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Unread 11-06-2019, 08:55 AM   #1
GHR
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Water leak disaster and kitchen remodel

Disaster struck last week when I found a water pipe leaking into my kitchen wall over my window. Galvanized steel elbow seeping about 2 drops an hour.
Slow enough to go unnoticed for ages and be covered with simple flex tape until the plumber I know can get here to fix it;hopefully this Friday.

It ruined the wall from 4 foot down. The water spread laterally under the cabinets behind the dishwasherr on my neighbor's wall, but did not luckily wick that wall.

In the last 7 days I've pulled out not only the countertops I've been planning to remove anyway, but also the cabinets and a moldy wall behind my kitchen sink from an unnoticed leak there too. So the entire wall all 10 feet of it had to be removed.

The "cabinet" around the sink was not a full cabinet, but only a fascade with mounted doors and a fabricated base of particle board blocks and plywood; there was not side or back except at the dishwasher side. The particle boards were mush.

The wall is an exterior wall and it got mighty cold in here during the cold snap last week. To make matters worse the left most end of the wall where the water pipe has the circuit breaker panel on the exterior wall and the original builders saw fit to leave put wood sheathing over that spot. There are old mud dobber nests all over the insulation and the whole wall is essentially open to the elements. I cannot correct any of this since the wires go from not only my breaker box but my adjoining neighbor's box too. These condos were originally apartments and nobody seemed to ever have envisioned they would be anything but.

In short I'm redoing cabinets and countertop in the next few weeks.
I am planning to use tile on the countertops. I used ditra over plywood in my bathroom downstairs and I liked the result vs cement board so I'll probably do that here. Along with ditra on the floor with tile. Sadly our aluminum wire will not allow me to add floor warming anywhere. Adding new wires would probably not work out well.

The kitchen is current U shaped with a barshelf dividing the kitchen from the dining area. I'm on the fence of merely cutting this down to cabinet-height and making one large countertop or removing the wall en toto. The latter would require electrical movement of the stove which also goes on this wall.

Which leads to my question of the day. A weird electrical wire that was drilled through the cabinet and leads to the 240v stove plug.

It came out of the wall ( routed from the bottom of a a plug on the opposite side) a hole was drilled through the cabinet back and out the side toward the stove then into the wall again by the 240v stove plug. It broke off while removing the base cabinet b/c I did not realize it was there. Looks white so perhaps a neutral wire but honestly I'm at a loss why is was there. I remember seeing it before thinking it must have been a phone wire given it's singularity. Never expected it might be an electrical wire.

Hopefully someone here has encountered something like this and might know what is it. The sheetrock contractor who will button up the wall also has an electrical license. I suppose I can ask, but I'm not looking forward to adding to his costs.

Later today I'm going to power off the stove plug and see if it actually was hooked up to the stove plug. It should be a relatively simple thing to run a new wire to the plug.

Thanks for reading my wall of text.
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Unread 11-06-2019, 07:24 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about the leak, Henry. It seems like you’re in a positive vibe about getting a chance to do some updating.

Can you get us a picture that’s more in focus?

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Unread 11-06-2019, 09:03 PM   #3
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Which pin does the wire go to in the receptacle? And, where does that wire end up? Can't tell, is the stove receptacle 3 or 4 pins?
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Unread 11-06-2019, 09:28 PM   #4
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I uploaded a different picture in my initial post and here are two more. @toolguy-KG

@jadnashua The wire goes to the "middle" pin of the stove plug. It's a neutral wire I think. The "left" and "right" are both black and of heavy gauge. I want to say 10 or 8 since it's aluminum wire. Common(?) on a 240V plug? Stove plug has three prongs. Looked like 3 wires internally too.

I opened the plug up w/ the stove breaker shut off. I'm a bit gun-shy to mess with it after putting it back though. I took a shock through the screw while fishing for the hole to reassemble it. Must have touched one of the plug contacts. Not sure WHAT was hot as it was a very mild bite and I thought the wire was broken off and thus not live, but I'm not looking to push my luck and find out unless I pull the breaker for the outlet too which also shuts off 2/3 of my downstairs.

I posted a better photo of the wire and inside the wall now that I've taken off some sheetrock.

