Our House

The Joys Of Buying An Older Home (Faulty Plumbing and More Asbestos)

Just to warn you upfront, my mind is kind of all over the place this morning. So while I’ll try to make this post as coherent as possible, I make no promises. 🙂

When we had our house inspected before we bought it, the inspector mentioned that the plumbing was a problem. He said the house had galvanized pipes, and I’m sure he explained to me why that was a problem, but to be honest I was in such a complete haze that day just from receiving one piece of bad news after another from him.

(Have I mentioned that I almost backed out of buying the house after having it inspected? No? It’s true. I went home that day and spent HOURS on Realtor.com looking for another house. To say that I was a overwhelmed and freaked out by the inspection would be an understatement.)

So while I knew that galvanized pipes were a bad thing, and they’d need to be replaced eventually, I don’t think I knew just how serious the problem was.

One of the things that the inspection revealed was that the hot water heater not only had some of the worst corrosion that the inspector had ever seen, but it was out of code. (Code states that the hot water heater has to be raised up 18 inches off of the floor — I think that’s if it’s in a garage.)

So obviously we needed to get a new hot water heater ASAP (the sellers actually gave us an allowance for a new hot water heater), and have it raised off the floor of the garage so that it would be in code.

Now the strange thing about our hot water heater is the location. It’s located in the garage, but on the far side of the garage. See it in the right back corner? And see the door into the den on the left side? Yeah…it’s weird.

Garage 01 - resized

In other words, it’s on the farthest side from the house. And the master bathroom is located waaaaaay on the complete opposite end of the house. That’s a long way for hot water to travel!! (This will make more sense when I get the floor plan drawn, which I’m working on! I promise!)

So our plan all along was to just go ahead and have the hot water heater replaced in its current position, and then at a later date, create a utility room somewhere inside the house (more details on that soon!), and have the hot water heater moved to the utility room at that time.

That was the plan. Until Monday.

The plumber and his assistant came on Monday to get everything hooked up for me, and I was fully expecting to have hot water by the end of the day.

Well, I’m still without hot water.

I wish I could have recorded my conversation with the plumber just so each of you could get a feel for the way he talks. He’s one of these people who doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He says everything in as few words as possible — very direct, very matter-of-fact, kind of loud and forceful, quick, and short. If his speaking were written musically, it would be played in staccato.

So he and his assistant were out in the garage getting ready to hook up the hot water heater (I was tearing out the hall closet at this time), when I heard the door open and he yells out in his staccato manner, “Kristi! I need you in here!”

As soon as I got into the garage, he says, “You know you’re not gonna have hot water much longer, right?”

I shook my head “yes”, thinking that he meant that they were going to have to turn the water off to the house to do their work.

He looked at me and asked again, “You know that, right? You’re not gonna have hot water!”

Then I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face. Clearly he was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t getting it. Then with his next sentence, I got it.

“You’ve got galvanized pipes here, and they’re almost completely corroded. Before too long, water won’t be able to get through there at all. You’re not gonna have hot water.”

Naturally, I was frustrated by the news, but still a bit confused as to why it seemed to be such a big issue.

I said, “Well? Okay? You can replace those, right?”

In his quick, matter-of-fact manner, he said, “Well, no. Not without doing the whole house.”

*Sigh* Okay, obviously that would mean more money. But if it had to be done (and I knew it did because the inspector had warned me), then it had to be done. We’d just have to bite the bullet and get it done sooner rather than later as planned.

So I said, “Well, how much will that cost? Can we just go ahead and do that?”

He said, “Well, I don’t know! I mean, nobody can get under the house to get to the pipes!”

Oooookay, so let me back up here.

I forgot to mention that while we do have a pier and beam house, it was evidently built by tree-dwelling elves of the Keebler variety who clearly forgot that one day, actual humans would have to get under the house.

The inspector wouldn’t go under the house because he simply wouldn’t fit. The bug guy (i.e., the termite inspector) wouldn’t go under the house, because he wouldn’t fit either. And same with the plumber. Up to that point, there simply hadn’t been anyone who would actually fit under the house.

So back to the conversation with the plumber.

He said, “Well, nobody can fit under the house!  I sure can’t fit under there!”

I started getting incredibly irritated at that point, and I said, “So are you telling me that I’m just out of luck??!!!”

He shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, we can get at the pipes another way.”

And then he said the words that caused red, hot, fiery, flaming darts from the deepest pit of hell to shoot from my eyes…

He said, “Just don’t do anything to your floors, because we’ll have to cut holes in each room to get to the pipes.  We’ve had to do it before, and we’ll have to do it here.”

I swear to you, I thought I was going to explode.  I wanted to punch him in the face as hard as I could for being so flippant about it.  I could feel my face getting hot, and tears start to well up in my eyes.

And then buyer’s remorse rushed in like a tsunami.  It was all I could do to hold my tongue.

Then he turned to his assistant (who happened to be a man of smaller stature) and said, “Go grab your flashlight and come see if you can fit into this scuttle hole.”

So after waiting a few minutes (that actually felt like an eternity) as they searched for a flashlight, and then walked around the outside of the house looking through the vents into the crawl space, they finally came inside and into the bedroom closet where the scuttle hole is located.

His assistant looked in, and said those six words that made the clouds part, and angels sing, and hope return to my heart.

