Archive | Home Improvement

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required

How do we spend our Saturday nights these days? Why, hanging out in our attic for six and a half hours of course!

Six and a half hours Katelyn?! Bloody hell! Why on earth would you hang out in a blazing attic for six and half bloody hours?

Oh imaginary British person, because we were working on the PEX piping project I mentioned in our last post of course! You’re so silly.

But I thought you so confidently said, and I quote: “it didn’t look all that hard or expensive to DIY your own PEX.”

…Yeah. Well. The PEX part WAS easy. It’s just that everything else took freaking forever. GOSH.

Don’t get testy with me you cheeky prat!

Don’t be such a turd!

Bollucks! Fish and Chips! Cheerio!

This is what happens when you work from home and hang out with your cat all day.

ANYWAYS, we successfully replaced our leaky old galvanized pipe with a fresh new piece of PEX piping! Remember this pipe with 2 leaks on it?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Well, that pipe is no more!! But let me back up a bit. Like I said in the last post, when our plumber mentioned replacing this pipe with PEX piping, we started doing research on PEX. Cross-linked polyethylene, commonly known as PEX, is made of plastic, flexible tubing. It’s an alternative to PVC or copper pipes that is being more and more widely used due to its low cost and ease of installation. The “low cost” and “ease of installation” parts of that sentence made our ears perk up, so we looked into how to install it ourselves.

PEX piping

We found several tutorials and sorta spliced together bits and pieces from each. We mainly used this one, this one, and this one. At the end of the post I’ll list the steps you SHOULD follow in case anyone reading wants to attempt this in their own home. We may have accidentally not followed some/followed them in the wrong order. Oops. So consider this kind of a “do as we say, not as we do” deal.

First off, we did what you’re supposed to do before ANY big plumbing project: we turned off the water supply to our house. There are two spots you can do this- at your main water valve where the supply line goes into your house (usually around one of your hose faucets outside) or near the street where your meter is. Since we didn’t have a water meter key to turn it off at the meter, we decided we’d just turn it off at the main water valve.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Next you’re supposed to run all your faucets, showers, etc until no more water is coming out. This is to drain any water that was hanging out up in your pipes. It took a few minutes and then no more water was coming out so we assumed we were good to go.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

We gathered our materials and went up to the attic. Make sure to wear gloves and breathings masks! Here’s the supplies you’ll need (plus I’ve listed a few more that we didn’t know yet at the time of this picture… yes there were a couple trips to Home Depot that night)

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

1- PEX piping. We needed 25 ft of 3/4″ piping, so we got a 50 ft roll just in case. Just measure the diameter of your current pipes and the length of the pipe to find out what type of PEX you need. You can get white, blue, or red (the only difference is that red is used to identify hot water, blue is used to identify cold, and white can be either. We chose white).

2- Plastic sheeting. This was great to have under the pipes to protect your insulation and wood. Be generous and spread that stuff around.

3*- Pipe wrenches. We started with one (pictured). Then we had to get another. You 100% need TWO for this project!

4- PVC/plastic tubing cutter. This is to cut your PEX.

5- Flashlight. Or two. Or ten. Gather as many as you have, attics are dark.

6- Sharkbite PEX adapters. We got two 3/4″ male adapters because we were removing the two male ends of our 3/4″ galvanized pipe.

7- Teflon tape. You have to wrap the threading on the adapters, the same way you wrap a shower head when you replace it.

8- A saw that can cut metal. We used Evan’s jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade, but you could also use a hacksaw, a reciprocating saw, etc. Just talk to people at Home Depot or look online to make sure it can cut metal.

9*- Trays to catch water drips. We bought one painters tray, but luckily I had some disposable 9×9 baking trays because we ended up needing those too. You definitely need at least two trays that can catch water if you’re working on a project like this. And maybe some plastic cups too just to be safe.

10*- WD40. It’s not in the picture, but you 100% will need it if you’re trying to remove galvanized pipe.

11*- Water meter key. This also is not in the picture, but you need it to turn off the water at your meter.

Notice all the asterisks. Those are all the things we didn’t buy/didn’t have enough of when starting this project. Learn from our mistakes.

Before we could add the PEX piping, we first had to remove our old galvanized pipe. We started by prepping the area- we picked an easy to reach section of the pipe we were removing, laid out lots of plastic underneath, and set a tray under where we were going to cut.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Before you can actually remove your pipe, you have to cut it somewhere in the middle so that you’re actually able to unscrew each end. So after the area was prepped, we took a deep breath, decided we had the balls to move forward, and Evan took his saw to it! Look you can see the blade going through the pipe!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

It wasn’t necessarily a speedy cut, but eventually the saw made it all the way through.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

…And already we were having a water problem. See the pool collecting in the tray?? Yeah, this is when we started to silently freak out inside. There was a steady stream of water trickling from our pipes filling up our tray surprisingly fast. Luckily, I remembered I had some throw away 9×9 baking pans so I ran down to the kitchen and got those, because our single tray was not going to hold out much longer.

We were able to scoot over the full tray and put one of the 9×9’s under the leak, but the first tray was so full that trying to remove it so that we could empty it would have made us spill water everywhere. So to try to contain the leak, we did what any resourceful 20-somethings would do- we duct taped the crap out of it.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

This slowed the leak slightly, and it was enough to allow us to figure out why the water wasn’t stopping. Evan double checked our main water valve to make sure it was off all the way. It was, but he turned on our outside hoses to release more of the water in the pipes. Then we turned on the faucets again just in case… and there was water coming out of them! Somehow, even when our main water valve was off, water still got in.

