Friday, October 21, 2005


I'm sure every old house has them. Little things that you look at in awe and wonder "what on earth were they thinking?" My house has plenty. Here are two that are currently bugging me.

# 1 - At some point, one of the owners decided that two of the bedrooms in my house needed more than one outlet. Understandable.

How did they accomplish this? By drilling up through the hardwood maple floor and installing exterior outlets. Two strips in each bedroom. Why they couldn't have drilled up two inches back and 6 inches up from my open basement and put a normal outlet on the wall is a mystery to me.

As you can imagine, to fix this now...I need to hunt down strips of old maple flooring (I have my eye on some from under my fridge)...pull up those old outlet...cut in and refinish the new floor strips....and then fish the wires up to the wall. Sigh.

#2 - Why fish a telephone cord through the wall when you can drill a hole in the oak floor and pull it up there? I have to shake my head every time I see this.

I fixed this one a while ago and the telephone outlet is now on the wall above the baseboard. (The white stuff is foam I used to seal before adding a base shoe - part of a restaining and shellacking the baseboard project I finished up last year). This repair was a little easier as red oak flooring is easier to match to existing old wood and I was refinishing the entire floor at the same time. But, still.

I suppose it's good that I have been exposed to these things because it makes me think about projects before I do them. I ask myself more questions. Am I doing it in the most logical way? If I want to change it in the future, is it going to be even more work for me? Am I just being lazy or cheap and not doing it correctly? Will some future owner of my house post pictures of my silliness, laziness, cheapness, etc. on their future blog and whine?


Kim said...

We have holes everywhere for cable wires @ The Dirty the floor (my handy significant other didn't even think to replace the board in the living room with the hole), and in many places they installed outlets into the BASEBOARDS! Why not go into the wall, who knows? And then there is the random hole 5 feet up the wall in the living-why would you run a wire at the top of a wall? We even have cable wires in the cold air returns. They couldn't pay the gas bill, but they sure liked their cable! There's also a satellite dish bolted to the roof... My personal favorites in our house were the random piece of plywood nailed on top of the hardwood floors at the top of the stairs and the little mirror glued onto the archway.

Patricia W said...

Man can I identify with this post! You should see the holes all through my house, viciously chopped into my oak flooring. I would have given my eye-teeth to have PO's who cut holes in baseboard and spared the oak floors (well, maybe not). On every floor, in every room, the PO's hacked square-ish holes intending them to be used as outlet receptacles (which they never were). Then, every phone, cable, you-name-it wire would get it's own special, precious hole drilled straight through the oak floor and sub floor. I'll have to post pics of the holes in the floors of the Folksy Lady. When we re-did the lower bathroom, the tub was original and it sat directly on the floor (it was a clawfoot style without the clawfeet). Anyway, the wood underneath was pristine and since the flooring outside of the tub was bad we cut up all the remaining maple and I saved it. Now I have something to patch the holes with. My heart goes out to you because I know how hideous this type of abuse is. If you are planning on redoing a bathroom because some of the flooring is bad it may give you an opportunity to salvage some of the wood to use elsewhere.

Kim - I know why they put outlets in baseboards. In my house, the lathe only goes down to the top of the baseboard. Behind the baseboard, at the top, there is a thicker strip of wood that runs along the boarder of the room, up several inches from the floor. When the plasterers did their work, they would only go down to that strip of wood. The baseboard would then be installed. When your PO's installed electric, they simply removed the baseboard and ran the wires through that way without having to remove lathe/plaster to install outlets. I have seen many houses that have outlets in the baseboards. I wish at my house they had done that instead of hacking holes into the floors.

Gary said...

Most houses built at the turn of the century did not have electrical supply. That was often put in during the 1920s or 30s. A box in the floor or baseboard was common because the electric cable was much thicker than modern cable. They also lacked power tools. You can buy proper floor boxes with brass covers and a screw in cover for the outlet. They run about $30 a piece though. You are so lucky if you only need one. We need to install nine of them! The round holes can be filled with plugs of wood. In the old days they used to plug holes with corks, we have plenty of those too. If you have a row of 2 or 3 small holes adjacent to a wall, they may have been made to pass cables through that controlled a damper on a heating duct that would have been positioned below it. Rather than plug the hole in your floor maybe you could put in speaker jacks or a cable jack.

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