“Yeah, I think I can fit.”

I stood there and watched him twist and turn and contort his body to get into that small scuttle hole, and then into the very shallow crawl space, and just about had a panic attack watching it.  In fact, I had to leave the room.  I couldn’t watch it any longer.

But the good news….he fit!  And he was able to get underneath the house everywhere he needed to go in order to do the work that needs to get done.

And the best news of all?

My hardwood floors are safe!!  Their lives have been spared!

😀

And I wanted to throw my arms around that assistant and give him the biggest hug and kiss he’s ever gotten in his life.

But I didn’t.

That would have been awkward.

So since they’re going to have to do all of this work (which will be done next week), I decided to go ahead and have the hot water heater moved, and have new washer and dryer hookups installed, in the place that will eventually be the utility room.  (Again, more on that soon.)

So what should have cost around $1000 is now going to cost $2500.  But that’s okay.  I’ll have all new, updated plumbing, my hot water heater and washer/dryer hookups will be in the correct place, and I’ll still end up with beautifully refinished hardwood floors.

And that’s the story of why I almost killed the plumber.  🙂

While they were there, they did go ahead and remove the gas valves that were in each room.

Vintage gas valves in the wall of a 1948 house

So now I’m left with just holes in the walls.  That means I can now easily remove the baseboards that I’ll be replacing.

Hole in the wall from where the original gas valve was located in a 1948 home

And I’m also the proud owner of five vintage gas valves.

Vintage gas valves from a 1948 house

I told the plumber, “Please don’t throw those away! I want to keep those. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but I definitely want to keep them.”

He said, “I can tell you exactly what you’ll do with ’em. You’ll put ’em in a junk drawer somewhere and forget about ’em.”

😀

Oh, and remember how I had water pipes sticking up from the floor in the kitchen (presumably where a washer or portable dishwasher once stood)?

Kitchen 08 - resized

They removed those also.

plumbing pipes in kitchen 1

And just as soon as I took that picture, I said to myself, “Kristi, you know at least one person will ask you why you haven’t taken two minutes and removed that cabinet yet.”

So I put down my camera, got my drill, and took two minutes to remove that cabinet. So to that person who would have asked me that, here you go. 🙂

plumbing pipes in kitchen 2

Now I’m left with four holes in my kitchen floor, one of which is the perfect size for a rattlesnake (or any other kind of snake, for that matter) to crawl through. Yeah. That freaks me out a bit.

plumbing pipes in kitchen 3

But at least there’s progress, so that’s good.

And one other bit of news. I started taking up the carpet in the den yesterday, and I found more asbestos tiles….plus, a big crack in the concrete.

The crack wasn’t a surprise. I knew it was there. The asbestos tiles were a surprise.

asbestos floor tiles - nine inch square tiles

How do I know they’re asbestos? Because they’re 9″ x 9″ tiles. Those are definitely asbestos. Having these tested would be a waste of time and money.

The good thing is that I don’t plan on removing these. I’ll just put plywood down (i.e., encapsulate them), and then put new flooring on top.

At least, that’s the plan.

And wow…if you’ve read to this point, I feel like I should reward you in some way. I would have stopped about two paragraphs in and said, “Too many words, not enough pictures. I’ll come back tomorrow.” 😀



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98 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa
    August 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Eeep! Thinking of that plumber squishing himself down under your house gives me the heebie jeebies!!! It’s a good job you had that cupboard to destroy for stress relief lol. But yay, floors and all new plumbing!

  • Reply
    Cebu Homes and Lifestyle Living
    August 28, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I think that plumber is kinda cool. Because of his directness, you got to have the work done in no time and thank God to his assistant!

  • Reply
    Andrea
    August 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Holy gorganzola cheese Batman… you got major cahones. Blessings to you in your labor of love.

  • Reply
    Krikit
    August 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

    May the crawl space gods bestow favor upon your plumber’s assistant next week!

    :::whew!::: What an adventure! (As my dear hubs says.) ~:)

  • Reply
    Erin
    August 28, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I probably would have kissed the little plumber’s assistant. Hang in there. I look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you are going to do to your home.

  • Reply
    Tina @ Living Life Wright
    August 28, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Oh Kristi … you have more self control than I would have had. I probably would have went off in a bad way! I am so glad that it all worked out in your favor! Good luck with all of renovations!

  • Reply
    Cathy Tichy
    August 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Kristy – I am enjoying your adventure and just wanted to say that many years ago I bought an older house and lived through a lot of the same things (and more) but had the fun of having my Dad around to help me learn the DIY skills. Thanks so much for sharing all of the good AND the bad of your adventure!! I did go eek when I thought they were going to tear up your floors…..

  • Reply
    Michelle Robertson
    August 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Kristie,
    I have lived in my 1960’s house now for 21 years and it is always something! You will have so many twist and turns it could make your head spin! But I know you will have the pride in knowing what a difference you will make to your home. P.S. when I saw those gas valve’s I was thinking…hope she keeps those to do something with later.

  • Reply
    Ayisha
    August 28, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Oh Kristi, I feel bad for you having to experience this just days after buying your house but in the future you will be happy that these things got done sooner than later. What if you had refinished your floors and then the pipes completely corroded and then you had to cut the floors all up. I ate when guys talk to me like that. There are better ways of delivering bad news. I am happy that you shared this story and I found it entertaining. Especially the part about the plumber speaking in “staccato” I totally got what your were trying to convey.

