The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Small Upgrade Page 2 of 6

A Small Upgrade: Relocating the Coaxial Cable

Welcome to another small upgrade post! Without major renovation on our plate, we were able to address some small issues around the house. I am talking about old phone port to cover up, drywall cracks, old caulk, loose hinges, sagging boards, etc. Things like these still function, but are annoying to look at. Getting them taken care of is such a tension tamer.

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The safety hazard

One of the most exciting upgrades (we will share more in coming weeks) was moving the coaxial cable over our backyard.

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There were two cables coming into the house from the public utility poles Рthe electricity wire (high voltage) and the coaxial cable (low voltage). When we bought the house, both wires were installed pretty low to the ground. We raised the electrical wire higher when replacing the electrical panel. But the coaxial cable was still resting about 8 feet high from the ground.

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This cable is a big safety hazard. It spans across the backyard, and we had to always be careful when moving ladders or any tall objects. In winter months, when snow and ice accumulates on it, this cable sits at the height of our neck… We made several requests to the cable company to get it buried, only were told that it would cost us an arm and a leg, and the waiting time would be years long. However, relocating it in the air is free, and home owners are allowed to do it themselves. Well, I guess that settled it!

The game plan

Slav immediately came up with a game plan for moving the wires. All we want to do is to have it not over the lawn, where we walk cross a lot, and potentially raise it higher. Luckily for us, the coaxial cable actually originated from the very corner of our yard. We will not need to mess with this end at all:

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What we would be moving is the end where the cable met the house. The coaxial cable was hooked onto the fascia board above the cable box, which is located in the middle of the house.

 

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Here is the cable box. You can see the overhead cable coming in from the bottom, and making connections with the secondary cable going inside the house.

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The green wire next to the main coaxial cable is a ground wire. It runs into the electrical panel nearby, which might be the reason why the cable box is located where it is. The game plan was to keep everything in the picture intact, including the connecting box, the ground wire and the house coaxial cable. We will simply move the hook and the end of coaxial cable to the very northeast corner of the house, then run it back into the cable box along the house. We would have to extend the wire by a few dozen feet, but Slav was confident that it would not interrupt or slow down our internet.

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Relocating the main coaxial cable

Slav started by unhooking the coaxial cable from the box. Again, we will not move any remaining part, including the connection box, the ground wire, and the coaxial cable going inside the house.

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Then he took the coaxial cable off the wall. It was very easy since the nails holding them down were all loose from years of tension.

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Next, Slav remounted the hook to the northeast corner of the house, and reconnected the house-end of the coaxial cable to it.

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This corner of the house is the closest to where the cable comes from. In fact, this corner of the house is located about the same distance to the property line as where the cable comes from. So. the new path of the coaxial cable now runs almost parallel to the side fence. We are also fortunate that this side of the yard slopes down significantly, so when Slav tightened the cable, it sits much higher in relative to the ground, over 12 feet!

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Our raspberry bush are over 10 feet tall, the the cable is much higher than that.

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Now we can no longer see the cable from our backdoor. It actually runs over the roof of the garden shed and towards the house, almost parallel to the long side of the shed.

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Attaching and extending the coaxial cable

After hooking the cable back on the house, Slav started running the coaxial cable back towards the cable box. Instead of trimming the original cable, he attached the extra length under the soffit.

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And secured them to the wood trims using these coaxial stables. They are in black and less visible against the dark soffit:

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Slav used many staples, every 6″-8″ or so I’d say. It looks like an overkill, but the coaxial cable is rigid and needs these many staples to keep it straight and tightly against the trim.

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When the original cable ran out, Slav added another piece of coaxial cable using special connectors. He bought both the cable and connecters from Home Depot.

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The additional length of coaxial cable was brought into the cable box, terminated using the special connectors, and connected to the house cable:

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You can see the new connector in purple. Yay for having internet again!

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Finishing touches

Slav is the most thorough person when it comes to renovations. After cleaning up, he caulked all the prior nail holes, then brought out the trim paint and coated every single nail heads on the coaxial staples dark.

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The colors of the staples were pretty close to our trim color to begin with, Now with the touch-up paint on the nail heads, we no longer notice the coaxial cable under the soffit at all:

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And we can barely see the coaxial cable in the air either! This photo was taken from the middle of our yard, where the old cable used to be and at its lowest point.

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Instead of this:

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Now we have this:

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No more safety hazard!

 

A Back Fence Upgrade

This week, we continue making small upgrades to our house and garden. Since having completed the main floor guest bathroom, our focus has been fine-toning the details inside and outside the house. We patched holes and touch-painted, refreshed the hidden portion under the roof, fixed broken pickets on the fence, re-potted all the indoor plants, and filled dead spots in our lawn. These tasks are rather keep-ups and do not make into the blog, but they are necessary for preserving the hard work we put in initially.

Over the last two weeks, we started to see some cool weather, which made working outside a lot more pleasant. And it was the time I decided to give the back fence a face lift:

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Ranch house - 2

Above pictures showed how the back fence looked like when we moved in. As you can see, the fence was finished with two different types of pickets, which aged into different colors. Shortly after we moved in, Slav gave the fence a good wash with our pressure washer:

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The washing effort made the fence look great for a while. But over time, the different types of wood started turning into different colors again.

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Challenges and decisions

The problem is that the older fence pickets are cedar, which age into a smoke grey, whereas the newer panels are treated wood, which maintain a much lighter and yellow color. The aging process of the cedar pickets happens very quickly – within a couple weeks, which makes it difficult to keep the fence look uniformed.

