Remodeling the Bath-Part 5 -Installing the grab bars and glass doors

Finished Shower

Installing the grab bars and glass doors

I had been working on the project for the best part of three weeks and it was coming together very nicely. The major work was complete and all that was left was to install the grab bars, shampoo holder and a wooden seat on the far end along with the sliding glass doors.

I had made a plan of the layout of the studs in the bath area so that I could use them to affix the grab bars. Needless to say, they didn’t work out distance wise so I had to resort to using a special fastener called a Secure Mount Fastener made by Moehn, the grab bar manufacturers especially for just such occurrences. I had to buy a special 1 1/4 inch hole saw bit that cost me almost $40 but it turned out to be well worth the cost as I ended up drilling 8 holes per bathroom.  It drilled through the tiles leaving a hole just big enough for the fastener to slip through. Then by the pull of a special plastic link, the whole thing unfolded behind the wall leaving a very secure unit in which to screw the grab bars. In the case of the drilling actually hitting on a stud, a couple of long screws quickly affixed the unit to the wall.

I had been using the second bathroom while mine was out of commission and decided that it would be a good idea to install grab bars in this one at the same time. This after nearly tripping upon entering it one morning made up my mind for me. So, I used the same techniques and the exact same measurements and set two grab bars and a shampoo holder into the second bathroom.

Now both the shower and the bath have grab bars and shampoo holders and if I have to use the second one again for any reason, I will certainly feel much safer.

It took a week for the sliding glass doors to come in and then one evening, I received an e-mail telling me that it was in and ready for pick up. It was 9:30 in the evening when I drove back to Home Depot and they loaded out this large box that contained the glass doors. I had been doing some checking on the web and according to the Home Depot web site, there were supposed to be three boxes which I mentioned to the store clerk. Somehow, she convinced me I was wrong and as the box said 1 of 1, I drove home. The next day I opened the box, which by the way was so heavy that I couldn’t lift it and had to drag it around to get it to where I wanted it. Needless to say, it was missing the other two boxes just as I had read on the web site. I called Home Depot and they were full of apologies and that the boxes were in the store. I jumped into my car and drove back to Sunset Valley and grabbed the other two boxes. The staff were very apologetic as the same two people were working the counter. I wasn’t annoyed or put out. They must have caught me on a good day…

Following the directions, I very carefully installed the hardware just as I was supposed to with the two side tracks first. They too required drilling through the tile but with a much smaller bit and things went according to plan. I installed the bottom rail and then finally the top rail. Then came the heavy part. The glass sliding doors were already pre-drilled  and I installed the hardware on them. The tricky part was to pick up the doors and hang them onto the top rail which I managed to do with a lot of grunting and groaning. Luckily, I did not have to make any adjustments so only had to lift them up one time. Those things were heavy, more so because of the awkwardness in being able to handle them.

I had some caulking to do around the frame and by adding the door handles and a couple of guides, the project was finally finished. The next morning I tested it out and took a shower in the comparative luxury of a walk in unit. I was not sure what to expect when I turned the valve as it had never been tested for hot and cold but water came out as it should and I was able to adjust the temperature at the same time, making a mental note of the position of the handle to know where to place it in the future.

All in all, it was a good project to work on. I was able to figure out the plumbing and the drains which from my perspective, were the hardest part. Above all, it looks good and very modern and is definitely much safer than me stepping over the bath sides to take a shower.

Plus, I saved myself $10,500 dollars by doing it myself. You can’t beat that…

Remodeling the Bath-Part 4 -Installing the tiles

The tile repair job

The tile repair job. New tiles in brown

Installing the Tiles

With the basic work done on the shower unit, it was time to turn my attention to making it look pretty. I had, as a part of the planning process, already worked out what tiles I would need to finish off the job. First though, I had to cover up the walls with Hardy Tile Backer Board, a special composite board made to be installed in places that could suffer moisture and dampness like behind tiles in a shower. I am not sure exactly what is in the board but it really is heavy. It comes in a 3 x 5 feet size and each board probably weighs at least 50 pounds. Luckily, I would not need too much of this stuff and what I had to install would be cut to different sizes. I bought enough to complete my project along with a tub of mortar premix to patch other areas.