  • Reply
    Maria
    August 28, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I see a vintage gas valve coat hook rack in your future! What a journey for you, cant wait to see what you do with this place!

  • Reply
    Ashley W.
    August 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I literally gasped when you said that they were going to cut holes in all of your beautiful hardwood floors! Glad they don’t have to!
    I would use the old gas valves as towel hooks.

  • Reply
    Kiran
    August 28, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Can’t wait to see what you do with those valves! I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. I know how you feel. My old house was the same way. It will get better!
    And for Pete’s sake, please stuff something in those holes! I’m terrified of what might come through them!

  • Reply
    Sheila E
    August 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I very strongly suggest that if there’s any way possible, buy a tankless hot water heater. I promise that you’ll be glad that you did. They last longer, produce more hot water than any tank heater can- instantly, and it is much easier to service/replace. Plus it will save you money on your utility bill (electric or gas). I wish I had, I really do.

    • Reply
      Gilmer Gal
      August 28, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      If I ever get to build a house, tankless, here I come! I live in a newer home, we have two water heaters in the attic. Ever come back from a wonderful weekend away and find your garage has a substantial amount of water on the floor – and it’s coming from sheetrocked walls? If I can get them in another home, then I’ll go the extra expense of having them installed in all baths, kitchen, and utility room. They’re pretty small units, and I believe it would be worth it in the longrun.
      As far as having your water heater put in the house, if it is done correctly and to code, should it leak, it will have a pan under it and a drainoff if there is a leakage problem. Mine didn’t work because the contractor did NOT put a pan under my water heater. I wonder where he lives now…

    • Reply
      Terri Ball
      August 29, 2013 at 1:53 am

      I can sing the praises of a tankless water heater. We had a 80 gallon hot water tank and replaced it (2006) with a Powerstream Pro tankless. WE have NEVER ran out of hot water since. This is including when our daughter (that takes 30 minute hot showers) and her 3 kids (under 5 years old- lots of laundry) were on an extended (2 years) stay with us. We have an all electric system with geo thermal for heat and air. I do believe they make gas tankless also. If you had your gas hookups taken out and thinking about getting another heat system- some of the heat pump systems can also heat your water. Next best thing it does not have to keep reheating water all the time like in a tank -no water to leak out the bottom . It is a box that hangs on the wall- ours is about 14×20 and sticks out about 4 inches. The cost was very compareable to tank type, now no gas bill and our electric bill went down too (we had gas tank but electric pumps). And you get a tax credit on the energy bill. Most definitely worth checking into.

  • Reply
    Margo
    August 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

    I was just wondering if you were planning on replacing your water heater with the old standard water heater or the new ones that are about the size of a suitcase and heat the water as you use it? I am thinking that when its time to replace ours I am going to get the new style.. Our water heater is in our basement and our 2nd bathroom is on the other side of the house on the first floor and it just takes to long to get hot water that far and then your left with a short time frame of hot water… Sorry I can’t remember what the dang things are called?

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Do you mean a tankless water heater? We’re not planning on that for now. We’re just going to go with a regular 50-gallon tank water heater. But we might upgrade in a few years, especially when we tackle the master bathroom remodel. I’d like it to have its own water heater, and a tankless would definitely be a great option.

  • Reply
    Joan Wyatt
    August 28, 2013 at 11:54 am

    The plumber’s assistant should be rewarded somehow once the job is done. My husband crawled under our 105 year old house to add insulation under the floors. He’s a small/slim guy and it was one of the worst projects he’s ever done. It’s claustrophobic, dirty, nasty, filled with spiders and I think he even found a dead cat. A special thank you gift of some kind is in order. I’m so glad your floors have been spared. What a blessing!

    • Reply
      Joan Wyatt
      August 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

      Oh, and I second the suggestion about the tankless water heater. Hot water on demand and cheaper utility bills.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 8:56 am

      I love the idea of a special thank you gift for him! After all, he saved my floors! 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather
    August 28, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Oh, Kristi… I am just reading every word of this and feeling- excited for you, but also kind of cringing at all of the bad things that come up. I wish you well, for sure, and thank you for posting all of the nitty-gritty details.

  • Reply
    Lee Ann P
    August 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Our 1915 Craftsman bungalow had holes in the wooden floor from pipes that had been removed. We found these while pulling up the old vinyl flooring. Since they were in the middle of the room, we had to decide to replace all the boards, which were kind of a weird size, or get creative. We got hold of a sheet of old copper, cut it into the right size pieces to cover the holes, and crimped the edges under to make them smooth. Tacked them down with little brass nails. Now, it did not make for a perfect wooden floor for some people, but we loved that it added to our home’s story.

  • Reply
    Deanna Middleton
    August 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Love reading every word!

  • Reply
    toni
    August 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    stuff the holes full of steel wool. That might help keep the critters out for the time being.

  • Reply
    Leslie
    August 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Great post ! Kristi – you are just precious!! And talented.. but you already knew that.

