Unintended kitchen remodel
We moved into our latest house (made in late-70ís) just over a year ago. For most of that time, there was a little water periodically weeping out from underneath the brick wall in front of the house. We didnít see any signs of water damage inside the house, so we thought it was probably rain water that had penetrated the brick. With all the issues of a newly-acquired house, it was low priority.
However, the outside leakage recently became much worse, even though we havenít had much rain recently. It looked like the water might be coming from our kitchen. It was time to determine what was really happening.
Our house is on a slab, and is one story at that part of the house. The kitchen adjacent to the front wall is about 17 ft wide, with a sink in the middle (under a window), and the fridge on the right corner. First I pulled the bottom of the cabinet out from under the sink, so I could see underneath. There was definitely some evidence of moisture along the bottom wall plate, but couldnít tell the source. I then pulled off the baseboard trim behind the fridge. Gads, the bottom plate was soaked!! :eek:
That did it. We were going to have to get into the wall in a major way to figure this out. Unfortunately, this required demolishing a significant part of the kitchen.
Although remodeling this dated kitchen was something we wanted to do EVENTUALLY, it was NOT in the short-term budget. However, it didnít look like we had any choice.
Here are pictures of the kitchen before demolition, and shots of the advanced water leakage from outside.
We figured there were two possible sources for the water: 1) leakage from the kitchen sink (incoming water or drainage); 2) leakage from the ice maker water supply. To fully explore, the sink cabinet and all base cabinets to the right had to be removed.
So, after emptying all the kitchen cabinets in the target area, I disassembled the kitchen sink. This was more involved than I expected, particularly since I was trying to salvage as many parts as possible:
- Removed the water supply tubes
- Carefully disassembled all the drain tubing
- Removed the faucet and instant hot dispenser (faucet and tank), both of which I installed since moving in, so theyíre fairly new
- Removed the electrical outlet I installed under the cabinet for the hot water dispenser
- Disconnected the dishwasher drain tube
- Disconnected the electric line to the disposal
- Removed the disposal
- Öand finally, removed the sink itself.
Whew. Lots of pieces/tasks!
Out with the cabinets
After removing the electrical outlets/switches on the wall, it was time to rip off the backsplash. It was made of laminated ĺĒ fiber board. Since I only had to remove to the sink, I sawed apart the countertop to left of the sink with a reciprocating saw. The base cabinets were built in a long run, and Iíd already destroyed the sink portion when I first looked for the leak, so I just cut out the remaining parts of the sink section of the cabinet, then pulled out the remaining base cabinet section (after sawing out the nails used to attach them to the wall).
Next I ripped out the lower half of the drywall. Then I cut and pulled out the exposed insulation.
At this point, I could discover the source of the leak: The copper tubing in the wall supplying the icemaker valve had a 90 degree elbow fitting that was soldered poorly by the last idiot plumber to work on it. This was apparently a repair job after the house was built, since a 1í square piece of plywood was used as a patch between the supply valve and the drywall. Apparently the vertical copper pipe was only inserted into the elbow about 1 millimeter before they soldered it. This very weak joint apparently developed a small leak (due to vibration or a bump to the exterior valve; who knows). Over time the leak got worse, causing the exterior water leakage. The plywood patch was difficult to cut out, and the vibrations of the effort apparently caused the joint to fail completely. Fortunately I had turned off the house water beforehand.
So, first I had to fix the leak, so I could turn the water back on. I torched the old elbow off the pipes, and you can see by the pictures the difference between the good joint and the bad one.
To make sure the pipe would fit fully into the new elbow fixture, I first had to extend the vertical pipe about Ĺ centimeter. To do this, I first used emery cloth to sand down and clean the pipe to shiny copper. I cut the errant pipe about 3 inches down, and reconnected the cut piece using a coupling. This gave me enough extra length to seat the end firmly into the new elbow. (I didnít have extra tubing, and it was getting too late to go to the store for supplies; fortunately I had the right size coupling from a previous project).
So, this gave me a total of 4 joints to solder. Not the best-looking solder job Iíve done (not by far), but it worked!:whistling2:
Unfortunately, the icemaker valve I thought was open when I started soldering was actually closed. Oops!! When we turned the water supply back on, the valve started leaking, probably because the heat from the soldering built up pressure/heat in the valve. So, off with the water, and another trip to the store to get a replacement valve.
When I initially turned off the house water supply, I knew it would be off for a while. Accordingly, I turned off the circuits to our two hot water heaters, and turned off the water supply shutoffs at the tanks. After I finished with the kitchen plumbing, I went to open the shutoffs. Unfortunately, one of them started leaking through the valve stem. Since this was late at night, I simply closed the :censored: thing and went to sleep.
So, normal repair would be to remove the valve stem and change out the bushing gasket. Tried. However, I couldnít get the handle to come off, and I couldnít pull the valve stem assembly out of the fixture. I didnít want to force anything, because I had enough to deal with without also having to replace a battered shutoff valve. So I applied a trick I had recently learned on some Youtube video: I wrapped the exposed stem about 7-8 times with Teflon tape, and then screwed the packing nut back down securely. This did the trick!