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We considered to rebuild the fence to match the horizontal fencing on the other side of the yard, but the current high lumber price puts our plan on halt. Besides, the back fence is actually pretty steady and functional, so it fees like a waste to rebuild just for a different look.

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We debated and discussed many times, and finally reached the conclusion to upgrade the look of the fence with minimal effort, before we have to rebuild for structure reasons. The rebuild will not need to happen until years down the road, and by that time, the lumber price should come down as well.

Painting the treated wood panels

To make the back fence look better, we first needed to stain/paint the lighter color panels to match the darker ones. It happened that we had some exterior paint left over from painting the gable, which are a dark grey color.

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I watered it down just a little bit to make the color a better match, and got onto painting:

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The painted pickets are a bit darker but over time, I think it will look similar to the naturally aged cedar pickets. Here is the same section of the fence before and after being painted:

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Close enough!

Installing the cattle panel

Next, I wanted to train the climbing rose up to the fence. We planted some climbing roses along the back fence in 2018. I did not train it up as I should have, due to our indecision of what to do with the back fence. now we have decided to keep the original fence for a while, I can finally lift the roses off the ground!

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The poor roses, they have been gobbled up by the pumpkins this year:

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I decided to train the climbing roses up onto the fence using cattle panel. I had done it with the front yard climbing rose with success, and I loved how steady these cattle panels are. In fact, we used them to create bean tunnels in the vegetable garden this year, and they look great with vine crops climbing on them:

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We got four 50″ x 16′ panels from Tractor Supply, my new favorite garden store! They have great seeds and soil, plus all the gardening/farming supplies you can think of. The best? They have little chicks year around in the stores. I love playing with the chicks every time I have an excuse to go inside.

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Slav secured the panels onto the fence pickets using metal staples.

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And they look nice! Plus I think they actually made the fence stronger.

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With the cattle panel secured to the fence, I can simply tie the branches of the roses onto the panel instead of trying to secure them onto the fence. It is a much easier way to train climbing roses, and once we are ready to replace the back fence, I can simply stake the panel up with T-posts and keep the roses in place.

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Training climbing rose

I spent an afternoon training the roses up. The most challenging part was separating them from the pumpkin vines and lifting them up. Even with long sleeves, long pants, and garden gloves, I got scratched all over my arms and legs! The awakening rose is famous for the strong thorns and I can tell you, they are no joke!

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But nonetheless, they are ON.

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The upgraded look of the back fence

Here is the upgraded look of our back fence, all in dark, covered by cattle panels, aligned with fruit trees and blackberry bushes, and soon with pink rose blooming all over! Do you like it?

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Painting the Exterior of the House

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Our neighborhood was built in the 60s and early 70s. Most of the houses still maintain their original brick exterior and colors. It feels like a time capsule driving in the neighborhood. However, we have made a lot of changes on the exterior since moving in. We demoed the metal awing in the front of the house, got rid of the cracked concrete patio next to the foundation, removed the foundation planting, and installed a brand new storm door. These steps were taken to address the water issue around the foundation, but of course, these projects improved the curb appeal tremendously.

The front of the house, summer 2017, shortly after we moved in

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The front of the house, summer 2019

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The front of the house today:

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When the roof was replaced, we painted the soffit, the fascia, and the front door to a darker color to match the new gutter, which gave the house an entirely new look and feel. Many neighbors stopped on their tracks and told us how much they loved the new look of the house. Some even said that they enjoyed watching us make decisions during the renovation process. “It is like watching a HGTV show in weekly episodes!” They said and we laughed together. Our neighbors’ praises certainly confirmed our choices of the trim color, and the front of the house looked really good!

But somehow, the house still looked a little strange. For the longest time, I could not pinpoint what was off about the house, until Slav suggested that we should have painted the gable.

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A gable is the triangular part of a wall under the roof, especially between the edges of intersecting roof pitches. Our house is side-gabled, meaning that the gable portion faces the side of the house. Although not in the direct view of the street, one can still catch a glimpse of the gable when passing by.

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Generally speaking, the gable color does not need to be the same as the roof, or the fascia, or the soffit. More often than not, the gable color actually contrasts the roof color, and accompanies the siding of the house. Our house has yellow brick siding. After careful consideration, we decided to paint the gable the same color we used on the fascia and soffit – bronze.

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We used bronze on the soffit and fascia to match the bronze gutter, and really liked how it looks. The original gable color appealed very yellow next to bronze, which made the gable portion look very dated.

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To repaint the gable portion, we first had to clean the surface to get the dust, wasp nests, and spider nets off:

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Then we needed to use the sander to take off the peeling old paint and rough the surface to receive new paint.

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We also needed to patch and caulk the gaps and holes:

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I spend a whole weekend cleaning and sanding. Then Slav patched all the holes with sealant/outdoor caulking.

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The gable on the garage side is relatively lower to the ground. I was able to reach all surfaces with a tall ladder. But the west side gable is a different story. With sloped land underneath the gable is very high up. Slav had to climb up for most of the work.

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After letting the sealant dry, I lightly sanded everything again, cleaned the dust off, and it was time to paint!

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The new paint reads a bit blue in the picture above, almost black in low lighting, but it actually looks lighter and warmer in person. I think it made an amazing difference from the old color:

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Here is the west gable before:

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And now:

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Definitely more seamless and better!

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At sunset, the bronze color reads warm. I love it.

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Painting the gable looked like a small upgrade, but it actually took us two whole weekends and many evenings. It provided a big visual impact, and the house finally looks “right”. ūüôā The best part of this project? When I painted the gable on the tall ladder, this girl was watching me closely from the below.

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What do you think? Do you like the looks of our newly painted gable?

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