Cutting the Hardy Board was a real bitch. I had to cover my nose and mouth and wear safety glasses as it made a huge cloud of white dust and the only way to cut it was with a carborundum blade in my old saw. It had to be screwed into place and the screw holes had to be countersunk in order for them not to stand out as they would not pull into the board on their own. It took two layers of this board in order to bring the surface even with the back of the existing tile. In between the boards, I carefully filled in any holes or rough patches with the mortar premix. I also repeated this process after I had installed the top layer of board so that the tiles would have a level surface on which they would be affixed. It took a couple of days to install the board and I finished it up by finally caulking everything with a joint or opening to prevent any chance that the water might seep into the wall.

With the Hardy Board in place, it was time to turn my attention to installing the tile. I had discovered in my searching in the store, a product called SimpleMat, which is a Tile Setting Mat that comes in 9 x 12 inch sheets and comprises of a special sheet material with the ability to glue itself to the wall side and to have the tiles glued to the front side just by pressing them on. Just the ideal thing for my project and would save me having to deal with thin set mortar. The tiles that I chose were named Pacific Sand and were brown in contrast to the existing 4 x 4 yellow tile which I could no longer buy or match. They came in a 9 x 12 size which allowed me a 1 1/2 inch space between the new tile and existing. Searching around, I found a trim piece named Crackle Fantasy Glass Decor that fitted very nicely between the new and old tiles to give it a very finished look.

I marked out all of the cuts and then went to Home Depot and rented a wet saw for four hours. It took me less than an hour to make the cuts and put them in place. The hardest cut was around the shower valve which required a four and a half inch circle cut between two separate tiles. I got over it by making a series of cuts and then using a pair of tile nippers to finish it off. It didn’t have to be super smooth looking as it would be covered by the shower trim.  I had a couple of areas that required some extra thought as I knew that I could not match the damaged wallpaper that had been in the way of removing the tub. So, I had bought some  6 x 6 tiles with trim to finish off those areas. With the tiles finished and the saw returned I finished up for the evening and planned out what I would do the next day.

I was looking forward to working the following day as I would be finishing up the hard part of the remodeling project with the grouting in of the tiles and the cleaning up of the whole bathroom. All that remained was to install the grab bars, the shampoo holder and the sliding doors.

In Part 5, I will explain in detail the installation of the grab bars and sliding doors during the remodeling.

Remodeling the Bath-Part 3 -Hooking up the Plumbing

Floor Plumbing

Floor Plumbing

Hooking up the Drains and the Plumbing

I stood looking at the hole in the wall and turned my attention to the floor drain. Luckily for me, the original contractors had not concreted in the drain hookup so I didn’t have to break out any floor. I had a nice, convenient hole to work in.

I measured the preformed base and then made the comparisons to the existing two-inch pipe and figured out that I would need to do some juggling with a couple of bends and an “S” trap to get things lined up even close enough that I could make the drains work. Marking the true location of the center of the drain in the new base, I fiddled around until I had the pipes almost lined up to where I could make them fit. I knew that I could buy a 2 inch offset drain to fit the base that would help me to get the pipes aligned that last little piece, enough to make them work. The first test required that I worked the new base into the space and see how closely the drains would align. I also had to get an exact measurement of the standpipe between the trap and the base drain. Too short and I would not get the pipes connected, too long and the base would rock about and the weight would be on the drain maybe causing it to break.

I took my measurements and checked them at least twenty times, well maybe a couple, and slid the base back to finish work on the pipes, gluing everything into place and hoping like hell that my numbers were sound. I slid the base back into place and then with the pipes lined up, screwed the trap into place getting it as tight as I could. Everything worked. What a relief as this had been the part of the job that really had me worried. I did NOT want to break out any of the concrete floor which I would have had to have done if I made any mistakes in setting the pipes and the base unit.

With a sigh of relief, I turned my attention to the copper piping and the existing valve that I needed to replace. It turns out that the plumbers who worked on the original house way back when, used the bath space to run the plumbing to the bathroom sink and toilet and had an intricate system of four pipes, two hot and two cold running side by side that were connected together by “Tee’s” with the pipe from the top of the “Tee” running to the shower valve. Well, I say valve but in point of fact, there was a system of copper pipes that connected together the hot and cold faucets to the bath, plus the bath filler pipe with the top pipe going to the shower head. I guess that maybe they didn’t have the ready-made valve mixing units that are available today when this house was built. Even so, it worked well in the previous 30 years.

