06 January 2008

Home Renovation, cont'd.

We've been working. Slowly but surely it's coming around. We're about to move into the "noticable improvements" phase of our bathroom reconstruction. Up until now everything we've done has been hidden. Our kitchen wall is still down, no new plumbing is showing, the floor isn't even fully in, nothing that someone off the street would walk in and say, "Gee, you've been busy haven't you?" But we have been busy!
This picture has some whacked-out exposure levels, but I needed to tweak it so you could see the pipe we were dealing with. Amazingly enough, it is the only picture we have of that black thing. See it there at the back wall running most of length of the photo from top to bottom? And of course it has a 2x4 partially obscuring it. That black monstrosity (you really can't appreciate its size and girth with this photo) was a cast iron pipe that we needed to remove. I don't know the proper terminology but it's the "breather" pipe for our plumbing. The joints where one pipe is fitted to another were over 6.5" wide! The pipe itself was only 4" but it had huge joints. Left in place, the tub we ordered wouldn't fit.

Dug did some 'net research and found the tool needed for the job. A soil pipe breaker. Sounds menacing, doesn't it? It's actually the simple ratchet tool that Dug is holding in the picture. (Once again, sorry about the photo. Dug had ten minutes to get it back to the rental shop and I only had one shot. Hey, at least it is in focus!) Simple doesn't mean light, though. That baby was sooo heavy and guess who got the job of holding it? You guessed it, me! Dug had to thread it around the pipe, attach it, flip some levers and tighten it up before it could stay in place. I had to hold it level so it wouldn't bind. My arms were bent with my hands at my shoulders in the most stable, least energy-used position I could muster. Did I mention it was heavy? The cool thing was that, once in place, it only took about two pumps on the handle when we heard this loud crack. Dug stopped pumping and I went in for a closer look. Sure enough, there was a nice clean crack all the way around. I think the chain breaker was in use for all of ten minutes. It cost us about one dollar/minute and it was the best money we've spent so far. Our other options were using two sawzall blades to cut through the pipe, taking roughly fifteen minutes OR bashing the thing to pieces with a sledge hammer and spending about an hour cleaning up the mess, hoping nothing too big fell into the sewer pipes. (I must admit, the sledgehammer option sounded the most fun, but not the cleaning part.) As most renovation takes longer and is harder than you think it will be, it was nice to be surprised in the other direction.

If you need to get a cast iron pipe out of your way, get yourself a pipe breaker. You'll be glad you did.

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