And the facts confronted me, stolid and grim: The long baseboard pieces in the dining room have to be done now, in the summer, while I can still strip them if need be on the back porch.
So this afternoon, I took up spear and cudgel-- I mean hammer, five-in-one, and pry bar-- and set to work.
But as I am a sensible being (mostly), I started with the shorter baseboard pieces, in the walls with the doorways. This was not a means of avoiding work. No. These pieces on the south wall are the ones with the electrical outlets in them. And for the baseboard to come off, the outlets had to be disconnected and pulled out.
Happily, by now I know which circuit they're on-- the same one that controls the basement lights and all the outlets in the house, except the ones in the kitchen and the third floor study. Turning it off decommissioned all the phones except for the one up in the heavenlies-- lovely when you're expecting a call back from a job search committee chairman and you run all the way up to find it was only a telemarketer. And so nice to have to reset all the clock radios once the power is back on. But we make these sacrifices for Art.
What was not at all artistic was how these two outlets are wired. It's not just that the wiring is only one notch up from knob-and-tube, it's also that on one of them, the clever improver back in the '40s or whenever neglected to put the bloody mess in a box.
Oh, golly, don't I feel safe?!
Five years ago when I was purchasing the Sow's Ear, the electrical inspector hired by my real estate agent said these outlets needed attention because they weren't grounded. But redoing them would only cost $250, he estimated, well under the $500 floor set by the sales contract that would've required my sellers to deal with it. I was 900 miles away in Kansas City when this inspection took place. So I do not know if this clever inspector was aware of the um, frugal job made of this particular recepticle.
But oh, damn, I'm aware of it now. And I shall have to get my electrician (not the same bloke) out to rectify matters.
But when? Before or after I get the trim stripped, replaced, and shellacked?
Couldn't get him over today, that's for sure. So I pried the wires off the screws, pulled the recepticles free, wrenched off the baseboards, and then, using the photos I took along the way, replaced the old ivory outlets with brown ones that'll match the woodwork better. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing-- my dad was an electrician!
But I'll still feel happier if I can get Mr. Coffey out here soon to make a proper job of it.
But there's another thing I have to consider: When my previous owners put in the fake Pergo, they ran it up against the existing baseboard, then put quarterround over the crack. This made the baseboard pieces harder to remove.
But it also raises the question of how and whether I'm going to replace the laminate flooring with proper oak boards, and when. I'd really like to install the new floor under the baseboard, and dispense with the quarterround altogether. Seems it'd be a lot cleaner look. But I can't afford new flooring right now! And I don't want to wait to put the baseboards back until I can!
I shall have to figure this out. Meanwhile, I'm marking and saving the existing quarterround pieces, if I have to use it after all. I don't plan on stripping them, but they'll do for patterns for the new stain-grade material