I knew what I had to do in the way of plumbing and after going back to Home Depot to get the necessary parts, I started to assemble the new plumbing to hook up the shower valve. This entailed sweating the copper pipe joints with a torch and solder which I have to confess, I am not very good at. However, I was at least going to try it and although, working conditions were a little cramped for space, I had every confidence in my ability to make a solder joint, and above all, one that wouldn’t leak. Alas, it was not to be. After nearly setting alight the studs in the wall, I quickly determined that it was not the way to go. So, back to Home Depot where I located a new (to me) system called Sharkbite. It was a plastic system with push and lock fittings that also had an adapter to hook onto a copper pipe. That did it for me and I carefully planned out all of the moves and the fittings I would need to get my piping in the wall hooked up. Discovering that system was the best thing that happened to me that day as I carefully hooked everything up, including the new valve.  You can see the Sharkbite system in the pictures below. I had the water turned off during this process and had to turn it back on to test the joints. I had a couple of small leaks which I fixed by some judicious tightening of the correct joints. At the same time, I inadvertently opened the valve to the shower which I happened to be standing under at the time and needless to say, managed to get soaked. At least I knew that the shower worked.

Showing the Tees

Showing the Tees

Shower Plumbing

Shower Plumbing

Just to be sure, I turned on the faucets to the sink and flushed the toilet a couple of times and both were getting water so I deemed that I was all through with the drains and the plumbing. The next part would be more interesting as it entailed installing the tiles and then the grab bars.

In Part 4, I will talk about tile installation for this project.

Remodeling the Bath-Part 2-Removing the Tub

The tub removed from the wall

The tub removed from the wall

After giving the project much consideration, I devised a plan that really consisted of five different parts. The first part quite obviously was to actually start the wrecking process and remove the bath. I sat and looked at it for a long time knowing that the first blow of the hammer would  commit to completing the project. There was still time to back out and leave things as they were and just add a couple of grab bars for safety and maybe add glass doors.

I thought back over the summer and all that had happened so far with replacing both toilets and the kitchen sink, working on the septic system after it backed up and losing my little dog, Abigail. Even though the work on the septic system had been both hard and difficult (and heartbreaking), I had enjoyed the challenge and the completed deck does look very nice.

Removing the tub.

I took a deep breath and carefully swung my hammer and broke out the first tile and the project was on. I removed the first row of tiles above the bath so that I could get the bath ledge clear. As the house is 30 years old, back when it was built, the method used to set the tiles was to metal lath and plaster the walls and use thin set grout to attach the tiles to the wall. Not only did I have to remove the tiles, I had to remove an inch thick layer of wire lath and plaster. I used one of my older power saws fitted with a carborundum blade to make a clean cut at the bottom edge of the remaining wall tile so I had a complete separation between what I was removing and the tile that was to remain.

I went to work in removing the bath bit by bit. As the salesman had pointed out, it was bloody heavy and I had to devise ways for me, on my own to get the job done. I knew that the drain would be an impediment and had to carefully work on removing it. Nothing I tried would unscrew it and I ended up using a screwdriver acting as a cold chisel with well delivered blows from my hammer to break it loose. The tile floor that I had installed a few years ago also gave me a problem and I had to devise a way of lifting the front edge of the bath up and over those tiles.

It was slow going and I was able to work the tub out bit by bit moving it an inch on one side and then an inch on the other and on and on. Luckily , I have many tools one of which is a long crowbar with a welded on fulcrum that was invaluable in working out the tub. The framing is built to fit the size of the tub and with the other stuff like floor tiles and wall plaster, it was not an easy job. In fact, it took the best part of half a day to just get it out onto the bathroom floor. It took me another 60 minutes to raise the tub sufficiently to get a movers dolly under it so that I could push it out of the bathroom, across the bedroom and out the sliding doors. The method used to raise it was actually pretty simple. I knew that I could not lift any part of it as I guessed it to weigh well over 100 pounds so again, patience was the answer. With my trusty bar and several blocks of 2 x 4 , I worked on each end prising it up and slipping a block under until I had it high enough. I had to work on alternate ends to keep it balanced. After I had slipped the dolly underneath, I reversed the process and lowered the tub back onto the dolly.

