Tag Archives | plumbing

Hole-y Patchwork Batman!

Hey y’all. You remember our double the leaks, double the fun post from the other week? Welp, I’m back to continue the story of how we fixed our leaks but managed to destroy a good chunk of our ceiling in the process. I mean look at that poor thing.

IMG_7189 But we decided hey, we’ve never drywall patched anything larger than a few inches across, this will be a great learning experience! So we did some Googling to figure out what we needed: a panel of drywall, drywall tape, drywall mud, a mud pan, and a taping knife. When we got to the store, we had the option of either buying a 2ft x 2ft drywall piece or a full size 4ft x 8ft panel. We opted for the smaller one. 

So before I get into a how-to, I’ll preface it by saying we didn’t totally do things correctly. Even though our hole could be covered by the 2 foot drywall square, we probably should have cut even more of the ceiling out because it was visibly bowing down in the middle. See that 2×4 nailed to our ceiling? We had hoped that if we nailed a straight board through our curved ceiling and into a ceiling joist, it would help straighten out the bow.

Long story short, that technique didn’t work. The bowing part of our ceiling reached all the way past two light fixtures, and we really didn’t want to have to cut around both of them. But turns out, trying to make a flat panel of drywall match a slightly bowed ceiling was probably more difficult than just dealing with the lights.

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Even though the patch and the ceiling didn’t quite match up due to the bowing, we figured we could make up the difference with drywall mud. At least that’s what we kept telling ourselves. Especially once we were too far in to turn back haha.

But anyways, back to how we did what we did. First we held the drywall square up to the ceiling and traced around it. Evan cut along the line we traced with his sawzaw so we had a clean edge that the drywall square could fit right up into.

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That square did overlap one of our recessed lights, so we traced the light hole onto a sheet of paper and then used that paper to trace a circle where the light would be on our drywall piece.

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We held the square up to the ceiling and screwed it into a couple ceiling joists. Then we added another sliver of drywall because our hole was just a hair too wide.

IMG_7205 Next we added our drywall tape. We did a few runs of tape over each seam to make sure it was nice and secure.

IMG_7209 IMG_7208 You can see pretty well in the photo above how bad the gap was.

IMG_7212 Then came the fun part: mudding. Evan did the first layer. He could just slop the mud up on there messily because we didn’t need to get it perfectly smooth (our ceiling is textured).

IMG_7213 We let that dry and then I swooped in to add some texturing. Matching it ended up being easier than expected too. After I spread on a nice thick layer, I loosely wrapped a plastic grocery bag around my hand and patted it into the mud. This created a texture super close to the one our ceiling had and we didn’t have to buy any extra tools!

IMG_7227 IMG_7221 Unfortunately, texturing couldn’t cover that gap. Although we had taped and mudded over the gap, and structurally it was fine, there was still a noticeable bump at either side of the patch. So we had to add another coat of mud and cover up my beautiful texturing hard work.

IMG_7224 IMG_7223 After letting this next layer of mud dry, I went back and added more mud just near the gaps/bumps to smooth out the transition, texturing it again as I went. I repeated this process a few times: mud, texture, dry, mud, texture, dry.

IMG_7238 I’d like to say I got it to a point where the patch wasn’t noticeable. I’d also like to say that I workout every morning, always take my vitamins, and fully understand how to work our printer. But none of those things are true.

IMG_7240 But by this point, we’d been at it all day (lots of drying time!) and we called good enough good enough. I primed and painted it using one of those handy ceiling spray paint cans and that definitely improved the look.

Oddly enough, these days we don’t even really notice it. So either our ceiling’s patch is really not that terrible, or we’re just becoming blind to it. Win win? Haha.

IMG_7606 I think what we learned on this one is sometimes it’s more work to attempt a shortcut than it would have been to do it the right way. Thanks DIY universe for teaching us this valuable lesson *bows*.

0

Leak Week

Welp. Not all home-blog posts can full of pretty progress pics and well-lit “afters”. Ha, who am I kidding most of our posts don’t even have that stuff! But what we DO have are two leaks in one week, a brave husband sticking his head in crazy places, and a wife that is patting herself on the back for simply not freaking out. And that’s gotta count for something.

Anyways, you might remember that we have galvanized pipes up our attic. Thank you 1978! 

20130323_222055-copy When we first moved in, we had a couple slow leaks the inspector found; one we fixed with a simple clamp, and one required that we replace an entire run of pipe with PEX. After that, we vowed to regularly go check the pipes up in the attic to make sure we catch leaks before they happen. Hahahaha. We did that maybe once. Then one day I came home from work, turned down our hallway, and stepped in a puddle.

Y’all, old Katelyn would have panicked at this point. Old Katelyn would have been sure the floors were ruined, the attic was a sea of wet insulation, and the whole house was basically falling apart. But not new Katelyn. New Katelyn said “this is not the first time I’ve dealt with plumbing issues, grabbed a towel and a bucket, and even had the foresight to take a photo of our sad ceiling for the blog.

IMG_7119 Evan came home shortly after I finished cleaning up the puddle (somehow no floor damage, yay!) and that’s when we started poking around for the cause of the leak. And I mean that quite literally. Evan grabbed a screwdriver and began making tiny holes in the ceiling.

