Monday, January 9, 2012
Of copper and plumbing and unplanned renos
You remember how I told you that our toilet was leaking and dripping into the downstairs powder room?
Remember how we were in the midsts of a main bath makeover? Well, we figured out the leak and hubby fixed the leak.
Once he opened up the ceiling and we almost shed a tear because we had to destroy something we had just finished a year ago, we saw the obvious problem. It wasn't just the wax ring that had dried up, but rather the copper drain that had a split (see photo above). Our plumbing is 50+ years old, so things can start to go wrong.
We learned that because of the horizontal nature of that section, water rests there continuously. Water has acidity in it and cleaners add to that acidity. Over many years (in our case 50+) this sitting water can start to erode the copper. There might also have been a manufacturing problem, because looking at the pipe there is an obvious seam which by chance was facing down, so more chance of that happening. Today's plumbing is made of ABS and erosion like that is no longer an issue. Once that was figured out we needed to know how to fix this?
Well, last week we had 3 plumbers come in to look at this and hubby spoke to one on the phone. Two options were presented - cut out the affected section and the elbow and replace with ABS up to the upstairs toilet and then clamp to the existing copper before the T-junction (see right of above picture). This fix was quoted at 600 dollars. Option #2 - open the upstairs bathroom walls, the powder room wall along with the ceiling, maybe the basement wall and take out ALL the plumbing in that section and replace with ABS.This option was quoted at about 15 hundred dollars with us fixing all the damaged walls and ceiling. (Note: Our water supply plumbing etc. is still in good condition and the larger fix would only address the toilet plumbing)
After all these conversations and encouragement by one particular plumber, we decided on option 1. However, we didn't use any of the plumbers - hubby got instructions, went to Home Depot with the cut piece of plumbing, matched the clamp and ABS and did it himself. Plumber had confirmed that this was code and legal to do. I helped a little to line up the upstairs with the downstairs when we needed to cement the pieces together. It wasn't easy to manoeuvre in that tight space, to get the right pieces out and jiggled back in tightly.
Good news - it worked! No more leaks, it fits and we have our second toilet back! Yayyyy! We spent $46 at Home Depot and 2 x $40 for quotes - that's $126. We can recoup some of that money with the copper we pulled out of the ceiling - copper pays a lot at the scrap metal place.
It's obviously very frustrating when unplanned renos have to happen that destroy work done previously, it's just boring, ugly and frustrating stuff that needs to get done. We are glad though, that the upstairs bath makeover did not cause this leak, it was just incidental that it happened at the same time. An old house will have things go wrong and that's part of the maintenance cost - we were lucky that hubby was able to fix it himself. Now we'll leave the ceiling open for a little while and work on the finishing touches for the upstairs bath.
Photos 1&2: Bruno Doyle