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Still In Rehab …

So adventures in electricity are over and I was ready to replace some broken parts on the stove and refrigerator, when I saw that the guys doing the painting didn’t notice the quarter-inch copper line that was connected to the ice maker, and crimped it is several places. The line was too old to attempt to save it, so I decided to replace it with plastic tubing.

I knelt down behind the refrigerator to pull the copper out of the cabinet and my knee sank down about two inches. That wasn’t normal, nor were the earthworms who had been living in the rotted remnants of the original flooring. I showed the guy doing the carpentry the problem and listened to him vent about old houses, as I removed the line.

It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the water had been off in this house for a month before we started working on it, more than enough time for the floor to have dried, but it was damp.

It took a strong light and some patience to discover that the pipes to the kitchen faucet were seeping. The person who replaced the original galvanized pipes with CPVC plastic pipes had used a threaded CPVC adapter to connect to the shut-off valves and used massive amounts of thread goop to seal them. After a while the connection started to seep water. It wasn’t an obvious drip and with all of the stuff people store under the sink it is unlikely that it would have been noticed as is kept the floor under the vinyl damp and decaying.

Off to the store for parts, and then replace the electrical tools with plumbing tools. There is no point in trying to install the new flooring until the leak is stopped, the floor has dried, and the bad area is fixed.

Every time you do something in an old house, you discover one or more additional things that have to be done before you can do what you started out to do. Sigh….


1 ellroon { 01.30.13 at 12:04 am }

Wow. My sympathies. My father got to replace an entire bathroom floor because of years of leaks (of one kind and another…). You’ve got the patience of a saint, Bryan. I think I’d have to be spackling the wall where I punched it ….

Btw, read All the Way Home by David Giffels if you want a real home repair horror story…

2 Badtux { 01.30.13 at 9:58 am }

Thread goop? Not thread tape? NOoooooooo!!!!!!! AGH! The stupid, it burns, it burns!

Thread goop dries out. Thread tape doesn’t. Sigh. Morons.

3 Bryan { 01.30.13 at 11:16 am }

Water is the worse problem any house can have in a climate as humid as this. If people are not living in a house and running heat or AC, the humidity alone will cause problems.

Cleaning the refrigerator is involving bleach because the doors were closed which makes it a mold incubator. People just don’t get it.

Oh, well, back to the slime as I try to locate screws for the appliances. The parts place wants $2 plus shipping for each of the screws. The cost of the veggie drawers and wire shelves together is more than the refrigerator cost new, which is why people don’t fix things – it’s too expensive.

4 Badtux { 01.30.13 at 11:28 pm }

I have the same problem with the dishwasher in this duplex. It needs a new pump and new wire racks, otherwise it’s in perfect shape. The cost of the new pump and new wire racks? Almost exactly the same as the cost of a new dishwasher. Only reason it hasn’t come out yet is because there’s some Pergo flooring that was laid after the dishwasher was put in that has it floored in, and to make matters even worse, there’s *vinyl* flooring on top of that because Pergo is a *terrible* idea in a kitchen (doh!)… it is going to be a Major Project(tm) to get that thing out of there. I don’t trust the jakelegs that the landlord hires to even begin to do it right, so I’ll just wash my dishes by hand until I move out in a few years, sigh…

5 Bryan { 01.31.13 at 12:36 am }

There’s going to be roll vinyl in the kitchen and baths, laminate in the living room and hall, and carpet in the bedrooms. I prefer ceramic tile everywhere, with area rugs that can be cleaned or replaced without becoming a major project.

Dishwashers are pain anyway, with invisible plumbing connections that could be leaking forever with no one the wiser until it falls through the floor.

I don’t understand how people cannot figure out that kitchens are no place for wood flooring, even with a plastic laminate on the top. The water is going to get into the seams and rot it out, even if you don’t burn it dropping a hot pan on it.

I don’t use enough dishes in a week to make a dishwasher a reasonable appliance for me, and the dishwater helps the plants resist pests.

