Decision Made

A TV will go above the fireplace.  I was concerned that building out the wall to accommodate running electric and communication lines into the center of the wall would take up too much space on the mantel.  I also was not sure in this old house, if a TV over the mantel was appropriate.  It was now or never to make up mind, since we were in the midst of the electrical rough-in, so I decided to go for it.

My father had me purchase 12, 2×2 beams and in less than an hour we had the fireplace strapped and wires pulled for the electrical outlets.  We even added support boards for the future TV mount.  I will only loose 2″ of the 12″ mantel.  Once covered in drywall it won’t be noticed.

Now the question is will my budget allow for a new TV.

Bye Bye Pee Pot

My DIY pallet throne, five gallon bucket with snap on toilet seat, and Double Doodie bags have served me well since I purchased the house in October 2017.  We had a strict rule that unless it was a dire emergency that would not allow you to reach a public restroom, this set up was for #1 business ONLY.  With the passing of my plumbing rough-20171009_114454in inspection it was time for an upgrade. 20170727_145905My plumbing inspector told me it was OK to reinstall the toilet in the basement.  When I bought the house there was just a hole in the floor surrounded by two partition walls made out of bead board.  That bead board will become my new master suite headboard, so for now I just have a toilet sitting in open space.

I ran the PEX line all by myself since my dad was back in Florida.  My goal was to have it installed before he returned, but I had my own business travel so he got to help with the toilet hookup.  As I said previously PEX pipe is a piece of cake to run and install.  The inspector suggested that I splice into one of my existing cold water lines, but I still had 4 empty slots on my manifold, so I gave this toilet a dedicated line.

Cement SinkWe will still need to rely on hand sanitizer until I can get my vintage cement sink connected to the drain line.  I’m having trouble finding the right fittings for the drain and the metal stand supporting it needs to be replaced.  I’m hopeful my cousin Cameron, who is in welding school, will be able to hook me up.

Next up is Do My Own Pest Control.  I plan on ordering something to spray in every cavity of that basement to rid the space of all the creepy 8 leg crawlers.  Their web homes are no longer welcomed.

$30.30 Well Spent

After 3 failed attempts to pass my plumbing rough-in inspection I decided to take advantage of a “consultation” visit by The Inspection Bureau (IBI) Cincinnati.  They perform all of the electrical inspections and plan review for the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  As my father and I near the end of wiring my home I wanted to increase my chances of passing the electrical rough-in on the first try, so taking advantage of their consultation service seemed like the smart thing to do.

CJ (who signed my wall) walked through each room.  We were only missing 4 required outlets.  In my junction box in the basement we had removed a knock out that was next to a wood joist.  We will need to plug that so the wood would not be exposed to the wires.  Also I had gotten the wrong ceiling fan boxes (can’t wait to take them back to Home Depot to let them know what they are selling as ceiling fan boxes don’t meet code). He let us know that we had actually exceeded the requirements in some areas where we ran 12 gauge wires instead of 14.  He was VERY complimentary of the work that had been done, much to the delight of my father who is the mastermind behind everything that has been done since I fired the 2nd electrician.

My father returned to Cincinnati on Friday and we spent all day Saturday and Sunday pulling wire.  Since we went straight from winter to summer the attic space, my master suite, has been stifling hot.  Almost unbearable and unfortunately that space needed the most wires pulled.  I know I’ve lost another 5 lbs, dripping sweat (yes Julie Hill, dripping sweat) down my back, chest, chin like a water faucet.  Pulling wires through the ceiling has been grueling.  My arms and back burn and ache at levels that made the demolition work seem like child’s play.

20180521_193307While pulling the wires needed to run the exhaust fan in the water closet I ran across a new message that I had not seen from my Bless My Home gathering.  Thanks to whomever added this message.  It was the exact boost I needed to get through another difficult day.


Fingers crossed we’ll be ready for the real inspection on Friday!

