26 January 2009

Pile on

You know how things seem to come in groups? Three cardiac arrest calls, a week of bad news, nothing seems to happen in isolation. I used to feel like a big part of that was perception, once you're down everything just seems worse. Last week cured me of that feeling. No matter how hard I tried to keep a positive attitude, a fix it and move on mentality, the hits kept coming. The following began last Tuesday...

Bathtub liner was feeling "squishy" for a week or two, decides to "pop" off the floor of the tub a night when it was below zero outside, breaking the caulk along the walls, leaving the tub not water-tight. Having only one bathroom, we continue using it, trying to minimize the amount of water behind the liner, while trying to determine the best solution. K leans toward the whole tub/shower remodel, I lean towards gluing the damn thing back down (fingers in my ears, "lalalalalalala - I can't hear you, so there is no problem"). I call the company that installed the liner in the hopes it is still under warranty, of course it is not - they know exactly how long their glue lasts.

Bathtub decides on it's own that it would like to be replaced. Water between the liner and the old tub builds up and begins leaking into the basement. Prior mold and rot to the wood in this area of the house (presumably from when the tub leaked leading to the liner installation) make this require an immediate fix.

K reports desktop computer not working right, nothing shows up on the monitor when you turn it on. "Lalalalalala - you're just doing something wrong, computer is fine." As we have other machines in the house, this one is temporarily ignorable. K has projects due for class which are started on the broken machine, but has enough time to finish elsewhere.

A search of local home improvement stores leads to the finding that they only carry white bathtubs in-stock and we don't really find tile we're happy with. Any sort of off-white tub (which would match or at least not clash with the toilet and sink) is "special order", requires a couple hundred extra bucks and a 7-10 day wait. A search of specialty bath places locates a "Linen"-colored tub, available the next day, for about the same "special order" price. We locate a tile place which claims to have everything in-stock in project quantities and are able to select tile and leave with backerboard, mortar, grout. Credit card heating up.

Removal of old liner, tub and tile commences. Liner is well-secured in many places with a rubbery epoxy which simply stretches as you pull it away from the wall, anyone doing this would be well advised to have a Rotozip or something similar with a plastic cutting bit, as that seemed to work well to get manageable pieces which could be pried off the walls. Old tub turns out to be robin egg blue, blech, and cast iron. If you don't know, cast iron is VERY, VERY heavy. This tub is upstairs in our split-level. The Internet recommends smashing a cast iron tub into smaller, easier to carry pieces for removal. 8 smashes with a heavy maul have lead to chipping the porcelain coating, but no breakage. K is not going to give in to a tub and continues smashing, finally we get a chunk to break and then the demolition takes off.

Demolition debris is loaded into the back of our pickup for recycling/disposal the next morning. We get down to the last piece of cast iron tub, it is about 1/4 of the tub and is the piece with the drain and overflow, weighs at least 100 lbs and is very awkward to carry, even with two of us. Up and over the side rail of the pickup, rounded side down. As soon as we let go, the unmistakable sound of glass breaking. Tub went through the back window of the pickup. Only broke one part of the three-part sliding rear window, but whole thing has to be replaced. NH is very cold this time of year, open windows are not workable. Credit card placed in snow bank to prevent melting plastic.

Carpentry repair goes reasonably well, new plumbing install goes reasonably well and it is time to set the new tub. Tub does not fit. Remove and/or break holes in drywall. Tub does not fit. Opening is 60", tub is 60". Can't slide it in from the side because of forced hot water heating pipe. Can't tip it in, gets stuck on studs. Begin shaving studs on interior wall. This old house has 2"x3" interior stud walls, so not too much available here to shave, other option is to remove that wall entirely and re-build after tub install. Wall is in MY closet and would require removing nearly every piece of clothing I own. Eventually get enough gap to tip in tub from shaving studs. Tub is level the direction of the support stringer. Tub is not level from side to side. Remove tub. Install some additional plywood on outside edge. Reinstall tub. Hear chorus of angelic singing as tub fits and is level. Check head for bumps or concussions, find none, clean eyes, tub still appears to be in place and level.

So here we sit, tub in, backerboard up for tile, waiting for mortar to dry. Tonight's adventure is rolling on the waterproofing membrane, then waiting again for dry time. Tomorrow is to lay out the tile pattern and all the necessary level reference lines and start to tile. K works tomorrow and I work tomorrow night, so limited work will be finished. Fingers crossed to finish tile Wednesday, wait for drying. K might be able to grout on Thursday, I'm out for a school interview. Maybe by Saturday, I can shower at home again.


Twenty Four At Heart said...

Wow! You've had your share of stress! The tub sounds like a complete nightmare. I really need to redo our bathrooms too, but I don't think I even want to KNOW what it would cost!

B said...

The tub does sound like a nightmare, especially the part about having to shave the studs to get the tub into the bathroom.

I can only imagine how much cursing was going on while someone was shaving the studs, although I'm not sure if it's coming from the person watching or the person doing.

Ellie said...

great story, nothing is ever easy!