It was pretty simple to push the tub and dolly out of the bathroom and across the bedroom to the sliding doors but there I ran into a different problem.  The sliding doors have a metal track on the bottom which stands about one inch high. I knew that the hard rubber wheels of the dolly would not mount the tracks so I built a ramp that would get me up and over the them. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned and the tub slid off the dolly and wedged in between the sliding door frame.

There was nothing else for it but to manually work the tub through the doors, out onto the deck and repeat the process of getting the dolly back under it. Using a great deal of care so as not to damage the tile floor or the sliding glass doors and frame,  I carefully worked the tub along and out and through the doors onto the deck. There, I repeated the process of raising each end up a block of wood at a time until I had it sitting back on the dolly ready to be moved off the deck. To date, three weeks after starting the project, the tub still sits on the dolly in the middle of the deck. I have not yet decided just what I plan on doing with it. I have several choices not the least of which is to set it up to start pond plants or to install it by one of the ponds and use it as a small bog. I could just break it up and sell it for scrap. Decisions, decisions.

The old tub still sitting on the deck.

The old tub still sitting on the deck

The whole process took all day from the first swing of the hammer to getting the tub outside. I walked back inside and took a look at the hole left by removing the tub and thought to myself, “Well, we are really and truly committed to remodeling the tub to shower now”.

In Part 3, I will explain in detail the plumbing and drain work during the remodeling.

Remodeling the bath – Part 1- Dealing with the Salespeople.

The original bath.

The original bath.

Dealing with Salespeople.

For the longest time, I have been thinking about remodeling the bath tub by removing it and replacing it with a shower. The idea being that I have read so much about accidents in the bath with people falling and stuff and I have to admit to having a couple of close calls myself. If it wasn’t for the fast reflexes and a decent sense of balance that I still have, I too might be another statistic. Besides, I am not getting any younger, unfortunately, and need to plan ahead to when I can’t do things as well as I would like.

I was at my favorite store, Home Depot and noticed the trailer that sits outside advertising some of the many services they provide so being a naturally curious individual, I wandered inside and took a look at some of the bath remodeling that they had on display hoping to get a few ideas. I was immediately accosted by a salesperson and eventually agreed to let them come to my house and give me a price for my project.

On the designated date and time, a couple of sales people showed up and I led them indoors and showed them what I had and explained to them in detail, what I wanted to have done. Turns out, I might as well have been talking to the Moon for what good it did. An hour and a half later, after all kinds of sales pitches for this and that, I told them they may as well leave as I knew what I wanted  and they had totally different ideas. No matter what I said, they were not interested in remodeling the existing bath, instead, they wanted to tear everything out and replace the perfectly good tiles with a plastic surround. I kept trying to tell them, “No, I want you to take out the tub, leave the tiles, put in a shower valve and new shower base, a couple of grab bars and a set of glass doors”. They finally admitted that they do not do remodeling of the type I was asking and oh yes, to do a complete remodel like what they wanted, would have cost me $11,500 with me buying and installing the glass sliding doors.

It was interesting with some of the tactics they used. Things like, “The tub is so heavy, you will never be able to get it out by yourself” or “You can’t do what you are suggesting as you will get leaks and probably mildew.” or, “Those tiles are not worth saving”. The best one of all was,”The sheets of Hardy Board are so heavy you will never be able to handle them yourself” and on and on. As we sat there, they kept reducing the price with their rock bottom at $6500 still doing it the way they wanted. That’s $5000 less than the original price which I assume was all mark up and profit. This was for a preformed unit with a base and three sides plus the plumbing. I wonder just what a much fancier remodel which included a tile base and all tile walls would cost?

I showed them the door and cordially thanked them for their time and bade them farewell and went back to planning how I could do it myself. By the way, I had made no secret of the fact that I was familiar with construction having spent a lifetime working in the various fields which no doubt had made it much more difficult to sell me their project. Probably a lesser experienced person or one that did not mind looking at white plastic walls might easily be sold by their sales pitch.

I’m quite sure they would have done a good job installing what they wanted to put in and I am not criticizing either the sales people or Home Depot who I know offer this as a service. They should have told me right at the beginning that they don’t do remodeling and that they only do replacement.

In Part 2, I will explain in detail the actual project and what I ran into during the remodeling.