So we decided to just keep all the faucets on the on position and Evan ran to Home Depot to get a water meter key so we could turn off the water at our meter too. Meanwhile, I hung out in the attic scooping water out from the original tray, having flashbacks to a previous plumbing experience that involved scooping lots of water with a plastic cup… I finally got enough out to move it, then Evan came back and shut off the water at the meter. From then on we were fine water-wise, yay!! No more almost-flooding our attic!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Now that we had stopped the leaking, it was time to be done with this pipe and remove each of the two ends from their old fittings. We busted out our new pipe wrench, clamped it on, gave it a tug and… nothing. The thing didn’t budge. At all.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

We did some online research and found out that you need TWO pipe wrenches… one to turn the pipe you’re removing, and one to turn the threading it’s screwed into in the opposite direction. This keeps you from breaking anything and gives you a little more turning power. Whoops. It also said WD40 helps loosen things if you spray it into the threading and wait a few minutes. But it said the BEST thing to unscrew it is to heat up the metal by blowtorching it.

Yes. Blowtorching it.

Apparently warming the metal makes it malleable enough to unscrew. I mean, I’d take a culinary blowtorch to a crème brûlée given the opportunity, and my fiance will not deny that he’s a bit of a pyro, but NEITHER of us was about to bring a blow torch into our wood-filled attic.

So Evan ran to Home Depot again while I stayed here to keep an eye on leaks, and he picked up another wrench and some WD40. No blowtorch.

He came back, we tried the WD40 and the additional wrench… and still no dice. That pipe would NOT budge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

We started this project at 3:30pm. By this point it was about 9:00pm. We had no running water, no way to turn it back on since our pipe was cut in the middle, and no way to replace the pipe because we couldn’t get the dang thing off. So we decided to go have a snack (it seemed logical at the time).

As Evan laid on the floor in defeat and I perched on the counter eating wheat thins, we talked about how we could always stay the night at his parents if we had to. For a minute I thought we were going to give up. But then we decided to try unscrewing the other end of the pipe, just to see if it was easier to get than the first end we tried.

We sprayed it with WD40, waited a few minutes, then with just one wrench (because it was at a T-joint) Evan was able to unscrew it!! Oh happy day!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

We didn’t lay out plastic beforehand, shame on us! At least we remembered the tray. Luckily there was pretty much no water to deal with this time.

Then we got to actually attach our new PEX! First off, we prepped the adapter by wrapping it with Teflon tape the same way you’d wrap a shower head before installing it. You have to wrap it in the same direction that you screw it in, so clockwise if you’re facing the threads (see in the picture below).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Then you screw the adapter into the joint that you unscrewed your pipe from.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Now that the adapter was in, it was time for us to bust out our new piping! You know I love a man with nice PEX…

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

We cut the PEX with our PVC cutter to make sure we had a nice clean edge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Then we marked 1″ from the fresh cut (this marks how far you need to push the PEX into your adapter).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

But before we pushed it into the adapter, we needed to straighten it the best we could. Luckily it’s pretty flexible.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

As we straightened it we fed it under the boards on the floor along the length of the original pipe.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Then we just pushed the end of the PEX into the adapter and it was done! No clamping, no adhesives. Just pop it in and stop at your inch mark.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

With new confidence and one end of our piping complete, we decided to tackle unscrewing that first part of the pipe again. But we used a slightly different technique this time (after spraying again with copious amounts of WD40). Instead of Evan holding onto both of the wrenches, I pushed the one on the joint counter-clockwise as hard as I could while Evan used his body weight to push the one on the pipe clockwise with his foot.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

And that did it!!! We loosened it enough for Evan to do the rest by hand! It only took two pipe wrenches, a buttload of WD40, and two adult humans using all their force to unscrew this pipe, but we did it! PS doesn’t Evan look like a giant trapped in a doll house in the below pic?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

Sweet success!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

From here you pretty much do the same thing as you do on the other end. Teflon the adapter, screw it in, cut the PEX, mark an inch from the cut, and pop the PEX into the adapter. Easy easy.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

And then of course, rip out the old pipe with your bare hands and growl at it. Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required-

So there it is, we did it! By the time we finished it was 10pm and we had officially spent 6-1/2 hours replacing one pipe in our attic. But it was worth it! All together, we spent about $100 on these supplies, which may seem like a lot. But to get it fixed by a professional it was going to cost $800, so in comparison $100 was small change. Plus we will be able to use most of the items again for future projects.

As promised, here is a quick guide to all the steps you SHOULD follow:

STEP 1: Turn off your water. To be safe, do it at your main water valve AND at the meter using a water meter key.

STEP 2: Run all your faucets and showers to empty them of water. Don’t forget your hose faucets outside too! Leave them open til you’re done with the project, just to be safe.

STEP 3: Prep your area. Lay down plastic wrap and a shallow tray under the spot you’re going to cut. Make sure you have at least two trays on hand to catch water.

STEP 4: Using a saw that can cut metal, cut your galvanized pipe. Some water will come out, don’t panic.

STEP 5: Bust out the WD40. Spray it onto the joints where your pipe is connected, and try to get some of it to go into the threading. This helps break up any rust in there. Please don’t bring a blowtorch into your attic.

STEP 6: Unscrew the pipe ends. Use two pipe wrenches pulled in opposite directions, one gripping the pipe you are unscrewing and one gripping the joint you’re unscrewing it from. Don’t break the pipe, but use your body weight to unscrew it. Having two people helps.

