Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Old House, Part I

A special weekend post that will stun the entire blogosphere...

Our upstairs bathroom is directly above the front entryway of our house. A couple of months ago, we noticed that, due to loosening of the tiles in the upstairs shower, water was seeping down the wall in the front stairwell and staining the ceiling above the front entryway. We called our favorite contractor, Charlie Legare, who beautifully remodeled our downstairs bathroom about five years ago. Today, Charlie came and tore out the ceiling above the front hall, and discovered numerous ugly problems.

In this first photograph, you can see the extensive water damage from water seeping through the cracks in the tile and running down the wall and into the space between the upstairs floor and downstairs ceiling. The darker areas are, in fact, still wet and spongy. The bathtub/shower is directly above them. During the demolition, Charlie found wadded newspapers and old towels that previous owners had crammed into the space under the shower to soak up the dripping water. A real mess.

Here you can see more of the space above the front entry and under the upstairs bathroom floor. The large black pipe runs from the toilet to the soil stack. Originally, the upstairs bathroom was probably just a closet that was converted later to a bathroom. When the conversion was done, the plumbers notched the load-bearing joists to run through the drain from the toilet. In the photograph above, the first joist on the right is entirely severed; the second joist from the right is cracked; the third joist from the right is sagging. Charlie said he would have to go home and sleep on it, and hope a solution to the joist problem comes to him in a dream.


Jim H. said...


Remove damaged wood. Replace wooden joists with tempered steel I-beams used in commercial building or bridge construction (the size of these may require that the bathroom floor be raised or the downstairs cieling be lowered). Cut holes in new steel joists for the toilet pipe (if using a cutting torch, be careful of residual methane). Replace pipe and install new ceiling.

Interest rates on home improvement loans have never been lower!

Option 2: Convert upstairs bathroom to closet.

Happy to help, pal!

Christopher Tassava said...

Jeebus. This gives me the shakes - and reminds me of the St. Paul apartment where I lived senior year. Shortly after I moved out, the toilet in the apartment above mine fell through the rotted floor/ceiling between our apartments. *shudder*

Do you qualify for TARP funds? How about CRAP funds?

Rob Hardy said...

Note: the joists are not load-bearing in the technical sense of supporting a wall, but in the sense of supporting a heavy cast-iron bathtub.

Shan said...

Um. Makes me thankful for my newish house despite its various deficits (i.e. charm, personality, a basement)? Yikes. Good luck!!!

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