This Virus

The Line at Starbucks. Notice the pedestrians.

In the good old days, before the Covid-19 virus took over our lives, I would not give a second thought to jumping in my truck to go to whatever store that the thought had crossed my mind. Nowadays, things are just a little different. Apart from the fact that not all stores are open due to their inability to enforce social distancing because of the nature of what they sell or offer, hairdressers and massage parlors come to mind, the State Governors deemed that the only businesses that should be open are those with absolute necessities like food and hardware stores and several others. In my part of the country, that is HEB for food and Home Depot or Lowe’s for hardware. There are many others but those are the biggest and the ones that I frequent occasionally.

Lowe’s at Brodie Lane, Texas

Both of these stores have gone to extreme lengths to enforce social distancing by limiting the number of people allowed in the store at a time, placing markings on the floor at the checkout registrar and providing hand wipes and sanitizing the food carts. They have tried to make it safer for their employees by installing perspex screens between the check out and the customer and have a permanent cleaning staff who walk around all day doing nothing but wiping things down. Even so, I am very grateful that they are willing to put their lives on the line to keep the stores open. They may have other motives and I am sure they do and probably do not consider themselves to be heroes but to me and many others, they are. I realize that they are not driven out of a sense of fulfillment but something more practical like putting bread on their own table but it could come at a cost.

The reason I am on this diatribe and reverting back to my opening sentence is to understand my reluctance to go out to any of these stores. I used to visit HEB 2-3 times a week even if I only wanted a couple of items. Same with Home Depot and Lowe’s. Jump in the truck, take a quick drive to the nearest store, buy what I wanted and drive home or many times in my case, take a longer drive with a Starbucks latte to listen to an Audiobook on the way home.

Home Depot at Brodie Lane, Texas

I have one pond that has an algae problem meaning that the water is green and it needs treating, which is not a big job. It does require buying and then applying Algae Control to the water and as I happened to be nearly out of the stuff, I thought to myself, lets go to Home Depot or Lowes as both of those stores carry what I needed. So I jumped into my truck and made the short drive of around 5 miles to the one in town pulling into the Home Depot parking lot only to discover that it was pretty full and there were a lot of parked vehicles meaning that there were also a lot of people in the store. Wasting no time, I drove to the closest Lowe’s which was only half a mile down the road (these two stores are in competition with one another) only to discover that their parking lot was also full up with vehicles. I know it was a Saturday and both stores had just received the shipments of summer plants but even so, I was a little surprised how busy it was. It had not been like this a week earlier when I had reason to stop by.

Then I remembered that our Governor, Greg Abbott had just lifted some of the regulations that had been in place and some of the other stores were allowed to open as long as they practised social distancing which also included the aforementioned hairdressers, although I have yet to figure out how to cut hair and still maintain a 6 foot distance. All of those people that have been cooped up in their houses and apartments must be making the most of it and were out and about. I thought about it for a bit and decided that I had enough Algaecide at home to get started and that I would wait for midweek to make the trip to the stores if I needed more. The truth is, I did not want to go into a store where there were a lot of people, some of whom would not be very careful of how they carried themselves and would forget the rules.

Which brings me to the point of this discussion. It’s one thing having to shop for food and the other necessities of life but to return to semi normal when this pandemic is still very much alive does tend to beg the question. I know that for myself, I am very reluctant to get out into any sort of crowds or to willingly put myself in the line of fire even if there is only the remotest chance of catching the virus. I realize that I am fortunate that I am retired with sufficient income to see me through as opposed to being a working man or woman and having to put bread on the table to feed a family, which does give me choices. I choose to stay home and only venture out for necessities, in my case food, Starbucks and algaecide.

