Monday, January 24, 2011

A Shaky Start

With two new crowbars, and with my trusty sledgehammer eager to get back into action, I started demolishing the bathroom yesterday morning. I could never have guessed what was about to happen. Never.

I stripped away the door frame, then pried a section of tile away from the wall. Just like I had feared, the concrete backer board is reinforced with a thick wire mesh, which when broken is sharp. Oh well, I can get behind it all with my crowbar and pull it away from the studs.

I was working on the wall where the sink and mirror are located. Hot and cold water lines, made of galvanized steel, come out here about 18 inches from the floor. I didn't give them much thought--normally they are fastened to the 2x4s.

As I freed the tile around the hot water line I heard a shhhhhhhhh sound, followed soon after by Cheryl screaming from downstairs, "Water, water!" I flew downstairs and into the garage to turn off the water, but the kitchen, which is directly below the bathroom, was already flooding. Not good.

Back upstairs to diagnose the problem. I can see that the pipe disappears into the area between the first and second floors, but there's no way to see, much less get my hand down there. So I had to go around into the hallway, and poke a hole into the wall from that side. I could see a little better but still not very far down, so I chiseled away the oak floor to make an opening. Oak does not like to be chisled. Finally with the flashlight I could see that the steel pipe is attached to PVC about a foot below the floor.

I went to Home Depot to get the necessary plumbing stuff. But when I got back I realized the hole is still not big enough to get my hand down there, so I had to pry up one of the oak boards in the hallway and then cut away some of the subfloor. Cheryl and I tried a test--she turned on the water for 3 seconds, and this allowed me to see the leak coming from the connection between the PVC pipe and the steel pipe.

With such a tenuous connection, the workers (the ones who put in the PVC) should have secured the steel pipe to 2x4s. I have considered every aspect of their character and well-being over the past several hours.

On the other hand, I should not have assumed that the pipe was secure. I should have been more careful, and I will be from this point on.

Anyway, after two trips to Home Depot and about four hours from when the leak sprung, I finally got the plumbing capped and we got the water turned back on. It was time for a nap and some personal reflection.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to testing out the new guest bathroom...but it looks like it may be a while. Tizita loves gushing water...maybe she could help you!