Installing The Electrical Controls For The Radiant Floor Heat

IMG_1504 - Version 2It’s been months since I have worked on the Master Bathroom project, I think the last update was in July or August. Call it a lack of motivation. My friends have noticed a lack of progress and have really been lying down the guilt.

Sometimes it takes some mocking and peer pressure to give me a kick in the pants.

This weekend I ran wiring thought the wall. The plan here is to run the main power from the breaker to a GFCI receptacle. From there it goes up to the thermostat. Power runs from the thermostat to the radiant floor heating elements and a temperature probe runs from the thermostat and will be embedded in the floor.

I still need to drill the hole through the top plate in the wall cavity and run the wire over to the breaker box. I don’t need the connection to the breaker box right now.

Another interesting thing I have noticed is the walls are filled with cellulose insulation. The insulation has settled over the years and there is a good 6 inch gap at the top of the celling that is missing insulation. I suspect the rest of the house is like this.

I’m thinking that at some point I will have all of the stucco removed and I will put a layer of styrofoam around the house and put new stucco over that.

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Master Bathroom Remodel: Drywall Installed

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I’m a few weeks late on posting this. I really haven’t had the time to sit down and right a proper entry until now. The day that I never thought would come finally came, the dry wall is up in the master bath. There were times when I was demolishing the bathroom that I thought it would it would be a impossible task to finish it. It was such a mess and was going to cost so much money to put back together. This is a big milestone for me.

This was my first time installing drywall and I made a few mistakes. Apparently the top peice of drywall should go up first. I put the bottom peice up first which left me with a gap at the top. I also managed to to incorrectly measure every single protrusion through the wall and had to make all the holes in the drywall larger to adjust.

Next items to start working on are the flooring and the shower waterproofing. The Warmly Yours floor heating was very expenisve and cost me my budget for the next few months. The schluter kerdi product I plan to use for the shower stall will be pretty expensive so that purchase will have to wait. I will work with what I have but won’t be able to buy much therefore I don’t expect a lot of progress over the next month.

Vertical Cement Application

Cleaning up the swamp cooler duct work continues. At this rate I might have it done by summer.

This is my first experience mixing and using cement and I’m pretty happy with the result. Here’s the problem, a large swath of concrete is missing and the original metal duct just rested up against dirt, further degrading the metal. I cleaned up the mess and prepared it to be filled with cement.

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First thing I did was to put some metal lath that is used for stuccoing walls. I folded it in on itself and shoved it into the gap using a few nails (nailed into dirt) to hold it back where it needed help. The metal lath not only will give the cement some strength but will give it something to stick to.

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I used 30 lbs of Quikrete quick setting cement. The cement sets in 10-15 minutes and, according to the container, is recommend for vertical applications. Since I had never mixed cement before it seems like a good first step was to read and follow the instructions. The container says to mix 5.5 parts of Quikrete into 1 part water and only mix as much as you can work with in 10 -15 minutes. Mixing that much water resulted in a wet powered that was pretty much useless. After some experimentation and wasting about 10% of the Quikrete I found I needed about 3x water than was called for.

Another 10% waste of Quikrete occurred trying to figure out how to actually apply the material into the hole. I finally figured out that using a wide putty knife and pushing it up, working my way left to right and top to bottom was the easiest way to apply it. Sometimes it would fall after I put in on and I tried to scoop up as much as I could and put it back.

It was hot and sweat and blood literally went into the making of this. There is a satisfaction to doing it myself..

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There’s a few next steps before I can permanently attach the duct work. The floor of the this concrete pit should also be solid concrete, but is degraded and it’s hard to tell where the concrete ends and the dirt starts. I will have to put about a .5 inch layer of cement down. I will probably use something like the Quikcrete Fast-Setting Self-Leveling product. Since it doesn’t require any trawling, it should be easy!

The other thing I have to do is to clean out the dirt that made it’s way down the main duct that runs from the cooler to the main air distribution point. I could hire a duct cleaning service, but why start hiring people now when I’ve done everything else myself?

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Taking The Master Bath Back To The Studs

About a year ago most house remodeling projects came to a halt. Costs got a little out of control and I ended up with some large credit card bills. I’ve eliminated those bills and am ready to start back on my projects. I didn’t waste any of that money, it was just a bit too much to spend at once. I now have this radical new idea that I will call “planning and budgeting” and I will apply it to projects going forward.

A quick recap on this project, the house was a foreclosure. Though not trashed, it was pretty dated and in need of remodeling in several places. The master bath showed signs of leakage in the shower. It’s pretty clear that it’s been going on for a while, it had leaked into the adjacent bathroom and into the master bedroom.

Tree roots under the shower tile

I was sure the bathroom wasn’t usable in it’s current condition and would need to be tore down to the studs. As I started to demolish the walls of the shower I found that it was pretty much being held together with tree roots. Roots had grown a good foot up the wall of the shower in between the tile. As the roots took hold of the tile, it probably just made the leaking worse.

Cement gaps around shower drain

This bathroom has not been used in at least 4 years. Yet as I broke up the mortar and shower pan I found the mortar was still pretty wet. There were so many roots that it smelled like a nursery. Finally, I think i have found the root cause. The drain pipe is basically floating, there’s a huge gap of missing concrete around it and I can clearly see where main roots have made their way through the floor (this isn’t the first time I’ve had issues with the cement in this house). I assume that a little water made it’s way around the drain, signaling for the roots to come through. As the roots grew threw the tile the wall leakage just got worse causing more roots to grow. At least I know I wasn’t wrong that there was no saving it.

The demolition is about 99% complete. I intended to get a good amount of this bathroom completed this winter. I’ve got a basic plan put together, but that’s a post for another day.