Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Flood..... or Two

With winter approaching I really needed to get crackin on the radiator work in the master bedroom. I decided to add another closet in the void by the butler staircase, so the original radiator and pipes to the 3rd floor needed to be relocated. The old radiator would have to go to, instead using a shorter radiator installed under the window. The first step was modifying the wall I built, adding a doorway for a closet.

I also removed all the old piping down to the supply and return lines coming from downstairs. Then lots of cutting, threading and piping! The lines split to feed the bedroom radiator and to feed the 3rd floor.

While the system was drained down I headed downstairs to the powder room for repairs to that radiator. 3 years ago a deep freeze and some poor insulation in the crawl space led to a frozen pipe and busted an elbow in the return line. So back into the crawl space, one of my favorite places to work on the house... but first I finally opted to clean some of the debris out! The coal pit here was filled up some time in the past with lots of bricks and trash.

I think this winter I will take the time and do what I should have when I had the kitchen floor open... clean out the junk and seal the sides and dirt floor with heavy plastic. That will take care of any drafts and keep the moisture down. After that, having it open to the basement will not be an issue... and neither will frozen pipes!

Ok, so where does the floods come in?? Well after fixing the pipe and hooking up the radiator I started to fill the system... long story short... forgot the other bedroom radiator was not hooked up! I remembered when water started dripping from the foyer ceiling. Needless to say there is some drywall repair in my future, but not too bad.

Capped off the pipes in that bedroom, fill the system again, and looks like no leaks. Later that day a slow drip showed up in the powder room around the reducer to the union. Usually these small leaks seal themself up, so I stuck a bowl under the drip and checked on it occasionally.

Then... two days later... I come home and there's water all over the powder room! The nut on the union elbow cracked from too much pressure.

I had a hard time hooking up the radiator because the faces would not line up flat to each other. The pipe feeding out of the floor was on an angle leaning towards the radiator and could not be straightened without shortening a pipe. So drain the system, tweak the pipes, drill out the floor holes a bit more and reconnect. This time... no drips.

BUT... as the hardwood floor dried out it has begun to buckle and warp. And of course after 5 years of storing in my garage, I just got rid of the extra flooring a week ago!

Never fails.....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bedroom Ceiling Leveling

I posted about this in detail when I did the downstairs... but a quick recap. Old construction lumber can vary a great deal in dimensions. When they built the floors, the joists were leveled to the floor surface leaving the ceiling side to vary across the room. It then became the plaster guys to "level" the ceiling. In the world of drywall this is not an option, so there's no choice but to sister the joists. I read a few years about using a laser to find the lowest joist in the room and then running string across the room at the level. Then using metal studs which are virtually guaranteed straight, sister them to the joists at the string lines. This system worked great downstairs so I'm using it again.

Here's the master bedroom finished. Like the dining room, I actually found a 4 inch difference across the room! The walls need to be done too which I jsut use a long level or straightedge and shim out the low joists to make a "flat" wall.

Next job is moving the rad pipes before the cold gets here...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Emergency Drip Cap Repairs

I was sidetracked once again a few weeks ago over at Case de Jessica's 1920's bungalow. Her 4 year and counting restoration is coming along... recently finishing up with the wall repairs and all new windows. Imagine the horror of seeing water staining and damage after hurricane Isabel and the other 20 inches of rain we've had the past 2 months! The damage all occured on the one wall that takes the brunt of the weather and was mostly around the 4 windows on both floors. The stucco had been cleaned up and painted last year and new windows installed but the wood work had not been dealt with yet.

My hunch was rotted metal flashing on the drip caps above the windows. But to my surprise there never was any metal flashing when the house was built?! They just used wood drip caps that were all in very poor condition after 80 years. So bring over the scaffolding, take apart a window frame, and see what kind of solution we can come up with.

The surrounding wood work was all in pretty rough shape and the choice was made to replace it all with new composite material. This way there will be no more rot issues down the road. I was able to sneak behind the stucco, so I came up with a plan of installing some metal Z-flashing over a piece of composite. Here you can see the original drip cap removed from the first window...

While everything was apart, spray foam was applied to all the gaps, followed by a layer of 30# felt that will shed any moisture that may get behind the trim.

Caulk was applied liberally around all the seam areas and the new trim installed. A final caulking, the original sill stripped and primed, and a final paint job made things good as new. Once I had one window down, the other 3 went smoothly. They also were found to be in worse shape with a good bit of moisture surrounding the window.

Another issue we found was a section of bricks on the chimney that were spalling. Inside the attic, the flashing apparently is failing and letting water in... causing the damage to the brick and probably causing the one ceiling stain in the upstairs bedroom. So while the scaffold was set up, I tried my hand a repointing the bad part of the chimney. Some of the bricks could have stood to be replaced, but this was more of a "get things stabilized" repair and deal with it more once the leaks are stopped. I knocked out about an inch or so of mortar and applied new. It didn't come out too bad considering the condition of the bricks, but I could certainly use a little more practice!

I forgot to take a close up of the after since it was starting to rain. We replace the attic vent wood work too and stripped the louvers... again since we were already working here.

After a long week of work... this side of the house is water tight and lookin right! Now back to the Hall House project!