Posted by: cdpenne | April 7, 2010

Did we really have to demo?

The non-bathroom

The non-bathroom

We don’t know yet the history of this bathroom and I don’t know enough about 100-year-old building techniques to say, but it has been a bathroom since the early 50’s when the house was actually divided into an upper and lower apartment, if not from the very beginning.  Behind the sink in the right corner is the back wall of a closet which is off the dining room, but that wall has not always been there.  So there might have been a second entry to the water closet off the dining room.  It is possible the house was built with some early version of the flush toilet as there were numerous patents awarded in the early 1900’s for toilet developments.  Also, there was some very old cast iron drain pipe which traveled the entire width of the house from the South West corner, where the bathroom is located, to the South East corner and then North to the middle of the East wall where the main vent stack is located.  What was left of the steel drain pipes from the sink and bath feeding into the cast iron drain were lead soldered and there was no additional vent stack for this bathroom despite the long travel to the main vent stack.  All of this is evidence of some pretty old plumbing.   When we bought the house, I knew that the tub was no longer plumbed and that it had been used as large potting station for many years.  I knew also that the faucet feed valves had been shut off due to a leak which was simply never fixed.  I did not know that the original old cast iron drain pipe had a 3″ rise in it not 5 feet “down hill” from the toilet.  That meant the drain pipe had 5 feet of pipe right under the toilet that never emptied and it had been that way for 35 years or maybe more.  You can imagine I didn’t relish the thought of cutting it with a Sawzall or breaking it apart with a hammer!  Neither did my help!  It didn’t take long to decide to tear it all out and start over.  We added a vent stack, changed the drain pipe to ABS, extended new copper water feed lines, relocated the toilet, tub, and sink, and added new sub-floor, tile, wainscoting, and paint.  We kept the 1915 American Standard tub, and found and old true pedestal sink at the Re-Store.  The sink is the one of the best parts since it doesn’t attach to the wall or even lean against it.  It is held to the floor with two 3′ long pieces of 5/8 stainless steel all-thread, and the chrome exposed faucet feed lines rise up from the floor.  I promise to put up a recent photo as soon as I take one, but for the next few posts I’ll be concentrating on the conditions of the house when we bought it.

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Responses

  1. It must be a labor of love to face such a task. I have found when facing certain projects whether it’s cutting tile of doing some plumbing I can find tons of demo videos on Youtube. Hope that helps a little.

  2. Hi Jack,
    The jury is still out on the love part. Let’s call it strong like for now. Fortunately I have many years experience as a contractor/builder to draw on, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t used Youtube vids in the pas:)

  3. I love hearing stories like this. No I am not a sadist, but I enjoy hearing people ressurect old house.

    If I may make a suggestion, the Phinney Neighborhood Assoc. has a tool library for members. They also have classes on an extensive range of classes.

    It is located at the intersection of N 66th and Dayton Ave N. It is open on Wed. evenings and Saturday mornings. Stop in and say hello to Mike Broili.

    • Hi Greg,
      I like to talk about old houses too. There are so many around and if they aren’t loved, they’ll be torn down. I have never heard of a tool library, I will definitely have to check that out. Thanks for the heads up and check back soon. I have some pictures of “as bought” that are even worse than the bathroom and the front.


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