Friday, September 28, 2012

Day Three: Bathroom Renovation Project 10 - eensy teensy spider

So, first order of business Day Three. Stabilize the beam. We've decided to splice plate it, which you can see below. I did some reading in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. I've got a book, Renovating Old Houses. It's pretty good. It suggests that if a beam has an old split that isn't getting worse, best to leave it. If it's getting worse, it should be stabilized. Depending, it could be drawn together, but that's not always better, because the wood has a tendency to get used to its shape. Splice plates, it suggests -- which also happened to be Dan's first suggestion. So, after we all sleep on it, and then read the book and look at everything again, we agree on splice plates.

Also, because the the entire house has sagged a bit to the middle, the joists have been pulled out from the beam and are within a quarter to a half inch of falling out entirely, so we also reinforce the joists where they meet the beams in this area. 

I say we. I was at work.

So I'm at work Monday morning, and I get a call. Dan is so diplomatic. He doesn't say, "We have a problem." Has probably learned over the last decade never to start that way with a client. Instead, he tells me this and that, and we're having a pleasant conversation when it turns out that he's figured out why the wax ring on the toilet kept breaking and leaking. Oh, cool, I think. Another explanation for a vexing problem.

Turns out that while the whole house has sagged in the middle, the cast iron stack, which is rooted in the concrete floor of the basement, has not. And so now, the stack is higher relative to the floor than it used to be. And why is that a problem?  Again, not that Dan ever uses the word problem. Well, because it means that we can't get enough of an angle for the drain, especially since we're moving the toilet and tub a little further away from the stack.

I see it in my mind's eye. A tub that won't drain. Not my idea of a quality job.

So, Dan concludes, he's going to have to cut into the cast iron stack and install a Y lower down. I hear the uncertainty in his voice. Suddenly something he said the night before rings a bell. He's worried that the weight of the cast iron stack above the cut will be too heavy for the PVC Y.

"So, why don't you cut the stack and just pull everything out above the cut?" I ask. 

"Really?" He says, the relief in his voice palpable. Probably, though again he diplomatically doesn't say so, he never thought that conversation would be so easy. I've pushed back pretty hard on every attempt to exchange existing construction for something new or especially anything PLASTIC in this project.

"Yeah," I say. This one seems like an obvious decision to me, though I don't know why. Just an instinct. I certainly don't want the drain to give way one year after the floor is closed up and tiled over.

He sounded so relieved.

It was only later when I was in the middle of another meeting that I thought to worry about him up there on the roof trying to pull the damn thing out by himself ... but smart thing, he cut it in several places and only threw a third of it off the roof. "Made a nice dent in the yard," he comments, nonchalantly, that night.

So nonchalantly that I never thought to go investigate. Yikes! I think when I'm making my toast two days later and look out the kitchen window.


And double Yikes!!

But here is the new Y, in the coat closet access panel directly under the bath:

And the rest of the drains, also showing how the problem joist has now been sistered and the ugly hole that cut nearly through it has been reinforced. The sister is higher than the joist, at the level of the new floor.

And why is it a "sister"?  I wonder, writing this. Sisters and brothers. Close, you know. It is a kind of reinforcement for the self. A reinforcement and a doubling that makes us stronger. Not unlike a good marriage. Tho different.

And a "template" of the tub, for placement. This isn't the footprint, it's the diameter of the top of the tub.

And the night before, he later showed me, while I'd been up on the first floor reading about split beams, he'd been up half the night reading the specs and temporarily putting together the freestanding plumbing for the tub. 

 It looks so cool. We're starting to see the thing come to life.

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