6 Badtux { 01.31.13 at 10:36 am }

Yah, I like ceramic tile. One thing this place does have is ceramic tile on the kitchen counters, it’s old and worn but that just gives it character. That’s one reason why I don’t trust the jakelegs to replace the dishwasher correctly, the usual way of doing that to a tiled-in dishwasher would be to loosen the sink trap, unscrew the L brackets between the base and counter, and jack up the kitchen counter an inch or so, which would work fine with a laminate counter, but they’d almost certainly manage to crack the countertop tile.

The funny thing is that there is ceramic tile in the hallway and in the dining room. Why they didn’t just keep going into the kitchen and instead put down the Pergo that’s currently hidden under vinyl flooring eludes me.

Good luck on your flooring project in any event. This is a rental, yes? So I can see why you’re sticking with cheap stuff for the flooring…

7 Steve Bates { 01.31.13 at 9:29 pm }

Whatever the flooring in my kitchen, it was available in a size about 1.5′ too short to cover the whole floor. So the builder added a 1.5′ strip in front of the kitchen sink and held it down with a metal strip. Don’t ask me how many times and ways I’ve wanted to murder the builder, preferably by running over him/her with a wheelchair…

8 Bryan { 01.31.13 at 10:39 pm }

You have to define ‘cheap’ when it comes to flooring. These days a lot of the laminates are more expensive than tile to buy, but ceramic tile is expensive to install properly. Sheet vinyl can be cheap or expensive, and the stuff my friend decided to use isn’t cheap. It’s his rental, I’m only helping. I still believe that if you have a rental the ‘cheap’ way to go is to install ceramic tile so you don’t have to constantly replace it.

I know the feeling, Steve, from wheeling my Mother to appointments in some of the doctors she sees. She can normally do fine with a walker, but these places have you walking all over and there is a threshold at every office. She can’t deal with the door closers and get over the threshold multiple times. Why these doctors don’t do something about making their offices accessible is beyond me.

As for your problem, a decent grade of sheet vinyl will have a good seam sealer available making the hold-down unnecessary. Of course, good measurements before you selected the materials would have eliminated the problem.

If I ever totally lose my mind and build a house to live in, it will have no doors less than three feet wide, nor any halls less than that. All of the interior doors would be sliding pocket doors that don’t eat interior space.

I only spent a few days trapped in a wheelchair once, and it was really annoying the obstacles that make life difficult while serving no real purpose. Builders don’t seem to understand that making life easier for wheelchairs, makes life easier for everyone.

9 Badtux { 02.01.13 at 2:10 am }

The problem with sliding pocket doors is the pocket. It’s easy to frame in a conventional door into an existing wall, just put in a header and cripple wall above the doorway then sheetrock it in. For sliding pocket doors there’s a reason why the ones you see are usually pretty narrow — making the pocket requires basically making a *wide* doorframe, which in turn requires a heftier header, plus making the walls on either side of the pocket so that they’re not wobbly requires thicker walls to make room for 2×4’s turned sideways for support of the drywall on either side.

I come across similar reasons for why a number of other things that seem like good ideas don’t really work too well in practice compared to the way we’ve always done things. For example, there is a fad in the Northeast for foam and concrete housing either as tilt-ups or via foam blocks with concrete and steel cores in a grid. Well, it turns out that if you do that in the South, it basically funnels the termites right into your home. Oh sure, the termites aren’t going to eat the foam and concrete, but the paper backing on your drywall? Toast. Your kitchen cabinets? Termite fodder. And so on and so forth. And because your ceiling and roof joists and roof sheathing are still wood, once they get up there, well, then you got *real* problems…

10 Bryan { 02.01.13 at 8:20 pm }

You have to have a shield between the concrete and the wood and make sure it is complete. The common method of the pink foam sheet between the concrete footers and wood joists has to be totally perfect. The old tar paper shield seems to work better because it isn’t torn as easily as the foam.

We use the foam blocks for outbuildings, primarily garages and work shops, not foundations, and the wood used for the roof system is always treated. If we had basements, it might be different.