STEP 7: Prep the PEX adapter. Wrap it with Teflon tape clockwise (the same direction you turn it).

STEP 8: Screw adapter into the joint you unscrewed your pipe from.

STEP 9: Cut a nice clean edge on the PEX with your PVC cutter and mark one inch from the end.

STEP 10: Straighten your PEX and run it along the length of the pipe you’re replacing.

STEP 11: Push the end of your PEX into the adapter until you reach your one inch mark.

STEP 12: Do the same thing on the other joint and you’re done! Celebrate with late night cheeseburgers!

Hope this helped and made DIY plumbing a little less scary!

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How to swap a galvanized pipe for PEX piping

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)

Some house projects call for power tools. Some call for getting your hands dirty. And some projects call for being the tiny one in the relationship. This was one of those projects.

And I was super excited!!!

We decided to try our hand at another DIY plumbing project, even though our last attempt at DIY plumbing yielded some pretty shitty results (hah!). But this project was gonna be awesome because it involved wearing a hardhat, army-scooting on my belly, and working in a space where the ceiling was less than a foot high off the floor. I was all up in our attic y’all!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Oh yeah, I was feeling pretty badass.

But before I go on and on about how badass I am (hahhh), I should explain what the problem in our attic was. We have leaks. Three leaks to be exact. Our home is in her 30’s so that means she was built with galvanized pipes, which tend to be the problem child of the piping world. They collect buildups and spurt leaks and all this awesome stuff.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Before we bought the house, our inspector pointed out one leak that he spotted in our attic, so we had a plumber come out later to give us a quote- and he found two more. Luckily they were all slow leaks and had only dampened our insulation a bit- they hadn’t made it to our wood frame at all. Phew! So there was no disaster, but these leaks still needed to be taken care of.

Our plumber gave us a quote to replace the leaky pipes with PEX piping and it was a little more than we wanted to spend (buying a house = you are poor). So Evan and I did some research and found that it didn’t look all that hard or expensive to DIY your own PEX. We’ll talk more about that later, but here’s a peek at PEX so you know what we’re talking about.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Unfortunately, I was a dummy and did not go up into the attic with our plumber during his assessment to see where the other two leaks were. We found leak #1 ourselves, but after crawling around forever up there we still could not spot the other two. So when our plumber had to come by again to rid our guest bathroom of the you-know-what, I asked if he would show me the leaks and give me tips on how to fix them ourselves. Leaks #1 and #2 were on the same pipe and both were pretty accessible. So if we just figured out how to replace one pipe, it would be sort of a two-for-one deal.

Here’s leak #1, the one that our inspector spotted and we were easily able to find:

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

We laid plastic sheeting leftover from our floor prep underneath it to catch any errant drips while we did further research on PEX-ing things ourselves. Also see in the close up how it looks all corroded and icky? That’s a sign of the leak.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Leak #2 was a little trickier because the corroded part was on the underside of the pipe, which is why we didn’t spot it ourselves. I asked our plumber how he was able to spot that there was a leak there, and he said that when you see mouse poop around a pipe it’s usually because the mice in your attic are gathering around it to drink the drippy water. And actually the thought of mice in our attic didn’t freak me out. I am considering them tiny little pooping leak detectors and I am thankful for the role they’ve played in our home’s water damage prevention plan.

See the mouse poop to the left of where the plastic is? Our mice were getting their drank on. And when I felt the underside of the pipe, lo and behold it was wet. Sneaky leaky! Thank you mice!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Like I said, these two leaks were actually on the same pipe which would make things a little easier for us when it came time to fix them. But leak #3 was not going to be so cooperative. There’s a reason we weren’t able to spot #3 on our own. It’s because it was in the smallest, darkest corner of our attic, right where the sloped roof meets the attic floor.

Sorry for the bad picture. I circled where the leak is, otherwise it would be nearly impossible to spot.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Creepy attic, nails protruding from ceiling, ominous flashlight glow… looks like a scene from a scary movie!

In this part of the attic, there’s only about 10 inches of head space between the floor and ceiling, and really only about 6 inches of space directly above the leak because of the rafter. The plumber said that to replace this pipe, they’d have to cut a hole in the garage ceiling and get to it from there. Womp womp. But then he told me there’s a temporary solution if we’re interested- a clamp!

I was interested. He said he used clamps in his own office (which is an older building with galvanized pipes) and his have been fine since the late 80’s. So if “temporary” means they can last over 20 years, sign me up!

He was nice enough to give me a couple clamps for free and explain how to use them. Here’s the one we ended up using.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

You basically just pop the clamp onto the pipe and tighten the bolt til it’s snug. Simple simple. I like simple. But even though it was easy, right after our plumber left I took this little video to remind myself how to do it just in case I forgot later on when it was time to actually use it. Please excuse me while I awkwardly fumble around trying to do it one handed and temporarily forget the word “wrench.”

