Tuesday, September 11, 2012

operation knock-down drag-out*: week 2.

*i was going to try and abbreviate the title of this series to something like "operation k-dd-o" or OKDDO but they looked too much like "oh, kiddo!" and i didnt want to alert anyone's bump watch prematurely. no kiddos here yet. no babies yet either.

first things first: i cant believe i forgot to share this last week, but check out this little gem that Mark discovered hiding underneath our old bathtub:

that, my friends, is an old vintage beer bottle that was just chillin in our bathroom. and it makes me inexplicably happy. so much so that i went to great lengths to dig it out of a big black trash bag of debris after the hubs had the audacity to throw it away before i even got a picture of it. not to mention the fact that i secretly want to keep it as a quirky accessory in the finished bathroom because i have a not-so-secret obsession with old glass bottles. and as a bonus, this one's got such a good story! not only does it work as a sort of carbon-dating for the house (we know know for certain that the old tub was original to the house thanks to the '83 stamped on the bottle) but it also makes me kind of curious what other little hidden 'treasures' might be hiding in the walls and other unseen corners of our house.

ok, now back to this week's adventures.

we headed into the second week of this project with a general game plan of what theoretically needed to happen next, but next to no idea of how exactly those things were actually going to be accomplished. what we did know was that the next steps were plumbing related: fix the broken tub drain pipes, and make sure all the copper piping was in working order.

Mark jumped right into the fray on Tuesday night with the directions from the tub-drain kit and a couple youtube videos to guide him, and added a brand new overflow and p-trap to replace the broken ones from the old tub.

this husband of mine? super-impressive.

once the drain was reassembled, the next step was obviously to test it to make sure it held water. this is where we hit our first snag of the week. you see, in order to get the new tub to fit into place, we had to cut the copper pipe that used to run through the old faucet. so now, instead of having a pipe that would run water into the tub, we had a cut-off pipe that would run water under the tub. not exactly ideal. also, remember the corroded shower arm i mentioned last week? we determined that the only way to fix that would be to cut the copper pipe that leads to it and replace the whole fitting. and on top of those pipe issues, there was this little lovely we had to figure out:

this is the shower valve. it turns the water on and off and determines how much water flows through it and what temperature it is. most manufacturers have their own version that is not compatible with any other manufacturer, so you have to keep buying parts from them. not really a big issue, except that we had already taken our old shower fixtures to the landfill without noting the name of the manufacturer. yeeeahh...

in a nutshell: we had a bunch of copper pipe that no longer lead where it was supposed, to, a shower valve we didnt know the manufacturer of, and no desire to try our hand at soldering things that were currently installed in our walls. open flames + exposed studs and drywall = we dont wanna go there.

we got the answer to one of these issues while we were discussing some of our concerns at a family party over the weekend. (yes, we talk about cool things like our bathroom reno problems at parties. deal.) apparently there are these things called sharkbites. aka the coolest, easiest plumbing-type thing ive ever seen. they are fittings that just snap right on, are instantly watertight, and are actually removable if you somehow manage to screw it up! perfection! sure, they're a little pricier than regular pipe fittings, but since we only needed a couple of them, it was totally worth the couple extra bucks to avoid soldering.

but even so, we were still kind of stalled. because we didnt know the manufacturer of our shower valve, we didnt know which replacement handle would be compatible, which meant that there was a possibility that we would have to replace the whole valve, which would involve soldering for sure, which is what we were really trying to avoid. so we just bought a couple different handles to see if any would work. when we opened them to see what was included in the trim kit, we were absolutely THRILLED to find out that the Moen-compatible kit had an extra adapter plate that fit our valve! (seriously. i never thought i would ever be jumping-up-and-down-squealing-level happy about something like plumbing. but it happened) turns out that instead of being manufacturer-specific, this style of valve is what's known in the plumbing world as "standard." good to know.

with all our plumbing-related almost-crises averted, we forged ahead and checked the tub drain for leaks. we did two tests. first, Mark turned on the water and let it run while i stood in the basement under the drain to watch for leaks. then, we filled the tub with water and just let it sit for a while. this was for two reasons: to make sure the drain stopper worked, and also to make sure that the drain could handle going from zero to full in 0.1 seconds. the results? no leaks! success! cue awkward happy dance!

the tape marked the water level so we could tell if it was leaking over time 

once we were sure all the plumbing was in order, Mark decided it was safe to start closing it all up behind new walls. so on Saturday, in between mowing the grass, taking the bathtub to the landfill, attending a friends' housewarming party, and making a panicked and unnecessary trip to the Depot, that's exactly what he did.

to make cutting the cement backer board easier, Mark borrowed a pair of electric scissor-things from his tile-expert uncle. they had little pincers on the front that basically ate right through the board, just like a cement-hungry insect or something. except more fun because hello fun new power tool to play with!

one thing i learned: cement board is installed with roofing nails. this makes installing cement board a rather loud process, even with the door closed. an appropriate solution to this extra noise is to relocate your tv watching to the basement, turn up the volume, and paint your nails.

this is what i got when i said i wanted an 'action shot'

with all the backer board in place, the shower area is looking good! i can almost picture it all decked out with shiny lovely bright white subway tiles... almost.

Mark was really on a roll this weekend, so he just kept going on Sunday after church, cutting and laying the first layer of new plywood subfloor.

i got to help with this part. after Mark measured and cut the first (and biggest) piece to size, removed the bathroom door, and dry-fit the plywood in place, he needed my help to get the piece back out so he could put the adhesive on the back and then fit it back in its final resting place for good. my job was to guide the piece from the doorway so that the adhesive didnt end up getting all over everything it wasnt supposed to. the result? well, considering i managed to walk away with only one minor battle wound and without any adhesive on me, i would have to call it a success.

the rest of the floor got covered with smaller pieces of plywood, (the bathroom isnt really that big, so it took less than a full sheet to cover the whole floor) so my help wasnt needed for those.  instead, i did my best to stay out of the way and away from the noise that comes with driving screws into the floor every 6-8 inches without having a door to muffle the racket. when in doubt, just turn up the music a little bit louder.

so that's where we stand. we still have to lay another layer of subfloor to build the floor up so that when the tile goes in it will match the height of the flooring in the hallway, and then after that we get to finish up the walls and start painting! this process is flying, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that everything will keep going as smoothly as it has been so far.

trips to Home Depot: this week - 3. total - 7.
trips to Ace: this week - 0. total - 2.
trips to Lowes: this week - 2.  total - 2.

times Amanda has cried over this project: this week - 0. total - 1.
times Amanda has cried in Home Depot: this week - 0. total - 0.

days until Thanksgiving: 79.


Brenda's Man said...

You two are doing great! My bathroom demo progress has slowed to halt as life and meetings intrude into my sledge hammer time. Maybe this weekend...

Oh yeah, I didn't find bottles behind the tub but i did find a window in the wall!

Love you bunches & bunches!

Abi said...

Can I just say how impressed I am with your husband's skills... I too can not wait to see the finished product.