Category Archives: bath

Polishing off the upstairs hall bath

It’s been a while since the last post. Jacquela and Steven have tackled small jobs all over the house.

Today, Alpha Glass installed the wall mirror in the upstairs hall bath — one of the last “big” interior jobs.

For the test fitting, Rudi, right, proves that the glass will be level when installed.
This is one of the screws that holds the J channel to the wall. The mirror sits inside the curve of the chrome channel. Each screw has to be drilled into a stud behind the drywall. Steven pulled out his stud finder to help locate the studs — after first printing out photos of the wall under construction, before the drywall went up and after the plumbing and electrical were installed.
Hector squeezed out donuts of black mastic onto the wall. The mirror will be pressed into the mastic, holding it to the wall. The black mastic remains somewhat flexible over time; Rudy says there is a brown mastic that takes a week to cure into something as hard as stone.
Nearly finished. Rudy, right, sprayed glass cleaner and wiped down the new mirror. Hector, left, begins cleaning up the tools.
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When the drain line under the mudroom bath backs up …

When the drain line under the slab, under the mudroom bathroom backs up, water and crap comes up from the toilet and shower drains. It’s a flood. Second time this has happened since we moved into the house. The immediate crisis is to mop up the crap and get a plumber to the house in the middle of the night to snake the line clean.

After that, we let the room and walls dry out. Then Ranserve comes back to peel off the ruined baseboard trim. And we discover that mold has begun to grow on the drywall paper. We caught it in time. Small spores. Odell from Ranserve sprayed a mold killer. 24 hours later Steven applied a second spray, waited 24 hours, applied a third spray, waited 24 hours, scrubbed the drywall as clean as possible with an abrasive sponge, then a fourth spray of mold killer.

1-dsc_3781Now Odell gets to come back to install replacement trim — and Steven is scheduling a plumber to inspect the main lines under the house with a camera, in hopes of determining why this has happened twice, whether it is systemic, and what the options might be to keep the lines clean.

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Taking apart the shelf in the shower

The grout under the gray quartz shelves in the master shower cracked, giving water a route to the structure behind the tile. We discovered this in July. Jacquela and Steven have used the shower in the hall bath since, to ensure no more water penetrates behind the tile and into the lumber.

Today, Joe from Austin Stone carefully chiseled the grout away from the quartz shelf, freeing the shelf, exposing the blue waterproofing that was applied to keep the lumber dry. In turn, that revealed how the shelf was cemented — with the same epoxy grout used to seal the joints between wall and floor tiles. This epoxy grout is inflexible — which means … it apparently cracked apart as it cured and as the shower pan and walls settled.

Joe begins with a painter's blade, scraping grout out of the joint under the shelf.
Joe begins with a painter’s blade, scraping grout out of the joint under the shelf.
With the grout removed between the top of the shelf and the wall tiles, Joe levers the shelf up -- carefully.
With the grout removed between the top of the shelf and the wall tiles, Joe levers the shelf up — carefully.
That reveals the spacers and dried epoxy grout used to mount the shelf -- and the blue waterproofing used to seal the structure of the shower stall.
That reveals the spacers and dried epoxy grout used to mount the shelf — and the blue waterproofing used to seal the structure of the shower stall.
The shelf, lifted free.
The shelf, lifted free.

For the next step — Odell from Ranserve and Joe applied silicon to the blue waterproofing. Silicon is flexible where grout is not. This will allow the shelf to “float” as the house continues to settle. Finally, they set the shelf into the silicon — to spend the weekend curing into position.

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Oh, crap. Again

The main drain line under the slab, from the mudroom, under the kitchen, under the office, to the whole-house cleanout at the front of  the house, plugged. Again. And flooded the mudroom bath. Again. With crap coming up in the mudroom through the shower drain and from under the toilet. At 830 pm.

Ron Dahlke from Ranserve asked Steven to call for help.

Jose from AAA Auger arrived about 930. As Steven donned rubber gloves to mop up the mess, Jose snaked the drain line from the cleanout in the garage at the back of the mudroom bath. No joy. Jose snaked the line from the main cleanout at the front of the house. No joy. We determined that bath 3 and Jadin’s bath still functioned. We arranged for Jose to return in the morning with a more-powerful snake and his camera.

1-dsc_3607About 930 am the next morning, Jose inserted the camera into the drain line. We discovered a “belly” in the drain line where it intersects with the line that drains the sink. Everything collects in the belly.

