When home renovations go bad!

Not every renovation goes exactly as planned. Sometimes, you have the little curveballs that make an otherwise simple fix into a veritable nightmare.

I hit one of those last night.

I spent most of the weekend cleaning up the basement in preparation for junk removal and for the beginning of renovation work (notably the rough-ins for the downstairs bathroom). That meant moving out a lot of materials that formerly occupied space (e.g. Gyp-Roc, pieces of wood), demolishing the brick fireplace (harder than it sounds), and de-wiring.

The de-wiring was “fun”. And I use “fun” in the same sense that having a full-body depilatory is “invigorating”. The people who wired the house connected downstairs circuits to the upstairs (and vice-versa), and even created whole loops that were separated from the breaker (wholly dependent on a seemingly-unrelated circuit). Several hours and a circuit tester later, it was actually down to something reasonably attractive (though wouldn’t pass the code inspection). It’ll do for now.

If I had been smart, that’s where I would have left it.

But as you all already know, that is one adjective that you can’t apply to me.

We have a water softener. We hate it (when you feel oily trying to get clean, that’s not good), and wanted to remove it. I found a way to bypass it which made things better, but the unit was more-or-less in the way of the rough-in work that’s to come soon.

Believing that I had the skills to make those repairs on my own, I decided to give that a whirl. So at 17:00 Sunday afternoon, I turned the water to the house off, cut the PEX pipes and removed the softener. Then using a length of PEX and two 90-degree elbows, spliced the line back together. In theory, it should work.

In reality, it was like being under Niagara Falls.

I tried several times to fix the issue, but it just wouldn’t cooperate. I don’t know why — I’ve used PEX before, and it works fine!

I think it’s the crampless connectors. I don’t think they’re worth the plastic they’re made out of.

Back to Home Depot to get a soldering torch and two copper elbows. Cut off the PEX pipes, solder the joints together, attach to the copper pipes.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

No amount of heat could get the joints dry enough to add more solder. I even tried cutting them off and resoldering them to reattach. No luck. I had to tell my very-pregnant and very-sore wife who desperately wanted a bath that there was no running water.

Heels don’t come in sizes that big, I’ll tell you. “Shmuck” doesn’t even come close.

I called the plumber this morning, effectively begging for help. By 9:30, they’d arrived, spend all of 20 minutes repairing the mess I’d made, and water was restored to the house.

Lesson learned. Thankfully, the next time around, I’ll know what to spend my time doing.

2 Replies to “When home renovations go bad!”

  1. bah.. that’s nothing. try moving into a new place and finding raw sewage under the basement sub floor within an hour of getting your keys and then spending father’s day weekend down there with your dad cleaning up the sewage by hand…

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