The past few weeks have been busy ones in the basement. On New Year’s Day, my parents came to visit us for a few days. We did not work the whole time on the basement while they were here, but they did help out. One of the days they were here, we had the drywall for the walls and ceiling delivered. Jim calculated how much we needed and it came out to be 49 sheets. That’s right…49. The delivery man could not fit the sheets through the garage on his little lift, so he dropped it off as close to the garage as he could get. The weather called for snow later that day, so my mom, dad, and I moved all 49 sheets into the garage. With three people, it wasn’t too bad, but it did hurt the hands and back after a while. The next day, Jim and my dad decided they should see how hard it was to bring one of the sheets of drywall down the basement steps. They were able to maneuver it pretty well. Luckily for me, they decided while my dad was still in town, they should move ALL of the drywall down the stairs. I cannot emphasize how big of a help this was. Not only did I not have to do it (woohoo), I am sure my Dad was a better carrying partner than I would have been for Jim. They did 25 sheets one evening and then 24 sheets the next morning. It was a lot of work.
During the day, my dad and I also worked on the basement while Jim was at work. We had decided to change the plumbing supply lines for the washing machine. The supply lines were originally going directly to the sink handles. On the sink handles, there were connections for the hot and cold hoses for the washing machine. The drain hose of the washing machine just sat in the sink. It was ugly plus the utility sink barely worked. It drained fine but if you tried to turn on the faucets, water would just drip out. This created a very dirty and gross sink. We decided to add separate supply lines that would lead directly to the washing machine. Jim found this awesome washing machine box that had a drain and a hot and cold hook-ups for the hoses. Jim installed this on his own (and didn’t take a picture of the before when he did it). With the box in place, we needed to attached PVC pipes to the existing drain. This meant cutting into the existing drain and then hooking up the new piping. My dad did the cutting of the drain pipe. It was an ABS pipe (black in color) while our new piping was PVC. (You may remember the explanation of these pipes during the master bathroom remodel) In order to connect these pipes, you need a special removal connector (I’m sure it has a name but I can’t remember it right now). Once the pipe was cut to the right length, I started putting together the piping. Dad worked on installing some woods panels to make screwing in drywall easier. I was worried about getting the piping in the right spots before the glue stuck, but luckily – everything turned out great on the first try! After the piping, I cut away some of the fireblock that would be in the way of future drywall and my dad helped clean up all the scraps.
Once my parents went back home, Jim and I got to work on the supply lines. We started working on the cold water. We needed to make a new line going to the washing machine. We also needed to alter the existing sink supply lines so they would come up under the sink (instead of at handle height) and make it fit under the drop ceiling we plan to install. All the connections worked well for the most part. One connection did leak after the first try, but we were able to fix it without much problem. While we were working on the cold supply lines, we decided to work on the lines going to the front and back yard faucets. Most supply lines leading to the outdoors should have a shut off valve. This allows you to stop the supply of water to the freezing cold air in the winter time. The stop valve should have a drain on it so you can also drain the excess water in your pipes. This prevents water from freezing and bursting your pipes in the middle of winter. Our supply lines currently had such a shut off valve, but it was very difficult to turn. It was also one that you would have twist around and around. Jim had to do it because I was too weak to get it done. It was annoying and Jim hated it. The shut off valve for the back yard faucet was in a horrible location so we were also going to move the location to make it more accessible. We found new valves that have a lever that does 1/4 of a turn to turn it off or no. Since we hadn’t had too much problem with the other work, we decided to work on adding the new shut off valves. The back yard one seemed to go smoothly and we moved to working on the front yard shut off valve. We had more trouble with this one. First the location was not great, but we tried to do it anyway. While Jim was heating the pipe with a blow torch (required in order to add the soldering), there was a large “POP” sound. We weren’t sure what it was but we think that air might have gotten caught in the valve and the hot air expanded and popped out. Just a little while later, while Jim was heating the pipe again, we noticed the fire was bigger than it should be. Quickly we realized the handle on the shut off valve caught on fire! It went out easily but it freaked us out. After the popping sound and fire, we decided to buy a new shut off valve and start over. We finally got it on and turned back on the water. After a few attempts, we got the second valve working fine, but the first one that we “didn’t have trouble with” was leaking! We had friends coming over and needed to turn on the water, so we decided to cap the pipe and work on it another day.