Starbucks at Escarpment, Slaughter Lane, Texas

By the way, There are several Starbucks that I visit in my immediate area. There are several next to different HEB’s but of late, it has been very difficult knowing what sort of hours they keep. Just lately, a couple are closing at 2:00 pm while others vary depending on the amount of traffic. The one at Circle C and Escarpment, which is very conveniently next to my favorite HEB, is keeping weird hours and I never know what time they will close. The few times in the past week or so that I have been there when they are open, there has been a line of 20 or so vehicles plus usually a couple of people on bikes and even a couple of walk ups. It is a little frustrating as they are not keeping regular hours and it’s a kinda hit and miss game. Probably a good thing when you get right down to it as I drink too many Lattes and spend way too much money per month/year on the stuff. I consider coffee as my only real vice as I gave up drinking more than 12 years ago coupled with the fact that the pretty girls no longer notice me and I have given up trying to attract them. To them, I am just another old man on the road of life fast reaching the end of the journey.

HEB at Escarpment, Slaughter Lane, Texas

I wonder how long it will take to return to any form of normality. Here in Texas, there have already been protests at the State Capitol as a couple of hundred noisy demonstrators complete with their armor and guns, have blockaded the road. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs but to me, it does seem a little premature to end the lockdown. It could easily start a second wave of infected people which could be far worse than the first time around and we would have to do this all over again for an even longer time period.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out. Me, I am only going to the stores when I have no other choice.

Given the choice, I would like to die in my bed, naturally…

Written 5/2/2020

New Dishwasher Part two

The next available weekday day was Labor Day which of course, I had forgotten about. Amazing how many important Holidays you miss when you are old and retired and living alone.  Damn. Makes no difference as one day is pretty much the same as the rest of them. I made the call and got an answering machine, surprise, surprise and left a message. explaining what I had done and “would you please reschedule the installation”. The next day being a Tuesday with everything back to normal, I received a call back message only for it to say that I had to call them back to reschedule. More frustration but being very good at following orders even though I was almost at the boil, I called the rep back and between us, she rescheduled for the following Friday. I asked for the afternoon but she said she had no control over the actual time but would do the best she could. Can you see where this is going?

As they had done on the very first schedule, the Rep called me on the Thursday prior to the installation to confirm that it was going to be in the morning after all and she was sorry but to be prepared for the installation from between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm the following day. Heeding her words, I was up early (for me) and went about my usual morning rituals, feeding fish, feeding dogs and then feeding me in that order as I waited for the phone call from the Technicians telling me that, “they would be at my house in 30 minutes”.  Prior to that, I had cancelled my Physical Therapy session scheduled for that morning explaining the situation. That went off OK as I waited and waited and waited. By 12:00 pm, it was obvious that it was not going to be a morning install so I gave it a couple of hours and  in an exceedingly bad frame of mind, called the Scheduling Person back again. Even though by then, I was thoroughly P.O’d, I held my temper in check and was a very civil gentleman as it was not her fault. Wait a minute,  maybe it was but I was not to know if it was or not. Thirty minutes later and after being passed from the Appliance Delivery person to the Installation Scheduling person and in between listening to the same terrible canned music over and over as I was put on hold time after time, we came up with a new date, this coming Thursday the 13th. Hell, it might be a bad day for some but in this case with such an ongoing story of horrors, what else can go wrong? When I asked her what had happened with the original work order,  she stated that apparently the person that set up the Friday install had filled the work order out wrong and that she was sorry for the inconvenience. Yeah, Right. Talk about a comedy of errors.

Thursday the 13th rolled around as usual as there had not been any end of the world experiences to prevent it and I made the effort to get up early so as to be ready for them. Didn’t want them ringing my doorbell with me half asleep. I was lucky, as the installer called me at 8:00 am to tell me they were 20 minutes away. I had to move my truck out of the driveway so that it didn’t get damaged as they squeezed by and as I got out of the vehicle, the installers pulled up. Great timing. These were two different guys than the first pair so I led them inside and they went straight to work.