View is down into the wall. Top photo is the wires going to.from the regular wall outlet. The hole to the single wire is on the left.

The second pic shows the inside over the stove plug and the white wire kinda coiled up inside there.
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Unread 11-08-2019, 08:57 PM   #5
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Question

Bumpety....

So I have a question about layout; I currently have this U shaped kitchen as I may have mentioned.

The barshelf wall with the stove and wire question above divides the kitchen and dining area.

How hard will I have to move the stove against the same wall as the sink which is the outside wall and tear out the barshelf wall making the U shape into an L shape and opening the floor plan of the kitchen up full?

There will be some electrical wire movement which is why I'm reluctant,
but I keep reading how U shaped kitchens are being changed to L shaped.

Thoughts on this?
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Unread 11-09-2019, 06:25 AM   #6
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Pictures on this? Or a floor plan of how it is now vs. how you want to reconfigure it?
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Unread 11-10-2019, 06:40 AM   #7
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Hi Henry,

The electrical seems to be a minor mess and I’d get a electrician to wire it correctly.

Re moving the appliances, not difficult; just need to address new power configuration and the venting for the oven. I swapped the locations of the oven and refrigerator in our kitchen which really helped the flow and made Mrs. PC happy.

On the downside, structural headers prevent use of a direct vent for the oven so we settled for a microwave hood with non venting filter hood. Works ok for most things but wish we had an outside venting hood when We go overboard pan searing hot peppers.

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Unread 11-10-2019, 08:24 AM   #8
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I'll get some more pictures of the area today @ss3964spd

I posted some photos again of the room. The hole in the furrdown on the lft is where the leaky pipe is. The area is roughly 10 feet wide at the window wall.

My idea, which I've seen others of my neighbors do is to remove the wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room and shift the stove into the exterior wall parallel to the sink and window. Taking out that wall making the kitchen L shaped and the kitchen and dining area become one room.

The complication is that there is of course electrical wiring and an old telephone land line plug (which we still have active) in the wall. The wiring in the wall also is daisy chained to the plug in my patio and I think is feed to other plugs in my dining room. I know it's connected b/c I added a GFI plug in my patio and tripping it powers off all the plugs in the dining room and into the living room.

Honestly, I know enough about wiring electrical stuff to move the 120V stuff safely so long as I trace the existing wiring. It does not look that hard honestly.

It's the 240V plug with this crazy neutral wiring that I'm a little more nervous about. I posted a photo close up (finally) of the 240V 50A plug inside and out. There does seem to be a bare ground wire touching the metalic part of the plug. So this outlet is grounded.

Still not sure what to make of that. But I suspect I will need to run a whole new wire from the breaker box to this range for code compliance if nothing else. I know an electrician who is experienced and does side jobs. I shall probably have to call on him and wait until he has time to come out.

@PC7060 The electrial will need to be given a once over by an electrician.
At leave for the 240V plug. I'm still formulating the plan to move all this.
I have the tear out done except for the wall.

I'm lucky I guess to have a stove that does not require a vent and the original range hood was also not vented to the exterior. In remodeling I could probably add such a vent as the rangehood would then be on the exterior wall but there is a small problem again.

In the photos I posted you can see the furrdown that the cabinets were mounted to. The one over the shelf is empty save that lone power wire which was for the vent hood. Unfortunately there are wires in the outside wall. The routing seems to be into the plug on the shelf wall then to the plug in my patio then up inside the exterior wall and up over the door.

I'm adding lots of money to the job if I go moving wires I don't strictly need to. Such is my hope I can push them aside though when I get to that.

Today, I have to get the old countertops & cabinets in my carport all the way to the curb (200 feet) and into a Bagster so I can have it picked up. It will be a fun day.
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Unread 11-11-2019, 06:02 AM   #9
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Electrical work for a small job like that shouldn’t be too expensive; I’d think it would be just a few hundred including moving the 220v and getting the wire out of that chase so you can get rid of it.

Look for electrical contractors working on new construction or remodels in your area. In my experience, those guys charge a fair price for work as long as you’ve cleared away the drywall and such so they can work efficiently.

If it’s possible in your area, pull your own electrical permit so you have more control over the work.

