Wednesday, November 28, 2012

those in glass showers shouldn't throw soap stones

Chicago Glass & Mirror installed shower glass, mirror, and 'light passage' glass today.

frosted glass between bath and hallway, to allow light in both directions

shower glass surround, i'll have another photo later with shower lights turned on

shower niche shelves.  The bottom of the tile is angled 5 deg for water drainage, so lowest shelf is just above

Saturday, November 24, 2012

sink valve install on Black Friday

tools and supplies needed

OK, I couldn't find any decent 'how to' for installing shutoff valve to copper pipe online, so I'm making my own here for others.  Most online how-to's do not have much detail or photos, or have more advertising than content!

Here are the tools needed:
- hand held torch. I used the 'Benz-o-matic' trigger start torch with MAPP gas for the 3000+ degree flame temp
- lead-free solder
- lead-free solder flux
- LED flashlight
- 1/2" 'sweat connection' to 3/8" compression valves (Brasscraft)
- Rigid pipe cutter
- Brasscraft mini pipe cutter (not shown in photo)
- Brasscraft pipe reamer
- 150 grit sandpaper
- two 5 gallon buckets (or smaller if you're feeling lucky)


water main with valves turned off
hot water heater cold feed shut off








Before cutting any pipe, you have to shutoff the water supply. Do NOT forget to turnoff the shutoff to the hot water heater.  When I cut pipe last time for the toilet, i had a small flood when my hot water heater started draining out, full force.  Luckily I was able to shut it off in time before all 70 gallons came out.

Also, all faucets above the level of the pipe must be opened to drain any water in the lines.  You could leave them closed, and hope the vacuum keeps the water in the pipe, but if your in the middle of work and suddenly someone tries to turn on the water, you're screwed!

rough plumbing.  1/2" copper hot and cold, 1 1/2" 'waste' PVC pipe
The plumber installed all the rough plumbing.  The 1/2" copper is the cold on the right, hot on the left.  The 1 1/2" PVC in the middle is *not* glued to the drain, it was only there temporarily as a guide for the drywaller, and to prevent anything from damaging the pipe opening.  We added the painters tape to prevent the sewer gases from escaping.  Normally, the gases are held in by water in the sink's p-trap.

Rigid pipe cutter, with tape mark 2" from wall
Before cutting the pipe, i put a piece of tape on the pipe 2" from the wall.  A marker would be better, but I couldn't find one.  You could cut the pipe much closer to the wall if your connection will be visible (pedestal sink).  The further from the wall, the less chance you have off setting the drywall on fire with the torch.

Brasscraft mini pipe cutter
When the water feed was too close to the drain pipe, I used the mini cutter to cut the pipe.

After a few turns, and you think the pipe is being close to cut open, put the bucket under the connection.  Make those last few turns quickly, and the pipe will come off with quite a bit of water, and the stub will fall into the bucket.  

drain water
Cut both hot and cold pipes, and give the water some time to drain.  It will come in small waves from different parts of the house.  After you think most of the water is drained, walk around the entire house looking for faucets you might have forgotten to open the first time around.  You could even flush the toilet to turn on the valve inside, but I found that's not necessary.  Don't allow anyone to flush the toilet during this work!
allowing pipes to drain completely

The soft copper only needs a couple of turns of the piper reamer on both outside and inside of the pipe.

Brasscraft pipe reamer

You can check the reamer did the job by slipping the valve onto the pipe.  If you feel anything catching, run your fingers along the pipe to check for any further 'deburring' (smoothing) needed.