Evan came home that night and we decided to give it a go! He was my official wrench holder, flashlight shiner, and picture taker. I geared up with mismatched gloves, Evan’s Chevron hardhat from back when he was an intern, and a mask we found in the garage. Super legit.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

I think we spent more time taking pictures than actually attaching the clamp. It was that easy. We grabbed a couple extra pink 2×4’s leftover from our DIY attic duct protector bridge and laid them down so I had something to scoot along and lay on. I crawled as far as I could and then had to lay on my belly and ooch along til I could reach the leak. Thank goodness for the hardhat because I was bumping my head on the nails protruding from the ceiling as it got lower and lower, yikes!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Once I got down there, it was a little awkward to maneuver but popping on the clamp wasn’t too bad. I forgot to take a “before” picture, but it basically looked like leak #1 (with the corrosion on top) except a smaller area was corroded. I laid some extra plastic under it, popped on the clamp, used the wrench to tighten the nut on the bolt til it was snug, then looked back at Evan like a crazy person and asked him to take a picture.

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

I did manage to get a couple close up shots of the clamp on the pipe once I was done. You can see how tiny of a space I was working in!

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)-

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- We have been keeping an eye on this pipe and so far the clamp seems to be working! After a week or so, we went back an checked leaks #1 and #2 and both had a little water in the plastic we left, but leak #3 with the clamp was dry. Success!

So the next project on the plumbing agenda is to replace the pipe with leaks #1 and #2 with PEX piping. Our plastic wrap will only last us so long. We’ve picked up all the necessary materials, done tons of research, and now it’s Evan’s turn to get his plumbing on. Wish us luck!

Simple-to-use clamp for fixing minor, slow leaks yourself


Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!

Oh the joys of home ownership. And getting your place fixed up. And having lots of strangers in your house all week, apparently showing no mercy on your guest bathroom.

You know how between our floor install and waiting for our carpets to dry, we used the guest bathroom as extra storage space for random crap?

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!- Well it turns out one of the guys who was in our house used it to store some random crap of his own (ba-dum-TSH!). One evening after having the door closed a few days while the carpets dried, Evan went in to move the stuff we had stored there.

And that’s when he found it.

The massive turd.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

We did not take any pictures that night, so I hope this superfluous amount of gifs and videos will suffice instead. So no, we don’t have any pics of the poo. That would be gross. But Evan did hold up his hands to show me how big it was. Lets just say that the guy who left it there loved us thisssssssssssssssssssssss much.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

Simply trying to flush the monstrosity was just making the water rise, so what did what any loving homeowners (with no money to spare) would do: we decided to fix the clog ourselves.

Evan wouldn’t let me in the bathroom while he worked on the situation (he said it was something a lady should never have to see) so I spent the hours (yes, hours) googling home solutions for a clogged toilet. The plunger didn’t work. The baking soda + vinegar trick was a fail. And the hot water + dish soap method was also unsuccessful. Between each attempt we had to wait for the water to slowly drain down, and before we knew it it was 1:30 am. We decided to call it a night, went to bed, and had bad dreams about poop monsters. (fast forward to 7:15 on the video)

The next morning Evan went to work and warned me not to go in there, saying he’d try some more when he got home. But I couldn’t focus knowing what was lurking in our guest bathroom, biding its time, silently mocking me. I had to check things out for myself. Let me just paint a picture for you of what I saw when I peeked inside:

Gross. Poopy. Water. Mush. All the way to the brim of our bowl. With floaty chunks. Ewwwwwww!!!!!

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

I got out of there as fast as I could and hopped back on Google to look up some other ways to fix the situation. I found that basically we had two more options: we could either pour a bunch of chemicals into the bowl, or we could get a snake/auger to manually loosen things up. The chemical route was easier but there was not really room for any more liquid in there, so anything we did pour would have just been floating on top and letting off harmful fumes (as if there weren’t enough harmful fumes in there already, bleh). So auger it was!

But before doing anything, I ran the guest bath water for about 10 minutes to make sure that the water there would drain. Since it did drain, that meant the clog was isolated to our toilet. If it hadn’t drained, that would have meant the clog was in our main line and we had bigger problems on our hands that a plumber would have to fix.

So I went to Home Depot, avoided eye contact, and scurried to the plumbing aisle. It must have been obvious that I had no idea what I was doing, because a guy there buying parts asked if I needed help. I painfully explained the situation to him and he suggested an auger meant for sink drains that I could stick straight down the flap in the toilet tank to loosen things up, therefore avoiding the icky bowl all together (I think he could tell I was a little grossed out). For those of you like me who did not yet know what a flap was, it’s literally the little flap in your tank that is lifted when you flush to let water in. Anyway, this is what I bought:

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

Going through the tank seemed like a great idea. Seemed easy. Until I opened the flap to stick the auger in and MORE water started going into the already full bowl!!!! If it had not been for my cat-like reflexes I would have been ankle deep in somebody else’s poopy water. And our new floors could have been ruined! With pooooooopy waterrrrrrr. Blerrrrghghg. So derp is me, should have realized that this would happen before I bought the dang thing.

On a side note, I would suggest to anyone messing with their toilet to turn the water supply to the toilet OFF (clockwise) before you start. It’s that little dial looking thing that connects your toilet to your wall. Here is ours:

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

Seriously, if your bowl ever starts to fill up farther than it should, shut that thing off PRONTO. And do it anytime you are about to work on your toilet just to be safe.

Ok, now back to the story. I know everyone just can’t wait to hear what happens next in our toilet adventure.

When I realized the first auger wasn’t going to work, it was back to Google and then Home Depot for me. Luckily I found this awesome video tutorial which made the idea of snaking a toilet myself a lot less intimidating. Hmmm, never thought I’d describe a video featuring a toilet as “awesome.” How times have changed!

I came home with my second auger of the morning, a more traditional 3-foot contraption that you stick down the bowl drain. Luckily these things are pretty cheap since I was already on number two (heh heh number two, get it?). Here’s the one I got.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

But here is where things got really interesting.