If At First You Don’t Succeed….Try, Try, Try, Try, Again!

The plumbing rough-in tested my resolve.  It almost broke me.  It made me doubt my decision to purchase the house, my ability to restore the house.  It caused for a negative working environment between me and father.  BUT today, six weeks after we started I received my plumbing rough-in approval!!!!  For as easy as it was to run the PEX, running the PVC for the vents, waste, and drains was the polar opposite.  Never again will I try to install PVC…..and I mean that.

It took four visits by my City Inspector, Tom Huddleston to get that sticker.  The first visit was a gut punch.  We thought we had a darn good route ironed out for everything, NOT. He went through and pointed out how we had almost every vent pipe located on the wrong side of a drain pipe, which means we weren’t properly venting the pipes and in some cases were allowing sewer gases to still enter the house.  That reality meant we had to cut out about 1/3rd of the pipes.  He also pointed out some things that I should correct to make the final install of fixtures easier, for that I was grateful.  For instance I ran the pipe for kitchen sink too high (I had two existing notches, I chose the top-notch to run pipe, instead of bottom), which would make it hard to install the farmhouse sink.

Me made all the corrections and scheduled visit number two.  He had pointed out to us that we had configured the drains on the first floor tub wrong during the first inspection.  Clearly we didn’t understand the correction as we managed to install new pipes, what looked to me, in the same way they were that was wrong.  This was the beginning of the erosion of working with my father. Far be it for me to question anything.  That resulted in the removal of another $40 in PVC.  The second shot at doing what we were told proved beneficial, as after sending Mr. Huddleston pictures of the reconfigured tub pipes we were ready for another inspection.

Visit number three was the water test.  With all corrections made, it was time to see if our fittings were glued and sealed correctly.  Mr. Huddleston took my sawzall, cut a pipe in the master bathroom and we took a hose connected to the washer hookup and began to fill the line.  My heart was racing.  Optimism soon faded as I started walking around the house only to see drips from several areas, one so bad that we half filled a bucket before we pulled the plug-in the clean out valve.  We had 5 leaks.  Armed with the process for testing, my father and I began cutting out the bad areas and making repairs. We went from clear cleaner, to purple so we could clearly see where we were working.  We did a second water test.  6 new leaks.  L is for “Leaks” in the pictures.

At this point it was time for my father to return to Florida for a previously scheduled appointment and I decided it was time to call in a professional plumber.  I’ve developed a friendship with the staff of Leons Supply,  plumbing supply store located less than a mile from my house, due to the multiple trips per day I was making to their store, so I asked one of their staff, Hugh, for a referral.  He gave me the name of Andre with Tip Top Plumbing.

I called several plumbers, but he was the only to return my call and be available the next day.  It took my father and I eight hours to fix the first five leaks.  Andre and his brother fixed six in two.  We did water test number three.  $420 investment, no leaks or so I thought.  I decided to leave the water in the line, so I didn’t have to fill it again for Mr. Huddleston.  About 30 minutes after they left as I was entering the bathroom to finish the strapping project when plop on my forehead a drop of water.  Another new leak.

I called Andre, who was already at another job, and he said he’d return at 8am the next day to make the repair in time enough for me to meet the call-in window to get on that day’s inspection schedule.  Of course the location of this leak proved a little more difficult to access, but as promised the repair was made in time.  I have a new plumber.  Andre was awesome to work with.

Water test and inspection visit number four proved to be magic as I was awarded my blue APPROVED sticker.   He also added a message to my walls, fittingly next one that had to be cut out to make room for a reworked pipe.  Mr. Huddleston is a 30-year career plumber and he shared that if he had been hired to do the job he would charge $7200.  That was in the middle of the bids I got.  The only sense of vindication I have is that a spent less than my lowest bid.  HOWEVER, I lost valuable time on this project and I’m a firm believer that time is money.  My early June move-in will not happen.  I can only hope we can make up some time and I can hit early July.