1-dsc_3616Steven asked Jose to call for the hydraulic power wash needed to flush the line clean.

Here’s the special nozzle fitted to the end of a standard hose. There’s a main jet at the front end of the nozzle; that jet dislodges the crap. A series of smaller jets at the back end of the flange on the nozzle push the crap down the line, flushing the line clean.

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It worked. Yay.

Ron Dahlke arrived to consult. Jose alerted Ron to the belly in the drain line. Steven asked Ron to research a technique that “re-lines” the inside of the existing pipe — as an alternative to trenching under the foundation by hand, digging out the old pipe, replacing the old pipe with PVC, backfilling the trench — a labor-intensive process that takes weeks and costs multiple tens of thousands of dollars. The alternative approach sandblasts corrosion out of the old cast-iron pipe, sprays an epoxy onto the interior walls of the pipes, inserts a balloon into the pipe to hold the epoxy to the walls of the pipe, deflates and removes the balloon — and reportedly leaves behind a cast-iron pipe that is lined with a PVC-like material to which nothing adheres, which means the crap flows to the sewer line at the street — as it is supposed to operate.

Stay tuned.

We don’t want to have to do this again in six months.

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New discovery for punch list

IMG_20160702_120748The grout under the shelves in the master shower is separating between the underside of the quartz shelves and the vertical wall tiles. The gap is one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch wide.

Jacquela makes the discovery while cleaning the shower — which means this fault is new, because the shower was cleaned two weeks ago and this problem did not exist.

Are the shelves lifting? Are the walls and floor of the shower settling?

Steven takes pix and reports the new problem to Ranserve.

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Two steps forward

Julian and Samuel today completed work on the new floor in the master shower. Tomorrow, we scrub-a-dub for the first time without walking down the hall to bath 3 — if the plumbing is not blocked.

Kyle and Andrew from Cowart arrived mid-morning to tweak the garage doors. The checked the sensors — looking for what triggers an intermittent error message on the door to the new garage bay. Nothing. So they opted to install a new wall control — in part because one of the paddle switches was broken.

After that, Kyle and Andrew drove to Sea Eagle to inspect and adjust one of the garage doors that would not operate — the sensors were out of alignment.

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Mosaic remediation

Jacquela objected to the mis-alignment of grout lines in the master shower. Jacquela and Steven debated what to do with Ron Dahlke and Mark Rehberg.

Today, Julian begins remediation.

Above, Julian mortars 12×12-inch sheets of 2×2 black mosaic tile, using the 12×18 black tile as the underlayment. This requires acrylic mortar to help prevent the growth of mold between the two layers of tile.

Julian returns tomorrow to grout the tile.

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T minus 6 days

Team Ranserve continue working through the punch list as we count down to moving in.

Odell called for the Final Inspection. The inspector arrived. Emerald Hill failed. As expected. This inspector is new to the remodel. He requires more documentation of where the two layers of fire-resistant drywall are and are not installed in the garage, around the mudroom. The previous inspector approved two layers around the mudroom and one layer on the walls that do not connect with the body of the house. Odell is attempting to contact that previous inspector for clarification and resolution.

Above, Julian test fits the 12×12 sheets of 2×2 black tiles that will become the final floor of the master shower. This is how we resolve an issue that has festered since November, when the shower floor was first tiled. The grout lines do not line up. Jacquela objected — the first issue she ever raised on this project. Julian laid out the mosaics. Jacquela arrived to inspect. She approved. Julian is five sheets of tile short. Odell ordered the tile. Now we wait for delivery and install.