Well, interesting may not be the best word for it. Super gross? Disgusting? Desperate? Something I never thought I’d ever do? It was pretty much all those things.

See, the water still was not draining at all and I had a full bowl of poopy water. Trying to do the auger in that mess would have resulted in splashing it everywhere, which I was not ok with.

So I put on some rubber gloves. Found a plastic cup. And went to work. I had to reach into a bowl of poopy water and scoop it out, cup full by cup full, transfer it to our other toilet, and flush.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

I’m not sure if you realize how much water is in a full toilet bowl but it is a LOT. And as the water got lower, it go chunkier too!!!! Ew gross gross gross!! But I FINALLY got it down to a workable level. After getting rid of the poopy-water-gloves and poopy-water-cup, I grabbed the auger, forced it in, swiveled things around for a while in each direction, flushed…. and the dang bowl was filling up with poopy water again. Blast!!!!!

But I had read that sometimes it takes two, even three attempts with a auger to break things up enough in there to be able to flush it down. So I got a new pair of rubber gloves and a new cup and I did it again. Scoop. Transfer. Flush. Gag extensively. Until another entire bowl was empty.

I tried the auger once more, and again it did not work :(

So yet AGAIN I grabbed another new pair of gloves and another new cup and emptied the bowl for one last attempt. Keep in mind, at this point I have now reached into and emptied THREE bowls of poopy water!!! THREE!!!!!!! And still, when that third bowl had been emptied, and I stuck that auger in for the third time, it didn’t work. Nooooooooooo!!!!!! :(

Balderdash! I had scooped enough poopy water for the morning thank-you-very-much!!!!! I called our plumber and half an hour and a hundred bucks later, we had a working toilet again. After all was said and done, I took a cold shower…

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

…and bleached the entire room.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!-

And now everyone who comes over and uses our guest bathroom can remember this wonderful tale! But don’t worry about clogging it, I think the plumber felt bad for me because he gave me a “guarantee” on his work…. IE if anyone ever comes over and clogs it again, he’ll fix it free of charge. He also fixed our flap, which apparently was not letting enough water in to flush and might have caused the problem in the first place (though I’m sure the size of the mega turd played a part in it too). I asked why my auger didn’t work and he said it’s because I needed a more hardcore 6-foot one (mine was only 3 feet). After all that work and research, I was so close!!

But hey, the good news about having our plumber over is I got to pick his brain about some leaks the inspector found in the attic. Which we are going to try to fix ourselves. I know I know, we are crazy. More on that in a later post though!


Befloor, During, & After

I’m sorry for the pun. It’s bad! But I just wanted to do a quick post with some before/during/after photos of our floors so you can see the progress all in one quick glance. Here you go!

Befloor, During, & After-

Well there you have it! Goodbye lumpy carpet and cracked white tile, hello modern wood floors! I’d say it’s a huge improvement. But I may be biased (and several thousand poorer) so I had better think so :P


Our Finally Finished Floors!

After nearly a week of demo, prepping, and installation, our floors are finally done!! Well, almost done. We are still down to bare subfloor in the laundry room (we have plans to lay tile soon) and we are missing a couple transitions that weren’t delivered in time. And it took an extra week to finish the hallway because we cleaned out the entire Houston and Dallas supply of our flooring and we had to wait on delivery of the five more boxes we needed. But still… pretty much done!

Man it was a crazy process. I won’t get into all the details here, but you can read about the flooring progress here and here. And now, an onslaught of pictures!!

Here’s the breakfast nook/soon-to-be office. This is where the floor magic began! I was actually literally hopping up and down with my camera when this started.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!- From the breakfast nook/office area, they moved through into the kitchen. Lots of corners and crannies to get around in there.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Then the dining room got some attention. SO glad that we don’t have a carpeted dining room anymore, bleh.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

The living room was the last and biggest room to get floors (well I guess the hallway was last but that doesn’t really count as a room.) Here’s a view of the living room area from across the dining room.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Here’s another view of the living room as if you were standing near the fireplace looking toward the back windows.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

And here’s a view of the living room facing the fireplace. Surprisingly, we ended up kinda liking how the brick looks with the floors. Originally we were going to paint the brick white but now we may leave it. Going to live with it for a while and see what we think.

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Lastly here’s the entry way, didn’t nab any good progress pics of it, they completed it super fast! Love how the wood floors flow seamlessly under the fireplace since they undercut it.

Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Our Finally Finished Floors!-

That hallway you’re looking into remained unfinished while we waited for the rest of our flooring to arrive (we cleaned out the Houston and the Dallas supply and were 5 boxes short). Look how desolate it was in there! But a few days later our extra floors came in and they were able to finish our hallway! Hallway-luyah! (Sorry, my pun skills are not the best.)

Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Our Finally Finished Floors!- Our Finally Finished Floors!-

Pay no mind to the piles of stuff in the bedrooms. Look at the floors!! WE HAVE FLOORS!!!! This is amazing!


The Pitcher’s Mound Under Our Carpet

When we bought our house, we knew it had some previous foundation work done. We knew it wasn’t perfectly level. And we knew that this meant we might run across a couple hiccups during our floor adventure. But what we didn’t know was that hidden under our carpet and padding was a big lump of concrete our flooring guys started calling “The Pitcher’s Mound.”