  • Reply
    Lindia
    August 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I would definitely look into the tankless water heaters. When I was looking about 5 years ago our contractor said not to get one because the opening (of a hose or spout or something?) was so small that it really reduced the amount of water coming out of the faucet. Maybe they have changed or updated them?

    “Yay” that your hardwood floors have been saved and I will admit to being the person who looked at the picture and thought, “Wow, that is one ugly cabinet. I hope it’s coming down!” LOL 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie
    August 28, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Kristi – you crack me up! I love to read your posts! Not only for the knowledge and insight of DIY projects but also because I love your humor and the way you look at things!

  • Reply
    Runt
    August 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Eeek! I’m glad they didn’t have to cut into your floors!!!! Luckily that guy was able to fit in the crawl space. Luckily, we have a walk-in crawl space. My Hubs used to do work where he had to constantly go into people’s crawl spaces – sometimes he would have to tummy crawl. Ah! I do have a question though – isn’t it better (for sake of anything going wrong) that the water heater be left in the garage and not brought into the house?? What if leaks or busts or something like that?! Wouldn’t you rather have that in the garage than in the house?!

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:01 am

      I’d rather have it in the house, BUT they are going to put a pan under it in case of leaks. Since it’s a gas water heater, if it’s in the garage, I wouldn’t be able to use any flammable products in the garage, such as oil-based paint, stain, varnish, polyurethane, etc. (That’s how my grandparents’ house caught on fire, and my grandmother had severe burns over 60% of her body. They didn’t think she’d survive.) And since I want half of the garage to be my workroom, that would be a major inconvenience for me. So I’d rather have it out of the garage so I can be free to use my paints and stains as I need to.

      • Reply
        Runt
        September 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

        Oh okay, well that definitely makes sense! Our washer and dryer are on the second floor and we have a pan under our washer. It’s definitely convenient to have it on the second floor since that’s where all of the rooms are and I don’t have to worry about carrying stuff up and down the stairs, but I do know some people prefer it on the ground floor. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandparents’ house! And I sure hope your grandmother is okay.

  • Reply
    Sheri
    August 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Those smaller holes look like a cross section of 1″ dowel will fill them. Just make sure that the dowel is a little bigger than the hole and hammer them in. Then stain them to match the floor. I did that with old cable and phone cord holes, and an unknown larger one. They look okay, and since they are so close to the wall, you will probably put a piece of furniture over the.

    I also second the tankless water heater. I wish I had put one in. I have a huge clawfoot tub and I can’t fill it completely with my new electric water heater (and I live alone).

  • Reply
    julie
    August 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I have a tankless water heater…I like that it is now out of my house and attached to an exterior wall (yes!) but I have to say “water on demand” is a misnomer, at least in my case. It’s true I never ever ever run out of hot water…but I certainly have to wait for it. I mean I have to turn on my faucet and let water run for a minute or two before I receive any hot water. I’ve read about other people complaining about this…AFTER I had mine installed, lol. I needed mine to be out of the house, and this was my only choice (my garage is detached, far down a long driveway)…I’m happy that I can now use what was the old utility closet as part of my new kitchen (!!)…but instant water I do not have. Just a heads up. 😉

    • Reply
      julie
      August 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Just to clarify…my tankless water heater is attached to the outside of my very small house…it is NOT in the detached garage down the driveway. In case you might think THAT is why I have to wait for hot water. Nope!!

    • Reply
      Sheila E
      August 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm

      I have to wait at least that long to get hot water from the tank, in the attic, to the kitchen or powder room on the first floor. IMO, waiting isn’t a biggie… unless I’m waiting for a tankful to heat, up after someone used it all, and I’m in a soon to be too cool bubble bath.

      • Reply
        Sue
        August 29, 2013 at 1:13 am

        Being used to instant hot water, we were surprised how long it too for the hot water to reach our shower, but we have a soaking tub and it never runs out and our bills are less. But another warning is there is a mystery plug of cold water that shoots through a minute or so after it first gets hot. We’ve learned not to jump in the second the hot water appears.

  • Reply
    Gail
    August 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Kristi~Reading your post brought back so many memories..We too bought an old house..It was a foreclosure and was bought as is…So many times l’d wished l could turn back the clock and buy something else..Hang in there, we finished and you will too. It’s so worth it in the end!

  • Reply
    Cheryl
    August 28, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    It’s a delight to get to follow your rehab. We did a ’50s house years ago. It was wonderful and terrible all at the same time. Your final result will be a wonderful place to live your life!

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    August 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Basic maintenance and structural repairs should always come first. You need a firm foundation to build upon. I applaud you for bringing this home back to life. Enjoy the process! I know your readers are definitely finding inspiration already.

  • Reply
    Barbara H.
    August 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    So sorry for your bad news but it will be good news in the end. Much better to have it all done now so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. A word of caution, though, about connections in the wall (shower, etc.) My house was re-plumbed in December 2011 but the plumber did not replace the shower valve when he connected the pex pipes to it. Last week the hot water connection to the shower inside the wall spewew water inside. Very stressful. Fortunately, I had decided not to go out of town for a week for a wedding! So now I have a new shower valve, an open wall, and the plumber is coming back next week to install shutoff valves in the crawl space for that shower and for the tub in the other bathroom. That way, if it happens again, I can still have water in the rest of the house.

