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John

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Progress.... [Apr. 19th, 2010|08:33 am]
John
Okay - I finally - Finally! - figured out the phone wiring in my house. I have one point of access. Okay, technically, I have two skinny copper wires that I put into a box in a very sloppy manner (a rank apprentice would be ashamed - but I'm not even an apprentice, so I'm satisfied). I have dial tone. I had suspected I might want a low voltage contractor to come in and put together good phone and network cabling, and I just might do that.

I now have phone and internet. Now, all I need is mail. Yes, *mail*. USPS. And I have to figure out what the bloody blue blazes is up with them saying my mailbox (which is like every other mailbox on the street) is non-regulation.

(Interestingly, I did get one piece of mail - my security deposit from my apartment complex! - but nothing else. I didn't think return of security deposits actually existed - I thought that was a myth. )

I have electric through the house. The electric isn't exactly *done*, but I can make espresso now. I don't exactly have the house organizable yet, but I'm getting there.

And I have to remind my contractor that there's one rule that over-rides all others. The Cat Does Not Get Out. You Do Not Leave A Path Through Which The Cat Might Get Out. The Home Owner Has A Deep And Abiding Respect For Human Life, But That Becomes Somewhat Hypothetical When Some Damn Fool Lets His Cat Out After Repeated Warnings That She May Never Come Back.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2010-04-19 03:55 pm (UTC)
The cat is in, though, right?

I hope you get the mailbox figured out soon. It took me 2-3 weeks to get mine sorted out when I moved in.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2010-04-19 05:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, Skitty's back in, thank god, but I'm really glad she's needed to have an E-collar put on to keep her from scratching her ear. I think that might have helped keep her out of tiny hiding places. There's far too many places for her to hide around here.

The mailbox is going to be a pain - it can't be up any steps. On the plus side, if I can get the post before the contractors are done with the foundation work, they have digging equipment, and promised they'd be glad to drive a post for me, if I need them to.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2010-04-19 05:41 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the cat is safe. Also glad that you can get a post put in easily. My problem was stupider than yours. My mailbox is actually down the street, and no one could tell me a) which one was mine and b) how to get a key. A bunch of my mail ended up getting returned.

Sometimes I think They make moving as hard as possible on purpose.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2010-04-20 05:41 pm (UTC)
Nod. And, IMHO, a reason not to run things "like a business". Some stuff makes sense (yeah, okay, good idea to keep people from having to climb steps a hundred times a day), but other stuff? Face it, the best business model for the post office would be gangboxes four to a block (one for each side of the street).

No, the post office should be a public service, trying to run at break-even, but generally subsidized.
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[User Picture]From: sfw_dc
2010-04-19 10:58 pm (UTC)
Wait, it can't be up any steps?

Wow. I have a mail slot in the front door up 12 steps. Everyone on the block does.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2010-04-20 12:13 am (UTC)
I can't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure you could affix a nice, big, relatively secure mailbox of the sort we were looking at to the post that holds up your porch stair railing. (Of course, if you can think of a more convenient spot for *you*, by all means have the contractors put a post in.) I bet Nino would even put the mailbox up.
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[User Picture]From: fourgates
2010-04-20 05:33 pm (UTC)
I've had an eye on these guys.
http://www.architecturalmailboxes.com/
Their stuff looks secure as well as fairly appealing.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2010-04-20 12:10 am (UTC)
Eep. Did she actually get out? Did you find her? Eep!

Given how much effort you put into getting the apartment clean when you left, I'm not at all surprised you got your deposit back. (-:

And yay, electricity!!!
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2010-04-20 12:14 am (UTC)
Belay that. Should have read on before eeping. (-:
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2010-04-20 05:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, the electrical folks just left the door to the basement open. Now, this was enough - there's no skirt wall around the house, and there's plenty of places where you can get into the crawlspace now. No skirt wall means once you're in the crawlspace, you're outside.

But they also left the door from the outside to the basement wide open too.

