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Totally Drained

July 20, 2010


Yeah, literally.

I helped The Hubs install PEX plumbing yesterday.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Plumbing is exhausting work. That’s why I’ve avoided up to now. But he needed a helper, and the kids were busy… I was glad to help, but I’d rather be doing electric, or painting walls. Plumbing makes me wimper like a little kid.


Loops of PEX in the wall.

Plumbing is scary to me. Water wreaks devastation and damage to all the good things I’ve done in the walls. I like to be far, far away when the plumbing is going on. To hear The Hubs groan and exclaim “Ohhhh NO!” sends my blood pressure up through the roof.

See those PEX lines? They extracted a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get up there…


Construction materials are so colorful! But what is it with primary colors? How about some purple and green, eh?


PEX is a newer product in the United States. It’s very easy to install. In NEW HOMES. My 155-year old house put up a big stink. We first had to remove the old lead-soldered copper lines from the existing areas (and turn off the water supply at the same time, btw) to run the new PEX through the same holes. We had to do it this way because we didn’t want to hack into the support joists anymore than necessary (like the previous owners had done, see below).


BAD BAD plumber. That entire joist is without support! And for what?! A couple inches of PVC! Bad...

Well, the old holes were, in some cases, too small for the PEX to pass through; so we had to make a few holes, anyway. :S We got the upstairs bathroom connected, but the water supply hasn’t been turned back on yet (we’ve haven’t had showers since Saturday, ehe). We’re hoping we can finish the job tonight. I’m hoping there are NO LEAKS. This plumbing system runs right over my new kitchen.

Yes, plumbing makes me a little anxious….

About PEX: it’s been in use in Europe for over 40 years now. It’s a rigid, tough polyethylene plastic material. You connect the ends with crimps or clamps. The nice thing about the PEX system is that the ONLY joints are at the manifold box in the basement (near the water supply) and at the actual fixture (such as, at the sink’s shut off valve). It also has better insulating qualities than copper (which bursts when water freezes). Best of all, PEX is a lot less expensive than copper, and requires no blow torch to install!


Blue PEX for cold supply. How sweet.


Our manifold. We still have to connect it to the water supply and hot water tank. Scary stuff, I think.

We decided to leave the drains as they are. Everything is *technically* vented except the kitchen sink and washing machine (drains we have to re-do, anyway). Well, the upstairs bathroom sink needs a little drain work, though. Apparently, the previous owners didn’t bother to actually CONNECT the pipes together! Sewer gases belch out from this open pipe area. Not a pleasant smell when it’s been 90+ degrees for over a week. Mmmmmmm.

Hanging drainpipe


I can’t wait to install our new 1.6 gallon toilet (let me rephrase that– to HAVE it installed). We have one downstairs, and when that sucker flushes, IT FLUSHES. I swear I feel my hair move with the downdraft. Yeehaw! No more holding the flush valve and praying that the contents go down! I’m really looking forward to that. Yeah, plumbing can be exciting sometimes. LOL

ANYWAY. Once we have surmounted the plumbing hurdle, I can finally start installing the sheetrock. Maybe by Thursday I can start. Here’s hoping I get a shower before then….

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Progress, Take Two

July 14, 2010


Well, progress is always slow until the walls go up.

My walls are still not up yet.

But they will be!! Soon! Hopefully, we begin hanging sheetrock on Sunday. Oh dear, I just remembered, I need to order it! LOL

OK, well, we started leveling out the kitchen ceiling with furring strips. How does it look? 😀


Of course, this house is 155 years old. NOTHING is level. Well, except my new window– now that baby is LEVEL. But the floors, the walls, the ceilings…. not. So I don’t have any high expectations with the ceiling here. I’m happy that the furring strips are “within the bubble,” to quote a very smart man. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?


By the way, those funky colored hoses is the new PEX plumbing system. The Hubs is installing it. It’s a tough job, because we, um, *kinda* need running water while he’s working on the new system. I have no idea how he is going to manage that, but I can’t be too concerned about it, as I have enough to do right now!