Ponds and Pumps

DSC_5440-2I woke up this morning and did my usual tour around the garden carrying my plastic bucket full of fish food, feeding as I normally do and checking to see that everything made it through the night. I used to send Richie, my male Dachshund out to check but he sometimes gets waylaid with the overnight smells and forgets to to do the job. He is not very good at feeding the fish as he has taken a liking to the fish food for himself. Then when he does come back in, I can’t understand a word he says so it is simpler to check for myself. That way, at least I know that the fish are being fed.

The very first pond that I visited was the 5000 gallon original big pond, the first one I built 25 years ago and lo and behold, one of the pumps was not working. This is a multi use pump and drives a waterfall, a bubbler urn that sits in the middle of the pond, another urn that sits on the bank and has water flowing out of it and finally, a small Skippy filter that I installed to help keep the water clean. This pump is pretty important to the entire scheme of things for this particular pond.

No big deal, I thought, I’ll just check my supply of used pumps and find one that is working and do a quick change. Well, all the best laid plans and all that stuff just didn’t work out. I dug out five separate pumps that had all been used previously and were stored in one of my sheds and carefully checked each one by plugging it in to the nearest outlet to see if it worked. Four out the five I pitched onto my used pump pile where I probably have 12-15 old, used and broken pumps collected over the years. The fifth pump worked when I tried it so I planned to use it in place of the burned out one. If my memory was better or if I was more organized, I would chuck the useless pumps onto the stack just as soon as they die instead of having to check them out, one by one at a later date to see if they are still working.
DSC_5435-2You can tell from the dirty water that one of the filters is not working and the sooner I get everything back up and running, the happier the fish will be. Of course, the big Koi in this pond are notorious for stirring up the mud and both filters have to work very hard to keep the water anywhere near clean.

I must mention that I have been experimenting with using two 12 x 12 plastic baskets with one inverted on top of the other and the pump in between in an effort to stop the many blockages caused by the leaves and debris in the ponds. This  pump sits in the pond itself and not in a skimmer so it is prone to blockages although it never completely stops flowing, just doesn’t flow as well. BTW, this is not my idea as Jeff Yarborough from Emerald Gardens, now Leaf Landscape Supply put me up to it. You have to do a little trimming for the inlet pipe to poke through the basket and then use cable ties or drill and use nuts and bolts to hold the thing together. As it turned out, this particular pump that I dug up was already in a basket and with a little adjusting, I was able to get the pipes lined up and placed the unit in the water. DSC_5444The big moment came as I plugged it in and after a few fits and starts, the pump began to push the water through although without much pressure. It ran for probably two minutes and then quit entirely. So much for that effort. I jerked it out of the water after disconnecting it, removed it from the basket and added the pump to the broken pump pile. I searched around in the shed and found one more that worked just fine but it was only a 1200 gph pump and I knew that it would not handle the requirements of driving four separate water features.

So, there was nothing else for it. I was going to have to visit my favorite store, Home Depot and buy a new pump which I proceeded to do. I am lucky that I am caught between two such stores both about the same distance away. I ended up with a 3600 gph pump that I knew would replace the one that no longer worked. It cost me $189 but should be good for a couple of years at least that is how long it is warrantied…

Yeah, right, we all know that it will probably burn out a couple of weeks after the warranty expires. They always do. This pump was almost exactly the same as the one it was replacing so that also in my favor was the fact that the pump inlet was the same size as the existing pipework and I would not have to make any adjustments. I paid for my wares and jumped into my car to drive home.

Did I mention that when I bought my new car last year, it came already programmed to stop at every Starbucks. The only way to prevent it is to buy something. Only then will it pass the rest of them without stopping so with this in mind, I was “forced” to buy a grande latte at the Starbucks in Bee Caves in order to make the journey the rest of the way home. I think my car knows the location of every Starbucks in Austin and the surrounding towns.

DSC_5442It took me ten minutes to put everything back together with the new pump and when I plugged it in, water came out all of the appropriate places with considerable pressure and my pond was back to normal again. Now all I have to do is to wait for the second Skippy filter help to clean up the water.

