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Nothing to it!

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Back in July, I had to purchase and install a new range because my old 24" wide unit (that wouldn't boil a quart of water, even on high) decided to break in a nearly catastrophic manner.

Because the old stove was only 24" wide, the cabinet and range hood that were mounted above it were also only 24" wide. Making matters worse, the range hood was the type that doesn't vent to the outside, and despite making a ton of noise, it barely worked. The hood was also mounted quite low, as the old stove was much shorter than the new one. It was like cooking in a "slot".

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I grew tired of being gassed-out every time I cooked anything with some heat, so I went online and found a 30" range hood. I manged to snag a great deal on it, and before I knew it, there was a shiny new stainless steel hood sitting on my front steps. The dang thing weighed in at over 50-pounds, to boot!

I finally decided to bite the bullet and get working on replacing the old range hood. I started the project on Saturday (January 9), and figured it would take me the better part of a day to complete. Little did I know...

Quick aside... never buy an old house because it's "charming" or "has character" unless you enjoy spending four-times longer and at least twice as much money to complete minor projects. No matter what I try to work on in this house, it always seems to be riddled with unexpected challenges and surprises, and this was no different.

I started by removing the old cabinet and range hood. Those came down with minimal difficulty, although I was absolutely shocked to discover neither were mounted to any type of wall studs, but rather, the very thin lathe strips that live behind very brittle plaster. How they didn't fall down is beyond me.

As soon as the cabinet came off the wall, my heart sank, because of what I saw: wallpaper.

There were layers and layers of old wallpaper behind the cabinet. Ugh. So, I broke out my scraper and set-about peeling off at least four layers of old wallpaper. Joy.

4-hours later, it seemed I was down to the underlying wall. The wall was also odd (go figure), because part of it was drywalled, and part of it was plaster-and-lathe. Unfortunately for me, the plaster-and-lathe section were up high, which is where I needed to secure the 50-pound range hood... so, I cut out an area of the wall and installed a 2x4 brace. I then cut and fit some 3/8" drywall over the brace and filled in the seams with joint compound.

After engineering the proper support for the heavy range hood, I patched a few screw and nail holes and filled-in the hole where the old wiring for the previous range hood was. When the spackle was dry, I wiped-down the wall and applied a coat of primer.

I went to bed that night with the intention of grabbing some paint first thing in the morning, and then wrapping-up the project before the Packers-Redskins game on Sunday.

I woke-up nice and early on Sunday and went to check the kitchen. And that's when my heart sunk again... the primer was dry, but apparently I hadn't removed *all* of the wallpaper, because a section of the primed area was rippled and pulling away from the wall. Oye. So, I scraped again... and that's when I found another hole in the wall - it was punched (inexplicably) in the middle of the wall, and covered-up with some plain brown wallpaper. Nice.

After another 2 hours of scraping, I was confident that I had everything removed. I patched the big hole, made a new hole for the new electrical connection, and cut a hole in the ceiling for the vent that would eventually exhaust to the outside of the house.

I spackled again and then went down to the basement, where the previous home owner had done me a great favor by leaving all of the old paint cans for easy future touch-up jobs.

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As you can see, my kitchen is a citrus-like color. There were two very similar cans of paint in the basement, so I brought both upstairs and tried to compare them to the wall. I picked the one that looked closest, and ran to Home Depot to get a quart of paint. I returned home and re-primed the wall. Because it was getting late, I went to watch the Packers game and then returned home later in the night to apply the paint.

And... the paint that I purchased was completely wrong. It was more yellow than orange, and didn't match at all. Wasn't even close. So, I grabbed the other can, pried it open and dabbed a little of the old, gelatinous paint on the wall. When it dried, it was obviously the correct color... unfortunately, it was now 9pm at night, so I'd have to wait until Monday to score the correct color.

Monday came around, and I ventured off to work. On my way home, I swung through a Sherwin Williams and procured a quart of "Citrus Dream" custom-colored paint. As soon as I was home, I slapped on a coat of paint, strategically positioned some fans and space heaters, and waited for it to dry. Within 30 minutes, I was able to apply a top coat.

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I ran new wiring for the range hood and then went about mounting the galvanized steel ducting to the new range hood. And that's when the next problem came about. The range hood had a 6" exhaust duct. I was expecting a 4" exhaust duct.

So, I went to the hardware store and purchased a 6"-to-4" reducer. Yes, I know this will reduce CFM from the fan, but the exhaust run was only going to be about 4-feet in total, so I think I'll be ok.

When I got home, I discovered that the hard-ABS-plastic exhaust fitting on the range wasn't really 6"... it was more like 6-3/16", and that made mating my 6" reducer impossible without some additional engineering. I grabbed my tin-snips and cut reliefs around the base of the reducer, so that I could flare the bottom out enough to slip over the exhaust fitting.

With the help of some tiny sheet metal screws and some aluminum HVAC tape, I had the reducer secured to the hood. I cut and formed a length of galvanized steel ducting and secured it to the reducer. I was now ready to hang the range hood and hope for the best.

Things went fairly well with mounting the hood to the wall. It was nice and level, and it sat fairly flush with the wall. I installed flashing around the hole in the ceiling and was now ready to do my final wiring work. Things were getting close!

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Take note of the plaster ceiling in the above photo... oh how I loathe plaster. It is the devil. It is pure evil, because it's never level, it's super brittle, and it's not user-friendly. I discovered just how unlevel the plaster was when I went to install the final trim piece - a large piece of stainless steel designed to wrap around and hide the ducting.

Despite squaring and leveling everything as best I could, the ceiling is so uneven that the shroud cannot set square with both the range hood and the ceiling. No matter how I tweak the shroud, I can't escape having a gap somewhere (either at the hood base or at the ceiling)... I think I may cut some trim and install it around the ceiling end if I can't tweak it enough to fit nicely.

Anyway... I was done with the interior work at around 10:30pm last night. All that remains now is to connect the outside vent to the ducting, and I'll be finished. I'm waiting for it to warm up a bit before I venture out to do that piece.

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And in sadder news...

Amy's dad, Michael Brom, recently passed away, and it truly saddens me. He was such a great guy to me, and I'm really sorry to hear that he died. He had been fighting a strong fight against cancer, beating it into remission on two separate occasions. Mike was a fun guy - always cracking jokes, and always in good spirits. He was a strong guy, physically and mentally. I enjoyed playing Scrabble and other games with him - his knowledge of quirky words was second to none. He was also incredibly talented when it came to making just about anything. He helped us with our landscaping at the house in Arkansas, and regularly helped his brother, John with construction projects. He built decks, additions, and whatnot with complete ease. I was envious of not only his abilities, but his positive attitude and wonderful energy.

The world lost a really genuine, really nice, and really awesome person. They don't make them like Mike any more. Sending my thoughts and very best wishes to Amy and her family... :-(

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