This is bad news bears when it comes to installing a new floor. You can’t lay down flooring without a level slab, and this beast made our slab anything but level. Plus, there were several other raised patches of concrete here and there throughout the living and dining room. It was basically a whole baseball field but with like fifteen bases.

I’ll start from the beginning though. Just prepping our floors was a 3-day process before we could move onto the fun stuff.

Day One: Our awesome floor team shows up and gets right to work removing tile and carpet. Tile removal is tedious but goes pretty smoothly.



The previously carpeted living room is a different story though. Upon finding the hidden Pitcher’s Mound (seriously, how could we not tell before that it was so bad?!), they try to grind, chisel, and pound it down as much as they can. See that big torn up patch in the middle? That’s what it looked like after they went to town on it.


But like I mentioned before, it wasn’t the only trouble spot. All throughout our living room we had dips to fill and bumps to grind (haha that sounds dirty). See how un-level it is? There’s literally a 1-inch gap between the level bar and the floor in this pic.


Our guys spend all day doing as much as they can to level the floor manually, but there is only so much they could do. It’s time to bring in the float. Float is basically like a thin concrete they spread over the floor to smooth the surface. To give you an idea of how bad our living room was: our original estimate said it would probably take around 12 (25 lb) bags of float. It ended up taking 49!!! That shit cray. Here’s how the place looked after they added float the first day.


Yeah. Still pretty crazy. And here are the tiled areas by the end of day one. All the tile is gone, but there is no time left in the day to add float over there yet.



Day Two: Float float float. Dry dry dry. Float float float. Dry dry dry. Floating is a time consuming process. Here’s how it looked by the end of day two.




Day Three: We need another day of float because things still aren’t level enough. Our guys tell us this is in the top 10 worst floors they’ve ever done in the past 32 years. Wowza! Here’s how it looks after its third and final day of prep.




I never thought I’d appreciate a level slab the way I do right now! Oh beautiful, beautiful slab. So smooth. So level. I’m going to name you Slabby *cuddle cuddle cuddle.*

Other fun stuff got to be prepped for floors too on day three. One really cool thing was that they undercut the fireplace (they literally sawed part of the brick off) so that they floors would flow seamlessly under the brick. It was super dusty and pretty badass.


For the record, the pictures don’t do justice to how dusty it was in there, though you can sort of see it in the background against the windows. I spent most of my time outside avoiding the dust-cloud that was chilling in our house, but I did pop in about a billion times to take pictures of the progress so I got my fair share of dust in the lungs. Seriously, it was crazy. You could taste it. Bleh. But I guess that’s what happens when you buy a house and pretty much immediately turned it into a construction zone!

Next post will cover more on the floors, they are finishing them up right meow! :D


How to Prep for a Floor Installation

We did some things right. Made some things worse. Eh, we are noobs at this stuff but we tried, and now we have some great tips for anyone who decides to turn their place into a dust palace install new flooring in their home.

With our house, we wanted to remove all the white tile from the kitchen, breakfast nook, laundry room, and entry way (it was cracked in several places and just sorta blah). We also wanted to get rid of the carpet from the living room, dining room, and hallway. Basically, the only rooms we decided to leave alone are the bedrooms and bathrooms, so the majority of our house is getting a huge floor makeover.

We chose that awesome laminate wood floor to go everywhere except the laundry room, which will be getting tile (even though laminate wood is more water resistant than hardwood, the guys at the flooring company recommended tile for the laundry room just to be safe). With such a large portion of our home getting a floor upheaval, we had to do some prepping and planning to make sure it went as smoothly as possible.

Firstly, we turned off the AC and used whatever we found lying around (cut up trash bags and home depot bags, which we have plenty of now) to cover all our vents.

20130226_103815 We wanted to shove towels in front of the bedroom and bathroom doors, but because the guys were redoing the floors in the hallway too we couldn’t (the towels would have gotten in their way). So we closed the doors and hoped that would be enough to keep the dust at bay. It sooorta worked. After one day of tile demo, the guest bathroom did not fare so well and ended up covered in a nice thick layer of dust. The bedrooms weren’t too bad, but in the spare bedroom with all our stuff there was already a thin layer of dust on the items closest to the door.

So we made a run to home depot (note- we’ve been to Home Depot twice a day every day since we got the house) and picked up some rolls of plastic sheeting, Dexter style. We brought it home and basically made a big plastic tent to cover all our stuff in that bedroom as best as we could.


And since we had some extra, we used more to cover up the kitchen appliances. The flooring guys had covered some of them already, but we thought it wouldn’t hurt to add a little extra protection. Check out that mess of a floor. Consider this a preview of our next post…


We still had the problem of dust getting through the bottom of the bedroom and bathroom doors though. So the engineer came up with a towel+twine solution that allowed us to use towels to block dust from the inside of the doorways. First we rolled up a towel length-wise and tied twine to it in three places.


Then while Evan was outside the room, I’d line up the towel along the inside of the doorway and pass the twine underneath the door to him. I’d shimmy out of the room, and as we closed the door Evan would keep the twine pulled tight, holding the towels up against the inside of the bottom of the door. Then we just tucked the extra twine and voila! Dust-blocking towels that wouldn’t interfere with the floor installation!



I’d love to say that this is all we did and it was a huge success and we are awesome. But there was something else we did too. Something involving a putty knife, pry bar, and our baseboards. And it was not so successful.


