Tag Archives | plumbing

Kitchen Renovation: Moving the water heater

Today is cabinet install day! I’m so giddy! But first, the water heater. Sorry to be behind here, but there was no time for blogging during demo! Not the most thrilling topic, but it is a key element in our kitchen plan (and there’s not much to see yet, so, patience). Previously, our water heater was located in this closet that opened into our living room.

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The pantry is on the opposite side, and the fridge is in the alcove behind the shelf. Here’s our floor plan for reference.

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Water heaters do give off some heat, so our coconut oil was always melted, chocolate was soft, and our potatoes sprouted and rotted too quickly. So much for the pantry being a cool, dry place.

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When we started planning our kitchen, we had two different options.

Option 1: Leave the fridge/pantry/water heater as is, and modify the drawer next to the fridge so it doesn’t hit the fridge (you can read about that here). With custom cabinets that meant a shorter drawer. If we went with Kraft Maid it meant either a smaller drawer/cabinet base and then about a 6 inch filler piece next to the wall (talk about wasted space!), or no drawer and let the cabinet still bump the fridge. Sad.

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Option 2: Move the water heater somewhere in the master bathroom/closet, rip out the pantry and move the fridge to the end of that area, and put a built-in cabinet pantry where the fridge was. This was only an option if we went with custom cabinets because Kraft Maid’s pantry cabinets are $$$.

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After much hemming and hawing (and maybe some tears…gosh Andrew, stop crying so much!) we finally settled on option 2. Then we actually had to decide on a future layout for our master bathroom/closet (which clearly hasn’t been renovated yet). We had to nail this down now so we knew where to put the water heater. As if planning a kitchen wasn’t enough stress…

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We spoke to an electrician about switching to an electric water heater (they aren’t too expensive, and we thought moving it might be easier than a gas line). But turns out our electrical panel is straight up FULL. Upgrading to a new one would be multiple thousands of dollars, and very likely more if the electrician had to bring things up to code (code has changed a bit since our house was built!) So…no thank you.

We didn’t want to mess with moving the gas lines ourselves (house blowing up = bad), so we got quotes from 3 different plumbers ranging from $900 up to $2300, and naturally, went with the cheapest. We scheduled it weeks in advance to be done the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But when Andrew asked if he was licensed and bonded the week before, he stopped responding. So, I guess that’s a no? Hm… Monday comes (as in the day before he’s supposed to show up) and he’s still not responding. We sucked it up and called one of the others who was twice as expensive, but licensed and bonded (WOO!) and miraculously able to come the very next day to do the work! So, $1800 later, and our water heater is now here.

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In our bathroom. Woo. But this room is next on the list, and then that sucker will be enclosed in a closet! For now, though, it’s just a little creepy to stare at this as I brush my teeth.

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The very next day we started our demo and for about a week, used the previous water heater closet as the entrance to our kitchen since the doorway was covered in plastic.

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While it ended up being a bit more than we expected, we’re pretty convinced it’s the right choice and is going to increase the functionality of our kitchen. Our living room might be a bit quieter without the water heater noise, I’ll get a small broom closet so I don’t have to wrestle it out from the side of the washer, the fridge will be moved further away from the stove creating a better working triangle, and we’ll get a much deeper pantry cabinet. Win, win, win…win.

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It all happened so fast…

I wish I could say Andrew finished up the plumbing quickly and easily this morning and that we were able to shower and make it to work by 8:30. Alas, I cannot say that…or I’d be lying.

Here’s how it happened. Andrew stayed up working until 2 last night, and then got up at 6:55 and went to Lowe’s. David, a plumbing expert at Lowe’s and quickly becoming an acquaintance of ours, asked him how it was going. His response? “Well I’m here at 7 in the morning so not so great!” Too true. He came back with the parts and started soldering. At 8:20 he still wasn’t close to done, so I whipped out the computer and started working from home.

Every once in a while Andrew would request my help in confirming that water wasn’t leaking. We’d call each other on our phones, I’d wait near the plumbing, and he’d go outside to turn the water on. Andrew tried soldering the pipe 3 times, but this pipe was the lowest point in the house which meant that all the water left in the pipes ran to it. Finally he called a plumber to ask for any tips. He said at that point it’s almost impossible to solder, and recommended Gator Bites, or for those of you that shop at Home Depot, Shark Bites, or Sonic, Cheddar Bites…oh no, that’s not right, is it? This is basically a pipe with compression fittings that doesn’t require soldering.

So he finished the plumbing and then off he went to turn on the water. Only problem? He accidentally left a valve open, and he forgot to ask me to watch. So I’m working away, when all of a sudden I hear water pouring into the bathroom!! I run to the bathroom to see water spraying everywhere. It looked like a fire sprinkler went off! I ran to tell Andrew, the whole time screaming like a crazy person. And there was definitely some crying, too. Can’t blame me though. I had visions of our drywall completely soaked and flopping on the floor like wet bread, and having to redo EVERYTHING! Thankfully, that did NOT happen. Everything was very wet, though…including our light fixture. Turns out it’s not quite as frosted as we thought!

We got out the wet vac and some towels and started mopping it up. My heart was still racing. This was probably the most dramatic DIY moment for me yet. I think I may have had a mini panic attack.

It dried out pretty quickly though, so we continued on our merry way and laid down the rest of the hardie backer and then Adam came to tile.

