After removing the cinder block laundry room, the now-outside wall had some plumbing and electrical that needed to be removed before winter. The plumbing included hot and cold water supplies for the small sink and washer, and the drains for the same. The electrical was for the clothes dryer and the 3 or 4 other outlets that used to supply the laundry room. This project took me about 3 weeks or so.
I started by digging up the clothes washer drain. I took a guess that the drain line would start near the foot of the wall underneath the washer water connections, and got lucky and found it about where I thought it would be. I expected it to travel 3 or 4 feet and tie in to where the main drain entered the septic tank, but instead the drain threw me a bit of a curve ball. Here’s the cast iron pipe coming out of the wall:
The drain extended out about 10 feet, took a left turn towards the front yard, and ran about 12 feet:
It then turned straight down, went down about 18 inches and joined up with…nothing. Right into the dirt, which I’m sure drained well…
Not that it mattered, though: the pipe was cracked in a couple of places, and when I pulled the 2-inch pipe out of the ground it was almost completely clogged with rust and sludge, so it wouldn’t have drained anyway:
I pulled the pipe up out of the ground with little trouble and then filled in the trench.
Next it was time to tear into the wall and see what the plumbing looked like. This wall had been stuccoed, so I started removing the stucco and underlying chicken wire with a hammer:
Underneath the stucco was the original 1″ thick wood planks they used as sheathing. Some of the sheathing was fairly tight, but most of it was pretty sadly done. With the large 2″+ gaps between the planks it’s no wonder this house is cold in the winter. I’m not sure if this is original to the house or if this was done at some later time. It almost looks like there had been a window here early in the history of the house, and it was just boarded over when they added the laundry room:
After removing the remainder of the stucco, this is what I was left with. Sorry about the finger in the way of the camera:
Luckily the plumbing was fairly discrete, so removing it should be easy and won’t affect any of the other plumbing:
Whoever added this plumbing made some extremely large notches in the supporting studs, which will need to be replaced or at least shored up at some later date:
I used a sawzall to cut the drain pipes and removed them from the wall without any problems, leaving me with:
And the mandatory pile-o-crap generated from any good project:
After removing a few more of the sheathing planks, I noticed a couple of things. First, they notched the main bottom sill plate for the drain:
This will have to be replaced at some point in the future, because there is only about 1/2″ of thickness left, and the inside floor plank isn’t supported by it anymore (this would partially explain the squishy kitchen floor on the other side of this wall.) It will have to at least be covered over and sealed now, though, as this would provide a nice little home for packrats, and we have enough of those in our walls as it is. Speaking of which, just above the plumbing for the washer is an old packrat nest:
After cleaning out the nest I noticed the electrical line that went through this bay. The packrats had started to chew through the electrical cable…good thing they didn’t get all the way through or they could have caused a short or a fire. Mental note to myself: use MC electrical cable when we get around to rewiring this house…
I then turned off and disconnected the water heater. My original plan was to build an insulated shed around the water heater for the winter, but after looking at the plumbing it seemed better to move the water heater inside the kitchen on the opposite side of this wall. Judging from the patches on the drywall this was how it was originally installed.
I turned off the water at the water main out on the street and then used a small tubing cutter to cut the copper pipes. First I cut the water supply pipes that ran to the sink, then the pipes to the washer, which will all be capped. I then cut the 3/4″ copper pipes leading to and from the water heater and rotated them 180 degrees so they were entering the house through the drywall into the kitchen. I have very little experience soldering copper pipes, but using my small propane torch, four 1/2″ copper caps and two 3/4″ copper unions I was able to get everything soldered:
The soldering is pretty ugly, and if these pipes were going to be permanent I would have hired a professional (or at least practiced a whole lot more first.) Since this is temporary (we are moving the water heater to a different permanent location next summer), it will do. I connected the water heater on the other side to pressure-test the cold and hot water joints, and didn’t have any leaks, so it should be good until May or so of next year.
Removing the electrical wasn’t bad: all of the electrical lines in the laundry room were connected to one junction box mounted to the side of the house, presumably installed specifically to provide power to this room. I turned the power off at the main box, disconnected all of the cables and pulled them from the wall. I also removed the packrat-chewed cable and replaced it, and since I was doing that anyway I decided to move the electrical outlet the cable supplied power to. Previously it was fairly high up the wall in the kitchen, so I moved it to an appropriately lower position.
Finally, I removed the door that previously went from the kitchen into the laundry room. The door from inside the kitchen:
And from the outside:
After removing the door I built a quick 2×4 frame:
And a piece of drywall on the inside:
On the outside I nailed some 2×4 pieces over the holes in the bottom framing to keep out critters and sprayed some spray-foam insulation into the largest of the remaining holes (almost pointless, as the rest of the house leaks air like a sieve, but I figure every little bit helps, and winter is coming.)
After all that, here’s the much simpler result:
I don’t like having water pipes on exterior walls if I can avoid it (we don’t get hard freezes too often here, but it does happen every few years.) I don’t have time to move these before it gets cold, though, so I wrapped the pipes in enough insulation that they should survive the winter. I briefly considered insulating the entire wall with batt insulation, but decided not to waste the materials on a wall that we are going to completely gut and redo in a couple of years anyway. Even as it is, this wall is probably less air-leaky than every other wall in the house.
The rest was pretty easy: I cleaned up the upper edge of the sheathing planks with a circular saw to make a straight line, and screwed 4×8′ sheets of sheathing plywood to the wall:
And a layer of felt paper:
We haven’t decided what kind of siding we are going to put on the house, and though it’s not ideal we will probably wait to put siding on until next summer. The winter weather will destroy the felt paper and probably the plywood sheathing underneath over the next 6 months or so, and it may be a little drafty, but the first freeze is due in a few days so I am out of time. I have to get the water heater installed and the drywall patched in the kitchen on the other side of this wall, so for now I’m going to say this project is