January 31, 2012

#184- How to Replace a Bathroom Exhaust Fan

As you saw yesterday, my superhero hubby cleared the Downstairs Bathroom of all it’s disgusting glory, so it was my turn to get working on the  “in the walls” projects before we put this baby back together.  We started at the top, quite literally, with the exhaust fan and light.

Let me start by saying that these types of fans are meant to be installed before a ceiling even goes into a space, so if you already have a ceiling in, and you don’t have access to an attic space directly above your fan, think twice about trying to replace that bad boy, because it’s going to be tricky.  And by tricky I mean it sucks.  Big time.

Unfortunately we didn’t have a choice.  Not only was the housing yellowing with time, but the fan made a noise like a pair of maracas in an mariachi band.  All of this maybe I could have tried to fix without removing it, but the biggest problem with this guy is that there was no duct work attached to it.  As in, it was venting condensation and air into the space between the bathroom ceiling and the floor of the kitchen.  Genius, right?  Thankfully, we discovered this only by luck when we had to rip open the bathroom ceiling to replace the frozen plumbing before we bought the house.  

Let me back up and give you the short version.  We put an offer on the house, waited 7 months to hear back from the bank, finally we got approval and went in for the inspection, all the pipes had frozen while we were waiting and burst, our bank wouldn’t give us a mortgage without working plumbing, the bank that owned the house wouldn’t fix it, and we couldn’t legally fix it because we didn’t own it.  So we may have accidentally let ourselves in to the vacant house and accidentally fixed the plumbing anyway.  And to the surprise of our mortgage company, all the plumbing was fixed when they sent their appraiser over.  Shh- don’t tell anybody. :)

So back to the story at hand, when Super Dad broke into was in the house with us and patching that part of the ceiling, he just happened to look around in there and realize that there was no ventilation attached to the fan.  For thirty years that fan had been blowing moisture into the rafters.  We’re lucky that none of the beams were starting to warp or rot. In order to fix it, I was going to have to cut a pretty big hole in the ceiling to
thread through and attach new duct work, so while I was at it I just replaced the whole thing.

These fans are usually attached to the rafters, or to a set of suspension braces in-between rafters.  Which means the only way to get to the screws to remove it is to cut a larger opening in the ceiling.  (Unless you have access through an attic, you lucky dog.)

And to add insult to injury, the builders tapped this guy in with nails instead of screws, so cue about 30 minutes of prying and cursing trying to get this clunky piece of garabage out of the ceiling.

Once it was out, I first worked on running through the new duct work.  Luckily, my furnace room is right next to my bathroom, so I only had to get the duct work through the ceiling over into the furnace room, and then I could vent it out to the exterior of my house from there.  Here’s my 4” wide flexible ducting, I needed a 25’ piece.

Yep, that thing expands to 25 feet.  No kidding.
I used a fish tape to pull the duct work through my hole into the furnace room.  It’s basically just a long, flexible metal stick that you can unrole as much as you need.  We purchased ours back in The Bungalow when we were running speaker wire through the walls.

Once I had the duct work run, I could attach my wires and put my new fan housing into the ceiling.  I probably should have cut back more of the ceiling to do so, but I didn’t want to have all that patch work, so instead I bent my arm around inside the ceiling like Gumby trying to screw my fan into the ceiling joists.  Screws this time.  Take note 1980’s contractors- screws.

Then I just had to cut a piece of sheet rock to place back into my newly created hole in the ceiling.  I forgot to snap a photo before I put the first round of mud and tape on it, but you get the idea.

Eventually that big patch will be covered up and seamless, but unfortunately I have a few more steps before then. Here’s a closer look at that before ceiling with the messy patch left over from the plumbing incident.  

First I'll have to tell you all about fixing the ceiling, and then I can finish putting the rest of the light together.  Rome wasn't built overnight, and this bathroom won't take a DIY 30 minute episode.  But everyday we inch a little closer.  And luckily we have a warm, heated, automatic toilet to sit on in the mean time.

January 30, 2012

#134- It's Demo Time

Can I just take this moment to get a little mushy with you and declare my love for the Hubs?  Seriously, this guy works hard, is an incredible Dad, and and every once and a while he goes and does something entirely romantic, like demoing an entire bathroom while I'm at work.

Yep, that's the stuff that makes my heart go pitter-patter.  

So I left for work on Friday, and even stopped home for lunch to say hello to my boys.  Nothing unusual.  But when I came back after work there was a dumpster in my driveway and nothing in my bathroom.