Notice the extra loops of PEX in the wall. PEX expands and contracts with the temperature fluctuations, so you have to account for loops. Also, it makes it great having extra material should you need to replace something down the line, someday.

Here’s a shot of the foam board insulation above the partition wall in the Dining Room. This is a weird partition, and I have no idea why they built it this way– it’s as if they built the exterior walls first, and then, as an afterthought, decided to add a partition here. Because the garage and basement is so cold in the winter, I wanted to seal off this area. I later sprayed Great Stuff expanding foam around the boards, to create a seal.


I’m working on installing fiberglass batts insulation this week. Unfortunately, the temperatures are back in the 90s and it’s humid. :-p But the job must be done. Whew. More on that later…

Finally, here’s Livvy, resting from all HER hard work– chasing earwigs. We have a bit of an earwig population explosion here in Upstate NY, what with the soggy June and hot July we’ve been having. These ikky creatures are everywhere. We’ve sprinkled diatomaceous earth along the floor, and Livvy is on the patrol.


Soon, comes the sheetrock! And then things move very quickly!

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Going With PEX Plumbing

April 22, 2010

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When I gut the kitchen in a few weeks, all the house plumbing will be exposed for us to see. I’ll be able to view the condition of the pipes and see for myself how miserably the system was installed previously. I’m expecting to find a disaster behind the plaster and lathe, so we’re gearing up for replacing everything. Unfortunately, even though I live a mere 30 minutes from the Copper City (Rome, NY), copper is very expensive. It’s also difficult to install (propane torch and soldering). We’re going to be doing the bulk of the plumbing ourselves, so we’ve opted to go with the PEX system.

In a nutshell, PEX is like heavy-duty garden hose. You use the piping for your water supply system. The pipes come in lengths anywhere from 5′ to 1000 feet, so the only connections you’d ever have to make are at the supply in the basement and at the fixture shut off valve. No joints, elbows, or fittings in the walls. VERY nice. PEX has been used in Europe for over 30 years now. I first heard about it on This Old House about 10 years ago. I’m looking forward to using it. The Family Handyman has a good article about it, too.

Right now, I’m shopping around for supplies. The PEX piping is not terribly expensive (a fraction of the cost of copper!), but the crimping tool is $100 or more, and the fittings are rather pricey (it’s a good thing I don’t needs loads of fittings). I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to see that my favorite online store, sells PEX supplies! There’s not a ton of PEX, but enough to make it worth my while, especially with the piping. has everything! I used to go there once a week or so, to check out their great sales on electronics every week, but then I started to peruse the store for my household stuff, like vacuum cleaner bags, cleaning products, garden products, and hardware. They also have a ton of books on home improvement (and some great textbooks, too).

So I’m happy. I’ll be saving a ton of money on plumbing by doing it myself, and doing it with PEX. I have a lot of homework to do– right now, I’m learning about pipe diameters for optimal water pressure. I’ll have more on PEX as I go along, and definitely give my opinions about installing the system. You already know my opinion about– they rock!

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Win a Delta Touch2O® Technology Faucet, Easy!

April 11, 2010

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I absolutely LOVE Delta faucets. Oh sure, some of the reason has to do with the fact that they GAVE me one for my new kitchen renovation this spring! Isn’t it beautiful?!


But another reason is that Delta faucets are, in my opinion, the best faucets made. As many of you know, my home is 150+ years old. Very little of the home has been renovated since then, and what was done by previous owners is horrid (although they did the basement floor very nicely). They didn’t have green products back in those olden days: formaldehyde paneling, lead paint, asbestos, etc etc. And the plumbing is a DISASTER. But all the fixtures except one are Delta faucets, installed about 30-40 years ago. And they are in pristine shape. The one faucet that is a cheapo no-name brand leaks like a sieve, however. After seeing the reliable performance of Delta, I am only buying Delta fixtures for the home. If they can endure what this poor house has endured, then they are the best.

