Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

Mostly finished

It's always funny how projects you think will be quick find ways of expanding and dragging on.

When the remodeling project in its final stages last summer got to the gym, it totally gutted and replaced the building's electrical system. All the wiring in the walls and ceiling, and all the fixtures there (except the HID high bay lights in the gym itself) were removed or abandoned in place. All new, electronically-ballasted, high-efficiency fluorescent lights were installed everywhere. Switches were replaced, by combination infrared/ultrasonic motion sensors in high-traffic common areas. All the breaker panels were replaced, and the single 1U Cisco ethernet switch was relocated to a new electrical closet which received an air conditioner. The existing air handlers were left in place, though their power and control systems were refurbished.

Unfortunately, they overlooked the exhaust fans. The ones above the showers in the boys locker room were never reconnected. The one over the coaches' locker room was reconnected, but didn't restart after the construction shutdown, as did one of the two above the team room (currently home to just short of 200 sets of sweaty football pads--one fan is not enough.) Wet sweaty pads can breed skin contagions. If you come in at 6am to play basketball with some colleagues, it's hard to dry off in sauna-like humidity in the short time before you have to teach first period. When the wrestling PE class hits the showers at the end of 4th period, the steam trips the smoke alarm (sounding the campus-wide fire alarm) in the cooler months when the atmosphere won't hold as much water vapor.

These are the sorts of things I step in and fix. Yeah, the district ought to send professionals paid out of their pocket. That's why I didn't do it a year ago, when I spotted the problem. Public institutions work slowly, I gave them the chance. It never happened. (As contrast, a year ago, our custodians put in a work order to repair the deteriorating window hatches in the stadium press box. The carpenters did that this week.) I did some testing and took some measurements. I discovered the two live-but-inoperable fans had burned-out motors, and that Grainger was clearing out some suitable replacements for $30 each (down from $150+.) I found the ceiling wiring in the boys locker room had been abandoned in place, which might save some labor and materials reconnecting those fans, but I was ready to pipe in new wire if need be. It seemed like one weekend's work, no problem.

The locker room wiring alone was two weekends of work. I got enough of the old wiring working to light one fan, but couldn't find a route to the other one. The work is slow when you have to drag the 8-foot ladder from box to box to short wires and check continuity. I wound up connecting the two fans across the roof. The burned-out motors were rusted to the hubs of the blower fans--including their shaft keys. I had to tap and drill holes in them to get leverage to pry them out, on top of what seemed like half a can of WD-40 soaking in over two days. The bolt studs poking out of the end of the new motors were too short to use for mounting--and nobody stocks 8-32 threaded rod couplers. The holes next to those bolts weren't actually sized for #10 self-tapping screws, I needed #12s. And 3/4" spacers, not the 1/2" ones I'd thought were enough. Oops, they aren't on the obvious square drill pattern, either, I had to figure that out. The 1/2" shafts of the new motors needed bushings to fit the 5/8" hubs of the blower fans. They showed up without holes for the set screws to fit through--fortunately, the steel was soft enough to easily drill them through. But they were a bear to hammer into the hubs. The old power feed wiring had brittle insulation--some of it had to be replaced with heat shrink, as I couldn't guarantee I could pull new wire through the old conduit. The new motors have external capacitors, the old ones didn't, so I had to add junction boxes to enclose everything.

But the fans all work now. They even have timers so they don't all have to run 24-7. (One of the team room fans will, though. The other will during football season, but will cycle the rest of the year.) I have to pick up some nuts to space one fan up a smidgen, since I didn't push the blower fan onto the shaft quite as far as I should have--and I broke off the head of one of the set screws, and this is easier than removing a fan blade in order to drill and extract the old screw. I finished the last of the work today--which I thought would only take two hours, but which stretched to almost six. I've lost count of the number of trips I made to Home Depot. I could have planned better, but still, something would come up short, or something didn't work as well as planned.

I'd hoped to get the 802.11 repeater installed on the upper roof today. That didn't happen. That'll be next weekend's job, I guess. But I swear I've got all the parts I'll need, and the right ones at that...

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