He even cleanly cut the sheet rock just above all that gross tile to remove it in full sheets.

The shower stall in this bathroom actually protrudes into our furnace room, so this shot is a little crazy.

So Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and we spent the rest of the weekend putting him back together again.  Don't get too high of expectations though, one of my least favorite things about renos is that there is a lot to do when the walls are all open, so that process takes a long time, but once the sheet rock goes back on the walls things go pretty quickly.  Spoiler Alert:  There is definitely no sheet rock yet.

What did you all do this weekend?  Any DIY?  Travel?  I didn't do nearly anything that fun, so please share and let me live through you.  What are friends for?

January 27, 2012

Getting Ready to Demo

We've decided, and we're ready to get moving on the Downstairs Bathroom remodel.  First things first, remove all the items from the room we want to keep.  Good thing for us that list is short.

 PS- That sink is not on that short list.

But this vanity... maybe.  Don't get any crazy ideas, I just think it would be great (sans-sink & new counter)  out in the garage as a work bench & storage.

 I also carefully removed this glass door.  We haven't commited 100% to using it in the new bathroom, but just in case- we've got it.

And this shower fixture is brand new (installed just before we purchased the house in the big plumbing redo), so I carefully removed this pieces to use again.

Removing the sink was a little bit tricky, because instead of having the typical water shut off located right there, I had a couple of brass fittings, connected directly to copper lines that ran up to the faucet.  Boo. 


 So I had to shut off the water to the whole house, and then place on brass caps on these water lines to shut off the water to this room for the duration of the remodel. 

It only took me two trips to Home Depot to buy the right ones.  

The most important part though, is prepping the space.  We've learned our lesson the hard way after countless DIY projects, so this project we really took the time to protect the carpet and space around our demo.

 Here's the Hubs wrapping the steps with old rugs.  Yes, I know there are now fantastic products that stick to the carpet to protect it, but we had these and they were free.  You can't be shocked that we went with the cheap option.

We also used leftover cardboard (from the Master Bathroom Closets) with help from our Lil' Man.

It's going to be a big project weekend, but what about you guys- any big projects this weekend?  Any fun plans or getaways?  I'll be spending my weekend in a tiny gross bathroom, so please share your plans so that I can live through you. 

January 26, 2012

We’re Doing a 180

Back on Monday I let my freak flag fly and showed you the crazy process we’re going through to plan the next bathroom remodel.  On Wednesday I showed you Step 1- the clean up of Disaster Closet #3.  Which left us with the Downstairs Bath looking like this:

Not very impressive, huh?  It didn’t help that I have attempted to re-grout the tile white in a few random places:

Or that the Hubs removed the mirror above the sink so that he could admire his manliness while working out.

Which basically left us with a hot mess of a bathroom downstairs, and a soon to be hot mess upstairs.  Not our best planning.  And then we thought, why not do the Downstairs Bath first?  I mean, sure, we use the Main Bath a bit more, and it does have a really sick, dirty tile job that can’t get cleaned and chunky-drippy pink walls....

But the Downstairs Bath is just as far from the Living Room as the Main Bath is (one half story down vs. one half story up), and it’s much closer to the Family Room where we spend most of our time.  Plus, we’re going to have to redo both anyway, so why not start with the smaller, slightly less difficult one?

We sealed the deal when we found this vanity on sale at Home Depot.  It’s the right size, the right colors, and definitely the right price at just $300 for the vanity, the sink and the mirror.  I couldn’t build it with the counter, sink and mirror for that price.

The construction is actually really nice too, with self closing drawers that make maximum use of the space.

Then we found some tiles for the shower and the wall/backsplash that will go perfectly with the new vanity and the leftover floor tiles from Bath Crashers.  (They left us more than enough to tile a second bathroom floor.)

So it’s on like Donkey Kong- bring on the dumpster and get those sledges a swinging!  We’ve taken a bit of a break from the bigger projects in this house (like tearing up the tile floors, laying hardwoods and ripping apart the kitchen) in favor of a few smaller and more fun projects (like building furniture and closet doors), so it’s been awhile since we’ve lived in a crazy construction zone.   Ah... the memories.

