December 2007

Well I finally got around to backfilling the hole in the basement. I only had to fill it up just to cover the pipes with stones, then I will add the clay and mud that I tossed under my porch (he he). I will try and pour concrete this weekend, but I am not looking forward to buying 4 bags of 80lbs of dry mix concrete. Here are a few shots of me covering up the nice wye we put underground for the toilet and sink. Things like this take long, so next week you should see more work there. The clean pipes 4 bags of pee gravel, and 1 bag of stone Almost covered

Ready for more dirt and then pouring the concrete

Last night I spent a few hours wiring up the bathroom area. I had to use 12/2 NM wire because code says to in a bath. I added a GFI outlet, a fart fan (which I have to vent outside soon), a wall sconce, and a ceiling box for a pendant light. Two switches will allow me to operate the lights on one, and another switch will operate the exhaust fan. Once this is complete, I can move to the plumbing. Bathroom wiring Using 12/2 Close up of ceiling box

2 gang-box Kitchen messy wall Getting ready to tear down the plaster ceiling

Have to fix this 

In order for us to be able to adhere to our kitchen design, we needed to bump up the two windows about 20 inches. This indeed reduces the light in that room a bit, but the view is not that great anyway, so this will act as a better use of space, be more energy efficient and get some nice air in that room. This was the hardest project I have ever done to date. I had to remove two windows and install new smaller ones. I had to build up a frame to support them. I made a slight mistake in that I should have purchased the new construction windows but instead bought the replacement style. I thought I was going to simply re use the lumber and move it up. Not likely as the wood was badly rotted. So we built a new frame on that wall and insulated it. Pictures are below.

Before Ed helping Windows removed, holes where the pulleys went

Taking the pulleys out Removing the storm window frames Completely exposed

Open area Ready to cut Building the frame

Building the frame Exterior Finished, time to work on the wall

Well the project has become a reality. I realized this last night lying in bed– we’ve lived in our home for 3 years and we are just beginning to “live” in it.

Friday night we had John-Paul and Dawn over to spend some time together. JP had this urge to help me with the remodel project so I thought it would be nice if he helped me with putting up the rear wall and help demo the inside wall we are replacing. The girls had some errands to run for the holidays so the plan worked out well.

Ever see two geeks with sledgehammers and nail guns? You can imagine what the scenery looked like as JP learned how to put up studs and peel away some lath and plaster. We were able to support the bottom of the upstairs landing by putting up this wall and I added a few more studs where the old wall was. Here are some pictures. The sledgehammer part came after that. JP smashed from the other side into the room while the door was closed. It was a nice way to keep the dust and debris from getting in the way.

View from inside the door From the other side Almost finished

Putting up the frame Learning how to nail

This is where the sad part comes in. Hopefully this is the only hiccup we have on this project. Let me explain.

We want to put a half bath on the first floor. Doing this will not only increase the value of our home, but it is so logical for us because we only have one bath. Try entertaining a group of guests and forcing everyone to “go” up 2 flights of stairs. Plus getting ready in the morning makes life a bit more difficult. You can understand.

Well we looked at the space in our kitchen and there is an area where we can remove a pantry and a wasted space under the steps and gain a room that is almost 6 feet long by 3 feet wide. It is definitly tight, but I have seen much smaller baths. The cieling is perfect and with a little elbow grease, we can make this room totally useable.

Now the hard part. In the basement on the other side of the house, there is my stack. This is a pipe where all the waste from the bathroom upstairs and kitchen drain into. It is called a stack because it was a pipe that was several pieces of cast iron that were “stacked” on each other and gravity held it in place. It also serves as a vent for all the pipes in the house. In plumbing you want a pipe that is above the roof line and is open to the world for sewer gases to escape. Then you tie in all of your plumbing drains into it. Gravity forces waste water to fall into the main sewer line under the home and out to the main sewer. Every drain has a trap. This is a “U” shaped curve in the pipe that water settles in and protects the sewer gases from escaping into the living space. The sewer gases will then make their way out to the stack in the roof. Flush the toilet and water falls from the 2nd floor down to the basement and then the slight pitch in the pipe in the floor forces the water and waste to travel to the street. Ok, the lesson is over. Here is where it sucks.

I have a buddy that is a professional builder. He has put in hundreds of pipes. We are hiring him to help me with the pipe fitting. Originally we planned on cutting the stack and then putting in a “Y” to add this drain pipe for the toilet and sink. After looking at the situation, we realized that there was a drain in the floor directly in the floor below where we want to put the toilet. Cool. He gives me orders to bust up the concrete in the floor in the basement so we can cut the pipe and place a fitting over the open pipe and add some ABS pipe for the toilet and sink. Sounds easy. Well I can tell you that it was really difficult. After 5 hours of a 12lb sledgehammer and a few hand shovels I now have a 5 foot by 3 foot hole that is almost 3 feet deep. I needed to remove as much soil (read : clay) so we can get a clean cut into that pipe. As I was digging, I began to smell what was like pond water. Then I hit an area where there was black tarry stuff. Sewage. At least I think it is.

Oh no. Yep, there is a broken pipe somewhere in my home under the floor. How can I problem solve this? Dig. And bust up concrete. And Dig. This is what I am up against. Clay pipe. Can someone call Roto-Rooter? I am only hoping that what this can be is a small pocket of rainwater coming from some broken drain pipes on the side of my house. I ran water in my kitchen, bath, and I also poured in 5 gallons of water into that pipe and nothing escaped. It rained all day Sunday so I am guessing this is drain water. Please let this be drain water. This is the basement floor

Beginning to open the floor Size relation to tools This is the hole

Here is the water that was down there Here is the hole.