More Plumbing

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May 31, 2016 by Sarah

I mentioned in the last post how Adrian and I have been using the first floor bath solely for the past several months while the upstairs renovations continue. Unfortunately, it had its own issues which required even more plumbing updates.

main bathroom before

1st floor bath the day we moved in, Oct 2013.

bathroom progress

1st floor bath after phase 1 of renovation.

The cold water at the sink stopped working about 6 or 7 months ago. Somewhere along the way someone replaced the supply lines in the basement with copper pipe which is good, however, the goodness stopped there. They did not replace the galvanized pipe in the walls and up to the sink. HAND-PALM.

We didn’t have any issues for the first couple years in the house, and we even replaced the sink awhile back as part of a “phase 1” mini-reno. Sadly, the galvanized pipe has since deteriorated and rusted to the size of a pin hole on the inside so it no longer carried water to the sink. You had to wash your hands real quick at our house or risk being horribly scalded (that actually never happened as we only heat our water to 120 degrees for safety and energy-saving purposes).

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the tub/shower drain is actually the worst ever.

drum trap under tub

This is a drum trap. A drum trap molded out of lead.

There is absolutely no sensible reason why there should be a drum trap here.  1) it is a cesspool and I wouldn’t dare take a bath in there for fear of contracting an undesirable infection 2) it clogs very easily, especially easy for us since I have very long hair. We do have a strainer over the drain, but even with that it is just a matter of time before it has to be cleaned out which is just not a happy undertaking.

old lead pipe plumbing lead pipe repair patch

The drain pipe itself is made of lead. This was standard in old homes but it is brittle and doesn’t hold up forever–hence the very cheap time-buying repairs seen here. Yikes.

The repairs did not do much in the way of improving the slope of the drain–I will just tell you now that it was not right which means water wasn’t draining from the tub properly.

lead pipe connection

Furthermore, the tub did not tie into the plumbing vent per code, thus compounding the poor draining issue. oye.

This really just needed to be replaced with something more suitable and completely up to code. Adrian and I have done some minor plumbing in the past but we just didn’t feel comfortable tackling this type of work–especially with only one functioning bathroom in the house. It was a no brainer to hire this work out.


The plumber was over for a day and a half taking care of this for us. Two holes on the bedroom walls later, we have fresh plumbing!

Drum trap replacement

Hoorah for the plumbing, not hoorah for the wall patching.

Plumbing supply line replacement

Plumbing access

Many may take it for granted, but it is a complete joy to have cold water at our sink and the ability to take a proper bath again. 🙂

Now that our walls look like swiss cheese we are really wanting to completely redo this bathroom….new walls, new toilet, new tub/shower, tile, etc.  We will keep the original tile floor and the new pedestal sink we put in, but not much more. Even Adrian agreed 😉

We have plenty of time to debate since we wont tackle this until the upstairs bathroom is complete (months?? years?? ha), but we aren’t quite sure if we should do just a shower stall or if we should put a new tub + tile surround in.

kohler archer shower base

Kohler Shower base, Archer.

Kohler shower base with built-in shower seat, Memoirs.

Kohler shower base with built-in shower seat, Memoirs.


Kohler Tub, Archer

Kohler Tub, Archer

We will not really need another tub in the house since we will have one upstairs. This will mainly but used for a guest bath, and I cannot decide whether or not guests would like to have a bath tub. We have some grand plans to potentially open up the house for Air BnB (starting summer 2017?) in the future, and I feel like people might want a tub. Maybe I am over thinking it and a shower would be just fine?  I guess right now I don’t feel strongly one way or the other.

On the second floor bath front, the contractors finished pouring the floor in the main part of the bathroom.

Self-leveling compound bathroom floor


The many layers of the custom shower pan are also complete including an anti-fracture layer with Hydroban to make sure the door tile doesn’t crack. This step was necessary for us given the constraints of the space. The floor here was originally extremely out of level and the shower space was actually quite a bit higher than the rest of the bath. We needed a zero-threshold shower entrance (level with the rest of the room) so this was the solution.

Hydroban antifracture membrane

Now because I am a glutton for punishment I decided that I must have a pocket door entrance to the bathroom. Yes, I am deciding this after the wall is already framed, and yes, after the shower pan is poured. I don’t care, I can’t go on living without a pocket door here.

It was brought up at one point but abandoned early on since we didn’t think it would work with the electrical and plumbing. After many layout changes it seems as if it can work after all.

So this is on its way:

Johnson hardware pocket door kit

Thank goodness for 2×6 walls that can accommodate both electrical and a pocket door.

We plan to take our time and be extra careful around the shower pan and the finished wall on the other side so hopefully that all goes smoothly.

We are going to use the original door, however, we will replace the knob with pocket door hardware. I am currently sourcing the perfect set.

Pocket door hardware

This beauty is from Rejuvenation. Somehow it is $250. I guess they jump up in price quite a bit if you need one that has the ability to lock. Rats.

So that’s what’s up.  Our neighborhood garage sale is coming up this weekend so hopefully we will make enough to cover at least half of the expense of that door. Check our FB page this week for info and pics of some of the items we are selling. There are 50 sales in the area so it should be a good time.


Comment or I'll hate you forever.

Sarah&Adrian @ StPaulHaus

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