The Cool House: plumbing
Showing posts with label plumbing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plumbing. Show all posts

Friday, June 18, 2010


Still no hardwood flooring in sight so work continues on the plumbing in the kitchen and the electrics in the den. The Sub Zero is churning out blocks of ice for the Gin & Tonics, the rough plumbing for the sink and dishwasher is done - and the tap outside the kitchen has been reconnected.
Yesterday I flew to Ikea to pick up the deco strip for the light rail and the drawer fronts to replace the doors on the cooktop cabinet. Unfortunately somewhere between the phone call telling me my order was in and me arriving there they had been misplaced. Five guys, two gals and a person on the end of a telephone tried for 90 minutes to make them reappear. One gal suggested I reorder and they offered to UPS them to me in "t'weeks"! I had an itsy-bitsy snarky Brit hissy fit whereupon a certain Kevin waded in and located them in four minutes flat. YAY DUDE! And in less than one hour after that the pieces were installed in the kitchen and the last handles (nos 50 & 51*) were screwed into place. Now we just waiting on the Caesarstone and we can start to cook again.
*I needed 49 handles but ordered 51 "just in case". This proved fortuitous when I decide I needed double handles on the 36" cooktop cabinet drawers. I also over-ordered cover panels and we ended up using all of them, including the ones I was going to make into a backsplash. Good thing I fell in love with those tiles...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Our cup runneth over

It's been an exhausting couple of months weeks days. We just dropped our last houseguest off at JFK International and right about now I could use a long, cold Gin & Tonic in a deep, warm bath to start a relaxing evening. Unfortunately, while I am certain to get the former, the latter will have to wait another day as we awoke this morning to the sound of water splashing over the basement floor. Normally we have a dry basement; the plumber pulled out the leaky copper pipes down there and installed new pex and pvc as part of the bathroom/laundry renovation and we had the water heater replaced eighteen months ago. That left only one other possibility: the cesspool had filled with water after the torrential downpours of the last week or two (several neighbors are still pumping groundwater from their basements). Running down to the cellar we discovered grey water coming up from the plug hole in the sink, not the usual way you expect the plumbing to work. After we sent two other houseguests home to shower we called the guy with the pumping equipment and an hour later - and a few hundred dollars poorer - we were pronounced "good" and instructed to go easy on the water use for twenty-four hours... Oh, the joys of home ownership!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plumbing Porn

Wallpaper, fabric, decor accessories are all delightful - great at diverting me from real work - but is there anything more sexy than rough plumbing in a gutted master bath? No, there is not... except maybe the finished bath!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kohler Save Water America

Do you know how many gallons of water you use every time you flush the toilet? Take the quick quiz on the Kohler website and they will donate $1 in water-saving products to Habitat for Humanity for every household that enters. Save water, build America.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It'll be a selling point

Don't you just love those unexpected roadblocks life throws you? Especially when they are accompanied by 50 gallons of hot water cascading over the basement floor? And your boiler guy is upstate in a cellphone dead zone?
It all happened a couple of days ago when I went retrieve the dogs leashes from behind the basement door and I was met by a wave of humid air (luckily it wasn't a wave of hot water!) and a groaning noise. This isn't the first time that it had happened but last time it was only the relief valve that failed. This time we weren't so lucky. I could see the water pouring out of the bottom of the tank and as I bent down to turn off the heater I could see rust, too. Never a good sign, rust! As I couldn't shift the shut-off cold water valve I had to turn off the water at the mains and wait for The Guy to work his WD40 magic when he got home. Then we began the wait for the oil burner guy to get back on the Island. The short version of the story is we have had no hot water for 48 hours, which means in addition to not so happy humans, the dishes aren't getting very clean either.
Still, as I type, a new water heater is being installed and, looking on the bright side, should we have to sell the house any time in the near future, we can point out our brand spanking new tank to prospective buyers.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Drip, drip

It's almost Spring and we are thawing out here. I can hear the drip, drip, drip of melting ice. But wait. Isn't that dripping sound awfully clear? Much closer than I'd imagine. Drip, dRIP, DRIP. Getting warmer now. There it is, under the kitchen sink. The hot water hose to the spray faucet is dripping.
I think we've found the answer to what's been puzzling us for many, many months.
Of course, now I have to fix it.............

