Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Man Cave Part 3: Insulation and Framing.

Insulation, check.

Framing, check.

When I tore out the fiberglass insulation that was previously in the basement. I swore I wouldn't repeat the mistake the previous owner made. Were this an above grade installation, that would have made sense, but this was the basement.

First, it acted like a sponge when we had the water in the house. The bottom few inches of every piece that had been exposed to the water was moldy.

Second, it was a haven for mice. When I tore it out, I discovered numerous dead mice laying at the bottom of the frame pockets, just behind the insulation.

So, this time out, I decided to use rigid foam insulation, It was inexpensive, easy to handle (all six sheets weighted less than 20 lbs. combined), and installation was a breeze.

I measured out each piece, used a utility knife to cut out what was necessary to fit around access panels, etc, and used Liquid Nails construction adhesive to attach it to the wall. If you decide to do this, make sure the wall is clean and be sure whatever adhesive you use is appropriate for foam. Liquid Nails was perfect as I needed an entire tube for each piece and it's relatively inexpensive: about $1.69 a tube.

Once the panels were in place, I taped all the seams.

I was going to use a product made by Armstrong called, QuikStix for the framing. It was a galvanized steel framing material that looked like a very easy product to install and was guaranteed to last 10 years.

Unfortunately, it was only available regionally at Lowe's and I would have to special order it by the case. That would leave me with a lot of waste (I needed 12 rails and the product came in cases of 10!) and it was twice the cost of wood. I also couldn't get anyone at Armstrong to tell me how you would frame a door with QuikStix. It's too bad this didn't pan out. I love trying new things- if they work.

I considered conventional steel framing, but again, it was very expensive and would be as difficult to install as wood.

The only real drawback to using wood was the way it can change shape was a result of environmental shifts - particularly in damp or wet environments - and the weight of it.

I only needed about 50 timbers, so I discounted the weight part. I used pressure treated bottom plates which I will have also sealed with caulk at the bottom to prevent any future water issues from impacting the new space.

My brother, Jay, helped me install the framing. No way around it, framing was at least a two-man job. He's also had experience with framing - I hadn't done it in 25 years - and he had the right tools to get it done. He was invaluable in this process and I owe him big time.

I had a circular saw and a nice Delta chop saw, so that part was covered. Jay had an impact driver and a .22 caliber nail driver. I can't imagine having tried to do this without those tools. (I think an impact driver is on my list of tools I need to acquire.)

We built the frame in place- that means we placed the top and bottom plates and then cut the uprights to fit. The other conventional method is to build the frame laying down on the floor, then to raise it into place. That would have been next to impossible with this room. Every upright had a different length. We went with 24" centers since none of this is structural.

It was also serendipitous that I was able to do the angled door into the space that I had originally hoped to do. When I was planning, I couldn't get it to work, but, as we laid out the frame, there it was- the perfect alignment of everything to accommodate my original idea.

We also installed one of the doors. The space has an 81" ceiling so I had to go with 78" doors. Even with the shorter door, we still had to trim down the jamb and cut 5/8" off the bottom of the door.

Next up, the wiring. Fun!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Man Cave Plumbing

My house was plumbed by Mario Brothers on LSD.

I couldn't even put in to words how ridiculous some of the plumbing was. The issue with  my Man Cave, though, was three pipes - a cold feed to the water heater, the hot return, and a gas line - running the length of the room down the center. With a  ceiling height of 81", my choices were to box out the pipes and risk broken skulls, or move the plumbing.

I wasn't too concerned about the water pipes. When I ignored the mess that was there and focused on the solution, the problem wasn't as bad as I had feared. I've even moved gas lines before, but for the sake of my wife's concerns (and a hassle I wanted to avoid) I decided to start by hiring a plumber to move the gas line.