There's not a much worse feeling than quartering a house, and slowly verifying that she's not *there*, either, before realizing that she's definitely out.

On the plus side, the one electrician helped me find her. But on the hideously negative side, they didn't have any understanding that maybe it's a bad thing. They realized, from seeing how sick with worry I was, that it was a big deal, but gads.

Still, I found her.
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[User Picture]From: wyang
2010-04-20 02:10 pm (UTC)

UNSOLICITED ADVICE: low voltage work

John-

You don't need a contractor to do phone wire. The principles are straightforward and the work itself isn't that hard. I don't know code in Washington, but the primary concern of low voltage work is making sure you don't leave a conduit for heat or flame to spread through, if there's a fire (seriously). And you really want to stay away from florescent lamps because you'll probably get buzz on the line if you're too close.

But otherwise, it's not hard. Run straight lines (use a level). Measure twice. Try to hide as much as possible from public view. It takes time and patience, but it's a heck of a lot cheaper to do it yourself (buy a spool of cable based on how far you need your runs to go, a cable stapler, crimping tool (make sure it works for both phone and network!), and heads (RJ11 for phone, RJ45 for network) of the appropriate type -- in terms of choosing the right wire, you probably want to use category 3 (2 pair) for phone and category 5 (4 pair) or higher for networking.

Give me a call and I'll talk you through. If you can bake bread, you can wire your own low voltage work--it's no more complicated. And, speaking as a guy who does his own mid-range electrical and mid-range plumbing work (and who learned it entirely as a result of home ownership!), low voltage is a good place to start electrical work on your own -- minimal risk, significant cost savings, and substantial growth in skills.

But that's all unsolicited advice. ;-)



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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2010-04-20 05:11 pm (UTC)

Re: UNSOLICITED ADVICE: low voltage work

One the one hand, you're right - it *is* a better idea for me to do it myself.

On the other, I've been so blah-ish recently with the work situation that I haven't been able to get up the thought of doing this.

On the gripping hand, the foundation work is hitting a $1300 over-run. Without any over-runs, I'd have plenty of money for pet projects and someone to put things up all nice and neat. As it is, I should probably save the money, and re-apply some of my old wiring skills.

The biggest thing holding me back from doing the phone work myself was that the first cable is bad - from demarc to entrance, all I have to work with are those two wires I mentioned - I don't even Cat3 to run into a junction box.

But I suppose running from demarc to entrance isn't all that different from running in the house. And, I might be able to salvage some of the Cat3 by running it in to the house in a closer location. Then - well, all the rest is stuff I either know, or can learn. (e.g.: I'm not sure if phone lines need a signal booster before you split them off to 3 outlets. I don't think they do - IIRC, they can't kill you, but they have a surprising amount of power, given that I'm only talking about 50 foot runs, max.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-04-22 03:42 pm (UTC)

Re: UNSOLICITED ADVICE: low voltage work

Depending on your interface box, they're not that hard to work in. Mine allows me to terminate two lines on posts (nicely color coded!)... it's just a matter of getting the wire out there. A good drill and some appropriate sealant is all that's needed to get the physical access. Keep the hole small and seal it so that the bugs, cold and wet don't get in.

Phones are 12 volt systems, as I recall, with enough amps to feel it if the phone rings while you're working. You won't need a signal booster for phone service in a home unless you're splitting into more than 5 extensions or devices (by spec): in practice, it's more like 10 devices before you lose the signal voltage. I don't think you'll face any issues with 3 jacks.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2010-04-20 05:16 pm (UTC)

Re: UNSOLICITED ADVICE: low voltage work

PS: Plenum cabling is usually a safe bet for cable runs - you're allowed to use non-plenum if you're within a particular area, but if you're going to cross a firewall (that is, a physical wall intended to stop a fire!) you need to use plenum. So, yeah, I actually knew the bit about preventing fires from spreading :-). Remember, I was head-geek for a warehouse for a while!
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