned about at the moment. I was wrong. We had one near-miss “bomb cyclone” out in the Pacific near Vancouver Island on Thursday (before I published) and another formed on Sunday. The first skirted the coast and kept going north without creating any real harm for us, but the second was predicted to come closer to the coast and drive heavy winds and lots of rain for 48 hours starting on Sunday morning.

We had rain and some wind, but nothing nearly as bad or as strong as the weather warnings led me to believe was coming. The predicted 4" of rain was more like 2".

I thought we were in the clear, as we are supposed to get three days of sunshine now, but just before I started writing I discovered the drip in the vent fan in an upstairs bathroom is back. This happened last winter after a snowfall. At the time, I got on the roof and identified a likely leak location, so I bought a gallon of roofing cement and covered it up. It had not recurred since, so I thought I had it fixed. Wrong again.

And since it hasn’t snowed, I know that is not the problem. Snow can get into strange places when it melts, but without snow we’re only talking rain and wind, and this only seems to have started dripping recently, perhaps last night, but there was no rain or wind last night. Instead I think we have someplace that lets in a very small amount of water that has to make its way to the fan and pool in the enclosure to a certain depth before it can drip. It appears to require both time and exactly the right circumstances.

I’ve been on the roof and I am completely at a loss. I see nothing that would explain where water is getting into the house. I suppose maybe it could be condensation inside the vent pipe for the bathroom fan, but that feels off somehow. And what I can see of the vent is non-metallic flexible duct, which would make condensation less likely.

I am at a loss on this one. I’ve soaked up the obvious water and am trying to dry it out. What happens now I really don’t know. I don’t even know what to tell a roofer or contractor if I called one and if they were to come over. Nothing makes any sense. I might have to cut open the ceiling in the bathroom and have a look around, which does not thrill me.

But let’s just ignore that for now. The rest of this post is about these two photos: before and after:

On the left you see the old over-the-stove microwave, and on the right the new one. The old one was something like 6" taller than the new one, sticking down well below the upper cabinets. In fact, in the first photo you can see a black valence — that seems to be the correct term — that extends from the bottom of the upper cabinets down to the bottom of the microwave. What you cannot see is that same valence hides fluorescent, under cabinet lights to the right (as seen in the photos).

The new microwave — being much shorter — gives us much more room to use the cooktop in the back. And the fan (which only recirculates the air — it is not vented outside) actually has a chance to work for items on the front burners now. (The old unit would condense water out on the front door if you boiled pasta on the stove using the front burners. It would drip down into the pot. Not a good situation.)

The installation of the new unit was quite a job. After removing the old microwave (by unplugging it in the cabinet above and removing two screws in there that held it up), this is what we found:

The metal bracket held the back of the microwave up. Everything else you see on that wall and the underside of the cabinet above is the mess left from a total of three microwaves installed there before the one we just put in. I can tell from the number of holes in the cabinet above: three large ones for power cords and three more in each front corner to hold the thing in place. (And yes, there are actually four holes in the front left corner as you look at the photo, but I think that’s because one of them was drilled in the wrong place.) The cut in the drywall was made to move the electrical supply up into the cabinet instead of coming out of the wall. Here’s a better view of the damage left behind:

Once I removed the bracket I had a few more holes that needed patching. Those were all going to be visible once installation was done:

Clearly the first job was to repair the drywall. Most of those holes were going to be out of sight, but why leave them there when I am fixing things? So I applied a first and second coat of drywall mud:

The first coat was not drying in anything like a hurry, so I bought a small amount of quick set mud to use the next day to finish it up. While that was happening (and once the mud was dry enough) I also marked the stud locations (never trust the marks left on the wall by someone else!), the centre of the cabinet and wall, and the locations where the new mounting plate will be screwed down.

While that was going on, I decided I needed to reinforce the cabinet bottom. All those holes were a problem, and one — in the front left corner — was very close to one I needed to drill for the new microwave. So I cut, primed, and painted a piece of plywood to fit inside the cabinet as a new bottom:

Getting it shaped properly took forever. Nothing is square or straight, and I had to remove the doors and the centre support to get it in there. Eventually, though, I managed it.

And of course I had to drill holes for the new support plate and paint the repaired wall:

Once that was done, we could actually install the new microwave. Here is the new shelf installed inside the cabinet and a another view of the bottom and repaired wall as well:

Then the new bracket could be installed and a piano bench was used to support the microwave while we installed it:

It’s hard to tell, but the microwave hangs on two hooks at the bottom of the metal plate, and two screws come down from the top to hold the front edge up. Here it is after I have secured it and powered it on to be sure it works:

Then, once the cabinet doors are reattached and the touch up paint is done (since you can’t do this kind of thing without dinging up the paint somewhere) we get to the end product:

The old unit is already hauled off to the recycling centre, along with all the packaging for the new one.

The entire job took four days. We still need some sort of backsplash behind the stove, but don’t yet know what we want there. I might get a simple piece of stainless steel and hang it on the wall. Or some peel & stick tiles. Nothing in this kitchen is permanent. Eventually we will renovate and it will all change, so we’re only doing what it takes to make it more livable for a few years until we get to that point. We might reuse the new microwave at that time. No one knows.

Other things that need to happen include a new valence in front of the lights on the one side (the old one turned a corner and we don’t need that now) and to repaint the kitchen in our chosen white. I am starting the latter, but these things take time and more drywall patching.

And now, of course, I have to worry about the leak in the upstairs roof. Again. Joy.

Anyway, that’s the story of the past week. It pretty much covers everything I’ve done. Next week, if I am lucky, the new dishwasher goes in.

May your homes not leak and your appliances never need replacing!

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.