Thisi s a mock-up of what the floor will look like when done. Julian left the border on each side open, dry fitting the tile for full sheets to calculate how many more tiles he needs and how much cutting will be required.
Thisi s a mock-up of what the floor will look like when done. Julian left the border on each side open, dry fitting the tile for full sheets to calculate how many more tiles he needs and how much cutting will be required.
In the garage, Odell remounted the fluorescent ceiling lights -- taken down to put up drywall required by the inspector -- and the electricians wired them up again. Odell also trimmed out around the attic hatch.
In the garage, Odell remounted the fluorescent ceiling lights — taken down to put up drywall required by the inspector — and the electricians wired them up again. Odell also trimmed out around the attic hatch.
Jacinto is back for day 2 of scraping up the red linoleum tiles from the garage floor. He reports his shoulders shudder as he falls asleep -- induced from hammering the scraper at the edge of each tile, prying it loose from the glue. Most of the tiles shatter into dried-out shards. Steven attempted to help yesterday. He got up two tiles in five minutes, with a new understanding of physical labor.
Jacinto is back for day 2 of scraping up the red linoleum tiles from the garage floor. He reports his shoulders shudder as he falls asleep — induced from hammering the scraper at the edge of each tile, prying it loose from the glue. Most of the tiles shatter into dried-out shards. Steven attempted to help yesterday. He got up two tiles in five minutes, with a new understanding of physical labor.
At the garage door into the mudroom, and around the door to the back yard, floating the drywall is completed and Odell trimmed out both doors to match the interior trim. He also mounted the garage door openers to the wall -- they were hanging loose before this, waiting for the drywall work to finish.
At the garage door into the mudroom, and around the door to the back yard, floating the drywall is completed and Odell trimmed out both doors to match the interior trim. He also mounted the garage door openers to the wall — they were hanging loose before this, waiting for the drywall work to finish.
Inside the mudroom bath, the wall behind the sink is now patched -- and Odell is again test fitting the drain line and T-trap.
Inside the mudroom bath, the wall behind the sink is now patched — and Odell is again test fitting the drain line and T-trap.

Upstairs in the master bath, Odell discovered that the left-hand medicine cabinet is not centered over the sink faucet; he will take it down and recenter it. He also ordered a replacement for one of the sink faucets, which seems to have developed a permanent slow leak via the cartridge.

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T minus 8 days

Steven brought the Schlage Connect smart lock online for the first time, programming in new entry codes. Jadin tested hers — and then threatened to lock Dad out of the house …

Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.
Austin Air connected the component devices for the make-up air system to the exhaust hood in the kitchen. Odell reports the electricians will connect all this to power sometime Thursday.

Climbing a ladder, Steven twisted and locked the Engenius Wireless Access Points into position in the library ceiling downstairs and upstairs hallway. In the electronics closet upstairs, Steven unpacked the Power-over-Ethernet switch, pulled three Ethernet cables out of his bag of network cables, plugged everything up — and the WAPs lit up with power, looking for signal. There are several hours of configuration and testing ahead …

In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.
In the mudroom, yesterday, Odell opened up the wall and relocated the drain line into proper position, directly underneath where the drain will mount in the sink.

Today, Odell returned to the mudroom with several pipe fittings, working on proper installation of the T-trap for the mudroom sink. He got everything snugged up, with no leaks after wrapping the threads with tape. Then he took it all apart, putting up the parts for final installation after the drywall team patches the wall …

Odell also pulled out his metal detector and went in search of the control wire for the sprinkler system. Kevin dug this out before the garage slab was poured. Someone cut the wire that was coiled near the formwork. Odell did not find the wire today. More spelunking to come …

The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim ...
The painters continue to tweak the ceilings, walls, baseboards, trim …
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Blower door test — and more

Today’s agenda at Emerald Hill stacked up meetings and tasks:

  • Gutters
  • Time Warner Cable for Internet, phone, TV services
  • Brett Grinkmeyer, architect, and his tour of Emerald Hill with prospective clients
  • Tyson from Granite Security for a tutorial on the security system
  • Blower door test
  • Cut down the hackberry tree at the northeast corner of the house
  • Assemble more Ikea furniture
  • Set up a computer in the pantry, out of traffic, to work on ShowStoppers @ Mobile World Congress

Above, Alex from ATS and Jonathan from Austin Air review the duct plans with Ron from Ranserve, in preparation for the blower door test.

Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Jonathan measures airflow from the duct in bedroom 1 as part of the blower door test.
Alex assembles the blower door.
Alex assembles the blower door.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH -- air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
We passed! The City of Austin requires less than 5 ACH — air changes per hour. Alex and Jonathan confirm that Emerald Hill is tightly insulated and not leaking a lot of air. Ron is smiling at this measure of quality.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Tyson showed Steven how to configure and use the alarm system that we prewired into the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Rodriguez from Gilsa uses a chunk of concrete to grind stains off the first paver in front of the house.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking -- needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Ron and Kevin opened up the stair wall to add more blocking — needed to support the shower wand in the bathroom on the other side of the wall.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Taking out the hackberry tree that was leaning toward the house.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Stripped of most branches in just 10 minutes.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.
Sections of trunk cut smaller to make them lighter when carrying off to the chipper.

 

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