The installation went very smoothly and the only adjustment they had to make was to the hole in the cabinet that the water pipe passes through, just a little bigger. They quickly finished the assembly and tested for leaks and then ran the unit for a 15 minute wash cycle to make sure it was working properly. Satisfied, they collected up their tools and one of them went over some paperwork with me that required a half a dozen signatures and they were on their way. I gave them a substantial tip, at least enough to stop at Starbucks and buy a coffee and donut. I saw them out the door and then grabbed the mop and proceeded to clean up the water that had splashed all over the floor, brought in the mat and admired their handywork. Just for the hell of it, I found as many dirty dishes that I could locate plus a few clean ones to make up the load and started it up. An hour or so later, it was through and the load was clean.

I wonder what is next? I have already replaced the Microwave, Refrigerator and Stove so I guess it will probably be the water heater. Again, that is another job that will require installation as my copper pipe soldering skills are not that good. As a side note, I was checking around to see if I could get cheaper house insurance and one of the companies would not insure me because the water heater had not been replaced and they were concerned that a 34 year old heater would present them with problems down the road. When I asked what sort of problems, they really didn’t have a definitive answer. Oh well, it does fall under the category of one of the things that will need to be replaced when the house is eventually sold.

But, for the time being, I will enjoy my new dishwasher and maybe make an effort to use it every couple of months…

Written 9/16/2018

New Dishwasher Part One.

Being a long time Batchelor or should that read Divorced and living alone for the past 26 years, one learns a lot when it comes to maintaining a household. It is so much easier when there is only one person to account for in the ways of cooking and keeping the larder and refrigerator well stocked. Items such as doing the laundry are also on my own personal schedule and although I am pretty good at keeping my clothes clean, folded and put away, I also have made sure that I have plenty to wear. As it usually consists of tee shirt and shorts along with socks and shoes buying is easy although I did have a problem the other day when I wanted to purchase new hiking shorts (that’s the  actual name of the shorts) and ended going online and buying directly from the manufacturers. No big deal as a week later, they came in the mail.

The same is true of cooking the food that I eat. I am very much a creature of habit which includes food. I find something that I like and I will stay with it until either something new comes along or I just get sick of eating the same old stuff. That’s because I have an easy to please set of taste buds brought about by 30 years of stodgy English food. If it wasn’t for the ketchup, even fish and chips would be bland. Consequently, with only me and the dogs to feed and the fish not using any utensils, between us we don’t dirty very many dishes tending to have 3-4 plates and bowls stacked in the drying basket at all times. Which brings me to the main part of the story.

I have lived in this house for 34 years first as a happily married person and finally as a miserable, bad tempered,  grumpy old man that I have now become. The house came equipped with a dishwasher as all modern houses have and ours was used pretty extensively in the early years. Heck, we were comparatively young and energetic and washes dishes was not a part of our plans and that’s why they made dishwashers in the first place. Following the move from married to single, or I guess the proper word is Divorced, like its a black mark on your character, the dishwasher was used less and less and finally it got to the point where I would have to remember to push the start button for a few seconds just to turn the motor over or it would just freeze up. This meant that I would have to get the tools out to manually give it a turn. Apparently, it is something associated with electric motors that they need to be turned over for a few seconds at least once a week or they would create this problem.

The first time it happened, I called a repair man as I don’t know enough about appliances to fool with them. He lay on the floor with a wrench and gave the motor a turn and it worked just fine. So, I quickly learned from him and took over that role for myself and as long as I remembered to run the motor every 3-4 days, I only had to copy his actions  a couple of time after I had managed to forget the schedule. It finally got to the point that I would have to make a point of filling the dishwasher with anything I could find that needed washing and even some of the clean stuff out of the cupboard just so I could run the thing.