When removing the valves from the boxes, they are fully closed.  Since the heat from the torch could melt the rubber o-ring, i open the valve so the o-ring is not touching the part of the valve that is heated up.  Just a precaution, maybe not needed.

o-ring inside valve
After using the sandpaper to remove the paint, drywall mud, and oxidation, I applied the solder flux to the portion of the pipe that will be covered by the valve.   Don't remove too much copper with the sandpaper!

applying solder flux
The solder will follow the flux, so remove the excess flux from the pipe.  You want the solder to flow into the valve/pipe connection.  Remove the excess flux with the valve on the pipe.Also, i would angle the valves about 5 degrees toward the center, since the faucet connects are between the pipes.

removing excess flux from pipe

You can find many youtubular videos that show someone soldering copper pipe.  I only heated the pipe and valve just enough to melt the solder.  I would apply the solder on all sides, including the bottom while moving the torch to the opposite side.  You want the solder to melt against the hot metal, not the torch flame.  You'll see the solder getting sucked into the valve connection due to the flux.

torch to left, *parallel* to wall

Photo below shows all 4 valves installed


All 4 valves
Here's a better look at the installed valves.


After the valves are in, its time to turn the water back on to test the connection.
Follow this order:
1) wait for the valves to cool off
2) close all the sink valves fully
3) turn on the cold and hot water supplies.  If you're not confident about your solder job, make sure someone else is watching the valves when you turn on the main water supply.  If there are any gross leaks, they can let you know immediately so you can turn off the main supply immediately
4) bleed the air out of the end of the pipe.  Open the sink valve just enough so water comes out and all the air is out of the pipe.  You'll hear a quick swoosh sound, and then close the valve again.  This all has to be done in a few seconds!
5) check for leaks


If there are no apparent leaks, you could be done!
'paper towel test'

Most vanity drains are 1 1/4", but PVC drain pipe is 1 1/2", so you need p-trap adapter.  I used PVC glue to attach to drain.
1 1/2" to 1 1/4" p-trap connector

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Coming out of the haze

Grout of the bathroom was finished yesterday.  It just needs some cleanup.  You have to clean the tile at least 3 times in the 48 hours after the grout has been set to clean off the haze.  Eric pointed out its best to let the grout joint setup for about 30 minutes before initial cleanup so the sponge doesn't lift the grout out the joint.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Reduced Tile Lippage

Tile is almost done in the master bath.  Eric has been using the Raimondi 'clips' (from Italy) to keep everything in place and tile lippage to a minimum.  I have some bright accent lighting in the shower, and I don't want to accent bad tile work!  According to everything I read about tile install, the bigger the tile, the more difficult it is to prevent lippage.  I think only the most skilled tile setters can avoid it without special tools.

West Master Bath Wall, with Raimondi clips

Oscar in master bedroom window, he's enjoying english garden

Friday, May 4, 2012

Test Bed (of flowers)

Matt (friend, coworker, tenant, nanny's husband) has enough energy to tackle some serious yardwork this spring.  He put in raised beds along the garage and fence.  The lumber used for the fence raised flower bed came from the home demolition.  Those are the center wall posts and beams from the basement!  2012 minus 1896 = 116 year old lumber.  Almost petrified.

Being the mechanical engineer he is, the construction of the framing is excellent.  Rebar was used to stake the 'railroad ties' to the ground, and each corner has blocking for additional reinforcement of the butt joint.

Matt adding soil to the flower bed

Garage veggie garden

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

roofing (contract) settled

After some back and forth with the roofer, I was able to get a credit for the roof board.  I also gave him some extra $$ for the new clay coping tiles for the parapet wall.  Everything was worked out in the end.  Lesson learned is to go through the contract line by line before the work starts so there's no confusion.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Almost white as snow

The TPO membrane roof was completed this past week.  Overall, its a 100% improvement over the old roof, and I hope it will last until our daughter gets through college (with some maintenance).

I paid close attention to the install method out of curiosity, since it seems like there are at least 3 choices out there.
1.  'fully-adhered' - the TPO membrane is glued to the substrate
2. 'mechanically-fastened' - the membrane is fastened to the roof with circular metal plates with screws through them (like huge washer)
3. 'RhinoBond system' - relatively new idea where an electro-magentic induction 'welder' heats up the metal fastener plate *through* the membrane, and the membrane sticks to the plate with the aid of a weighted magnet to help the weld set (magnet top - TPO middle - hot fastener bottom).  The advantage of this is you can put the fasteners anywhere under the TPO, use less fasteners, and you don't need to create a hole in the membrane.