So Delta is having a very, very nice giveaway right now, and you’d be crazy to pass it up. It’s very easy to enter the contest, and fun, too! They want you to go to their site and Make a Mess! Yes, boys and girls– MAKE a MESS! You could win a beautiful Delta® faucet with Touch2O® Technology! Believe me– they are GORGEOUS. And Delta has 7 of them to give away, one per week until May 23. And then at the end of that week, Delta will choose an additional two winners.

This is all you have to do. It’s EASY:

  • Create a finger painting and upload it to the design gallery.
  • Check your email account for confirmation that your uploaded design has been submitted for content approval.
  • You will receive a second email inviting you to submit your design for a chance to win a Delta® faucet with Touch2O® Technology.
  • Submit your design for a chance to win!

The faucet is lovely. It has “touch” technology– like those touch lamps, ya know? Instead of grabbing the faucet handle with sticky, messy hands, you tap the faucet and it comes on automatically. It also has an integrated sprayer. The faucet has a brushed bronze finish, and of course, it has reliable Delta parts and technology.

When it comes time for me to install my faucet in my kitchen, I’ll have how-to pictures, (hopefully) a few videos, and tips that helped me with the installation. Delta also has some installation videos on their site, too. Check out the contest! If you win, we could install our together! 😀

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To Plumb or Not to Plumb?

April 5, 2010


Hey, did you know that the word “plumb” in plumbing comes from the ancient Romans, meaning “lead”? The Romans innovated plumbing. They realized that cities were cleaner and had less disease when fresh water was piped in and sewage waste was piped out. However, the Romans lined their pipes and water cisterns with lead. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize the toxic effects of lead to the brain. Some of those crazy emperors we read about may have had lead poisoning. :S

Well, anyway, that’s the long way of saying that I have been consumed with learning about the plumbing system of a home. I met with my plumber over the weekend, and he gave me a general estimate for the work to be done here.



I’m seriously reconsidering my pledge to “never do plumbing.” Yikes $2400 (without New York State tax included) is what I wanted to spend on the ENTIRE KITCHEN.


Plumbing is pretty cut and dry. The problem is that the system here in this house is unvented. Can you believe that?! A “professional” plumber (he is a plumber, but he did this work on this house as a favor for his sister who was the trustee of the church that owned the house before we bought it… if that is comprehensible at ALL) did the work. He slapped things together. Not only is the system lacking vents, the pipes for several fixtures are not attached/secured. Nope! Dear Remuddlers: simply owning and wearing plumbers’ uniforms does NOT make a plumber. You must KNOW the concept behind good plumbing and DO it CORRECTLY. See?

For example, the drain pipe under the bathroom sink is a little smaller in diameter than the drainage plumbing behind the sink in the wall. All the guy did was poke the sink drain pipe into the wall drainage pipe. If the sink is ever clogged or a large rush of water is draining in the sink, the drain water backs up and comes gushing out through the opening inside the vanity cabinet.


And there’s a lot more.

Problem is, connecting everything to the vent stack. I would have to slice open the existing vent stack (there is one vent stack, it’s for the tub and toilet upstairs) and connect the downstairs toilet, downstairs, sink, kitchen sink, washing machine drain, and upstairs sink into it. That’s a lot of cutting.


I don’t know, folks. I could save a lot of money by doing this myself… but I think I’d probably have to ditch the entire old system and start from scratch (as I decided to do with the electric here). That would take a lot of time. I could buy them at eBay cheap, and resell them when I’m done, that wouldn’t be a problem…

*sigh* I’m a little discouraged, I guess. I haven’t even begun, and already the costs are piling up!

Oh well… I’ve been through tough times before, and the good Lord has helped me through. Keep me in your prayers. I don’t know what to decide, which way to go. I’m thinking I may have to bite the bullet and hire a guy, but this will double the cost of my kitchen re-do. Not sure what to do yet.

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My New Delta Touch Faucet!

December 12, 2009


Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the Delta Pilar with “Touch2O® Technology.” Which means that the faucet handle will no longer be slimy, sticky, or gooey! I am THRILLED.