Let me explain our foolish actions. See with wood or laminate floors, they have to be installed with a 1/4 inch gap around the perimeter to leave room for expansion. Typically, people add quarter round stained to match their floors to conceal this gap. Here’s an example:


We didn’t really like the look of that, and thought we’d like it better if the floors were just flush with the baseboards. So we decided we’d save some money, remove the baseboards ourselves, and reinstall them after the floors were done to conceal the gap left for expansion. So it would look more like this instead:


We knew it would take a long time, so I started while Evan was still at work. After reading a bunch of online tutorials, I picked up all the right tools and followed all the right steps, and the darn baseboards would NOT pop off the wall.


I was scared to pull any harder because I didn’t want to break them (after all, the goal was to reuse them and save money). So on his way home from work, Evan picked up some heavier-duty tools to see if those would help. Well, they DID effectively remove baseboard from the wall. But unfortunately it was just the broken off chunk you saw a few pics above. Sad trombone. We tried to stick it back on to make ourselves feel better.


Luckily we had started in the laundry room so it’s not a place that too many people are going to see. But before we tried to tackle any more baseboard removal, we wanted to find out why it was so hard to pop off. Upon investigation (i.e. getting our faces really close to the floors), we realized that the tile and grout had been laid after the baseboards were attached, meaning the baseboards were literally grouted to the floor. No wonder they were so stuck! You can see how the grout is holding them in place in the picture below:


So the good news was that at least there was a reason we were failing so hard. But the bad news was we had a huge expanse of grouted-in baseboards that we would not be able to remove. We had to consider other options. And after searching a bit more on the internet, we found a solution. WHITE quarter round.


Extends palm, plants squarely on face. Duh. After it’s caulked in place, white quarter round ends up looking like part of the baseboard and pretty much gives us that same look we wanted from the beginning. Derp is us! Why didn’t we think of this before we started destroying our baseboards?!? Oh well. I blame lack of sleep and too much tile dust inhalation.


House Tour!

Currently my car, my hair, my clothes, my eyeballs, my shoes, and my house are covered in dust. I’ve been at the house all week during our tile demo/laminate wood floor installation and it is crazy over here! But before we post about the floor transformation, we realized we need to take a step back and give you guys a house tour! Can’t believe we haven’t done that yet! You’ll have to forgive us, we are derps.

You’ll recognize this picture from our very first post, it’s our little house looking quite dapper from the outside.

House Tour-

When you enter through the double doors, once you get the darn things open (they get stuck… need to fix that), you are in a little entry way facing the back of the fireplace. Might seem sort of awkward but it’s really not, we actually like it and plan to hang some art there and put a thin console table against it for candles/vases/flowers/whatever.

House Tour-

On the other side of the fireplace is our giant living room with huge lofted ceilings! This was one of the few older homes we looked at that Evan could walk through without bumping his head. A big win for us!

House Tour-

House Tour-

You’ll notice we already have seating and some art hung. Feeling homier already!

House Tour-

Here’s another view of the living room if you’re standing to the side of the fireplace looking back toward the dining room.

House Tour-

In this picture you can see through to the kitchen area. The previous owner did a LOT of work in the kitchen… all new custom cabinets, granite counters and backsplash, new lighting, stainless steel appliances (all except the fridge), and she even knocked out that big hole in the wall that opens the kitchen up to the living room.

House Tour- House Tour- House Tour-

In that last picture, we are standing in the breakfast nook that’s to the side of the kitchen. We actually have plans to turn this room into our home office (sounds strange now but I think it will work). Here is another view of the breakfast nook.

House Tour-

And to the left of our breakfast nook is the laundry room and access to the garage. And yes, that’s a big-ass sub zero freezer chilling (pun intended) with our washer and dryer. Gonna craigslist that beast. Anyone interested?

House Tour-

So when you’re in the living room facing the kitchen, to the left of the kitchen is the breakfast nook, and to the right of the kitchen is the dining room. If you scroll back up to the last living room picture, you can see the dining room in the back. The previous owner added some nice built ins so we have tons of storage. But the OCD in me cannot stand that the light is off-center. We’ll be changing that.

House Tour-

So when you enter through the front door, to your left you see the breakfast nook, kitchen, and dining room; directly in front of you is the living room; and to your right is a hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

House Tour-

We have a master bedroom, two spare bedrooms, a master bathroom, and a guest bathroom. One spare bedroom is empty and the other one is currently full of all the stuff we’ve moved in so far. Check out those sexy fans.

House Tour-
House Tour-

Then we have the master with really tall ceilings and his/her closets (more like her/her… I can’t fit all my stuff into just one!)

House Tour-
House Tour-

The previous owner completely redid the master bathroom and guest bathroom too. Here’s the master. It’s got a huge walk in shower with frameless glass door which is awesome, but you may notice something is off. No, I’m not talking about the funky pedestal sinks+middle vanity situation going on (though that is an odd set up). I’m talking about the fact that there’s no bathroom door. Weird…

House Tour-
House Tour-

I actually really like how she did the little guest bathroom though! It’s nice. Probably the ONE room in the house we don’t have any plans to change.

House Tour-

Well there you have it, our little 1928 sqft home! Of course, it currently looks a little different. As in the floor has been stripped down to the slab and everything is covered in plastic wrap and dust. Seriously, chaos. But it’s gonna be worth it!


