Ever since David and I remodeled most of our bathroom last spring, we've been planning a second phase of replacing the craptastic old, stained fiberglass surround shower with a new bathtub and tiling. We've worked our way up in tiling skills (first the kitchen backsplash, then bathroom backsplash, then sunroom floor) so we feel like we're ready to tackle the full-on surround with cement backerboard.
We probably would not have tackled it yet, except that we've had this strange problem with a clog somewhere in the hot water line to the bathtub. (Nowhere else. Just the bathtub. Cue Miserable Showers. You who know how I hate feeling cold know how miserable this is...I type these words with a nice little heater blowing on me...) So our day today started by tracking down this corroded, drippy new problem in the crawlspace:
Apparently the pipe had burst once (before our time) and a simple metal ribbon and clamp method that is supposed to be a temporary fix was used as a permanent fix, until it started getting all corroded and dripping this winter. Lucky us!
We upgraded this entire section of pipe to PEX with helpful advice from Lowes people. And I learned two important plumbery knowledges. 1. Pictures are worth many explanations when trying to get help finding fittings for replacing a line of pipe. 2. PEX is MAGICAL! This stuff is recent awesome pipe technology. It is bendy, goes together easily with no leaks, and is freeze-resistant! Loved. It. A bit more expensive but so, so worth it.
So we fixed the drippy, corroded section of pipe! But - alas - our hot water to the tub remained a miserly drizzle. Boo. So then this happened:
Our tub has a section of empty wall next to it, presumably to fit the one-piece surround which we discovered had been installed in October of 1983. (Me: Dang, that is OLD! It's like, 30! Husband: clearly laughing at me on the inside of his younger self. Me: Hey, I still have like 6 months before then..) We figure that the clog is somewhere up in here, since the hot water gets to the sink fine; it's only after it branches from the sink to the shower that it gets ornery. Then we said to ourselves, selves. We were going to replace the shower anyway, right? Why do the pipes twice? So.
Yep. Guess I'll be getting to the gym this week...if I want my showers...
I've read the accounts of various DIYers redoing their bathtubs (favorite is Emily Winters' account over at MerryPad!), and the best information so far that I have gleaned is: 1. Do not rip out anything before you actually purchase your new tub. (Score! We actually looked at and chose a tub in ONE day! I totally did not plan it to be the same brand, almost exact same model that Emily bought.) 2. Focus on installing the new tub first so that at least bathing can occur before everything else is complete!
We had a little fortuitous hangup on step 2 of that however. When we demo'd the fiberglass one-piece surround (um, we ended up hacking it up with what David informed me is a "scroll saw" that we had on hand in order to fit it out the bathroom door! don't worry, breathing protection was had by all, combined with open windows and major cleanup. Only California knows what's in fiberglass) we discovered that under the drain lived a hole in the return vent of our HVAC system.
This is actually a laughably fortuitous problem to discover, because we've been looking for this hole to repair it, and it's almost completely inaccessible from the crawlspace. But it does mean Day 1 ended before the new tub was in, since we plan to clean out and patch the vent before going on.
But we are motivated! So Day 2 - tomorrow! Except for you, fiberglass ugliness. Unless anyone knows of some fantastically creative recycling to do with fiberglass...?