  • Reply
    Nancy G
    August 28, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    wow, wow, wow is all I can say. You are so funny in telling your stories. I was afraid that guy would get stuck under your house!! Glad the plumbing is working out for you in the end.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      I was so afraid he was stuck under there! Come to think of it, it wasn’t when he was getting into the scuttle hole that I had to leave. He went in there just to test it out to see if he would fit. He got in okay (although it did take lots of twisting and turning), but it was when he was trying to get out that I couldn’t stand to watch. He had quite a bit of trouble getting out, and the more I watched him struggle, the more I felt like the room was closing in on me. In fact, even that night as I was in bed trying to sleep, I would doze off and start dreaming that it was ME in that hole trying to get out, and I was stuck!!! I think I woke up in a panic about three times. No joke.

  • Reply
    Jeni
    August 28, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Check with your gas/electric company. We have a rental property in Aabama & the power company had a program where they would give you the hot water heater if your old one was not up to code. It was a few years (5ish) ago & I “think” it was a push for energy efficient reasons.

    …and, thank you for removing the lovely flower-power papered cabinet! 😉

    You are on your way & I’m having a blast following you antics! 🙂 Go Girl!

  • Reply
    Kim
    August 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I would have freaked too. There is always way more to do than originally planned. I’ve learned that the hard way myself. Just keep seeing the bigger picture and think how beautiful it will be when it is all done. 🙂

  • Reply
    Naomi Williams
    August 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Do midgets exist anymore, or do people just take hormones for that nowadays? This seems like a huge job opportunity for someone of small stature. I can see the ads now: “The Tiny Contractor: I can complete your tightest jobs!”

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      I think they’re called “little people” now, and believe you me, I would have insisted that he find a little person who happens to be a plumber before I let him cut into my floor!!

  • Reply
    Cyndee Farrell
    August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Can you use those valves on 5 different kegs?! Just kidding, sort of 😉

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 28, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Haha! If I have more days like Monday, I just might be needing five kegs at the house. 😀

  • Reply
    Genelle McDaniel
    August 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Oh, Kristi, I actually stopped long enough to pray to God, thanking him for his blessings on you before I took time to respond. How I love reading your blog. You are super descriptive, and have a way of surmounting every obstacle. My heart sank at the words “buyers remorse” because I was afraid you would give up. I am going through a very similar problem with our plumbing. Something happened that caused water to stand a foot deep under our house. After using a sump pump every day to remove it over and over, we got a plumber out and he found that the galvanized plumbing (1969) had burst under the concrete floor of our utility room where it should have gone into the water tank. It goes underground from the submersible pump, up through the concrete in the utility room and into a water tank. Then goes back under the concrete across the utility room, and in the crawl space to the rest of the house. The plumber made an emergency repair for now. Burst out the concrete and replaced the burst galvanized pipe and left the concrete open. As soon as he can fit it into his schedule, he will return and re-plumb the entire house. I’m sure our water heater is full of sediment, too. We are scheduled to get city water next spring. We are really looking forward to getting rid of all our galvanized plumbing. We also have one bathroom on the far end of the house away from the water heat. That uses way too much electricity. Not only do you have to wait for the hot water to run through all that plumbing, but then you leave hot water in all that plumbing that will get cold and be wasted. We will buy two tankless water heaters, one in the utility room for the rest of the house and another for that bathroom located far away. It will be small enough to fit under the sink, or on top of the return air duct that is in the linen closet. Like someone has already said, pack those holes in the floor with steel wool until you can replace that board. Rats and snakes cannot stand the steel wool sticking into their skin.

    Love your adventure and keep the faith. The only other possible problem you need to get checked out is whether or not you need to replace the wiring. You’d hate to get all that work done and have the house burn from faulty wiring. That will bring your house up to code and make it perfectly safe.

    • Reply
      Genelle McDaniel
      August 28, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      You’re going to have such a jewel when you get it completed, and you’ll never want to move because you have done everything the house is asking for.

      • Reply
        Genelle McDaniel
        August 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

        Suggestion for vintage gas valves: After cleaning them as much as possible, frame them in a shadowbox frame and hang them in your new utility room once it’s finished.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:06 am

      Oh my, what a plumbing nightmare you’ve had to endure!! So sorry to hear about that. It makes my plumbing issues sound like a cake walk!

  • Reply
    Jeni
    August 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Haha. I looked at your cabinet again & just had to come back & add, “Peace out!”

  • Reply
    Jeanne
    August 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Kristi, like many others, I read your blog as soon as I see a new posting. I am enthralled with your adventures/challenges and how you surmount them. Photos are nice, yes, but your writing is interesting all of the time and funny often.

  • Reply
    Gini
    August 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    First, I completely agree about the tankless hot water heater – I have one in our condo and love it. The only problem is if you rely on the water in your hot water tank to see you through a cataclysmic event, you’ll be sh** outta luck 😉

    Second – As I was reading this story I kept seeing dollar signs in my eyes followed by at least 5 figures, which is what it could cost to replace all the plumbing pipes in a house that size up here in Seattle. But of course, your house would have cost about 10 times what yours did if it were in Seattle also. $2500 to replumb an entire house?? Unheard of!

    I agree that this is a blessing in disguise – one of your biggest headaches will be gone and you won’t have to worry about it later.

