2005-02-08: My day off for plumbing

Last night, I noticed that the floor situation was getting truly dire and that I was probably about to start sustaining serious damage to the house if I didn't get the leaking pipe situation under control. So, I took a vacation day today to work on it. My friend Craig had today off from work and school, so he came over to help wrestle with the plumbing.

Before he arrived, however, I noticed that the barrel bushing for my CZ-97B had arrived from CZ-USA. After noting that it looked like a flower petal now, I installed it. I don't care much for the new look, but perhaps it'll grow on me. Here you can see the old bushing (left) and new one (right). Now I'm only waiting on the Sprinco recoil system's arrival, which will complete the 97's tuneup.

So, leak-wise, the first order of business was to isolate its origin. Once Craig got to the house, we both crawled up underneath it, looking around at the pipes - and surprisingly enough, there wasn't any substantial leaking going on at the time. It was obvious that the plywood floor was moist and the insulation was retaining water (memo to self: there should be insulation down below, and right now there isn't), but it wasn't so obvious where it was coming from. After doing a bit of tracing and recon, it became obvious that the bathtub assembly was probably the source of the leak. This presented a serious problem, as there was no way to get at it without taking out the wall. This resulted in a heavy sigh, and then cutting a camera sized recon hole in the plastic-over-particleboard shower wall. After sticking the camera in and taking a few IR assisted flash photos, we determined we'd have a better view by taking off the wooden panel next to the gas heater. So we started on that particular adventure, learning in the process that a previous owner had wanted that panel to stay on very securely. To that end, he had tried stapling it to the wall, and when that proved inadequate he just started putting in finishing nails every couple of inches. This did not amuse me. However, once that panel was out, it provided excellent visibility down into the space between the two bathrooms. When I eventually do put that panel back in place, I intend to set it up to be easily removed and put back in place without causing damage. If there had been an access hatch there earlier, perhaps this whole thing wouldn't have happened. While looking in the wallspace, it was also determined that I do have a little bit of leakage coming in from the roof as well. That's going to be corrected with roof putty when I get around to sealing the California room. However, the damage was very light, and therefore it probably only leaked a little during the ridiculously hard rain a while back. For perspective, when I was up on top of the roof with the water hose TRYING to make it leak, I couldn't get it to.

So, while composing a 'shopping list' of necessary tools, I noticed that the moisture under the floor had caused the bathroom linoleum squares to lose their adhesive. When noting the smell underneath them, it was decided that they all needed to be pulled up so that the plywood beneath would have a chance to air out rather than rotting. To say nothing of the fact that the tiles were starting to come up on their own anyway.

So, a trip was made to Oceanside for power tools to assist with cutting the wall, and chisels for the tiles. While up there, I learned that my grandfather had purchased two apiece of most of his power tools. Two circular saws, two saber saws, etc. One would think he was running an ark or something. Of course, the Martin tradition did dictate that multiple people would be using power tools at once, so that's probably what was going on there. I also picked up some chisels to assist with the particleboard which had been glued to the wall. Now I just need to make sure all my work which needs power tools gets finished before Mom comes back down and needs them.

Upon returning, we spent most of the time remaining on removing the tiles from the bathroom. They were linoleum tiles, with squares of adhesive underneath that cracked and fragmented as we were removing it (as I guess thin adhesive squares probably ought to). We filled up two trash can loads, then made a trip to Home Depot for adhesive remover, a cat's paw for more moulding work if need be, a nice bright five-LED wide angle flashlight which uses AA batteries (I felt bad that I'm always horking Brian's flashlights, and this is rechargeable), and lastly a roll of shop towels. I've never had those before. Upon our return, Craig left and I applied the adhesive remover, then took Brian out for dinner at a chinese buffet. Considering I was filling the house with toxic (or at least, trippy) vapors, I felt it was only fair that I covered the cost of being elsewhere for an hour or two while the worst of it passed. Upon our return, the smell wasn't that bad and I finished taking out the wallboard behind the tub, exposing the pipes for work later on. I also managed to pinpoint the source of the leak in the process.

It turns out that the bathtub spout's feeding pipe is horribly rusted, and the bathtub spout itself has corrosion and several actual holes in it. Because it has no downward slant/angle to it, the water pooled up and corroded the spout until it began to dribble down the wall on the outside. The water pooled up and flowed left, along the bathtub caulking, until it went down the edge of the tub and hit the floor. At that point, thanks to the slant of the floor, the water just happily flowed right into the wall from there. My 'feature shopping list' for the replacement faucet / spout assembly:

  1. Spout angled down, so drips go into the TUB, not the WALL.
  2. Hot/cold water faucets that actually clamp shut all the way.
  3. A shower/tub flow selector which actually seals properly.

After determining this, I learned I'd need to actually take out the toilet too, as the water had also run underneath the toilet. For all I know, the toilet may have been a secondary source of leakage too. The wax seal was of course completely demolished during the process, but you expect that whenever you move a toilet. I ended up hauling it off to the California room. After that, while I used the shop-vac on the floor, moisture was coming up out of the plywood near the toilet as well. I'm going to hope that it was just trapped from the tub link, because the alternative isn't so pleasant.

At any rate, my replacement water controls will also be secured to the board which was actually positioned behind it, which actual holes were drilled in to provide support for. Logic would indicate that, when you've actually set up a board for such a thing, that you would also use a loop or something to make sure it actually STAYS attached to the board. Ever since I bought the place, if you pushed slightly on the faucet or tub spout, the entire pipe assembly rocked backwards because it wasn't secured at all. I intend to correct that deficiency.

I've also taken Thursday off, for the purpose of finishing off the bathroom repairs. I expect that by Thursday evening, the pipe work will be done, there'll be new faucets and a new bathtub spout, probably a new shower head too, and the aforementioned 'hatch' will be set up. However, the reinstallation of the toilet and resurfacing the floor will wait until the floor has actually finished drying out. Yes, I know Mom. I should probably buy stock in the company that makes damp-rid. You know, water just has not been my friend this year.

To cap it all off, tonight has ended on a good note. I just learned that, back on the 4th of February, I sold my first two Shutterstock downloads. That means I've made a whole $0.40 so far. Hey, you may laugh, but it's precisely 40 cents more than I've ever made as a photographer before in my life. Come to think of it, it's $0.40 more than most people make on photography in their lives. The two 'winning photos' were actually windmill shots from Aunt Merle's farm. One close up and one distant shot. I thought the pelican photos were better, but that's just my opinion.