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Unread 11-11-2019, 07:56 AM   #10
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Sadly I will not be removing the chase. Our units must not have had individual breaker boxes originally because all are mounted outside in aloves between the units' patios. Mine and my immediate neighbors' breaker boxes are on the wall behind where the water leak is on the left side of my kitchen. Our wiring resides inside the chase and the wall below. It's too big of a job to move that wiring mostly b/c it would require cutting power in my unit and perhaps in my neighbor's unit too. Both of our breaker boxes have been replaced btw. But the underlying wiring is 1970s and is aluminum.

I uploaded some new photos of the leaky pipe which I thought I'd done.
That leak is so slow. Even now it's dampened the framing but nothing else is wet. I just checked.

The contractor who bid to do the sheetrock repair said he has an electrical license. I will probably poll him for the range wiring and I know another electrician as I said, but shall need to wait for him to have open time from
his normal day electrician job.

I sure as hell wish the original builders or whomever put that stupid neutral wire in there like that would not have done so. Or at least would have had it all inside the wall and not exposed like it is.

I am not sure I want to mess with permits and potential inspectors.
If they see inside that wall they might flag the whole mess nevermind
it should be grandfathered in.

So long as the stove plug is moved in accord with NEC with a proper 4 wire
plug for current codes I'm happy.

*edit* I called an A/C tech I've known since 2002 for a reference on an electrican and low and behold he does electrical work and is licensed to work for himself (I checked). I remember him saying that now that I think of it. He's only gonna charge me $100 for moving the wire. Since the wall is open it will make his job easier.

In the mean time I filled two bagsters today with the dregs of my kitchen. I'm dead tired and not even 1/4 done.

*End edit*
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Unread 11-16-2019, 06:18 PM   #11
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update

Plumber finally fixed the leaky pipe which had begun leaking more probably due to being in the exposed wall during the freeze we had last week. 10 grs or so it was average temp below 32.

As soon as he left I dismantled the wall dividing kitchen from dining room.
No going back now. The wires though were still embedded in the wall.
I powered off what I thought was the correct breaker and was prying a staple out. I seemed to have nicked the screwdriver I was using into the wire and got a very large spark. I made sure I had the correct breaker off and powered it off. Stupid 1970s wiring. The date code on the inside of the drywall says 02171 which I am guessing is 21st day or week of 1971 so the ALu wiring is that old.

I was not planning on it, but I had to fully remove the feed and traveler and fix the wire which shorted. I joined the wires with wire nuts temporarily since I ran out of daylight. The GFI in my patio was breaking the connection until I reset it about 4 times. I put that in myself in 2001 since the wet saw manual required it be plugged into a GCFI outlet.

The nutty wire to the range was a ground btw not a neutral. It was wrapped not even really twisted either like the rest of the grounds were.

So tomorrow finish filling my two Bagsters and schedule pickup this week.

Get that range electrical wire replaced with something up to code and get the sheetrock buttoned up.

Then the tough part... my part that involves tiling and putting in new cabinets. Since I must do it
all myself it's going to take a while.

Here's a question I have: what type of drywall should I have him put on this wall since it has plumbing?
Is it worth switching to kerdiboard for the area(s) I will tile the backsplash of which is all of the wall from
the door to the corner (roughly 10 feet) and around to the fridge (another say 6 or 7 feet).
I have not checked how plumb this wall is either which I guess I need to make sure of upon
whatever wall covering
I end up using.
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Unread Yesterday, 07:29 AM   #12
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I see no benefit of using anything but plain ole drywall throughout, Henry. Itsa backsplash, not being subjected to buckets of water or to being walked on or even leaned against.

Since it's open you do have an opportunity to wire in some under cabinet lights or add receptacles (if what you have is insufficient). Both can be very inexpensive to do, especially the receptacles.
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Unread Yesterday, 08:11 AM   #13
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OK. So regular drywall? I need to replace some insulation too. Should I look to put in some kind of moisture barrier at least where the hole to the breaker box is? It's wide open to the outside there. I can stick my hand through it. I will probably use some expanding foam, but I really don't want to complicate and future wiring (hopefully not but never know). Anything else I could use?