About a month ago, I deemed that it was time to run another load as I had managed to dirty up some pots and pans having taking it upon myself to do some real cooking. So, I loaded everything in and started it up and water poured everywhere. Apparently, it had developed a leak and although I gave it a cursory once over, I couldn’t locate it. That did it for me as I unloaded everything and washed the dishes and pots and pans by hand all the time mumbling under my breath about stupid dishwashers which wasn’t really very nice of me as after all, the thing had lasted 34 years. I’m really good at mumbling under my breath. The alternative to that is turning the air blue with a whole string of cuss words delivered at the top of my voice which usually makes the dogs run for cover.

I debated over what to do made especially more difficult by not needing or using one very often and finally came to the conclusion that I should replace it if nothing more than to save having to do it if and when I finally move out of here. Whether that be feet first in a box or of my own volition it made no difference. When the place eventually sells, it needs a working dishwasher if nothing more than to look good as the current one, the bottom front panel is kinda loose. It fell off one day when I accidentally kicked up against it and although I replaced it (sort of) from time to time, in the end I just left it propped up against the unit.

Next step was to Home Depot, one of my most favorite of stores to see what they had in the way of cheap dishwashers. I was amazed at the variance in the price range from a little over $400.00 to well above $1500.00. I don’t know what you get at the top end different to the cheaper models but I certainly was not interested enough to find out. I discussed my needs with the Sales Clerk and he told me, after checking prices and models, that I should wait until the sales that happen around the Memorial Weekend. I also wanted to renew my Home Depot charge card as my old one was not longer in the system with me having not used in eaons and I wanted to use the 6 months interest free option to pay off this purchase. He told me to delay that as well and do them both at the same time as that would get another $40.00 taken off the price.

I took his advice and as soon as I saw the sales advertised, was back to the local Home Depot to make my purchase. Everything went smoothly as I picked out one of the cheaper models and then arranged for them to install the thing. The  female Clerk told me that I would be getting a phone call from some other source regarding scheduling the installation. I bade her farewell and thanked her for her help which included the new Home Depot charge card.

True to her word, I received a phone call and we went through the necessary arrangements for it to be installed. The earliest date available was 5 days away and they could not give me an exact time only that it would be either morning or afternoon and that I would receive yet another call the day before with either of those times. The day arranged was for the coming Saturday afternoon between 12:00 and 4:00 and as luck would have it, the delivery/installers came early. One guy brought in the new unit while the other stuck his head under the sink to start with the installation which required turning off the valve to shut off the water. Then came the first of the bad news. The valve having been there for 34 years and hardly used in that time, had frozen and would require,”a plumber to come out and replace it”. I asked the usual question, “you don’t do that?” and of course, the answer was no. So, they left the new unit in the middle of my living room, collected their gear and left giving me instruction on what to do next regarding scheduling a new installation date after making the repair.

I thought about it after they had gone and decided that I could do the job without the services of a Plumber and save myself a $100.00.  The next day being a Sunday, I went back to Home Depot and asked the guy for the part that I wanted. He knew exactly what I was talking about and led me straight to it. He picked one out and handed it to me telling me that “this should do the trick”. I drove home and then taking a deep breath, opened the sink cabinet doors to reveal the part that I needed to replace. At least, I thought I would reveal it but of course, it was behind other stuff like the Garbage Disposal and sundry other items making it really difficult to get to. I had worked under here before as a couple of years back, as I had changed out the same Garbage Disposal so I already knew just how difficult the job was going to be. The only way to get at everything was to lay down on my back but not before placing a rubberized yoga mat that I happened to have plus a thick kneeling pad, under my shoulders in the hope of at least making the job a little more comfortable. I forgot to mention that I am going to Physical Therapy for my left shoulder that I managed to overstretch whilst loading all of that loose change into my truck and laying down in a very uncomfortable position trying to unscrew frozen fittings with my arm above my head was not very easy. Of course, it had to be on the injured side as I couldn’t reach it with the other arm. I had previously turned off the water at the main valve after dragging off the heavy metal cover to the manhole, making sure that it was drained and holding before working on releasing the rusted part.

