March Home Improvement: Stairs and Pipes

We moved into our new home in the later part of last year. It’s pretty old but has so much character and space that it’s near close to what we would imagine as our dream home. It took some initial work to make it more livable and we had to enlist some help from friends to get everything done. We sat through most of the winter not really getting much done but this spring we are racing to do a few improvements before the hot summer begins.

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The first project was fixing the 3rd floor sink. The sink had always drained slow for us, but it had stopped draining all together. We originally tried to flush out the debris with some Draino. We left it there for a few hours and there was nothing. We waited overnight and still nothing, so we decided to drain it out. After a few minor chemical burns and a few ruined towels, it was time to get into the thick of it. The original plumbing job from wall to sink was metal and haphazardly put together. The bottom portion of the pipe had a lot of buildup that was cleaned out to reveal a gaping hole. I decided to start replacing the whole system from sink to wall. I purchased PVC pipe, plumbers tape, and a pipe wrench. I used a utility knife and a crowbar to remove a small portion of the plaster wall that was already damaged to reveal the pipe. I found out that the pipe actually runs over to the toilet without decreasing in elevation. It was wedged in between two load bearing walls so I was afraid to tear into the main portion of the drainage system. I cleaned what gunk I could see out of the pipe and measured the dimensions. I thought I had gotten this right but it turns out it was slightly a non standard fitting. I had to return an old piece of the pipe to it’s location and patch it with tape. I had wanted to have just a straight pipe down from the sink, but it turned out I needed a pipe that was able to curve to a particular angle. Once everything was installed, I tried the sink and everything leaked even after going back and tightening everything. I decided to go ahead and start taping up the leaks and calling the project over. It doesn’t look pretty but it works and doesn’t leak. I call it a win.


I also started to replace the stairs in the basement. I got a real workout pulling up the old steps and probably chose the wrong wood for the job. It will be sturdy but oak is plenty hard to drive a nail. I’ll have to end up replacing two more that are on their way out. It wasn’t bad and once it’s done it’ll be a success.


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