May 2007

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4 May 2007 — Front Entry Closet Demo

We started tearing out the closet by the front door. This closet is one of the coldest spots in the house now because there is no insulation in the walls or ceiling and it is outside the brick walls of the main part of the house. A little insulation should fix that. We also need to fix the wiring for the light in the entry way, the porch light, and the outlet and the outlet under the display case (which isn't really all that nice and so is also going away).

On the HGTV show If Walls Could Talk, homeowners are always showing off the treasures they find. Well, here are some of ours. Some clothing was stuffed in the space around the plumbing. Unfortunately, Mickey didn't make very good insulation.

Oh, and there was some underwear (and more, but not really worth showing here). Yuck.

With all the fun out of the way, it was on to the walls.

All clean.

Here are some shots of the awesome (?!) framing job.

And a shot of the box for the front porch light.

The front wall of the entry way is probably around eight inches thick. I always assumed that it was framed with 2x6 or 2x8 lumber. But no, it is 2x4 walls with the same fiberboard sheathing that we found on the ends of the garage walls where we replaced the siding last year. Outside of that there is apparently additional framing of some kind (maybe just more 2x4s) and then the hardboard siding directly on that. The electrical box is partially mounted to the siding. The other end of the hanger is nailed to the stud on the interior wall. Hmm. I guess we'll be showing more of this when we replace the siding around the front door later this summer.

5 May 2007 — Plumbing and Joists

With access to the plumbing from inside the front entry closet, I started cutting it loose so we can double up some more joists.

Before putting up any new 2x8s under the bathroom I added a few more boards in the middle of the living room, under the master bedroom closet.

6 May 2007 — Joist Sandwiches and Yard Work

Given that the joists under the bathroom had some ugly holes hacked in them very near the top and almost directly in the center of the beam, I sandwiched all of them. I was able to drill one board before putting it up and use that hole as a guide for cleaning up the existing hole and drilling through the new board on the other side. This worked reasonably well and I managed to drill out all these three inch holes without burning up my drill.

Here's a progress shot. We only have two more joists to go, but they have giant notches gouged out of them, so we'll be sandwiching them too.

After getting the boards up, I took a break from plumbing and carpentry and did some more work on the yard.

The grass I planted about two weeks ago is starting to come in, but not quite as well as I had hoped. We'll be getting some topsoil to fill in the area by the back deck where the patio was, so if this new grass is still looking lame when we do that, I'll spread a little more topsoil over this area and try some more new seed.

7 May 2007 — More Yard Work

Tonight I ran the tiller over the bare part of the yard again to loosen it up and then I started moving dirt around to fill in the hole where the patio was. I managed to get almost half of it smoothed out. If the weather is still nice tomorrow and I'm not too sore to move, then I'll try to do some more. Then we will need some topsoil to make up for what we lost when we removed the patio and then we can finally plant some grass.

8 May 2007 — Still More Yard Work

I did a little more reshuffling of the dirt and rocks in the back yard this evening. Now it is pretty close to being ready for a layer of topsoil and some grass seed.

12 May 2007 — Plumbing and Beer

I removed the rest of the old pipes that came up from the basement and put some new cutoff valves in the basement (sorry, no pictures). I also spent some time in the yard tilling up some weeds and digging a drainage trench through the back corner garden area with the hope that it will alleviate some of our drainage problems.

Then we took the afternoon and evening off and visited one of our favorite places in western PA.

13 May 2007 — Chipper Action

After nearly three years idle, the wood chipper started up on the second pull. Nice. I don't know why, but I've been avoiding this chore now for, well, the last three years or so, since we moved in to the house and started collecting branches and other yard debris.

It took a couple of hours, but I eventually reduced the pile to mulch and spread it around under the pine trees. We also uncovered some stones around the garden shed that have been buried for a while now.

Here's a look at a future project. But this can wait a long time (unless the siding actually starts falling off) because it faces the fence and isn't even visible unless you are standing behind the shed.

19 May 2007 — Plumbing

I started working on replacing the plumbing to the master bath and third bedroom today. I got as far as the toilet and all the hookups in the basement.

The 1/2-inch line here is the hot water return line. Once this work is done we'll get nearly instant hot water to the shower in the master bath, which is probably 50 feet of 3/4-inch tubing away from the hot water heater in the basement. Having the return line go up an extra floor should also increase the circulation rate and give us warmer water in the lines at all times (not that it was bad before when it was just a loop in the basement).

I also moved the supply lines farther away from the exterior wall. That and the insulation we will be putting in the walls here should prevent the pipes from freezing again like they did last winter.

20 May 2007 — More Plumbing

I finished the rest of the plumbing today. Here's a shot looking up at the ceiling in the living room and a closer view of the maze right under the bathtub. I still have to hook up the drain lines. That will mean getting the drain from the third bedroom, the overflow drain from the tub, and the main tub drain, and a trap all hooked up in this already crowded spot without needing to have notches in the joists and leaving room for another joist sandwich here. I think I see a way to do it, but it will be a tight fit.

I counted something like 49 new fittings. That was a lot of soldering. And I don't know what I did wrong this time, but not one leak!

26 May 2007 — Framing

I put some insulation on the hot water line and framed a box around the drain line in the closet. I also put some extra framing in the opening and tied down the pipes.

27 May 2007 — Plumbing and Floor Repair

I started working on hooking up the drain lines today. This is a real PITA as there are three drains (third floor sink, bathtub, and bathtub overflow) that all have to come together in a tight spot before going through a trap. I didn't know exactly what fittings I would need since I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to make it all fit, so I bought an assortment. Of course I guessed wrong and will need to trade in a few of the ones I have for something different. But I think that I can get this painful little job finished tomorrow.

I also did a little floor repair in the closet. The faces of these boards are only 1-1/2 inches wide. I had some wider flooring and this is less than two square feet, so I just ripped the boards down to width and put grooves in them. It's not perfect, but hey, it's just the closet.

28 May 2007 — Creative Plumbing and More Joists

If you think this looks like a crazy way to drain a bathtub, I guess I'd have to agree with you that it is. But I didn't see any better way to get everything hooked up and through the trap and to also have the trap up above the bottom of the floor joist. Once I got the threaded coupling on the trap tight enough, it didn't leak, so I guess that's good.

We were also able to get the last two floor joists sandwiched between new boards. The new drain adapter for the tub was just a little too big to clear the tops of the new boards, so I had to notch them about half an inch. That's not what I really wanted to do, but at least it is not like the previous hack job that they did when the tub was first installed.

Oh, I almost forgot. As expected, we now get hot water in the shower in about three or four seconds, and hot water at the sink in maybe five to seven seconds. I wouldn't recommend tearing out walls just for that, but it is a nice bonus.

29 May 2007 — Bat!

I found a bat flying around in the house today. Eventually it latched on to the smoke detector in the attic room and I was able to get it out by getting a ladder, a bucket, and a piece of cardboard. It flew off after I set the bucket out in the front yard.

I'm not sure how it got in, which still bugs me a little, since I don't know how to prevent it from happening again.

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