Mikey sat in his chair watching for a while until he got bored and then he turned his back on me and went to sleep.  Gritting my teeth, I pressed on and after a very lengthy struggle and turning the air blue with a few very well chosen cuss words, managed to break the rusted part loose.  I have yet to figure out whether it was the cussing or that I had applied enough pressure to break the rust seal or maybe a combination of both. Gizzie came over to find out what all of the fuss was about and licked me on the face as if to say, “Good Luck” before going back to his hiding place and going to sleep. Ginnie, being the smart dog that she is, was nowhere to be seen. From that point on, it went very smoothly as I replaced the old with the new. Almost there I thought as I went about re-attaching the other two pipes to the valve fitting. Alas, I spoke too soon as it turns out that the Home Depot Sales Clerk had inadvertently given me the wrong sized part. It was not really his fault as he was not to know that both of my attachments were 3/8 inch in size and he had given me a part that had one at 3/8 inch and the other at 1/4 inch.

So, I jumped into the truck and drove back to Home Depot and picked up the correct part returning the other part at the same time. It was easier to dismantle the valve that I had just installed as the hard job had been in breaking the rusted old valve loose and with that job done, everything else at that point was brand new. I quickly reinstalled everything and tested it by turning on the outside main valve and brought it back up to pressure. Everything held which was a huge relief.

Written 9/16/2018

Remodeling the Bath-Part 5 -Installing the grab bars and glass doors

Finished Shower

Installing the grab bars and glass doors

I had been working on the project for the best part of three weeks and it was coming together very nicely. The major work was complete and all that was left was to install the grab bars, shampoo holder and a wooden seat on the far end along with the sliding glass doors.

I had made a plan of the layout of the studs in the bath area so that I could use them to affix the grab bars. Needless to say, they didn’t work out distance wise so I had to resort to using a special fastener called a Secure Mount Fastener made by Moehn, the grab bar manufacturers especially for just such occurrences. I had to buy a special 1 1/4 inch hole saw bit that cost me almost $40 but it turned out to be well worth the cost as I ended up drilling 8 holes per bathroom.  It drilled through the tiles leaving a hole just big enough for the fastener to slip through. Then by the pull of a special plastic link, the whole thing unfolded behind the wall leaving a very secure unit in which to screw the grab bars. In the case of the drilling actually hitting on a stud, a couple of long screws quickly affixed the unit to the wall.

I had been using the second bathroom while mine was out of commission and decided that it would be a good idea to install grab bars in this one at the same time. This after nearly tripping upon entering it one morning made up my mind for me. So, I used the same techniques and the exact same measurements and set two grab bars and a shampoo holder into the second bathroom.

Now both the shower and the bath have grab bars and shampoo holders and if I have to use the second one again for any reason, I will certainly feel much safer.

It took a week for the sliding glass doors to come in and then one evening, I received an e-mail telling me that it was in and ready for pick up. It was 9:30 in the evening when I drove back to Home Depot and they loaded out this large box that contained the glass doors. I had been doing some checking on the web and according to the Home Depot web site, there were supposed to be three boxes which I mentioned to the store clerk. Somehow, she convinced me I was wrong and as the box said 1 of 1, I drove home. The next day I opened the box, which by the way was so heavy that I couldn’t lift it and had to drag it around to get it to where I wanted it. Needless to say, it was missing the other two boxes just as I had read on the web site. I called Home Depot and they were full of apologies and that the boxes were in the store. I jumped into my car and drove back to Sunset Valley and grabbed the other two boxes. The staff were very apologetic as the same two people were working the counter. I wasn’t annoyed or put out. They must have caught me on a good day…

Following the directions, I very carefully installed the hardware just as I was supposed to with the two side tracks first. They too required drilling through the tile but with a much smaller bit and things went according to plan. I installed the bottom rail and then finally the top rail. Then came the heavy part. The glass sliding doors were already pre-drilled  and I installed the hardware on them. The tricky part was to pick up the doors and hang them onto the top rail which I managed to do with a lot of grunting and groaning. Luckily, I did not have to make any adjustments so only had to lift them up one time. Those things were heavy, more so because of the awkwardness in being able to handle them.