    Sorry about the plumber 🙁 I would have killed him right then and there. Oh, and I might have to steal your “red, hot, fiery, flaming darts from the deepest pit of hell to shoot from my eyes…” line. PERFECT!

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:09 am

      I actually kept waiting for him to tell me it would cost several thousand dollars, so I was quite pleased with the $2500 amount. In fact, every time I ask him how much something is going to cost, I wait, holding my breath, for the bad news, and it’s always a fraction of what I expect. I told him that, and he said that if I were going through one of the big companies in town, I’d probably be paying many times that amount. But his small company is just him and his assistant, so he has no overhead, and he just charges what he thinks is a reasonable price. Yay for me! 🙂

  • Reply
    Samantha Silva
    August 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Kriti, as soon as I saw the gas valves I thought uh uh towel hanger for the bathroom or maybe laundry room lol I can’t wait to see what you do with it ♥

    Samantha

  • Reply
    Jaclyn
    August 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Love it! You are such an inspiration…

  • Reply
    Anne
    August 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Kristi,
    This is why your blog is so much fun to read. You describe the real-life problems all of us encounter, the emotions, but then you, Super Kristi, come up with a real-life solution. (To be fair, in this one case, the plumber’s assistant gets to wear the cape…but only this one.) Each home has its issues; we always have told ourselves when we learn of one of these punch-in-the-stomach problems, “Well, if it had been perfect, WE could not have afforded it!”
    I suspect you and/or your mom might be good bakers. Maybe you can make the plumber’s assistant a Texas-sized cake since the hug and kiss would have been awkward.
    It will only get better, Kristi!

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

      That plumber’s assistant definitely deserves a cake or cupcakes…and a cape! He saved my floors! 🙂

  • Reply
    Patty
    August 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Congrates on your plumbing conquest. However, have you checked the electrical yet. From one of thepicture you posted, did you see the black markings around one of the outlets in the kitchen? I dont want to be the bearer of possible bad news. But we recently moved in to a 30 year old home and we had similar electrical issues.Better safe than sorry especially in the kitchen where there is much water and electrical outlets. Hope I am wrong.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 28, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      I’m almost certain that what you saw was just years of dirt and grime build-up, but I’ll make a point of checking next time I go over to the house. 🙂 I did ask the inspector specifically about the electrical wiring, and he said from what he saw, everything looked good. I asked specifically about aluminum wiring also (because I’ve heard that’s what can really cause problems and start fires). He said that aluminum was used in the late 60s and early 70s when copper became too expensive, so that was well after my house was built. But with that said, I do want to have an electrician out soon just to look over everything.

  • Reply
    Ann Brooks
    August 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Love your posts. Always read as quickly as they arrive. We did an old house one time and had si nuch fun. The entire small town where we lived thought we were crazy but the end results was well worth the effort. Still my favorite house of all time even though I didn’t get to live in it for very long. The only house my late husband and I ever sold that we cried about as the movers were putting the last of our stuff in the moving van. The floorman used corks (as from a wine bottle) or Hobby Lobby to fill in the holes left by removal of pipes. They blended in with the floor once stained as well as closing up the holes. I am truly enjoying your adventures and look forward to all your posts.

  • Reply
    Carla
    August 28, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I hear you Kristi. The other day when I had a gas leak (after everything else I had endured) I thought “why did I buy this house”? But the next day that feeling was gone. It just takes longer and costs more than any of us think it will but again the end will be so glorious!! I had to have quite a bit of re-wiring done because I had no GCFI outlets in the entire house. When my hot water heater goes I am all for tankless but it is one of the newer things so it will be quite a while which is fine with all the other money that I feel like I am hemorrhaging. But again it will be done my way to my taste as will yours! Few pics no problem.

  • Reply
    Linda
    August 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Kristie, you are amazing and have so much resilience to take all this on. It is way more than a little renovation. You should be very proud of yourself and I am sure we will eventually see a whole house reveal that is beautiful and charming! I love reading your posts because you are so honest about the frustrations of deal with old house major renovation!

  • Reply
    Liz
    August 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Interesting post Kristi! I learned something new about 9×9 tiles. Always a good read…… Keep them coming 🙂

  • Reply
    Sue
    August 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Wow! Such a busy day and your plumber cracks me up. Love his directness but am sorry you have to spend more $$$ than you wanted to. At least everything will be new and working well. Thank God for the assistant and his willingness to go into that crawl space and replace the pipes. As for those holes in the floor, fill them with steel wool and then seal them with wood putty. Should keep the critters out. Your removed that ‘groovy’ cabinet? Now that’s a 70’s collector item if I’ve ever seen one. LOL Hang in there and take it one day at a time. Old houses can be full of ‘trouble’ but usually worth the angst in the end.

  • Reply
    Rose Franco
    August 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Wait..wait..give me a minute! I laughed so hard while reading your post that tears were streaming down my face! I thought for sure my husband would come out of his man cave to check on why I was laughing so hard. I just love your posts, Kristi. I look for them everyday and follow your projects. I know its alot of hard work but really….you are an inspiration to many with all the things you do. I’m glad everything is going to be ok with the plumbing and that the work WILL get done! Whew!! And, you’ll still have your beautiful floors that mean so much to you. Thanks for posting details and keeping us informed with your projects/repairs!