I have considered replacing some of the wiring from the wall switches to the dishwasher and disposal connection. Probably the wall switch for the kitchen light(s) and the plug as well. I think code (and NEC?) require(s) a GFCI being so l close to a sink. Probably on the dishwasher and disposal as well. I wired in a plug for the latter ages ago. The former was hard wired original 1976 dishwasher that has worked all that time and still does though it's old and noisy when running due to lack of sound isolation.

I have alumiconns 2 and 3 wire types and a 10-15lb torq setting screw driver for bridging the AL wire to copper as needed. I bought 100 of each with expectation of pig tailing some plugs and switches in here that are almost 50 yrs old. I'll probably never use 100 of each, but at worth of $3-5 a piece I can scalpe em later if I want.

I have 12/3 w/ ground and 12/2 w/ ground Romex on hand that I've had for ages. I think 12ga wire is over kill for these circuits (dishwasher and disposal), but I think the old AL wire is 10 or 12ga. I wouldn't mind changing around some other wiring within reason too. But I'm going to have to do some wire tracing. The wall switch for te kitchen light for example has some strange-ness. It seems to feed more than just the two kitchen light fixtures (over sink and main light) which are both switched by it. It has one feed from below and 3 out going wires. What's up with that? Crazy 1970s electrician!

In any case I have some wire tracing to do. And sadly more holes to make in my celing to do it. But I made a concious decision to not destroy all the wallboard on the wall I took out. It's all textured and colored the same. I kept a large section for future use. I can use what I recovered as plugs for the small holes I need to cut. But my kitchen is still a horrible mess. Ugh!

I am thinking about that chase at the moment. I said I could not remove it, but that might not be 100% true. I could remove part of it that is over the now former wall and leave the rest capping the corner off. There is nothing of worth inside of it. Just not sure how the framing is attached. Plus working over head will be a chore.

It goes along the entire perimeter of the kitchen ceiling and on the wall parallel the water line also has a vent pipe from either the bathroom vent dryer vent or both.
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Unread Yesterday, 09:22 PM   #14
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During a remodel, you have to bring the areas touched up to current codes. In a kitchen, there are rules about how far between receptacles (the cords tend to be short on kitchen appliances) and, you need at least two 20A circuits for them along the counter (more is okay). Most newer appliances tend to be plug-in versus hard-wired, so a receptacle (and often dedicated is the better choice) for them should be considered. If you have an electric stove, it may only have a 3-wire supply. While you can modify a new stove to accommodate that, if it's not too far from the panel, you might consider changing that over to a 4-wire circuit.
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Unread Today, 12:25 AM   #15
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Up to code relative to aluminum wire. Adding dedicated circuits is not going to be practical on AL wire.

I will add GFCIs along the countertop as code requires. There are two plugs that are probably affected. One more is likely not because it is for the fridge but not close to the countertop. All the wire is 10/2 AL. IIRC, 10/2 is correct for 20A at AL wiring gauge(one size up from CU 12), but I am not able to tell if that is a dedicated or just up-rated wiring circuit. I would need someone to look in the breaker box which is where I draw a line of my abilities and know-how.

I am going to have the stove plug replaced. It was a 3 wire setup and as noted my orignal post wired with what I thought to be a neutral wire from the adjacent wall plug. On further inspection the wire was not a neutral it was a ground wire. 1970s craziness....

In any case I have a friend who is an A/C tech and qualified as an electrician who is going to replace this old 6/2 AL wire with a new copper from the breaker box to a correct new stove plug.

While he is at that I will talk with him about the need for 20A circuits in the kitchen now that I'm into that. If the circuit can be separated out w/o too much extra work so be it. I might even do a little wall exploration. I have the wire on hand. So if it's only a matter of pulling new copper and connecting it up at the panel then I'll go for that. If I could pull new 12/3 CU through the existing holes say do I need to remove the old AL wire once we reconnect everything or can it be clipped off and left in place?

For any other connections I have alumiconn connectors that are 2 or 3 wire bridges that replace twister wire nuts. They are made for bridging AL-CU and all other places where wire nuts would go. I have the correct torque setting screwdriver and will probably pigtail most of the plugs around here with them at some point.
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