I had some caulking to do around the frame and by adding the door handles and a couple of guides, the project was finally finished. The next morning I tested it out and took a shower in the comparative luxury of a walk in unit. I was not sure what to expect when I turned the valve as it had never been tested for hot and cold but water came out as it should and I was able to adjust the temperature at the same time, making a mental note of the position of the handle to know where to place it in the future.

All in all, it was a good project to work on. I was able to figure out the plumbing and the drains which from my perspective, were the hardest part. Above all, it looks good and very modern and is definitely much safer than me stepping over the bath sides to take a shower.

Plus, I saved myself $10,500 dollars by doing it myself. You can’t beat that…

Remodeling the Bath-Part 4 -Installing the tiles

The tile repair job

The tile repair job. New tiles in brown

Installing the Tiles

With the basic work done on the shower unit, it was time to turn my attention to making it look pretty. I had, as a part of the planning process, already worked out what tiles I would need to finish off the job. First though, I had to cover up the walls with Hardy Tile Backer Board, a special composite board made to be installed in places that could suffer moisture and dampness like behind tiles in a shower. I am not sure exactly what is in the board but it really is heavy. It comes in a 3 x 5 feet size and each board probably weighs at least 50 pounds. Luckily, I would not need too much of this stuff and what I had to install would be cut to different sizes. I bought enough to complete my project along with a tub of mortar premix to patch other areas.

Cutting the Hardy Board was a real bitch. I had to cover my nose and mouth and wear safety glasses as it made a huge cloud of white dust and the only way to cut it was with a carborundum blade in my old saw. It had to be screwed into place and the screw holes had to be countersunk in order for them not to stand out as they would not pull into the board on their own. It took two layers of this board in order to bring the surface even with the back of the existing tile. In between the boards, I carefully filled in any holes or rough patches with the mortar premix. I also repeated this process after I had installed the top layer of board so that the tiles would have a level surface on which they would be affixed. It took a couple of days to install the board and I finished it up by finally caulking everything with a joint or opening to prevent any chance that the water might seep into the wall.

With the Hardy Board in place, it was time to turn my attention to installing the tile. I had discovered in my searching in the store, a product called SimpleMat, which is a Tile Setting Mat that comes in 9 x 12 inch sheets and comprises of a special sheet material with the ability to glue itself to the wall side and to have the tiles glued to the front side just by pressing them on. Just the ideal thing for my project and would save me having to deal with thin set mortar. The tiles that I chose were named Pacific Sand and were brown in contrast to the existing 4 x 4 yellow tile which I could no longer buy or match. They came in a 9 x 12 size which allowed me a 1 1/2 inch space between the new tile and existing. Searching around, I found a trim piece named Crackle Fantasy Glass Decor that fitted very nicely between the new and old tiles to give it a very finished look.

I marked out all of the cuts and then went to Home Depot and rented a wet saw for four hours. It took me less than an hour to make the cuts and put them in place. The hardest cut was around the shower valve which required a four and a half inch circle cut between two separate tiles. I got over it by making a series of cuts and then using a pair of tile nippers to finish it off. It didn’t have to be super smooth looking as it would be covered by the shower trim.  I had a couple of areas that required some extra thought as I knew that I could not match the damaged wallpaper that had been in the way of removing the tub. So, I had bought some  6 x 6 tiles with trim to finish off those areas. With the tiles finished and the saw returned I finished up for the evening and planned out what I would do the next day.

I was looking forward to working the following day as I would be finishing up the hard part of the remodeling project with the grouting in of the tiles and the cleaning up of the whole bathroom. All that remained was to install the grab bars, the shampoo holder and the sliding doors.