The whole episode got me thinking of the number of broken pumps that I have stored up over 25 years of ponding. I did not realize there were so many as the stack is not something that I look at very often. Guess I need to make a trip to the junk yard to get rid of them.  Wonder if there is a market for used and broken pumps and where the nearest junk yard is. Hope there is a Starbucks on the way…

Home Handyman, Not Really…



Rock saw Last year, my neighbors and I got together and had a contractor trench in front of mine and the next door house in an attempt to ward off the Oak Wilt that is prevalent in Oak Hill.It has gotten as close as across the street and two of my neighbors have lost beautiful trees. The machine that the contractor uses is a very large rubber-tired tractor with an enormous 12 foot wheel blade on it.The point of the exercise is to dig a trench five feet deep cutting through any roots that may extend that touch the already affected trees. The disease is passed from tree to tree through the roots.

In the process, the contractor knowingly cut the water supply into the house and made the necessary repairs after locating the pipe.Unfortunately, the repair failed and I eventually ended up with a $400 water bill spread over two months. In fairness to the contractor, they made good the repair and reimbursed me most of my expense. Since then, I have been watching the water meter very closely to make sure there are no more leaks.

Well, you say, I have it covered, right? Wrong. I went to bed the other evening around my usual time of midnight and did as most people do and went to the bathroom before retiring.Three hours later and being an old man, had the usual problem that old men have and had to go again. When I got in the bathroom, the toilet was running and had been from the time I used it before going to bed. Damn it, I thought. So much for trying to cut down on the water bill. What this meant was that I now had to make sure that the flush valve was not stuck open before walking away, a wait of at least 2 minutes. This seemed like an eternity in the middle of the night when I was already half asleep plus it meant a conscious effort on my part to remember to wait each time I flushed.

Being an impatient sort of man and not wanting to subject myself to the wait, I decided that I would replace the two toilets in the house with more modern water saving split flush models so with a trip to one of my two favorite stores, Home Depot, I purchased two brand new units and with the help of the Home Depot employees, loaded both into my little Escape. Of course they were not there to help me unload the same boxes which although tricky, turned out to not be that difficult a task. Even so, I bet each box probably weighed 60 pounds at least.I loaded them onto my dolly and wheeled them into the house outside of the respective bathrooms and let them sit overnight, ready to start the next day.

I am no stranger to doing this sort of work and looked upon it as yet another challenge.I finished the first one in a little over an hour and a half and the hardest part was cleaning up the mess I created by not emptying both the tank and the toilet before I moved them. I had water everywhere but luckily for me, my house floors are of 12″ by 12″ ceramic floor tiles and it was pretty easy to clean up. My other problem was in breaking the water pipe that connected the tank to the wall and had to make a fast run to Lowe’s, my other favorite store, to get a replacement. It just so happens that the Lowe’s in Bee Cave is almost next door to a Starbucks so it was only right that I rewarded myself for a job well done.

New Glacier Bay Toilet

New Glacier Bay Toilet

The next day, I started in on the other replacement and this time, I made sure to empty both the tank and the bowl before wheeling it outside to join the first one. Having just completed the one, the second one was a piece of cake and I had it done in an hour this time with no trip to Lowe’s and therefore, no reward. I spent a happy couple of minutes flushing on the half and then the full just to watch the water disappear so quickly I thought it would suck me down the hole.

Not content with completing the toilet jobs, I decided to replace the kitchen sink which had been in the house when I bought it new, thirty years ago and was beginning to show both signs of age and rust. It was a cast iron enameled double sink and it had served it’s purpose. I was no stranger to these projects either having replaced sinks and toilets when I had my own construction company up in New York 45 years ago.

My first problem was trying to decide which sink I wanted to buy to replace the existing one and I even went on our local Neighborhood website and asked around about the pro’s and con’s for a single over a double. I got a lot of good answers but they really just confused the issue, some for and some against so I finally decided on a double stainless steel with a larger pot cleaning sink on one side. I planned on using my existing faucet unit as I had replaced the original a few years ago and mine was perfectly adequate and in good shape. The only thing I planned to do right this time was to hook the hot and cold faucets up correctly as mine were backward when I replaced them before. Didn’t really matter as the water came out just the same and I had quickly learned which side was cold and which was hot.

I set to work early afternoon and the first thing I had to do was to take off a dozen clips that attached the sink unit to the counter. Doesn’t sound very hard except the only way to do it is to lay on my back in the cupboard under the old sink unit and reach up and unscrew each one all the time, trying to focus my heavy-duty lamp where I was working. Of course, when I wanted a different tool, I had to crawl out and then lever myself to a sitting and eventually, standing position. It’s amazing that years ago, getting up and down from difficult sitting or laying positions was never a challenge but I don’t know what the hell has happened in the ongoing years but it is harder than all get out to keep getting up and down now.