I thought I was getting the glued on membrane, since the roof board was listed in the contract, and any videos or diagrams of TPO roofing showed a three layer system of
- (1) insulation and (2) roof board mechanically fasted to deck
- (3) TPO membrane glued to roof board

After the main TPO membrane was installed (in one day), I went to check it out.  It looked really great, since it was so flat and clean, and the major seams were really solid. But, I noticed the roof was squishy.  I wondered if there was any roof board under the TPO.  It didn't smell right that one whole layer of the roof system was missing.  I called Lakefront Roofing supply, and they said the roof board was $16/sheet, so this would be a significant cost savings to the installer (at least $600 in materials alone).  Regardless of which of the three install methods were used, the roof board might be considered integral to the TPO roofing system.

Johns Manville TPO diagram


After some discussion with the installer, he said the roof board listing in the contract was a 'typo', and the RhinoBond system was used to adhere the membrane.  That's neither here nor there.  JM website states the roof board (otherwise known as 'cover board') is optional in their RhinoPlate solution guide (RS-8680).

new TPO roof! needs a couple rain showers to clean off the shoe marks

round dirt marking above fastener

'Surface mounted counter flashing' around chimney, and clay coping tiles on parapet wall

3 pitch pans with correct flashing (unlike my previous hack job)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Up on the Roof, Down goes the old

Our 2nd floor tenants here mentioned the ceiling in the kitchen was showing some water damage again after the last big snowstorm. I figured I had already patched that area above the kitchen with lots of tar last year, but apparently to no avail.
I've know since I bought the building that the roof needed to be completely replaced, since much of it was rippled and many of the joints with the parapet walls were tearing.  I made the mistake of hiring some fly by night contractors to put a layer of paint-able rubber membrane on over 5 years ago, and I thought that would hold it for awhile, but the membrane already had started coming off in the same year.  At that same time, I did get some estimates for a 'modified bitumen roof' for about $10K.  Once of the estimators took a sample of my existing roof, and said there were 7 layers of roof, and what looked to be the original gravel roof!
So, obviously, this roof needed to be completely torn off.

I contacted a number roofing contractors, and decided on Cuevas Construction after receiving 6 different quotes.  Mr. Cuevas seemed the most knowledgeable and experienced for the best price.

The used axes to chop up the old roof, pile into large bags, and had a crane from the street move the bags into the dumpster.

A number of floor boards were rotted out from roof leaks

The worst damage was at the end of roof near the gutter.  I think water was pooling up here where the grade was not steep enough.





























I found this a good page to describe TPO roofing vs. the traditional modified bitumen.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Krazy Konnections

After a failed attempt to get the permit plumber to redo the tub valve install, I did it myself today.
Not pretty, my first attempt at joining copper pipe, but no leaks! I used a dry towel under the pipes to check for any dripping after 2 hours.  Thanks to Ed (again) for letting me borrow his MAPP torch.  *HOT*

I had to remove the valve parts completely, do a lot of cutting, and rejoining.  Since the bottom of the center was now too close to the sides, I had to use two 'street elbows' to take a detour into the Tee.

The blue cloth at the bottom didn't have a drop of water after a couple hours.  Both valves were completely open. 

Now the valve trim sits right on top of the tile, no gap (the original problem).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

tiling FINALLY underway

I cut the door jambs and casings using a 'jamb saw' to fit the tile under the jamb for a cleaner look.
Eric laid out the tiles along the tub platform as starting point without thinset for dry fit check.  The Bosch laser works great for lining them up across the room without having to draw line on the subsurface

This is the 'monolith' above the shower that Eric already tiled with the glass and stone mosaic.  The green  'paint' is Laticrete Hydro-ban.  Its a rubber like paint that prevents water seepage through joints and screw holes. 

Eric with fancy German construction pant setting up the threshold by cutting rug straight and sizing up Schluter edging piece.