Now it’s time to clean out the wall. The water leached up the plywood sheathing a couple feet, and had turned black. The base of some of the studs and the bottom plate were sopping. To tackle, we cleaned out and scraped up the surface gunk (wet insulation, dirt, etc.). Then we sprayed the affected areas with a 50/50 water/bleach solution. After running a box fan over the area overnight and most of the next day, we continued scraping away gunk and re-treating with the water/bleach solution.
- Determine what repairs to do to the damaged studs. Once totally dried out, will see what solid wood is left. I was thinking of sistering some 2x4 lengths beside the existing studs. However, the damage might not be significant enough to warrant it (I hope).
- Determine what to do about the bottom plate. May have to cut out a section and replace.
- Determine what to do with the sheathing. We are treating the inside of the sheathing. The main challenge is that the brick wall on the outside is connected to the sheathing, so there’s no accessing the exterior part of the sheathing without tearing down the brick wall. Is there any way to avoid this?? I’m going to post the issue separately to get some input/advice.
- We traced the water damage to the wall at the corner of the room. On the other side of the wall is the front door. I need to remove some trim to see to what extent the water made there, and what the damage might be.
Doing dishes manually? Yuck!!
After a few nights of washing dishes manually in the utility room sink, my wife requested that I get the dishwasher started up again. Previously the dishwasher drain tube was connected to the kitchen sink disposal. I went to the local big box, and one of the orange apron folks helped me come up with a nifty coupling method: Using my old drain pipes, I re-installed the trap and added a former drop pipe with the end cut off. I fit this into a rubber coupling which transitioned from my thin-walled 1 ĹĒ pipe to a larger PVC pipe size (sorry, canít remember what itís called). On the other side of the coupling I fitted a PVC bushing, which had a screw hole into which I screwed in a 3Ē long nipple-type fitting that would accept the end of the dishwasher drain tube. Once the pipe clamps were tightened, it made a sweet connection.
That took care of the drainage. However, I forgot about the water supply. I reconnected the supply line to the hot water shutoff valve, but I'd failed to obtain a cap for the 2nd outlet of the valve (which previously fed the sink's hot water). Yet another trip to the store in the morningÖ :wallbash:
Wow.. please keep us updated.. I'm curious how you will solve the sheeting situation..
I was very pleased with the replies, which indicated that I didn't have to worry about the exterior side of the plywood, since it's faced with brick. I only need to dry it out thoroughly, use a wood hardener on the damanged areas, and put 'er back together again (preferably using a mold-resistant drywall like Denshield. Still an open question about whether replacing the plastic vapor barrier is a good idea -- we'll see.
Meanwhile, my wife's been continuing work on cleaning up the wood (sorry, only room for one of us in the space :whistling2:), and here's a couple updated photos. The wood's looking much better than when the drywall first came off!
That looks much better now
As long as the wood isn't soft you should be OK
My last house one area was a mess between bath & laundry which backed up to each other
I'm thinking that DW drain is Temp :wink:
We do not have one yet
Kitchen remodel is still in the future
Yes, please keep us updated... I'm fixing to tear out my 40yr old kitchen and no telling what I might find.
Meanwhile, it's nice to have a dishwasher again! Don't know how you can do without. Guess you're not as spoiled as (we didn't know) we are...
Our kitchen is original - mid 50's
When we bought the house it came with the kitchen stepstool
Required to reach ANY cabinet in the kitchen
For all I know it has been passed down by owners since the 50's
Everything WAS original
I have replaced the counter top with a free one from someone & installed a new faucet
I've installed some Temp free cabinets that will end up in the garage
Built a sunroom off the kitchen & opened the wall
Plus opening up a bigger doorway to dining room
So wife knew it had to wait until larger construction was completed
Plan anything you want to do in the kitchen if this will be THE renovation & not just Temp stuff
One reason we have waited & done Temp measures
To be able to plan it out & buy some nice "stuff"
We already have new fridge, stove & microwave
Spreads the expense out some
Final things to check
On the other side of the wall adjacent to the leak is our front door. Knowing some water might have leaked that far, I pulled some trim to take a look. Not so bad (not as bad as the photo looks), but some water had got there. Treated it with bleach mixture, let it dry for a couple days, and put the trim back.
Of course, the trim didn't fully-cooperate when removing. The upper-corner miter was connected with a surprisingly large nail. When I pulled the vertical trim off, it cracked the horizontal piece. I glued and nailed the broken piece back on and caulked it a bit. With some paint, it will be invisible.
Also checked under the door threshold. Again, not a real problem. Bleached that too (just to make sure), and let it dry as well (fortunately the storm door, along with recently mild Texas weather, made this tolerable for a mid-December effort).
So, after the holidays, it will be time to stop taking things apart, and start putting things together!
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