I eventually released all of the clips but no effort on my part could move the sink unit. Closer examination revealed that it was not really glue but caulking that was holding the unit in place and it had set solid. What I needed was a jack but as I didn’t have one, I improvised and cut a length of 2″ x 4″ just a little longer than the height between the cabinet bottom and the bottom of the sink. I allowed for a 2″ x 4″ laid flat and set my piece of wood upright on the block and under the sink bowl and then by skillful use of my 4 pound club hammer, drove the wood upright until it broke the seal. I had to do this a couple more time in different areas to completely free the sink unit. The next problem was lifting the sink unit out of the hole cut in the counter-top and I wasn’t sure that I was going to do it on my own. As I mentioned, it was a cast iron sink and heavy. I pride myself on being ingenious and thinking of ways that by myself, can perform work that usually takes a couple of people. Then I thought of all of the weights I lift and the hours I spend in the gym working on muscles for just such occasions as this and grabbed the sink and with a mighty jerk, lifted it out of the hole and carefully placed it on the floor. “Wow”, I thought, “There’s hope for this old man yet”. It was really a question of convincing my mind that I could do it.

I took the faucet unit and the drains off the old sink and then loaded it onto my dolly and wheeled it out the back door, through the gate and deposited along side the of Thomas Springs Road by my driveway.In the past, I have found that is a useful way to get rid of a lot of unwanted but still usable stuff that I no longer have the use for. I only put stuff that is re-usable for someone else and don’t discard trash this way. At one time years ago when I kept birds, I had a bunch of cages that I no longer had a use for and they went almost quicker than I could put them out. On the other hand, I left two small filing cabinets out and a week later, had to bring them back inside as no one wanted them. This might be true of the sink. If I have to bring it back in, I will put it out in the garden and use it as a planter.

New Sink

New Sink

Back to my story. I attached the faucet unit and drains along with the aerator to the new sink unit and after putting a bead of caulk around the opening in the counter top, lifted the sink and carefully lowered it into the hole. This sink unit, even with the plumbing and aerator attached, was nowhere even close to the weight of the old unit and I was quite comfortably able to place it where it had to go. Just as before, I had to hook up a dozen clips to hold the sink in place and just as before, the only way to do it was to lay on my back, inside the cabinet and reach up and over my head. I finally finished this task and knew that the hardest work was already complete.

I hooked up the water pipes making sure to hook the hot one to the correct connection this time. The next thing that gave me a problem was hooking the electricity back to the aerator but it was only because it was a little tight and again, I was laying on my back. The very last thing was to hook up the drains. It was almost like for like except that the fixed drain did not line up with the old unit and was off by a couple of inches and obviously, the existing plumbing was going to need additional work. Back to Lowe’s in Bee Cave where I spent a half an hour looking at various parts and going over in my mind how I should complete the job. I finally came up with a couple of solutions and which meant my buying a couple of new parts. Even though the work was not quite complete, I rewarded myself anyway with a stop at Starbucks for the work I had done so far.

Luckily for me, I was able to make the plastic parts work on hooking up the plumbing and I rushed outside to turn back on the water which I had shut off while I was working. I turned on the faucet and checked for leaks in both the plumbing and the water connections and everything held firm. I turned on the aerator and it worked just fine and after cleaning the surplus caulking from around the counter top, the job was finished. This project took me from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm to complete which included 45 minutes in Lowe’s but is well worth it. I now have a brand new sink and I finished it off by going to Bed, Bath and Beyond and buying a new dish rack among a couple of other things.

I still have the two used toilets that I need to decide what to do with. Should I put them alongside the road to see if someone has a use for them? They would work just fine in a camp of cabin and would work in a house as well. The last one I replaced, I took out the back and broke it up into tiny pieces. Maybe I can take these two and use them as planters out the front, one on each side of my garage. What do you think?

My next project is to remove the master bath and replace it with a shower bottom to turn it into a shower only. I never use the bath and I am afraid that now I have degenerated into a klutz, I might trip over getting in or out when I take a shower every morning. More on that later.

Who knows, with all of this activity, I might get tempted into dusting the rest of the house. Really?