Sep. 2011 8


Our house was built in the 1950’s; which is fine. The foundation is sturdy, the DC earthquake did nothing to it; the lot is large; and it has a certain charm that most new houses just couldn’t pull off. The big problem with a 1950’s house is that everything is old, and I’m not talking décor. Our current headache (as I’ve mentioned before) is our plumbing.

The day we moved in we noticed a running water sound, as if someone was taking a shower. Which wouldn’t be weird except all the taps were turned off. We wrote it off as the hot water heater filling for the first time. When it was still running the next day, we called the plumber. Come to find out, the old copper pipes under our house had cracked, causing a leak under the slab. It took me a while to under stand what exactly was going on, so I drew a diagram for you.

Red = Hot water

Blue = Cold water

Gray = Stuff under the slab.

So we figured out the leak was in the hot water line, somewhere between the kitchen and the first bathroom. We had 3 choices of how to fix the problem:

  1. Bust of the slab in the kitchen, carport, heater room, and possibly the living room; lay new  copper pipe; relay the slab with fresh concrete, re-put our lives back together
  2. Run brand new pipes through the attic above the main house, then the attic above the carport/heating room (separate from main house) and then down into the heating room. Insulate all the piping and pray it doesn’t freeze in the cold Virginia winters
  3. Run brand new pipes around the ceiling (but on the interior of the house) of the kitchen and living room; drill a hole in the living room wall and feed the pipes out to the heating room.

Number one would have broken my heart. I just spent weeks redoing the floors and cabinets. And on top of that, the problem might have reoccurred in a number of years. And number two would have me panicking all winter. So, although it’s the most unattractive option, we went with 3. Which looks like this:

All the piping is in the overhead (for the most part)

So the plumbers came and hung new pipes, it took about 13 hours.

Once they were done we called Manuel to come take a look. We decided to build a soffit that went all the way around from the washer/dryer closet to the end of the living room. We wanted it to look like it was “meant to be there”, so we didn’t stop the soffit in the middle of the living room wall (where the pipes stopped).

I’ve never dealt with drywall before, so this whole process was new to me. Thank goodness for Manuel!

Start building a metal "box" for the drywall to hang on

Hey look! It's Manuel!

Then you cover the box

Then cover the hole

And this afternoon we are sanding it all down. Then we’ll do 2 coats of primer and then paint. I’ll keep ya posted!

Leave a Reply