Demo Day: That Time We Built A Wall

Better yet, that time we *accidentally* built a wall.

How does one accidentally build a wall, you may be asking? Just like eating an elephant – one bite at a time.

So here’s the backstory. Years ago, when an old lady owned the house, something that can only be described as a “bump-out” was added bumping out of the dining room and jutting into the garage. A superstructure that was about 6 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and the height of the house, built to hold a washer/dryer. But that never happened and at some point it was turned into a wet bar. We found the whole thing annoying and useless, since the kitchen sink was 4 steps away, we didn’t need a wet bar in the kitchen, it took up a huge amount of garage space, and it turned the dining area into a hallway. So we decided to remove it.

However, we’d been stymied for weeks by the cold water line that ran from the basement up into the garage and into the bump-out wet bar sink. The shutoff valve was completely seized. We tried everything the internet recommended: PB Blaster, a hair dryer, tapping on it with a metal object, loosening the bonnet nut. Nothing worked. We tried for a week, regularly spraying it with the PB Blaster and heating it with the hair dryer. One day, getting really frustrated, B noticed that not 2 feet from the worthless valve the pipes transitioned from copper to PVC. PVC isn’t nearly so scary. We can deal with PVC.

So cut to last weekend. We picked up some PVC caps, PVC solvent and PVC cement and set to work. Our only ONLY goal last weekend was to shut off this cold water line.

Step 1: We shut off the water successfully. Yay! This is good to know anyway.
Step 2: B cut the PVC line with a hack saw and we crossed our fingers. All was good and no water started shooting out across the room. Double yay!
Step 3: I grabbed the 1/2″ PVC caps we picked up that morning, only to find out they were WAY too big. Who knew that PVC and CPVC were very different things, and 1/2″ PVC is very different than 1/2″ CPVC. Well, we do now. So after three (yes, 3) trips to our local True Value, we were ready to go. One trip for the cap. A second trip when we realized that our PVC cement couldn’t be used on CPVC. A third trip (grrrr) when our can of PVC/CPVC solvent wouldn’t open. I didn’t go along on that third trip, I was too embarrassed.  (There was even a 4th trip later, to get black contractor garbage bags).
Step 4: After reading the instructions on the solvent and the cement twice, we assembled a work station directly under the open water lines and set to cap them. Solvent on the cap – solvent on the pipe – solvent on the cap. Then cement on both and quickly put them together, followed by a 1/4 turn. Then breathe.
Step 5: The same process repeated on the hot water line. Which wasn’t a big deal at all because the shutoff valve for the hot water line worked just fine. Go figure.

Both water lines capped, we set out to celebrate! But wait….

Remember how Step 1 was to turn off the water? Here’s where we hadn’t quite done our research. PVC cement is cured in 2 hours. CPVC cement needs a minimum of 12. Suddenly we were looking down the barrel of 12 hours, no water. It was noon when we got them capped, so that would be midnight. Oh well, it was a Saturday, no big deal. With that in mind, we thought we’d just start small with the bump-out – remove the sink and counter, and get all the cabinets out of there. That way, when we were ready for demo those items would be out of the way.

That was the slippery slope. The cabinets and sink were out in less than an hour. Next I thought I’d just remove the electrical plates so those were out of the way. And then we’d just remove the styrofoam insulation on the garage side. Well, before we knew it, we were in full-on demo mode. After the first hole was in the wall going from dining room to garage there was no looking back. So we went in head first. Unscrewing and removing drywall. Then shouting with disgust at the amount of mouse residue we found behind that drywall – but at least we found out where the basement mice were getting in. Then we shut the power off and un-wired the switches and outlets. By mid afternoon the sawzall was out and chopping through the 4×6 joists. We were demo maniacs!

We were feeling pretty weary after dinner but were still trying our best to finish demo by that midnight water deadline (the time when which we could shower!). We trudged back. B finished removing the last wall, and started on the floor, which was 2″ plywood with linoleum glued on it so you couldn’t see the screw heads, over the top of 2×12 floor joists. 2×12!!! What madness is that??? While he did that, I finished removing some more drywall, and set to carefully cut the vinyl fake-wood flooring along a nice straight line where the new wall would be. That was tough stuff. A million score lines with a razor blade, and some more work with a hacksaw finally did the trick.

By 10pm we were dead and starting to make mistakes. So we wrapped it up for the night and set to finish demo in the morning. The shower that night was the best shower of my life, washing off a day’s worth of drywall dust, mouse poo, insulation fibers, sawdust, and sweat. Lovely! Even better – the water lines held!

Sunday morning we popped up bright and early, determined to finish! We had the last bit of drywall and that insane 2×12 floor gone by 10am. Then off to Home Depot to buy 2×6’s and new fresh drywall. We alternated putting up the new wall with taking trips of waste to our local drop-off site, and by 5pm or so we were looking at a beautiful wall in the dining room. A wall back where it originally was, many years ago. Even better, the garage suddenly looked significantly bigger.

Are we done? Not even close. I still have to put the electrical outlets back in the new wall, we have to add insulation, drywall on the garage side, and seal off the eaves that lead into the attic. But we’re much closer than we were 48 hours prior.

What started as a goal to cap a water pipe ended with the complete demolition of a frustrating super structure and the construction of a brand new replacement wall. All in 36 hours. OH and we hauled way all the demo materials, AND the water caps have held just fine for almost a week!

I think we can call this project a success!

Demo Day!

PS check out before and after pics on Instagram! @scenicroutevintage

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