 On a sidenote, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but we decided to hire someone else to tile. Our reasons are the following:
  • We have none of the tools for it, which alone would run us upwards of $300.
  • It’s very time consuming, especially for a beginner, and we both work all day 5 days a week.
  • We want to stay married.

Anyway, he finished up the subway tile yesterday and it looks awesome! Just keep in mind it’s not grouted or caulked yet. At first I was worried it went up too high on the wall, but after looking at it for a while I think it actually makes the room feel taller. Which it needs, as it is neither tall nor spacious. Once we get the other stuff in here and get the shower doors on I think it will be perfect.

We brought it up so high because we wanted to raise our shower head so you didn’t have to bend down  to get wet. Apparently people in the 80s were shorter? Hah. We raised the shower head by about 5 inches, and we wanted to make sure the tile came above that. Then we had to make sure we ended with a full tile at the top. 

Today he did the floor and it turned out out great, too! He started in the back because we decided it was more important to have full and half tiles there than by the door, but turns out we ended up with that on both ends! What a perfect surprise after such a stressful and imperfect day.

It’s really starting to feel like we’re making good progress now. You know those TV shows where they spend 45 minutes showing the demo and all the problems encountered along the way and then all of sudden the room is done and you think, “Did they skip something?” No, that was our experience, too. It seemed like we’d been stagnant for a while. We’d done a lot of work, just nothing really aesthetic so it felt like it was going really slowly. Then it was like all of sudden…BAM! It’s a bathroom! It’s almost bittersweet. I still feel like I should walk past and see studs and subfloor…Nah, almost bittersweet, almost.  Anyway, Adam is coming back tomorrow to do the grout, and then we’ll be ready for the next phase!

We’ve also discovered that Chaucer is really curious about renovations and DIY. He loves smelling and exploring new things and really doesn’t seem all that bothered by the loud noises. I mentioned once before that Chaucer likes to sleep in weird places and that was further confirmed the other night when we found him truly embracing all of these changes…

Looks quite comfy for a cat, doesn’t it? (Just FYI, this is the new, never-been-used toilet. Thank goodness.)

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2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

So remember how I said it has to get worse before it gets better, and that hopefully now we’re in the “getting better” phase? Well, on one hand we are. Andrew finished mudding all the joints and corners earlier this week so now it’s finally starting to look like a room again! 

But I also could see how some might think it looks worse. And I take the blame for that, cause I just love to make last minute decisions that create more work for us!

We’ve been wrestling with the idea of moving the toilet a few inches further away from the side wall because before it was so awkwardly close. I knew this would be a lot of work (and cost more money) so I put off making the decision, but I also knew I’d regret it if we left it where it was. So Andrew cut a hole in the floor in order to move the plumbing. It’s a bit ominous looking…

Tiling actually started on Tuesday as planned, and he finished the shower today. More on that later (pictures, too). That means he’ll start on the floor tomorrow, which means we have to be done with this plumbing, have the hole covered back up with a new piece of plywood, and have the hardi backer down tonight. It’s shaping up to be a long night.
While Andrew was working on the plumbing for the toilet, I chipped away at the adhesive that got left behind along the entire doorway when we tore up the tile. It looks sort of soft, but it was actually really tough and almost impossible to get out, so we’ve left it there…until now. It took me over an hour with a screwdriver and hammer to get it out.

Update: While writing this blog post we discovered one of the newly soldered pipes for the toilet is leaking. It’s not a big deal, except we don’t have the one piece we need to fix it. Basically this means we can’t turn our water on until Andrew can get to Lowe’s to buy a piece, but they’re already closed (as are all hardware stores right now). Guess where we’ll be at 7am?

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Happy Monthiversary!

Well today officially marks 6 months since we’ve been in our house. Here’s Andrew on August 19th at our closing. I remember that day like it was yesterday…or 6 months ago. 🙂

After 4 months of waiting for our offer to be accepted, we were so excited to be able to call it ours. Yesterday I did not feel that way because this weekend has been so frustrating! Our only renovation plan for the weekend was to get our tub installed. Sounds simple enough, right? But if we have learned anything in the 6 months that we’ve been here, it’s that nothing is ever as simple as you think it’ll be.

Yesterday we realized that the drain in our new tub is in a different spot than the current plumbing. Still, not such a big deal. Just move the plumbing. So Andrew measured. And the exact spot where the drain of our new tub comes out is right over a floor joist. This joist.

The drain would have come out right in the center of the joist, so reinforcing it with another beam so we could cut into it was not an option. Plus a notch in a joist severely weakens it, and we really didn’t want to do that. Our only option then became bringing the back wall forward 2 inches so the tub lines up with the current plumbing. Dang. 🙁

We started by screwing four 8 foot 2x4s into the existing studs. Here is what it looked like before:

And now with all the 2x4s in:

Then since 2x4s are only actually 1.5 inches thick, we screwed 2 sheets of 1/2 inch plywood into the 2x4s, in essence creating a new wall.

Now we’re ready to install the tub in mortar, and then we’ll install the cement board right over the plywood and studs (on the sides).
The good news about all of this is that it did give us a peek into the soffit in the kitchen (look at the top of the picture with the 2x4s. That space is the soffit). When we redo the kitchen we want to get rid of the soffit so we can add extra cabinetry or at least just have the extra space at the top. We were worried there might be duct work or electrical running through it, but there’s nothing! Yay!
Time to install this tub. Wish us luck! We’ve already figured out this is not going to be easy. Happy 6th Monthiversary, House!
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