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cold bath time

I decided to take a long, hot bubble bath this morning. Not something I'd normally do being an in and out refreshing wake-up shower sort of girl but you know, once in a while a relaxing soak can be good.
So I filled the tub with lots of bubbles and plenty of water and got in. And out again pretty quick. No hot water. That's funny because the oil burner guy came yesterday and gave both the heating and hot water boilers a thorough cleaning. Unless........
Yep, a quick trip to the boiler in the basement confirmed it. When he'd finished he FORGOT TO SWITCH IT BACK ON. I thought it was quiet last night.
So there was enough hot water in the tank for Steven's shower, a load of washing, several hand washes but not enough to fill the bath. Must remember for future, take bath before Steven gets in shower.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bathroom Renovations Part Three

De-laminated Vanity Door
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
I took my eye off the downstairs bathroom and this is what happened. It got jealous. I guess everyone using the one bath while the others are being renovated has taken its toll on it.
It seems that faucet that we didn't think was leaking too badly back on Thanksgiving weekend was, in fact, silently dripping hot water onto the vanity door. The plywood has swelled up beautifully to the point I could no longer miss it when I walked in the door. The fact that I was also standing in a pool of water was a bit of a hint.
I turned off the hot water under the sink but the damage has been done. Tony the custom vanity guy is coming to measure for the countertop on the girls' bath vanity next week so I guess I'll ask him to make another floating vanity for this bath while he's about it. After all we already have the ceramic vessel sink and pillar faucet we decided not to use upstairs so the cost won't be as great as it might be.
The dilemma is whether I can do a partial update in this room. I love the original floor and the wall tiles are sand coloured hexagons in great shape. I think if we get rid of the fawn beige toilet and replace it with a white one and pick the right countertop we could get away with it. It would have a more beachy feel, which, as this is the bath people use when they come in from the beach or the pool, would be appropriate.
We'll see.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bathroom Fixtures

Bathroom Fixtures
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
They are in, they function and they shine.
The Toto Nexus maple seat is so warm and it's a soft close model so no-one can slam the seat down. Hurrah.
The vessel sink doesn't splash because it's huge and because the faucet has a water restrainer in it. It delivers just enough water in a steady stream to wash hands or face or clean your teeth. And what about that Tenso faucet? Form and function in one.
The Grohe Freehander shower kicks ass. So much water, sparkly, clean water that you definitely need shower doors. The shower door guys measured today and promise that in another two to three weeks I can try it out. I can't wait.
Oh and the best. As the plumbers were leaving they called me and told me they had totally changed their minds about the shower. It isn't a fancy-pants piece of chichiness. It is a beautifully designed triumph of engineering and they'd be happy to put one in their own bathrooms! This is true plumber praise.

Plumbing the fixtures

The plumber is here now, and for once he was thrilled by the tiles and vanity and the vessel sink. He thought the guys who cut the countertops did a perfect job, the Ronbow vessel sink is the best quality he's installed. He only ruined it by saying "Where's the fancy shower head you want me to install?". Oh well, I really shouldn't be seeking plumber-validation anyway.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bathroom Tile

Boys' bath tile
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
Real progress was made yesterday. The tiler was concerned it wasn't going fast enough, but he had to straighten the wall before he started and work out a pattern for the window to solve the pesky problem of possible future water leaks form the shower. So I was really happy he got a whole wall done.
I was going for a totally clean look with the glossy 12" tiles but I actually like this. The wall behind the vanity and toilet will be tiled with the mosaic and the other walls with the large field tile. It just adds another accent. I love it when we have a happy solution to a problem. I love it more when we can discuss it rationally and come to an agreement that suits us both.
I finally found out why the plumber installed a generic fill valve in the new Toto toilet rather than Toto's patented G-max system. He says the G-max is an inferior copy of this $10 Korky fill valve and he'll install the Toto one in the next toilet if I want because he'll be happy to get a call to repair it when it breaks down in two years' time.
If he'd told me that at the time, I could have decided whether to try it or trust him but he didn't, nor did he tell me he was ignoring my precise instruction to install the shower base as we'd discussed because he knew better. Working with the plumber is stressful because he doesn't communicate and he complains about everything from the choice of fixtures to the placement of the pipes. Mostly he complains that I'm European and haven't chosen Kohler or American Standard fixtures. Hmm, I'm not about to apologise for either the land of my birth or my taste. But at least he doesn't make fun of my accent like one guy we had (very temporarily) working for us.
Enough rant, I love my tiles, I can't wait for it to be finished so I can see the total effect.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Freakin' plumber

is making Jane freak out. This morning I went to take out the trash and I noticed that the Toto G-max fill valve was still in the Toto toilet box. Now that was surprising because the toilet had been flushed three times by the plumber before he left. I ran inside and opened up the tank and there was an ordinary Fieldmaster fill valve inside. Why? Why would anyone take a piece of equipment specifically designed to work with the toilet and replace it with some generic thing?
I rang Toto to see what would happen if we left the Fieldmaster in there and they said it would affect the fill rate and eventually the flow of the toilet. Great. I ordered the Toto is because the G-max has a great reputation and because all the plumbers like them. This plumber told me it was a "good" toilet. So once again why? I'll be asking him to explain and then install it as it was meant to be installed, but only when I've calmed down.