In Part 5, I will explain in detail the installation of the grab bars and sliding doors during the remodeling.

Remodeling the Bath-Part 3 -Hooking up the Plumbing

Floor Plumbing

Floor Plumbing

Hooking up the Drains and the Plumbing

I stood looking at the hole in the wall and turned my attention to the floor drain. Luckily for me, the original contractors had not concreted in the drain hookup so I didn’t have to break out any floor. I had a nice, convenient hole to work in.

I measured the preformed base and then made the comparisons to the existing two-inch pipe and figured out that I would need to do some juggling with a couple of bends and an “S” trap to get things lined up even close enough that I could make the drains work. Marking the true location of the center of the drain in the new base, I fiddled around until I had the pipes almost lined up to where I could make them fit. I knew that I could buy a 2 inch offset drain to fit the base that would help me to get the pipes aligned that last little piece, enough to make them work. The first test required that I worked the new base into the space and see how closely the drains would align. I also had to get an exact measurement of the standpipe between the trap and the base drain. Too short and I would not get the pipes connected, too long and the base would rock about and the weight would be on the drain maybe causing it to break.

I took my measurements and checked them at least twenty times, well maybe a couple, and slid the base back to finish work on the pipes, gluing everything into place and hoping like hell that my numbers were sound. I slid the base back into place and then with the pipes lined up, screwed the trap into place getting it as tight as I could. Everything worked. What a relief as this had been the part of the job that really had me worried. I did NOT want to break out any of the concrete floor which I would have had to have done if I made any mistakes in setting the pipes and the base unit.

With a sigh of relief, I turned my attention to the copper piping and the existing valve that I needed to replace. It turns out that the plumbers who worked on the original house way back when, used the bath space to run the plumbing to the bathroom sink and toilet and had an intricate system of four pipes, two hot and two cold running side by side that were connected together by “Tee’s” with the pipe from the top of the “Tee” running to the shower valve. Well, I say valve but in point of fact, there was a system of copper pipes that connected together the hot and cold faucets to the bath, plus the bath filler pipe with the top pipe going to the shower head. I guess that maybe they didn’t have the ready-made valve mixing units that are available today when this house was built. Even so, it worked well in the previous 30 years.

I knew what I had to do in the way of plumbing and after going back to Home Depot to get the necessary parts, I started to assemble the new plumbing to hook up the shower valve. This entailed sweating the copper pipe joints with a torch and solder which I have to confess, I am not very good at. However, I was at least going to try it and although, working conditions were a little cramped for space, I had every confidence in my ability to make a solder joint, and above all, one that wouldn’t leak. Alas, it was not to be. After nearly setting alight the studs in the wall, I quickly determined that it was not the way to go. So, back to Home Depot where I located a new (to me) system called Sharkbite. It was a plastic system with push and lock fittings that also had an adapter to hook onto a copper pipe. That did it for me and I carefully planned out all of the moves and the fittings I would need to get my piping in the wall hooked up. Discovering that system was the best thing that happened to me that day as I carefully hooked everything up, including the new valve.  You can see the Sharkbite system in the pictures below. I had the water turned off during this process and had to turn it back on to test the joints. I had a couple of small leaks which I fixed by some judicious tightening of the correct joints. At the same time, I inadvertently opened the valve to the shower which I happened to be standing under at the time and needless to say, managed to get soaked. At least I knew that the shower worked.

Showing the Tees

Showing the Tees

Shower Plumbing

Shower Plumbing

Just to be sure, I turned on the faucets to the sink and flushed the toilet a couple of times and both were getting water so I deemed that I was all through with the drains and the plumbing. The next part would be more interesting as it entailed installing the tiles and then the grab bars.

In Part 4, I will talk about tile installation for this project.