My Plumbing Rough-in is a Home-run

Literally.  Since the house had been ransacked and stripped of most metals I knew I did not want to run copper lines, so I went with PEX pipes.  From what I was told I had two options for installing PEX, Trunk-and-branch or Home-run manifold.  I selected the Home-run.  Here is a great definition I found of both systems:

Trunk-and-branch systems are easy, but waste a lot of water.  Traditional systems consist of large-diameter (usually 3/4 in.) trunk lines to distribute water throughout a house. Smaller branch lines (1/2 in. and 3/8 in.) tee off to feed individual fixtures. Trunk-and-branch systems have several disadvantages, notably a large number of fittings, which are costlier, slower to install, and more likely to leak than a single run of pipe. Also, a lot of water goes down the drain before hot water reaches the faucet.

Home-run manifold systems use the least hot water and the most pipe.  A large-diameter (3/4 in.) main water line feeds the manifold; smaller lines run from the manifold to each fixture. Any fixture in the house can be shut off at the manifold. And because home-run systems don’t rely on a large pipe for distribution, you save both water and energy. Simply put, you don’t have to leave the faucet running as long before hot water reaches the sink. This design flexibility has a cost, however. Because a dedicated line is going to each fixture, you use a lot of PEX and drill a lot of holes.

Using a lot of PEX is an understatement.  With my father taking the lead I spent most of my time running to get more supplies.  Between the blue (cold), red (hot), and white (neutral) we probably ran about 800 feet of PEX pipe throughout the house.  If we weren’t running out of pipe, then we were running out of crimp clamps, elbows, tees, or couplers.  Fortunately we did not have to drill a lot of holes as we were able to follow the air ducts installed by Baker, Bauer, and Fish, my HVAC company or use existing holes left once all the knob and tub had been pulled.

The only negative experience in the process was the discovery that I had gotten the wrong manifold.  I ordered all my initial supplies from Keidel Plumbing, so they could be delivered to the house.  I requested a 3/4″ inlet, by 1/2″ outlet 24 trunk manifold.  20180322_174552After determining all the runs and getting the manifold anchored to wall and the branch circuits connected we discovered I had gotten a 1″ outlet.  No worries, I returned the 3/4″ pipe and got 1″.  Unfortunately that measurement was the inside diameter, so what I actually needed to make the pipe work was 1.25″,  That’s when things got bad.  No one in Cincinnati carries that size PEX.  I was going to be forced to special order 300′ of the pipe; I needed less than a 100.

I was sent after a reducer coupling.  Keidel had no clue what I was talking about and even went as far to tell me my plumber (that be me) didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about.  I turned to the manufacture, NIBCO.  They knew exactly what I was asking for, but they don’t sell direct to individuals.  I got Keidel on a conference call and they stressed that NIBCO only state the minimum order not the price.  Minimum order was 10, I needed 2.  They were willing to order the part, but I would have to buy all 10.  At that point I decided to return the manifold.

In taking the system off the wall and putting it back in the box we discovered the box was labeled for what I ordered, but the wrong manifold was inside.  Keidel didn’t even offer an apology, they passed the blame onto NIBCO warehouse for mis-packaging.  That part was a special order that took a week to get in.  Given the error clearly was not mine the only thing they offered was to not charge me a restocking fee for the return.  I called their competitor, Ferguson Supply, explained the situation and they contacted NIBCO and had the part overnighted.  For that great customer service I’ve decided to get my ceiling fans from Ferguson instead of Keidel.  We only lost two days during which time we focused on the PVC pipe (drains and vents) install.

For as easy as the PEX install was, running the PVC has been the polar opposite.  During my first plumbing rough-in inspection my inspector only flagged my use of metal straps to hold the PEX runs, that I had not put separation between the red and blue lines, and that I did not have insulation on at least the hot pipes.  Easy fixes.  The PVC errors and fixes not so much.