The morning that we “moved in” to the house, we unpacked the car and took Lola for a walk. I turned on the kitchen faucet and let it run in order to try to purge the system of antifreeze. No one had lived in the house since the prior summer, and as such it had been winterized in the fall. This was the first item on a long list of things that I noted during the home inspection, that would need to be sorted out in order to get this place up and running.
In our usual fashion, Britt and I decided to divide an conquer. She volunteered to sort out the kitchen and living area, which involved getting rid of an old Ikea cabinet, moving the fridge, and a deep clean. That left me to get the bathroom(s) in ship shape.
The house came with two bathrooms, that from their appearance had not been disturbed from their original ’85 vintage glory with the exception of newer toilets. The downstairs bathroom, we knew had leakage problems related to the shower and bath, based on the extensive water damage visible in the crawlspace. So our plan was to utilize the upstairs bathroom until we could substantially renovate the downstairs bathroom and solve the water problems. The upstairs toilet and shower worked well enough to use, but the sink was a different story. The drain was clogged and the faucet valve was severely corroded. It leaked if the handle wasn’t positioned in an exact difficult to find position.
I figured that we could work with the funky faucet, if I could get the drain working. Motivated by wishful thinking, I applied some septic friendly Draino. I let it sit for an hour and tried the drain; no dice. Luckily we have a hardware store nearby, and since hardware stores were deemed “essential” during the NY shutdown, it was open. I purchased an inexpensive drain snake, and went to town. After removing several small toys, a marble and a small bottle of essential oils from the drain it still wasn’t working. I came to terms with the fact that this was not going to be as straightforward as I had hoped.
The sink design was a pretty unusual one, that just floated on the wall, with a ceramic cover over the drain and water lines. I was able to remove the cover, and started wrenching on the drain pipe, so that I could remove it and clear it manually. It was stuck on there pretty well, and I could see that it was oxidized around the threads. I gave it a strong heave-ho, and the down pipe just snapped off. Whoops.
I debated taking another trip to the hardware store for parts before remembering that we also had a sink downstairs which we did not plan to use at all prior to renovating the entire bathroom. The downstairs sink appeared to be in working order, except for the cold water faucet. But like, who needs cold water, right? Cue the sink switcheroo!
I have to admit that I have never disassembled one of these porcelain pedestal sinks before. After doing so, I gained a new respect for people who can install these things. There is almost no wiggle room inside of the pedestal to wrench on the drain pipe. It took me a couple of hours to get the waterlines and drain separated from this thing.
Popping the upstairs sink off the wall was a much easier affair. It was essentially just cantilevered onto a metal plate with a flange at the top that was anchored into the studs.
As luck would have it, the sink mount was exactly the right height to support the basin for the pedestal sink, precluding the need to glue it to the wall with silicone, as it had been attached downstairs. The sink actually went back together pretty easily upstairs. But it did take an hour or so of messing with the seal at the bottom of the basin and the connection to the drain pipe to solve all of the leaks. As for the cold water valve, we just live without it for now.
By the end of the first weekend, we had a usable kitchen, a usable bathroom, and an inflatable mattress on the living room floor; so cozy! Little did we know at the time, this would be our setup for the next several weeks.