Shower tear down and build up


Adventure once again struck the Bermuda household, and between a busted laptop, a motorcycle needing wheels, building new websites and household maintenance, I've been busy. But, again, when am I not?

This latest adventure started when my glorious mother came down for a quick visit, some shopping and a delivery of Alberta's finest Angus beef. Early in the morning I was having my shower, and my ma was in the washroom downstairs doing whatever it is that mothers do in the washroom. After I was dried and ready for action she told me, in a rather matter of fact way, that I had a leak. I believe she said that water was pouring from the ceiling but I don't want to misquote. I trudged downstairs and sure enough there was still some water leaking from the ceiling into the bathtub downstairs.


I debated for a while, but in the end couldn't nail down where it was coming from, and I needed to get to work. I was graced with visions of busted copper pipe, leaking faucets and walls filled with green and black mold all day until I returned to determine to what extent I was going to have to destroy my house before putting it all back together again. The difficulty is that I either needed to pull tiles off one wall, then regrout, or cut holes in a finished wall. Since drywall and mudding is much easier than waiting for grout to dry and cure, I went with the drywall approach. I knew that as Murphy was handing me my saw, I would be cutting a hole in the wall about as far away from the leak as possible. I decided to cut just a little above the faucet on the other side, and with several careful measurements, I plunged my screwdriver into the drywall to get the party started.

It doesn't take long to chew through drywall, and very quickly I had a 1 foot square hole into which I could look for my plumbing demon. With flashlight in hand, and water flowing on the other side, I peered into the hole, braced for the worst. Was I ever surprised to find out that everything on the other side of the hold was bone dry.

Something wasn't right, and I went downstairs, and sure enough there is still water coming from the ceiling. Back to the bathroom, I had to proceed with the other option, and I pulled a tile off the wall below the top of the tub, and could see a small trickle of water flowing down next to the tub, right towards the floor. Where was that water coming from?

I started inspecting the silicon connecting the tub to the tile, and it appeared to fine. I sprayed water straight into the bottom of the tub, and the water slowed and eventually stopped. I was on to something, but what? After some more shower head inspections, I finally stumbled upon what was causing the water in the basement.

The cracks in the grout were the culprit. My bathroom is against an outer wall, and when in the shower you can gaze out the window to watch the traffic going by. The cool window, hot water, and poorly sanded grout all colluded to hairline cracks in the tiling under the window. Cracks so fine you'd have to carefully look at the grout to even find them. Could that much water be coming from the cracks? As it turns out it, yes.

Because the tile is sealed to the tub by silicon. The water that made it past the tile was stopping at the cement board and then gravitating towards the tub. Once it hit the tub it out start to pool, kinda like a 1/8 thick tank or water, and start filling up and overcoming the grout in neighbouring tiles. Slowly the water level would rise, and eventually would make it to the low end of the tub, where it would run down the side between the tile and the cement board. Once the cement board ended, it would pool on the floor under the floor tiles and eventually penetrate to the ceiling below. I looked at the tile, and realized that I would have to grind out all the grout, and then re-grout, cure and seal every spot where there was the slightest hint of a crack. I was looking at a front end load of a labour with over a week of waiting, spritzing and sponging until I could use my shower again.

And, was I ever excited that I didn't have to do any plumbing.

Over two days I spent many, many hours grinding out grout with my dremel (they even have a bit for it). Following was a cleanup of epic proportions before we could head to Rona and pick up the much needed supplies. We stocked up on some high sand grout in hopes that it would better survive the bigger crack; that is what it is intended for, after all. It didn't even take a half an hour to complete the grouting, but then we started the constant spritzing to ensure that it would not dry to fast and crack. We religiously sprayed the grout and examined it to validate that no cracks were forming, and after many moons of spray bottle madness we had well cured, non-cracked grout. Next we started sealing, and again we went with a high gloss in the shower, and a matte finish on the floor. Apply, dry, apply, dry, apply, dry, etc. Our last application of sealant went on Wednesday night, and this morning was the first time in over two weeks that I could use the shower upstairs. It was glorious.


A Night in Passing


The candle has definitely been burned at both ends, and it also spent some time in the oven so it barely looks like it's former self.. This morning the radio buzzed the sleep from me, and as I lay in bed contemplating a smash of the snooze, or actually liberating myself from my bed, I could not help but listen to the radio personalities chatter. Today is the first day of Summer.

Five months, twenty days and (for me) eight and a half hours into this year and I can't believe that it's summer already. We've almost reached the half way point of the year. These thoughts rolled over my foggy mind, and I couldn't help but wonder where the year has been going.

A lot has been going on, as usual. My certificate cource is completed, and I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to manage time limited endeavor to create a unique product, service or result. I learned a load from the various instructors that I had during the five and a half months it took to complete. Some of the ideas have even followed me back to the work place, and I am definitely better armed with the vocabulary to speak with other Project Managers.