Monday, March 05, 2007

More gems from the plumber

One thing the plumber asks that is guaranteed to make modernemama freak out:
"Did you measure this?"
The answer was: I measured it; my husband measured it; two contractors measured it and YOUR DAD measured it.
"Well, I'd better check, it looks big.....hey, what d'you know, it just fits"
Good, now if I could just remember how to breathe again.

Things you are relieved to hear your plumber say:
1) "There's nothing difficult about this, it's just different"
2) "The base went in"
3) "Let's break for lunch"

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Do all plumbers moan?

new grohe shower valve
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
Five Things You Don't Want To Hear Your Plumber Say

1) I've never seen one of those before
2) I've never installed one of those before
3) I don't know how we are gonna install that
4) That's too heavy for the wall
5) That drain won't fit

I heard all of those on Friday afternoon. The offending items were: 1,4 the Grohe Freehander and 2,3,5 the mti-whirlpool shower base, both of which had been approved by the plumber's father (also our plumber).
They are coming back on Monday morning to install the toilet in the other bathroom and put in the shower base in this bath. I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

No plumbing fixtures

No plumbing fixtures
Originally uploaded by modernemama.
I had to suck it up and call the plumber to remove the valves so we could turn off the water. While he was here he took out the toilet and hauled it away and put the vanity and very heavy countertop out for the garbage. The garbeage men arrived ten minutes later and that's the last we'll see of that baby. Will have to tip them big time on Friday as they have been dealing with a lot of demo trash.
The plumber asked if he was coming back to replace the waste lines with PVC. It hadn't occurred to me but as we don't know what sort ot mess they could be inside it makes sense to do it when the wallboard is out. He also said they could replace the supply lines. With PEX? I asked. No, with copper he replied, it's been tested for years. So you take out the copper pipes and solder more copper in there. Hmm.
The he asked what we were doing about the shower base. Mud, I said. Oh, lead pan? I do that.
What? They still use lead and copper in NY? I just freaked at the thought of more of these heavy metals being brought into my house. The explanation that they've been in use for years doesn't cut it for me either. If I followed that logic I'd be cooking over an open fire lit by rubbing two sticks together.
It is the C21, right? Even in NY?

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's a leak, not a drip

The plumber had to come back to fix the shower that was still dripping - it worked fine till I tried to use it! Luckily it was, as I suspected, just a piece of dirt that was stopping the valve from shutting off and I don't know who was happier about that, me or the plumber.
I thought we were done with leaks until I went to wash my hands on Saturday. I couldn't believe my eyes. Water was coming out from the base of the hot faucet. I'd seen water there before but thought we were just splashy washers and wiped it up. It was the first time I'd witnessed this phenomenon. Steven decided that it was just a washer job and he'd fix it while I went out. No big deal.
When I got back several hours later he was very proud that he'd changed the O-ring and all was working again. "I couldn't believe how easy it was" he said, so I trotted off to test drive the tap. I turned it on and the water seeped from the base again, maybe not as fast as before but there was definitely a flow and not just from the spout. Even better, when I turned on the cold tap water flowed from the base of the hot faucet. Like magic.
Steven was not impressed. He took it to bits again and made sure everything was tight but that didn't fix it. By this time the local hardware store was shut, so armed with the Kohler valve we set off for Home Depot. Unfortunately Hopelessly Depressing did not have the correct part for the 40 year old tap so we looked at a new unit. Twenty 8" faucets and not one we liked. What were the odds? We left empty-handed. It's not leaking badly and we'll be renovating that bathroom eventually so we might as well wait and get something we like.
At this moment I'd just like one bathroom that doesn't leak, drip, where the toilet doesn't continually fill or the shower pan isn't cracked. Just one.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

No more drips

At last the plumbing saga is over. Twenty-nine months after we moved; four plumbers, two contractors and two frustrated homeowners later we have a new valve installed on the shower in the downstairs bathroom. In fact we have what Greg, the latest and greatest plumber, swears is the last valve of this type on Long Island. As the alternative to finding and fitting this part (an easy 40 minute job) was to
a) remove the tiles to get at the pipe, cut it and fix a new type of valve, or
b) remove the bookcase we had built in the old pantry, cut a whole in the drywall, cut out the old pipe, fit a new valve, patch, spackle and paint the drywall
you can imagine how happy I was. I wouldn't have got so frustrated about the constantly dripping shower had I not had to use this bathroom every day while we wait to start work on the other two leaky bathrooms. Now I can sit in my study without hearing the drip, drip, drip, knowing I should be doing something about solving the problem.
And now we have a plumber we are happy with we can start on the master bathroom renovation, the boys' bathroom remodel and the laundry room redo.