Water trickled out a little, but we felt like it was also moving around up there. So we kept poking more holes. And more holes. ‘Til finally we said screw it and cut a chunk out with our saw zaw.

IMG_7122 We still couldn’t really tell what was going on, and to make it worse the leak was under our AC unit so we couldn’t get to anything from up in the attic. Meaning the only way to see what was happening was for my very brave husband to stick his head into places unknown…

2016-04-06 (2) Once Evan got up in there, he identified the leaky culprit, which was actually a piece of pipe not under our AC unit. But it was under some nailed down plywood in the attic that the AC was on top of. So up in the attic we went to cut through the plywood (we couldn’t just remove it since the AC was on top of the same plank of wood).

IMG_7129 From downstairs we had measured out where it seemed the leaky pipe was, so we measured again up in the attic and cut where we thought it was. Found it!

IMG_7131 double copy But it was a bad enough leak that we couldn’t just clamp it- it would need to be replaced with PEX. We knew we wouldn’t have a chance to do that ourselves til the weekend, and we weren’t comfortable letting the thing leak for several days, so we bit the bullet and called our plumber. In the meantime, we went ahead and clamped it, put a foil tray under it to catch any drips, and cleaned up our mess.

IMG_7140 The next morning, our plumber showed up and we had a nice new piece-o-PEX up there and a slightly bigger hole above our heads. Yay!

IMG_7189 But what’s that piece of wood on our ceiling you ask? Well as much as I’d like to say the story ends here, it does not. So we will get to why we attached a 2×4 to our ceiling later. We patched the hole (again, more on that later) and primed/painted over the water stain left behind. While I was up there priming, I figured I’d also cover an old, tiny water stain that has been in our entry since we bought the house (it’s amazing what you can become blind to over time). So I primed them both, let them dry, and when I came back to repaint I noticed that the stain in the entryway had somehow spread past the area I had painted… strange

IMG_7279 I touched it and it felt cooler than the surrounding area. Bad news. Luckily, there were no obstructions in the attic over this spot so I hopped up and sure enough, another dang leak!!! In a completely different run of pipe I might add, so it’s not like we had a particularly bad pipe giving us trouble- just our house laughing at us.

IMG_7282 Luckily it was pretty minor and we had a couple extra pipe clamps leftover from our last pipe-clamping project, so this one was a quick fix, especially compared to the last leak. If you’ve never used these clamps they are SUPER easy. Just unscrew them wide enough to pop over your leak and then screw them tightly until they are snug around the pipe. We have a video of it in this post that we linked to earlier. They’re not forever solutions, but the clamp above our kitchen/office area has held up fine for three years! 

Two leaks in a week is enough to make you weak! Ok I’ll stop that was lame. But two leaks in one post is enough to make you tired about reading about leaks, so we will end it here for now. In the next post we’ll go over how we actually patched the gaping 2ft x 2ft hole in our ceiling and why there’s a 2×4 attached to the ceiling – it was a tale of denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance.

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4

Hammer Time

So we thought we had a water hammer. Basically, a water hammer is when the sudden stop or start of water running through your pipes causes them to bang around. Every time we would quickly turn off the water at our bathroom sinks we heard this chukka chukka chukka sound that we couldn’t quite place. We checked up in the attic, but it didn’t seem like anything was moving, so we called our favorite plumber (aka my best friend after going through this situation) and he did some investigating and it turns out it wasn’t a water hammer after all, it was a loose piston behind our shower making all the racket!

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I couldn’t give you all the details on it because I don’t remember… but moral of the story is, even if it sounds like a water hammer don’t rule out other scenarios!

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Basically he removed our shower handle, replaced the little piston doo dad and popped the handle back on (all for free! This guy is the best!), but I realized later that I should probably caulk around it so that when guests come over we don’t have to worry about water leaking in.

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I talk a big game about my caulk skills after caulking the kitchen, but really Frog Tape is the true hero and I would be no where without him. Which led me to cutting about 100 little pieces of Frog Tape to go around our circular shower handle plate thingy.

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Of course, Mochi halped. Because she is a strange strange cat who likes to be in bathtubs as much as humanly (catly?) possible.

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Putting up all the little pieces of tape was a pain but it made caulking a breeze. I taped about 1/8-1/4 inch away from the edge to give me a nice just-thick-enough-but-not-too-thick line. We just bought one of those little squeeze tubes so that we didn’t have to bust out the caulk gun, which also made it easy. Then I just peeled it off and ta-da!

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Super easy, super fast, but also super important (because we don’t want water behind our tile!) caulk job. And I got to work with my favorite bathtub cat.

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2

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- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

…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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

Sweet success!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

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- evanandkatelyn.com

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!

Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!
How to swap a galvanized pipe for PEX piping evanandkatelyn.com
44

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

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)- evanandkatelyn.com

Clamp Like a Champ (DIY Plumbing)- evanandkatelyn.com 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 evanandkatelyn.com

3

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!- evanandkatelyn.com 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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!- evanandkatelyn.com

…and bleached the entire room.

Poopy Water Poopy Water Poopy Water!- evanandkatelyn.com

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!

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