We worked on the hot water supply lines before coming back to the leaking valve. We luckily had no problems with the hot water supply. We tried over and over with the leaking valve and we couldn’t get it to stop leaking. Eventually, we decided to start over with a brand new shut off valve. After a little bit more soldering – we had success! No more leaking anywhere!
We had a little bit more plumbing to do before we were finished with it. This part was unrelated to the basement functioning, but while the ceiling and walls were exposed, this was our best opportunity to get this plumbing completed. In addition to changing the shut off valves for the outdoor faucets, we also wanted to change the outdoor faucets themselves. They had similar problems as the old shut off valves. You had to twist them many times to turn them on and off. The worst part was that they leaked the whole time you used them! Jim found these awesome new faucets that also had a quarter turn to turn it on and off. We pulled out the old faucets and added a copper pipe to the new faucets. Then Jim went outside to lead them into the house while I tried to line it up to its connection. The faucet was a little wider around the sides that lead into the house. Jim had to chip away at the cinder blocks before getting it to line up right against the house. Once it was all lined up, Jim added some sealant and we were able to get the faucets hooked up. The piping leading to the back yard faucet was a little tight because of the new wall frames we put up, but we were able to work around it. Now our outdoor faucets work great and look great! We are all set for Spring.
With the plumbing complete, we were almost ready to put our focus on insulating the basement. First we needed to change the dryer vent currently in place. I did not take a before picture, but the dryer vent attached to the cinder block was plastic. When we had our house inspection, the inspector told us that was the worse type of dryer vent to have. He said the best was a rigid metal vent and the second best was a flexible metal vent. We also found out that in order to have a vent behind drywall, you have to make it a rigid metal vent. We plan to have a rigid metal vent behind the drywall and then a flexible one connecting the vent behind the wall to the dryer so we will be able to move the dryer with ease when necessary. Luckily, it was not all that hard to install the rigid dry vent and it looks so much nicer now.
Now insulation time! You may remember that we decided to tear down the old drywall when we discovered the basement was not insulated. We did some insulation in the kitchen remodel and the master bathroom remodel, but basement insulation in a different ballgame. Since cinder block is porous, it contains moisture. If you put fiberglass batts (the type of insulation we used in the previous projects) directly up against the cinder blocks, there is a great risk of moisture seeping into the fiberglass which would lead to moisture on the drywall which would lead to mold! We did not want to be tearing down the new drywall in a few years because of a moisture problem. We thought about hiring someone to install spray foam insulation but the more research we did, it would be the most expensive option for more insulation than necessary. The other option is to use rigid foam board to lay up against the cinder blocks and then fill the rest of the studs with fiberglass. The rigid foam board acts as a moisture barrier solving the moisture problem. Most people who use rigid board insulation in their basements, install it before the wall frames are up. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that option (unless we wanted to tear down on the existing wall frames…which we didn’t). Jim and I decided to do our best with what we had. We cut the rigid board to fit between the studs and used insulation spray foam (just some you can buy in a can), to seal the edges and prevent any exposure to moisture.
Once all the rigid foam boards were in place, we started adding the fiberglass batts. In one spot on the wall, we plan on mounting a TV. I mentioned this is a previous post because we had a special outlet with a hole for wires to drop through. We needed to leave some space for the wires to go when we were adding the drywall. Therefore, Jim installed a PVC pipe under the special outlet for the wires to easily go through.
The fiberglass batts went up relatively easily around the main room. One of the walls in the laundry room has a lot of piping and electrical wires. This wall was not as clear-cut as the rest of the walls. We could not install the rigid foam boards up against the wall because of the pipes and wires. We didn’t want to forego the rigid foam boards for fear of moisture. We eventually decided to just use the rigid foam boards in between the studs (where we would normally place the fiberglass batts). We would glue it in place and seal it with the spray foam. This was a great solution. We will still have insulation but without the moisture. The one area behind the washing machine does not have space for the rigid foam board because of how far out the drain pipe goes. This is the one area where we will use some fiber glass. We are going to try to have it not touch the cinder blocks. We figure we will risk having to redo this one area of drywall.
We passed the insulation and plumbing inspections and are ready for drywall! Unfortunately during the inspection, we found out we have to install an “egress window” in the basement. More on that later…