We are going to have a lot of fun with this! Even the kids are excited. And they should be. Now, I won’t yell at them because they touch the faucet handle with gooey hands. I hate that. :-p


The faucet is beautiful. It’s got a lovely brushed bronzed/steel look to it. The set comes with a separate faucet handle and a soap dispenser, too! The spray wand is incorporated with the end of the faucet spout– we’ve always wanted one like that. God bless the folks at Delta for sending me this– for free– to review!

I’m doing some reading up on the faucet installation. Thank God, the website has some good tutorials (videos!); I’m watching them over and over again to fully understand how to do this. We MAY have a test run on the sink before we gut the kitchen. I’ll keep you posted with all the play-by-play details.

I love Delta. The house still has all the original faucets– and the Delta are the only ones still working properly after 30+ years. I’ve promised myself that I will only buy Delta fixtures because of the reliability of the brand. NO going cheap on fixtures! This new faucet has DIAMOND seal technology and a Magna-Tite docking system, to prevent leaks and to make sure the spray wand gets a tight fit in the faucet every time.

I’ll have loads more details about the other stuff we’re planning for the coming renovation. I’m looking into flooring and cabinets right now (whoa, I’ve got sticker shock). And of course, I need to read up again on how to wire a kitchen. It’s more complicated than a regular room.

Our demolition date is loosely set for May. Before then, I need to have everything mapped out, make a materials list, create a temporary makeshift kitchen into the garage, and pack everything up. I also have to rent a dumpster. :-p When we gutted the living room, we were able to bag all the plaster and take it to the dump; the kitchen is twice the size of the living room, so I think I’ll have to rent a dumpster.

More to come!

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I Am Becoming Desperate

November 29, 2009


There are days when I feel a very strong urge to just start pulling down walls here. We’ve managed to live with the lack of electricity upstairs, and the endless strings of extension cords throughout the house. But when it comes to this kitchen, I sometimes go tilt. Last week was like that.

Our kitchen was not the original room for the existing kitchen. I think this area may have been the housekeeper’s quarters. This area became the kitchen probably sometime in the 1940s or so, and then a very shabby remodel was done in the late 60s. It’s a dark corner of the house, and the kitchen is shoehorned between the dining room and the living room; so half of the small kitchen is a hallway and a stairwell and there’s a big (unused) chimney taking up space. And did I mention that it’s ugly as all get-out? Dark brown cabinets, bright orange laminate countertops, ugly yellow-brown busted tiles, a drop ceiling… and multiple paint jobs of bright pink, powder blue, dark brown wall paneling, and green paint? I detest this room. We’ve thought about getting new countertops, but I stubbornly resist. The kitchen is falling apart; to place new countertops in this crumbling kitchen is like putting a new paint job on a rusting Model T.


I am making serious plans to totally gut this room next summer. I just can’t stand it anymore. LOL!

Well, what started my desperation all over again was when we had to fix a plumbing leak under the sink. […]

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Before You Call the Plumber

October 19, 2008


I’ve had, er, have my share of plumbing woes with the house. The plumbing is mighty old, and it’s a mish-mash of chrome, copper, iron, and plastic- sometimes interchanging within inches of each other and in varying shapes and sizes! From having washclothes go down the toilets to vent stack problems, I think the plumber has become my new pal, lol.

But I saw this post at Money Saving Pro a few weeks ago.

If you are experiencing clogged, sluggish or backed up drains and/or toilets try the conventional things like liquid or granular treatments and plunging. You can go as far as, using the “snake” (if you like, but you don’t have to) whatever you do- DO NOT -call the plumber before you call your city water/sewer agency and have them come out and flush the main sewer system in your alley. This is a service that almost all cities provide 24/7 that you pay for through your tax dollars. Regardless, whether your neighbors are experiencing the same problems as you are, call the city.

*knocks head* I think we actually have the same kind of problem– the drains, especially the toilets– are achingly, achingly slow. I’ve looked and looked for a clog, but found none. I had supposed it had something to do with a vent stack (lack of one, that is) problem, but our drains became slow over time, not all at once. I think I may try taking Cy’s advice and call my town highway department. Thanks, Cy! You might have saved me $100!

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