Remodeling the Bath-Part 2-Removing the Tub

The tub removed from the wall

The tub removed from the wall

After giving the project much consideration, I devised a plan that really consisted of five different parts. The first part quite obviously was to actually start the wrecking process and remove the bath. I sat and looked at it for a long time knowing that the first blow of the hammer would  commit to completing the project. There was still time to back out and leave things as they were and just add a couple of grab bars for safety and maybe add glass doors.

I thought back over the summer and all that had happened so far with replacing both toilets and the kitchen sink, working on the septic system after it backed up and losing my little dog, Abigail. Even though the work on the septic system had been both hard and difficult (and heartbreaking), I had enjoyed the challenge and the completed deck does look very nice.

Removing the tub.

I took a deep breath and carefully swung my hammer and broke out the first tile and the project was on. I removed the first row of tiles above the bath so that I could get the bath ledge clear. As the house is 30 years old, back when it was built, the method used to set the tiles was to metal lath and plaster the walls and use thin set grout to attach the tiles to the wall. Not only did I have to remove the tiles, I had to remove an inch thick layer of wire lath and plaster. I used one of my older power saws fitted with a carborundum blade to make a clean cut at the bottom edge of the remaining wall tile so I had a complete separation between what I was removing and the tile that was to remain.

I went to work in removing the bath bit by bit. As the salesman had pointed out, it was bloody heavy and I had to devise ways for me, on my own to get the job done. I knew that the drain would be an impediment and had to carefully work on removing it. Nothing I tried would unscrew it and I ended up using a screwdriver acting as a cold chisel with well delivered blows from my hammer to break it loose. The tile floor that I had installed a few years ago also gave me a problem and I had to devise a way of lifting the front edge of the bath up and over those tiles.

It was slow going and I was able to work the tub out bit by bit moving it an inch on one side and then an inch on the other and on and on. Luckily , I have many tools one of which is a long crowbar with a welded on fulcrum that was invaluable in working out the tub. The framing is built to fit the size of the tub and with the other stuff like floor tiles and wall plaster, it was not an easy job. In fact, it took the best part of half a day to just get it out onto the bathroom floor. It took me another 60 minutes to raise the tub sufficiently to get a movers dolly under it so that I could push it out of the bathroom, across the bedroom and out the sliding doors. The method used to raise it was actually pretty simple. I knew that I could not lift any part of it as I guessed it to weigh well over 100 pounds so again, patience was the answer. With my trusty bar and several blocks of 2 x 4 , I worked on each end prising it up and slipping a block under until I had it high enough. I had to work on alternate ends to keep it balanced. After I had slipped the dolly underneath, I reversed the process and lowered the tub back onto the dolly.

It was pretty simple to push the tub and dolly out of the bathroom and across the bedroom to the sliding doors but there I ran into a different problem.  The sliding doors have a metal track on the bottom which stands about one inch high. I knew that the hard rubber wheels of the dolly would not mount the tracks so I built a ramp that would get me up and over the them. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the tub slid off the dolly and wedged in between the sliding door frame.

There was nothing else for it but to manually work the tub through the doors, out onto the deck and repeat the process of getting the dolly back under it. Using a great deal of care so as not to damage the tile floor or the sliding glass doors and frame,  I carefully worked the tub along and out and through the doors onto the deck. There, I repeated the process of raising each end up a block of wood at a time until I had it sitting back on the dolly ready to be moved off the deck. To date, three weeks after starting the project, the tub still sits on the dolly in the middle of the deck. I have not yet decided just what I plan on doing with it. I have several choices not the least of which is to set it up to start pond plants or to install it by one of the ponds and use it as a small bog. I could just break it up and sell it for scrap. Decisions, decisions.

The old tub still sitting on the deck.

The old tub still sitting on the deck

The whole process took all day from the first swing of the hammer to getting the tub outside. I walked back inside and took a look at the hole left by removing the tub and thought to myself, “Well, we are really and truly committed to remodeling the tub to shower now”.

In Part 3, I will explain in detail the plumbing and drain work during the remodeling.