1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bouncing Around the Room

Since we had a three-day weekend, I was determined that we would break on through to the other side of this not-working-on-the-house phase, particularly in the master bathroom arena.

Either Darwin is overwhelmed with the prospect of re-plumbing the room or he doesn't care as much as I do about having a functioning master bathroom. So I put on my Evil Woman cap and Nagging Wife apron until he decided that the only way to get me to shut up was to do something, anything on the bathroom.

That something, anything turned out to be moving the unpretty pipe venting the plumbing out through the ceiling and the roof.

The plan was to move the pipe inside the wall. So Darwin merrily went under the house with his elbow connectors, while I peered through a hole in the bathroom floor.

My first sign that things would not go according to plan was when Darwin said, "Uh-oh." Darwin does not say "uh-oh."

Turns out he does when the wall we plan to move the pipe inside used to be an exterior wall (duh, we knew that!) and the entire length of it is sitting on top of a triple-wide floor joist. No getting inside that wall.

Then he cast the flashlight around and noticed something else. The plumbing already had another vent. So that meant the pesky vent pipe could just be taken out entirely, right?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

No, the plumbing has been venting into the crawlspace for the longest time. Probably for the past 35 some-odd years, ever since the previous owners had this bathroom redone (also known as Concrete Fest 1969).

Still, I didn't quite get what he was describing, so I put on my crawlspacing pants and went to the land down under to see for myself.

There you have it folks:

Even then, I thought it was ok. I thought the only purpose of the vent was to let air into the pipes so the drain would work properly.

Until Darwin pointed out that it also lets sewer gases out of the pipe. Ewwwww. Sure kills the romance of being cheek to cheek in the dark crawlspace.

Why this random vent was put there we don't know, though laziness is a good contender. Perhaps this is the sort of thing a home inspector would've found, had we been brave enough to get one.

Darwin has to replumb most of this stuff anyway, but for now the original vent pipe still had to be dealt with. Darwin figured he could move the pipe a few feet further into where our closet will be (right outside the bathroom) and run the pipe up the corner of the closet. It's not ideal, but it's a lot better than having the pipe in the middle of the main bathroom wall.

So Darwin cut the pipe and was all ready to move on to the attic portion of the event ... but by now I had the flashlight and wanted to do some exploring.

For some reason, I like the crawlspace. Maybe the leaking sewer gases make me high. Maybe it's all the mysterious objects lurking in the dark. Maybe it's just that once I get all filthy crawling around under there, I want to make it worthwhile.

So I aimed the flashlight at the foundation pillars of the guest bedroom, next door to the master bathroom. If you recall, the guest bedroom is not very hospitable. The floor has a serious slant and bounces when you walk on it. Also, there's a big crack in the drywall over the built-in cabinet.

More than a year ago, we examined the brick pillars underneath this room and determined the center one was probably to blame for the bounce, but we didn't go close enough to find out for sure.

This time a piece of plastic was hanging down and hiding the top of the pillar from view, so Darwin crawled into the labyrinth of ductwork for a closer inspection.

When he shone his flashlight on the pillar, he laughed while I waited in suspense. Then he pulled back the sheet so I could see the two inches of air between the pillar and the boards above. The guest room had no support in the middle at all.

Darwin rocked the pillar back and forth (an alarming sight!) and declared it solid. It was made of newer brick and was probably added (along with several others) when the POs bought and renovated the house in 1969.

This two-inches-of-air thing was no big deal to Darwin. He found a block of wood nearby and took it outside to cut wedges to fit between the pillar and the floor joists. I was dubious about this method until I went in the house and stepped into the guest bedroom.

Geez louise, it was solid! No bouncing, no jiggling knickknacks, no feeling that if you stepped too hard the whole house would collapse around you.

It's a miracle! Still, I kinda want to have a foundation guy come out and inspect the whole house. The sand-and-lime mortar is crumbling away on several (make that most) of the old brick pillars.

But for now, I'm satisfied. As for the vent pipe, Darwin cut it out in the crawlspace and attic and after consulting with his dad, will proceed with his moving-it-into-the-closet plan.

Doesn't the room look so much better without it?



Greg said...

Actual progress in the bathroom. It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it. I’ve been reading a lot about lime/sand plaster and mortar lately. If you do have someone come out and look at it ask if they are going to use modern cement (with Portland cement) or lime mortar to make repairs. From what I’ve read the two don’t mix well.

10:04 PM  
Lenise said...

Good for you guys! My husband posted a link to some article which said that the womanly thing to do was nag your husband, so I guess that was an invitation for me to pick up the habit? Not that I would trust Paul with plumbing :7

9:28 PM  
mindy said...

Good times :) Congrats on making progress!

Your crazy venting sewer pipe reminded me that we had one of those also - it was off-gassing INTO THE KITCHEN. Mmmmm. Happily, that's gone now.

3:52 PM  

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