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Friday, January 30, 2015

When gambling pays off!

I've been waiting for Lu to do the finishing touches on her laundry room/porch.  I wanted to wait to provide you with before and after pics.   The wait is still on, but my pursuit of projects continues.

Some time ago, our microwave/range hood stopped working as a microwave.  We purchased a new microwave because no one can live without one these days, but we kept the old one to use as a range exhaust fan and light until I could decide on and purchase a new range hood.  Yup, the light and fan worked, but the microwave only made noise, but didn't actually microwave.

After removing it from above the stove
I saw the microwave failure as a blessing.  The unit was an almond colored appliance, yet we had already owned a stainless steel look fridge, stove, and microwave.  Besides color, having a microwave above your cook top gives you little room to work with large pots.  The unit gave me only about 18 inches of room above the cook top.   Getting a separate counter top microwave was my goal.  I bought one and put in on a baker's rack in our kitchen.  Now I just needed the range hood for exhaust and lighting.  I've priced some at around 200.00 and up. 

Today I went shopping at St Vinny's in Verona, WI.  I wasn't shopping for anything special.  It was just a way to 'treat' myself on my day off from working my usual job.  Yes, this is what I do when I can't afford a weekly spa treatment!  It paid off.  What I found ended up saving me almost $150.00.

There was a box, taped up with no particular signage to draw anyone to it.  Since I was taking my time looking through the store, I looked closer at the box and found it was a cook top range hood.  Could it be one I would be happy with?  Was it the size I needed?  Was it stainless steel or black to match my stove?

I started with using my phone's barcode app to check it out since there was a label with a barcode.  Take a look at the St. Vinny's green price!  Under $50.00.  Was it a bargain or a waste of money?

The barcode scan brought me to a Costco ad for a stainless steel range hood that cost $189.00 - Take a look

I know that one concern I've had was how I was going to install a range hood that required direct electrical wiring versus a plug-in appliance.  Our current microwave plugged into an outlet.  This range hood needed to be 'hard wired' into the wall.  There was no plug.  Hmm.  Only $45.00....Stainless steel...the right width (30 inches).  Why not?  I asked for the box to be opened.  It had the plastic protective covering still on.  It had the mounting screws and instruction manual included.  Again - why not?  Note - when I went to Vegas, I didn't really gamble.  Here at St. Vinny's -  I decided to roll the dice.  I bought it.

At home, I convinced Don to help me remove the old microwave to see what we were dealing with.  The old microwave was held to the upper cabinet with two large screws.  You see the one on the right removed here after we got the appliance removed.

The next hurdle was removing the metal plate that helped hold the microwave up.  It wasn't a big deal.  I just remove 4 anchor bolts.

After removing the plate, I did a happy dance because I saw that there was some electrical wiring in the wall.  I did not have to settle for just installing my range hood only to wait for an electrician to do magic to make it work.  I could make it work!  

Shutting off the electricity was a bit of an adventure.  Don turned off breakers while I tested the wires.  Apparently I really don't know how to read the meter I have.  I thought I did.  Luckily, this is a happy ending.  I thought we shut off the electricity to these wires.  But, NOPE.  I was able to be extremely careful with how I held the wires.  There was a bit of a surge that made me jump, but didn't think much of it.

WARNING: Trusting licensed electricians is a good thing!

I got everything connected, then Don suggested I test it by turning on the light switch.  Guess what?  The lights went on.  The wires WERE live.  But HEY.  More importantly (okay I'm not advertising doing your own electrical work.  I'm just trying to write an interesting blog post!) I'm going to be able to install this wonderful bargain that was very much needed.

I went forward with the installation instructions.  I removed the plate for the exhaust.

I installed the duct extension and completed the wiring.

After a bit of adjusting to get the screws to line up properly, we were able to install my NEW range hood.  It works wonderfully!
Another project - a backsplash above the stove!

I gambled by paying 45.70 for an appliance in a box at St. Vinny's that could have ended up being a complete throw away.  I ended up with an appliance worth 189.00 online at Costco.  (I'm not even a member.)  Winnings - 143.30.   More importantly, I have room above my stove top to make pasta in some very tall pots.

Hope you enjoyed another side project at the Szarek household!

To Lisa-I promise to get to your Faux Wood project tomorrow.  I just couldn't resist a bargain and seeing it through to implementation.


  1. What an easy project! It's great when DIY yields such a great new asset to your kitchen: space AND function. Thanks for sharing.