Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Plumbing With Your Eyes Closed

It was an exciting day here on Saturday. My Dad, and our neighbour (both named Bill) came to help Derek with the plumbing of the basement. The plan was to replace the main cast-iron stack with new PVC, re-locate the existing toilet, and add in all the "Ys" and "Ts" for the new bathrooms and kitchenette. I didn't get to help too much because of having to take care of the kiddies- and believe me, that was pretty hard once they saw all the excitement- and dirt- in the basement.

Derek got started around 9:30am, after a cuppa-joe and a good breakfast. The first thing he did was cut a hole in the bathroom wall to access the vent to add a clamp so the whole thing wouldn't come crashing down upon their heads. Dad and Billy arrived soon after and there was much discussion about the placement of the pipes and vents, couplings, sawzall blades, sledgehammers, et cetera, etc...
The water was flushed from the toilet and the surgery began. The three of them took turns cutting the cast-iron stack with a good, strong blade for the sawzall, which took about 15 minutes to cut through. There's not much life left in that blade now. The great thing about moving the existing toilet is that we now had the option of putting the pipes pretty much anywhere we wanted. The possibilities were endless, only time was against us. And exhaustion. I stepped outside, dragging a screaming boy carrying a toy shovel, and heard a very loud noise. I'd completely forgotten that it was Sgt. "Smokey" Smith's service that morning and a group of CF-18 jets were to fly overhead in the Missing Man Formation, following the procession from the Armory to St. Andrew's Wesley United Church. Sgt. Smith won the Victoria Cross for single-handedly holding off German tanks and troops in a battle in Italy in October 1944 during the Second World War. He was the last living Canadian to receive the cross. The medal is the Commonwealth's highest award for bravery. The jets flew by so fast by the time I rounded up the kids, they were gone.
The hole was cut for the new placement of the toilet and then the fidgity work began. The joist was luckily in the right place, to just squeak the pipe by. We left a little more than 12" from the wall, so that we had options when adding tile et cetera to the wall.

The next task was the decision to go past the point of no return, and take out the existing cast iron stack with a sledge hammer. The demo always goes quickly, and soon, all the pipes were laying on the driveway. Next was a little more digging, to get all the new plumbing at the proper angle, 1/4" per foot is optimal. 1/8" per foot is minimum. Then we started building backwards from the sewer side connecting to the toilet, and the vent. Of course it didn't all go smoothly, and Derek ended up going to 2 home improvement stores to get parts. The water supply for the toilet had to be moved as well. The kitchen sink is just connected temporarily , since there wasn't enough time to get all the plumbing done in one day. We still need to complete all the branches for the new plumbing in the basement, so we've got another day of plumbing ahead of us. We pretty much left off where we started....

Here's Bill, doping out the connections to the toilet, tub and vent. The precision of this stack will be a thing of legends for years to come.

The new stack, in all it's glory. (queue god music)

Here's Dad, soldering the connection to the toilet. He has an old school acetylene torch that burns hotter than propane. We still have to remove the old line, the knob was removed, so little hands don't play with it, and get water everywhere.

Here's the better location for the toilet. The sticky gunk (wax and caulking) and the old flange were removed, the floor was wiped down with paint thinner. A square hole through the top layer of subfloor was cut, by doing plunge cuts with the circular saw. A new piece was cut to fit, then screwed in. We're just covering the floor with peel and stick tile in the interim, since this room needs a full redo, and we're not even sure if we want to keep the current tub or go with a gorgeous claw foot... can you tell which way I'm leaning? Another bonus on moving the toilet is the roll holder location... now hopefully Ella won't pee on the seat while rrreeeeeeeaching for it!
When all was said and done, there was nothing between the boys and the plumbing. They were engaged with the task at hand, and were plumbing with their eyes closed.


Trissa said...

Wow- that was a productive weekend! Way to go!

Aaron said...

Plumbing is something that I don't like..and plumbing doesn't like me. But you guys look like you should quit your day jobs and do this for a living! (My vote is for the clawfoot...I had one in my last house and I miss it).

derek said...

Without all the help, I don't think I'd have got it done, we'd probably still be without plumbing. We're leaning towards the clawfoot, it's just that all the salvage places know what they're worth, and then you have to pay to have it refinished on top of that.