Everyone’s making resolutions right now. While you’re busy sitting down making a list of goals, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually write some about your home. Start making a list of things that need to be repaired and areas where you could increase the efficiency and value of your home. Do a home reno resolution list.
Our daughter’s 1920s home in Toronto has in the basement a set of two cement laundry tubs that must be the originals. We would like to upgrade but the tubs are very heavy to deal with. Also, the connection to the drain looks to be incompatible with present-day connections. Could you suggest who might be willing to help with these old tubs? Thank you very much.
Well, William, those cement tubs were actually pretty standard in early 1900 homes; you saw them even up until ’50s and ’60s. They’re actually poured around a web of steel wire, which provides the strength to hold them up. So they are extremely heavy. The best way to remove them from a home — if you don’t have four strapping young men to carry it out for you — is to grab some safety glasses and a sledgehammer and take that thing apart, piece by piece.
As far as the plumbing connection goes, there’s a good chance you’ve got a one-inch galvanized steel or lead pipe as the drain. So you’ll have to disassemble that drain. My guess is, with the age of home, that it goes into a cast-iron stack, which you’ll definitely want a plumber to come look at. The old cast-iron stacks are actually sealed and put together with a lead filling. A lot of times, the plumber will have a snap cutter — which is a chain and carbide wheel assembly — that will cut that cast iron, allowing you to insert a new piece of ABS pipe and put a proper drain in place with a p-trap for the new sink.
Dear Bryan: I absolutely love your shows. My question: in one bathroom in my house, the previous owners seem to have installed the window upside down (the inside pane can be pushed up, rather than down). I think it looks strange. Is it something I can do myself (with help from my son, of course).
Teresa P., Guelph, Ont.
Thanks for watching, Teresa! From what you’ve mentioned, it sounds like you have a double-hung window. The inside pane can be pushed up to open the window which, as far as I know, is pretty standard for most double-hung windows. The reason the inside pane is on the bottom is for the outside pane to overlap with the top; so, when water runs down the window, it doesn’t get inside your home. Things always overlap top to bottom on those types of windows. If it’s a newer double-hung window it will have little buttons on either side of the top of the inside, which you can push, allowing you to flip the upper window inside to reach and clean. So, unless it’s a non-standard window, it sounds like it was installed properly. Rest easy.
Hello, Bryan. You are the man and we love your shows. Long story short: 1930s home — damp, leaky basement. I have recently had the concrete along the outside re-done, slanting away, to avoid water penetration. I have recently abandoned the weeping tiles, running the eaves away from my home. I have had the city inspect the sewer lines, and thankfully, no issues with broken pipes. But, when it rains, I still get a bit of water seepage from the one side of my home where the concrete was replaced. I am wondering: Is this a weeping tile issue? The basement is block-walled. I am convinced the concrete is tucked tightly against my home and caulked, so I am stumped about how water still seems to seep in.
Philip V., Windsor, Ont.
No Philip — you are the man. It’s great that you’ve redone the concrete along the side and that it’s slanting away from the house. But the problem there is that you’ve abandoned the weeping tiles that provide a space for any water that’s in the soil up against the foundation — there’s always hydrostatic pressure in the soil, and weeping tiles relieve that pressure and direct water into a sump pit or storm sewer.
Before you did the concrete, I would have recommended digging the foundation wall, waterproofing it and making sure the weeping tiles were operational. With a block wall foundation, you’d want to waterproof it and install a protective membrane and drainage barrier, keeping an airspace between that basement wrap and the foundation wall to relive the hydrostatic pressure.
You may have a big fix on your hands, but there are some options. You could find a foundation contractor who could have a look at it. If removing that concrete pad and doing the work from the outside absolutely isn’t an option, you could try doing interior weeping tiles or interior foundation wraps. But if you’ve got a finished basement, that’ll be quite expensive.
Bryan: I have a roof leak problem behind my large chimney that’s caused by an ice back-up every winter. The only solution seems to be snow removal on the roof. Some contractors tell me to use wires. Other alternatives are bitumen behind the chimney under the shingles or building a support behind the chimney. What do you recommend?
Pierre T., Scarborough
All right, Pierre — it sounds to me like there’s heat escaping from the attic somewhere in that area, which is melting that snow and backing up underneath the shingles and leaking into the roof. No. 1: I’d want to look around that chimney and see if it’s flashed properly and if the flashing is caulked. If that’s the case, I’d look underneath the shingles uphill from the chimney. The edge of any roof or any portion of a room coming up under something like a chimney should have a proper ice-and-water shield underneath it, be flashed properly and sealed. So basically, what you’re getting is an artificial ice dam.
The other thing I’d do is get inside the attic in the area where the chimney goes up and see why heat is getting to that area and melting the snow. Possibly there’s a lack of insulation in the attic, possibly there’s a bathroom fan that’s blowing warm air in there. There are a lot of possibilities. Having the shingles removed and doing the bitumen is something else you should definitely do. From that area, pull up all those shingles — or have a roofer do it—and waterproof that area properly with an ice- and-water shield.
When you suggest a support behind the chimney, what you may be talking about is a “cricket” that would direct water to either side of the chimney and prevent that area of standing snow or water.
Dear reno-god: I’m looking for advice on a long-standing project. In the middle of a divorce, I tried some therapeutic demolition on my second bathroom’s shower. It was highly therapeutic and cost me less than a shrink. However, four years later, I stare at the fully waterproofed membrane from Lowe’s, I look at the beautiful marble tile minus the grout from Home Depot and I stare at my old glass shower stall from Rona. My shower is a Frankenstein creation. I need your recommendations for the next steps. The divorce is done. Now I‘d like to move forward, finish my shower, reclaim my bathroom and put all the past behind me.
Michael K., Etobicoke
I’m only a demi-god, Michael . . . and I agree: a little demolition is good for the soul. It’s very therapeutic. I’m glad to hear that it helped you and you’re looking to put everything back together now.What I’d recommend here from what you’ve said is that you get some grout —get ’er done and grout those tiles! Leave the grout set up for a few days and then seal the grout — or not, depending on what type of grout you use. Head down to Lowe’s and look in the plumbing section for either a shower-door kit (a DIY installation and adjustable to fit your opening) or talk to the employees about manufacturing a custom glass door. Pick yourself up and move on!