Restoring a 1915 Colonial Revival house
Bathroom Demolition 3
After taking a little time off, we resumed the remainder of the bathroom demolition work left to be done in December 2010. We decided to go ahead and take the remainder of the plaster and lath off the walls and start over from scratch. This would give us a completely blank slate to work with when we start rebuilding the bathroom.

Here it is stripped down to the studs. In removing the remaining lath and plaster, we found some clues that the bathroom had undergone some renovations during the 1930s, the 1950s (likely when the pink tile was applied), then again around 1980. We also found an 1898 dime that may have been lost when the house was being built.

A closer look at the back wall where someone drilled holes to blow in insulation. A good idea, but whoever did it only blew it into a few areas - not enough to make much of a difference in insulating the room. These will have to be plugged while the walls are open, as they currently make convenient entry points for bugs and other vermin,.

The side wall contained plumbing for the added shower. If you look at the vertical pipes, you'll see that they are galvanized pipe and older than the horizontal copper pipe joined to them. The vertical pipes are a little newer than the original pipes coming into the bathroom, so we're guessing these were added during the 1930s renovation. When the old galvanized pipes went bad, the pipes in the following picture were added (probably in the 1990s). You can see the old copper pipes in the upper part of the center of the picture below.

Rocklath paper wrapping, probably from the 1930s renovation.

Electrical receptacle box, circa 1950.

Once the walls were open and the debris removed, we turned our attention to the floor. The old floor was made out of cement and was a little over 3 inches thick. Removing this took a lot of time, We drilled multiple holes in a line with a hammer drill and then used a hammer and chisel to break the floor into manageable pieces to be removed. The picture above was taken after the old cement floor was removed.

Whoever put this floor in did something crazy. The joists are all planed to a point. Doing this created pressure points on the floor, causing it to crack across every joist. Underneath the floor was a subfloor made of 3/4" tongue and groove boards.

With the walls open and the old floor out, demolition was officially complete.


The Plumbing

In order to run new plumbing to this bathroom, one of the walls in the kitchen needed to be opened. The four pipes in the picture above that were revealed when the wall was open are from left to right: copper hot and cold supply lines, one of the hot water heating pipes for the bathroom, and the drain line. The copper lines are replacements that look to have been in place for about 20 or 30 years. They are starting to show signs of corrosion around the joints, so we will go ahead and replace them while the wall is open. The heating pipe appears to be in good condition and will be left alone. The cast iron drain pipe is in terrible condition and will be replaced.

A closer look at the drain pipe shows just how bad it really is. Old leaks have left rust colored trails down the sides of the pipe. There is so much rust that it is difficult to tell where the leaks started.

Here is another view of the rust on the pipe.

This picture illustrates why cast iron drain pipes need to be replaced. There is a vertical crack in this section of pipe about 18 inches in length. This was completely hidden from view before we opened the wall and would have made a mess if anyone had tried to use this bathroom in recent years. Cast iron pipe has a life expectancy of about 50 years, so it's natural and expected to see this kind of damage after almost 100 years of service.

There aren't any pictures of the process, but we spent a weekend removing the cast iron pipe. We used a Sawz-All to cut through the pipe and removed it in sections. We burned through a few blades, but the process was pretty effective. Care should be taken when removing cast iron pipe, as it is very heavy. We used binder straps to support the horizontal section of the pipe from above and lowered it down using ropes.

The picture above is a section of supply pipe that we believe is original to the bathroom. . The pipe is about 90% obstructed by deposits that formed over the years. This would have manifested itself as significantly reduced water pressure at the faucets. From the looks of this pipe, this bathroom had no more than a trickle coming out of the faucets with the valves opened all the way.

These are two pictures showing the inside of a section of the cast iron drain pipe that was removed. These illustrate why it is important to replace these old drain lines. Cast iron pipe deteriorates from the inside outward. The areas that appear to have bubbled up are thin spots that are leaks waiting to happen.

Continue to the Reconstruction of the Second Floor Bathroom