  • Reply
    April
    August 28, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Sorry, about the roller coaster ride you had to go on with the plumber, but I got to tell you, I enjoyed it as much as any before and after reveal. I would’ve laughed out loud if I wasn’t letting the kids get an afternoon nap:)

    Please check into the tankless water heater option and give us your assessment – I’ve always wanted one.

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    August 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I was having a panic attack just reading about the plumber’s assistant crawling under the house!! And I was thinking exactly what you wrote…thank you for taking the cabinet down…bless your heart! Very happy your floors were saved…wow!

  • Reply
    Sue
    August 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Wow, what a day you had. Glad it all worked out!

  • Reply
    PJ
    August 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Hey Kristi…I am So glad that i found your blog. I am 56 and recently separated and living in an apartment which I am trying to decorate without breaking the bank. Your blog has inspired me to get back to the girl I once was…the one who painted and papered her own walls, installed faucets, and wasn’t concerned with attempting to do it herself. One accent wall painted, my next project is replacing the ugly fabric on the back of two chairs I bought at home goods. I am in the process of removing the nail heads and will then use the wonderful new fabric I found (1 yard needed) and have beautiful new accent dining chairs. And I would never have been inspired if not for you! SO thanks!!!!!

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:14 am

      I’m so glad you’ve been inspired!!! Sounds like you’ve got some great projects lined up.

  • Reply
    Marty
    August 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I hope you got a great, great deal on the house! Isn’t that info required under seller’s disclosure? Even if it had been, I’d think the sellers would have given you discount for that also. Sorry! Good news though, it can be fixed! I’m soooo excited to see what you do with house!

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:16 am

      It was all disclosed and revealed with the inspection. Well, except for the asbestos tiles under the carpet in the den. But I don’t think anyone had a way of knowing about those since they were hidden under carpet.

      But yes, we got a good deal on the house. 🙂 It has 2317 square feet of living space, and sits on 1 acre of land, and we paid $83,000 for it. 🙂

      • Reply
        None
        February 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

        Whoa! That sounds like an amazing deal… even with the asbestos! Would never find something like that in Canada.

  • Reply
    Beverley
    August 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Yikes that big crack looks like a bit of a worry. Is the den off the garage with same concrete floor?
    Cheers from confused in Brisbane.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Yeah, the crack looks a bit worrisome, but I’m really not concerned. The crack has been there since the 70s. It looks like they poured the concrete without using rebar, and when you do that, it’s bound to crack. I plan on using a self-leveling concrete to repair the floor in that room, as well as the garage floor. The inspector and the foundation guy both didn’t seem to think those were too big of a deal, especially since the rest of the house (with the pier and beam foundation) looked in good shape.

  • Reply
    Pam from Michigan
    August 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    You have such a way with words….just love the vivid word pictures you paint. I really felt like I was there with you. Just remember that these twists and turns will at least make for great blogging!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bernie
    August 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I HAD to keep reading, this was like a mystery novella. At one point, I was actually holding my breathe wondering what the plumber was going to say again. Our original house was built in 1947 so I know what you are going through. I could even save a few doorknobs for you. But at least we fixed ours a little at a time.
    Put some steel wool into the holes in the kitchen. Bats, mice, etc. will not gnaw on it. I still can’t believe everything that you have already done. You’re amazing – I guess the adrenaline is still rushing!

  • Reply
    Diana W.
    August 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Read. Every. Word. I must admit that the thought of going into a dark, cramped place that I had to struggle to get into makes my head pound. My husband got me to watch a horror movie that took place in a bunch of caves and we had to turn it off because the closed in spaces were freaking me out. I am SUCH a weirdo. Can’t help it. (Don’t want to.) You make so much progress every day that I am amazed! Go girlie!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Love this post-I felt like I was there with you through the entire ordeal, I swear my pulse quickened when I read the plumber wanted to cut holes in the floors! Sorry about the unexpected expense but glad that skinny plumbing assistant can fit under the house! Small Blessings!

  • Reply
    Krissy
    August 29, 2013 at 1:15 am

    So glad the floors were spared! I know how devastated you would have felt.

    When I read that you had the valves removed I thought, “Noooo!” But that you’ll keep them and do something with them (too cumbersome for a peg rack?), that’s great. You’ll come up with the perfect idea; the plumber is wrong about the drawer!

    Our home has several old gas valves, at about chest height, from gas lamps I suppose. People ask us about them all the time, as they’re so unusual. They are covered in layers of paint, but I’m planning a wintertime project of removing the paint to see if they’re lovely and decorative beneath.

  • Reply
    Sue
    August 29, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Oh, and Kristi, for goodness sake, don’t worry about whether your posts are all over the place or coherent. We’re all astounded you have any energy left to post at all after a day of your level of activity and are privileged to be invited along for the ride.

  • Reply
    Jill
    August 29, 2013 at 6:15 am

    FYI, don’t ever let a plumber or electrician tell you he has to RUIN your hardwood floors by cutting access holes. THEY would ruin it, because they aren’t flooring people. They would simply take a circular saw and cut a big hole. But it is possible (and not terribly difficult) to remove individual hardwood planks intact and then re-install them. The plumber (or whoever) can get their access hole, and you can keep your beautiful floors. If you don’t want to try it yourself, have a professional hardwood flooring installer do it. The money you will pay him is well worth it when you consider the alternative!

