Friday, February 5, 2010

I hope George Kostanza Never Rented the Apartment in the Basement!

It’s been a while since I posted anything project-related, so I’ll catch you up on my latest project. Last summer we renovated our basement, which used to be a 1-bedroom apartment, into a laundry room and family room. However we hadn’t planned on renovating the small 3-piece bathroom that was down there for a little while, because frankly we never use it. Until we noticed the Amazonian smell that was coming from the shower drain. No matter how much water we poured down it, the smell just would not go away. Even with the bathroom door shut, we could smell it in our newly finished family room. There’s no motivation quite like realizing your expensive, shiny new basement smells like a sewer, to make you change the priority of your project list. So out came the demolition tools again. In my urgency to solve the stench, I forgot to take before pics – Sorry!

The shower was one of those flimsy 3-sided plastic surrounds. It was glued to the wall above a cheap flimsy plastic shower pan. So demolishing it took about 5 minutes. When I lifted on the pan, I figured out where the smell was coming from. Whoever installed the trap for the shower, dug a good sized hole in the concrete floor to rough in the plumbing, but didn’t bother to fill it back up. Then whoever installed the pan, simply installed the pan over the hole, so there was nothing supporting the weight of anyone taking a shower other than the cheap flimsy pan and the ABS p-trap. So somewhere along the line (probably day 1), the bottom of the p-trap cracked under the weight of someone showering. This meant it wouldn’t hold water and therefore allowed sewer gases to enter the house. Also the water wasn’t actually draining into the sewers, it was actually draining from the crack in the p-trap into the soil beneath the concrete.

We know the basement apartment was installed some time in the 80’s. I once read somewhere that the average human loses about 100 hairs per day. So that’s 36,500 hairs per year. Well when 36,500 hairs per year for the last 3 decades doesn’t end up going into the sewers, and instead forms a dense thick mat in the big hole under your cheap flimsy shower pan, let me tell you it isn’t pretty. What was worse than cleaning up 5 pounds of rotting human hair, was the sudden flashback to a Jerry Seinfeld episode:

George: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Could it be because you don't want him to know that you have a friend who pees in the shower, is that it?
Elaine: No, that's not it!
George: Oh I think it is! I think that's exactly what it is!
Elaine: Why couldn't you just wait?
George: I was there! I saw a drain!
Elaine: Since when is a drain a toilet?!
George: IT'S ALL PIPES! What's the difference?
Elaine: Different pipes go to different places! You're gonna mix 'em up!

I'll spare you a picture of the hole, instead here's the post demo:


Wanderluster said...

Thank you for sparing us pictures of the hole :) I think the vision of a 5 pound 30 year old hairball would sufficiently disway from me doing any more renovations. Ever.

glow said...

Wow, I think I'm actually more grossed out by this than anything else I've come across in my entire life. THANK GOD you decided this reno couldn't wait!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and how you talk so honestly and with such detail about your renovation adventure. It's really a big help for someone who's new to the DIY.

I'm a big fan of Seinfeld too so the Kostanza bit was gold.

Sad to know that you haven't blogged for a while. Please come back.