The break has been great, as it’s given us a chance to regroup, and we’re actually cautiously optimistic, if not excited for this project.  It helps that we have two other fully functioning bathrooms and no set timeline (unlike our crazy 13 Day Bungalow Bathroom Remodel.)  Don’t get me wrong, we want to get this baby done as soon as possible, but we have the luxury this time to walk away and take a break when needed.  So I’ll warn you now that this will definitely be a real time remodel, with real time curveballs and timelines, but if you’re up for it you’re all invited along on the adventure.

January 24, 2012

We Need to Clean the Closet Before we Remodel the Bathroom

Let me take you on a quick tour of my chaotic mind and household.  Those of you that read this blog regularly won’t be surprised that we’re finally gearing up for our next big bathroom remodel.  Thankfully Bath Crashers remodeled our Master Bathroom to get us started, and now we have the Main Bath and the Downstairs Bath left to go.  Remember how terrible that Main Bath is?

Holy yuck Batman.

But before we can get to swinging sledgehammers, my overly methodical brain is working through the process, and before we remove this potty, we’re going to have to make sure that the other one is ready to use so that we won’t have to get our sweat on and climb up the 8 half flights to use the Master every time nature calls.  What’s wrong with the other potty you ask?  (Yep, I just said potty twice while talking to adults.  I’m single-handedly making it mainstream.)  Well, it looks like this:


Let me back up for you. A couple of months ago our 5th Bedroom/Soon-To-Be-Workout Room looked like this:

Until one day the Hubs cleared it out while I was at work to do this:

Where did all the stuff go you ask?  Well, he haphazardly chucked some of it in the Exercise Room closet until it looked like this:

And what he couldn’t fit in the closet he chucked in the Downstairs Bath, bringing us full circle to this:

Why did he place this stuff in the bathroom you ask?  Because it was close... Because he was being lazy... There are so many options really.  All I know is that suddenly my little man was calling the Downstairs Bath “Junkyard Junction” (he’s a condescending little guy, no?) and nearly simultaneously the Hubs started complaining, “That bathroom is a complete disaster, we really need to clean it.”  All the while I tried to muster every bit of patience and maturity I had not to yell, “THE BATHROOM WOULDN’T BE JUNKYARD JUNCTION IF WE YOU HADN'T HAVE THROWN ALL THAT GARBAGE IN THERE.”

Whew.  That feels better.

So all of this is to say that we need to clean out the Workout Room closet, so that we can put the stuff from the Downstairs Bath in there, so we can clear a path to that potty, and tear out the potty upstairs.  Or in short, we can’t remodel the bathroom until we clean the closet.  Disaster Closet #3.  I told you it was chaos around here.  

January 23, 2012

BAM Goes the Playroom Closet

When we last left the Playroom closet, it looked like this:

 I had cleared it out, patched the walls, added a new big shelf made from Big Blue, and primed and painted the whole thing.

When it was time to paint I grabbed a leftover gallon of Decorator White and applied it to everything, walls, trim, shelf, ceiling... yep, even the ceiling was painted green and needed to be redone.

It was at about that time that the HUbs came in.

Hubs:  "Lookin' pretty good."

Erin:  "Yeah, I guess.  I mean it's clean and all, but I can't help but feel like I'm missing an opportunity."

Hubs:  "Erin, it's just a closet..."

Erin:  "Yeah.  I'm going to Home Depot"

Hubs:  "I immediately regret that response."

So it was off to Home Depot to blow my $0 budget and buy a quart of a more fun color paint.  I was inspired from all your comments in this post about being a little bold in this room and going for a punch of color.  I've really been wanting to try orange, but orange is so hard to do right, so I thought taking a test in this closet would give me a little practice.  I went with the most muted orange I could find, with a definite gray undertone.  

And the results:

Now I'm just stalling to move those bright orange pictures farther down your screen...


This shot was taken at night, so the color isn't quite as bold as it looks here, but it is bold.  I don't think I would use it on the whole room, but its a fun and unexpected burst of color when the doors open.  It's definitely making me want to repaint the Playroom walls though, likely something a bit more grassy green than the mint to work better with the closet.

I added a few L brackets into the studs under the shelf to give it some support in the middle, and then put everything back in.

 As a reminder, here's our before:

Little bit of an improvement, eh?

I just have the one big shelf on top, but as you can see there's still room above that storage bin for a second shelf if we feel the need for it in the future.

And here's my little man after he politely asked me to step aside so that he could take a photo with his camera.  I asked him what he was going to do with the picture and he responded, "I'm putting it on my blog Mommy."  Duh.

I've created a monster.