  • Reply
    Carol-Anne
    August 29, 2013 at 7:14 am

    Ok, yesterday I said I was with you all the way on this new house progress…..

    Today, I felt the stress was going to kill me while reading this post! Yeeks! I feel like I need a shot of whiskey or something!

  • Reply
    SusanG
    August 29, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Go tankless! I find mine amazingly efficient. I just paid $30 for four months worth of propane to provide hot water to my house for everything (laundry, cooking, me) for four months. Based on my prior experience in a rented condo with a new efficient tank hot water heater, I save about $390 per year with the tankless. That’s about four years to recover the cost in a new home.

    Mine is fairly close to the kitchen, bath, utility room, so I get hot water pretty quickly. In fact much more quickly that I did in the condo where the hot water heater was all the way across the building and the water had to travel underneath a concrete slab. My tankless is in the crawlspace, vents outside, and I am on a well, which seems to make no difference whatsoever.

  • Reply
    Kathie
    August 29, 2013 at 8:38 am

    God bless the smaller plumber. He’s the hero this week. Galvanized pipes rust from the inside to the outside, a process that takes about 40 years. Good riddance to them. You continue to amaze me! Keep up the fabulous work. PS I have a gas dryer and a gas hot water heater and love them both.

  • Reply
    Sharon
    August 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Wow is all I can say about your project for renovating your new -old home. Your plumber woes were frightening but thankfully resolved. I am just now renovating a semi detached I have owned as a rental investment for 25 years. Yep got the mortgage paid off and decided to sell ( for my retirement fund) but some renovations first as there is a demand for move in ready. Well forget that. Should have sold it as is were is. We ran into dry rot on one 2 story wall and ended up with a contractor fixing that and residing the end wall . That was an 8,000 dollar investment . Well this house is going to look mighty fine with new bathrooms , kitchen and wood floors. Just keep your fingers crossed for me that we can at least recoup our original renovation projected expenses.

    • Reply
      Kristi Linauer
      August 31, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Oh my goodness, so sorry you had to put so much money into that! I hope you can get it back when you sell!

  • Reply
    Geneva
    August 29, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    My dear, what you go through each day. Ahem. I have been there, and yes, to hug he small dude would have been awkward. Good call on that.

    its all going to turn out ok, you know this, right? Because it will. Hang in there.

    I vote for gas water heater. It will be fine, cost less and be less stressful. Keep your sights on the big picture!

    g

  • Reply
    Lori jones
    August 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Wow glad they were able to come through for you!! In our first house we had to replace the hot water heater and it was in the attic / crawl space in the middle of the house,and had to replace it!! they had to leave the old one up there cause they could not get it down!!! Lol
    Glad to read they did not have to cut into the wonderful wood floors!!!
    Waiting on pins and needles to see what you do next!

  • Reply
    Leena Lanteigne
    August 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Phew! That was a close one! I can’t believe that the plumber almost had to cut into your hardwood floors! Thank goodness his assistant fit into the scuttle hole but it would have freaked me out! No way that I want to be in a space that small with an entire house on top of me! Glad they got it sorted and you’re getting your utility room done too so that can be crossed off the future projects list! Those gas valves would be so cute on an old board and used a coats hooks! Betcha you can come up with a ton of ideas for them! If you’re really worried about critters coming up those holes left in the kitchen floor, get some screening and staple or nail it over them until you’re ready to patch and refinish the floors. Glad that things are moving along even if they aren’t doing so quite the way you planned. The end results sound great! Hugs, Leena

  • Reply
    Genelle McDaniel
    August 31, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Kristi, after researching tankless water heaters on Consumer Products, I have done a complete turn around. We don’t have a gas line in our community, not would I want one. Consumer Reports research found that it does not actually save money because of the high costs of buying and especially installing, it takes 22 years for the tankless water heater to recover the difference, but they are only rated for 20 years of use.

    Electric tankless water heaters apparrantly are unreliable. And a point of use tankless water heater is for one sink only, not a whole bathroom.

    So we will continue with an electric tank water heater.

  • Reply
    bbrunophotography
    September 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Kristi, you are one brave soul. I love that your sense of humor shines through even the craziest of days. And I really, really look forward to seeing what you plan to do with those vintage gas valves!

  • Reply
    Katrina
    September 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    When I was a kid the house my family lived in had to have the plumbing all redone. We had a concrete floor though so to get to the pipes they would have had to break through the floors AND the concrete! My dad rerouted all the pipes up through the attic on his own instead. Its an idea for you….

  • Reply
    One-Month Progress Report (Plus, What’s Next…And What About The Condo?!)
    September 18, 2013 at 10:18 am

    […] started removing the carpet from the den, only to find more asbestos tiles.  That carpet is still only half […]

  • Reply
    Sara
    September 19, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Omgosh Kristi, you crack me up! I just spit coffee all over my lap…lolol great work, love your blog!

  • Reply
    Kitchen News & Kitchen Plans
    February 27, 2014 at 10:37 am

    […] He said that it’s because he has no overhead at all.  It’s just him and his helper (the one who actually fits under my house).  He doesn’t have an office, or a lot of employees.  He doesn’t advertise because […]

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