Landing on the same weekend was the Company Picnic at the Zoo, as well as my Mother's trek to southern Alberta. Ma made the voyage to bring down a share of some AAA beef. The meat hasn't even spent a week in the freezer here, but already it more proved its worth. A little worry was dancing in my brain when I knew that the Mother unit was coming into town. Usually when she resides in the house, some sort of project manages to make itself happen. Bathrooms get renovated, fences get replaced, and entire buildings get painted when she's in town. Even though her generosity keeps everything moving, and more than lessens the burden of whatever we are doing, inevitably her visits cost a lot of money. Mother nature decided to throw some rain our way, so we our activities were limited to some much needed yard work, and a pile of shopping. We hit a great deal of stores down in the furniture district, until finally settling on a five piece dinette set. The dinette set is much needed, because the one I have currently is a more dangerous trap than a tree full of ninjas. The legs barely hold the top above the ground, and perhaps now my Uncle can eat dinner without running the risk of bodily harm. An evening of movies, popcorn and some chit chat even managed to find it's way into this visit, proving that we can have a visit, and just relax. Ma, I'm so proud of you.

Up coming in the next while is some camping for the weekend, some dreaded plumbing to fix a long time leak, and a pile of one-on-one meetings to straighten out some business. That stampede is coming to town again, and I'm sure the world will just zip on by until I wake up one morning and wonder what happened to July.


Plumbing was invented by the Devil

Bankers hall from the Calgary Tower

I was bit by one of those jobs that was expected to take just a couple minutes that ended up spanning what seemed to be a lifetime. Sunday, my sole day of freedom, was going to be spent tightening up some odd ends, and then wasting the evening unwinding in front of the television. Life, it turns out, had other plans.

Some of the work I had done while I still had a renter, had started to leak. It wasn't a major leak, and the water from the leak flowed straight into the drain in the floor. Thus, it did not rate very high on my list of things to get done right now. Nevertheless, it started to move it's way to the top of the 'Honey-Do' list, and on a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon I started the job that was supposed to take ten minutes.

The leak was at a junction of old and new, where easy-happy-go-lucky polyethylene pipe ran into a T-intersection where the other two inhabitants were of the OMG-I-can't-believe-this-is-so-hard-and-dangerous copper piping. I deduced, incorrectly, that the leak was where the PEX met the copper T-pipe. Thus, I purchased a high power pipe clamp, and was going to clamp that little white pipe onto that copper and be done with it. It turns out, much after the fact, that the leak was not between the PEX and the copper, instead it was in the solder holding the 1/2" PEX fitting into the T-intersection. Of course, as I cranked on that high power pipe clamp, I was very minutely decreasing the diameter of the old-new fitting, and as a result, was destroying even more of the delicate solder bond.

Now, I had a real leak.

I was quick to figure out that the T-intersection was going to have to be replaced, and I was going to have to do it right now. A trek to Home Depot was required, and I filled up on all sorts of elbows, pipe cutters and a few short chunks fo pipe.

I guess this is where I should explain why I absolutely hate plumbing. I do have all the skills to fill that classification. Plumbing requires cutting, I know how to cut; Plumbing requires soldering, I know how to solder; Plumbing requires crimping, I even know how to crimp. After that as long as you understand gravity, you can pretty much handle the majority of plumbing cases. The difference is in the context.

Plumbing is always done in the wrong environment. Sure, you can cut a pipe, but if you are dealing with existing plumbing, there is usually something inside. I also hate working when I'm wet. The soldering is also done in an entirely different way. I'm used to the electronic variety, where all you need to do is make an electronic connection and you need to use soldering iron. The principles are close, but in plumbing you are in essence filling a gap with solder and blow torch. The last part is where ALL the fun is. If you don't get everything just right you have liquid metal jumping off of cold copper, right onto you arms and hands.

I was full speed into the replacement of some of my plumbing, when I just couldn't get a fitting to join with the copper. I was starting to get frustrated, when I reached the end of my solder. Great. And, the time was 8:30; right after everybody closes up for the night on Sunday. A little brainstorming, and we came up with going to the pinnacle of retail: Wal-mart.

I was again armed with materials, and back to work. I worked up until 10:30, when I had soldered the last joint, and crimped the last end of PEX, it was go time. I was looking forward to a nice warm shower, and going to bed. I cranked on the main, and watched in horror was water poured out of my T-intersection, and a couple of my soldered joints. Tired, and fed up I went to bed anyway.

Today, I took the second half of the day off, and armed myself once again at the Home Depot. First order of business: rip out everything that leaked, and start anew. I found that today I had much more success, due to being more relaxed, and knowing what I was getting into . I spent more time preparing, and less cutting corners and in the end, after hours of RE-work I cranked on the main, and was rewarded with no leaks. I'm sure my co-workers will appreciate the shower tomorrow.