I ended up using a company I found through ServiceMagic called Fluid Plumbing. They gave me a quote of $400 to move the pipe about three feet closer to the steel support beam that runs the length of my house. I couldn't have been happier. The tech showed up with an assistant, and in a timely, courteous, professional, and clean manner, completed the work in about 3 hours. I HIGHLY recommend these guys if you live in the Bucks/Montgomery county area.

Once the gas line was safely moved, I could begin work on moving the water lines myself.

I decided to go with PEX and SharkBite connectors for the water lines. I installed a new expansion tank on the water heater, a ball valve on the hot line out of the water heater, and was able to remove about 70 feet of unnecessary copper pipe.

The picture above shows the 3/4" feed with a new tee that runs to the water heater and a 1/2" ninety that connects the hot return with the rest of the house. These are both right along-side the gas line that was moved.

The SharkBite product gets high marks from me. A bit expensive, but the time saved was well worth the extra money spent.

The only bad thing that happened was I couldn't get the hot water heater started again. After several frustrating attempts, I called Fluid back and asked their tech to come out and get it started for me. They arrived within minutes, got it started immediately (which made me feel like an idiot) and charged me nothing. (I'm getting verklempt.)

I was able to start the framing once the plumbing part was completed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Man Cave: Part 1

And so it begins.

Several weeks ago, I started my Man Cave project. The goal is a room where I can enjoy movies, etc. with the family, Packers Games with a fellow die-hard fan, cigars with my cronies, and play my guitars, etc. (Maybe a little music studio, too.) The finished size of the room will be about 12' x 16'.

I am doing most of the work myself with few exceptions. Why? I enjoy this kind of stuff. I love tools, gadgets, widgets, etc. I like tinkering and creating. I like being able to talk about the experience with my friends.

Part 1: The demolition.

A bout a year-and-a-half ago, I had a sump pump die during a particularly rainy February and, as a result, my basement was flooded. Not terribly so, but enough to cause some mold issues. Combined with the previous owner's half-baked finishing job, I needed to tear out what was in the basement to get started on my project.

I started with clearing out all the stuff we'd stored in the basement. That, in itself, was a major pain in the arse. It's amazing the CRAP you can accumulate over time.

Step two was getting the dumpster. Johnny "Carpets" Eadeh, a good friend, recommended a company called Reube's Roll-offs in Hatfield, PA. Todd Reube was a gem. He rented me a 20 yard dumpster for 10 days for $350, which included the first ton of waste. Unbelievably, I had over a ton of waste when it was completed, but the total bill was only $372. Everywhere else I called, the going rate was $600-$800.

Once that was completed, I needed to tear out the suspended ceiling - the one that was covered in years worth of mouse poop. Yeah, this part was disgusting. I set out a large 9' x 12' plastic tarp on the floor and started pulling down the tiles. I was wearing gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask. As I pulled them down, I created a pile in the center of the tarp. Once done, I started tearing down the frame. I piled the pieces on top of the tiles, then tied the corners of the tarp together and dragged the whole ceiling out to the dumpster in a single bundle.

There were two 12' x 10' carpets that needed to be rolled up and dragged out.

Tearing out the horribly dated paneling, the fiberglass insulation, and the 2"x3" framing came next. I ran a circular saw around the room at waist height, essentially cutting the paneling in two. That made it easy to grip and pull right off the framing. Then I kicked each section in half so I ended up with quarter sheets which my son, Liam, helped drag out to the dumpster. Then I rolled the insulation up and bagged it. Finally, a small sledge hammer made quick work of the old framing. I used a grinder to cut off the concrete nails that had been used to fasten the framing to the floor.

Lastly, I cleaned. Sweeping up all the debris, shop-vacuuming all the joist pockets to remove any remaining mouse poop, and scraping the floor where necessary to remove carpet backing remnant. It ended up looking like this:

I found at least a dozen dead mice when I was going through this process. Nice to have that smell gone from the basement. I also purchased some sonic pest repellants, so I hope that will put an end to my mouse problem.

Next up: The plumbing issues.