DIY Attic Air Duct Protector/Bridge

When you buy a house you’ve gotta take the good with the bad. We already love this house but it needs some TLC. One thing I had to fix before it got worse was our air duct. It was in bad shape already, but even worse, every time somebody had to get to the attic above the kitchen they had to crawl over the already damaged air duct. This is the shape it was in when we got it:


The duct is bent and collapsing in on itself and there are tears/holes in the tape patching it up because the only way to get across currently is to do this:


Not ideal. Especially with the electrician and plumber coming in a few days, who both need access to the other side of our attic- they could end up damaging the duct even further. Time to use some of those engineering skills!! I decided to design and build a bridge that would protect the duct when people needed to get to the other side. I could not help getting fancy and planning it in my 3d program:


Since I haven’t been able to get my garage fully stocked with power tools… yet… I got some help cutting boards from Home Depot. We chose the pink boards (get Katelyn’s hint in our previous post now?) because they were the cheapest and because cosmetics weren’t exactly at the top of our priority list with this project.


When you get the boards home no need to cut, you can just start assembly! I started by building the legs that I would secure to studs in the attic on either side of the duct.


I used L brackets in the corners for added stability. They were pricier than the wood itself, but definitely worth it to make our bridge structurally sound. Here you can see the legs for both sides of the duct, with the L brackets on the inner corners.


Up in the attic, I started by securing a long support board to the studs in the attic floor along the front side of the duct. Then I used more L Brackets to secure one set of legs to the support board.


Then I carefully crawled over and did the same thing to the other side. Once the legs were in place, I nailed 7 boards across the top of both legs to make the top of our bridge.


I had to add some additional support because it wobbled some when I tested it out. I used some extra scrap wood and cut 45 degree angles on both ends and screwed it into the legs and base support (see picture below). I pre-drilled pilot holes to make those 2.5″ screws go in easier and prevent the heads from stripping.


Nearing completion:


I added similar supports to the legs at the back of the duct as well.


All done! Now anyone who needs to can get around our attic without damaging our air duct anymore.


Not sure if you can see it in the picture above but I also used a power sander to make sure the edges were smooth and splinter free. Also please note the face mask which you NEED if you’re going to be in the attic for more than 1 minute. Trust me.

Here is the budget breakdown:

  • 7x 2″x4″x92″ studs at $1.87 – total of $13.09
  • 8x Framing Anchor (L brackets) at $2.57 – total of $20.56
  • Lots of 2-1/2″ nails ~ $0.20
  • Lots of 2-1/2″ wood screws ~ $0.40
  • Sandpaper ~ $0.50


  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Facemask
  • Oscillating sander (optional)

We’ve Got Wood!

At first I titled this post “Floored by Floors,” but then the 13-year-old-boy part of me took over. Heh heh heh.

So last week we found out some awesome news- we were going to close on our house a week faster than we originally thought! Hooray!! But we realized a quicker closing means we have less time to put off scheduling our floors, plumbing, electrician, etc (all the stuff we wanted to have done before move-in day).

When it comes to our floors, currently we have carpet (which is in decent shape but… it’s carpet…) and some boring white tile that’s cracked in several places. Originally we toyed with the idea of DIY-ing our floor install. Busting up tile didn’t seem too bad (note-upon further research we found out it is TERRIBLE). Removing carpet was going to be as easy as 1-2-rrrrip. And laminate wood floors seemed simple enough to snap into place. But when my reasonable fiance reminded me that we had no idea what we were doing and it might be worth it to pay a professional instead of winging it ourselves, I obliged. Well first I said a few things like “but… but… I’m cheap…” But then I realized that having floors done correctly the first time would save us more money in the long run than doing it ourselves and messing it up.

So onto the floor search we embarked!! Five stores and 21 samples later, my car looked like this

Wood Floor Samples-

Wood Floor Samples-

That’s a lot of wood. Heh heh. Ok ok enough wood jokes, but seriously… that’s a LOT of wood. We lugged all our samples over to the new house too see how it looked inside. I would 100% recommend doing this because some of them looked COMPLETELY different in our house than they did in the store. We also brought swatches of fabric that we’ll have in the new place and something black (a little cat pepper shaker I have… I know, I’m already the crazy cat lady) because we have a lot of black furniture. This helped give us a preview of how it would all look together.

Wood Floor Samples-

When we laid out all our samples in the living room it was hard to choose because they all looked nice! But when we placed them in our kitchen it was a whole different story. Up against our cabinets, some of them made it feel like being in a sea of orange wood. And even though we are considering repainting/refinishing our cabinets at some point, we don’t know exactly when that will be and we don’t want to hate our cabinet/floor combo in the meantime.

Wood Floor Samples-

So which was our favorite? Well we eliminated the dark one because combined with the black granite and all our black furniture we thought the dark tones might be a little overwhelming. And we eliminated the lighter ones because of the whole sea-of-orange thing. The one that’s third from the right was by far our favorite in the kitchen, in the living room, and with our fabric samples- ding ding ding we have a winner!

It’s made by Mannington and is part of the Restoration Collection called Chateau, and the “colorway name” (whatever that is) is Autumn. Laminate naming apparently requires at least 3-4 tiers of categories. You can see it here! We liked that it had gray undertones but still felt warm.

I couldn’t wait to get it home and hold it up to our all our stuff!! The things you get excited about when you’re getting a house haha. Here it is on our white rug with our fabric swatches and the aforementioned cat-lady pepper shaker.

Wood Floor Samples-

Wood Floor Samples-

Eeeeeehehe seeing it with our things makes me happyyyyyyy. Now we just have to get a quote. This is the part I’m worried about. Floor installation is expensive, and we already have a hefty amount of necessary repairs on our plate with the roof, electrical, and plumbing work that HAS to be done. Oh old houses.