When you start a renovation, you really never know what you’re going to find – especially when your house is almost to it’s hundredth birthday.
This is why it’s very helpful to invite your parents for a remodeling visit – especially if your dad happens to be a plumber.
Without my wonderful father, none of this would have been possible. We would have opened up the wall and seen the old vent stack, and crossed our fingers and hoped for the best as we left it as is and built our new wall.
However, we knew that a our house has had previous issues with plumbing – and we suspected it may have something to do with the vent pipe. As my dad was in town, we decided to go all in and update our plumbing system.
First, we rented a chain cutter to take out the cast iron pipe.
The pipe cutter is effectively a chain that you tighten up and turn to gradually snap through the pipe. It’s definitely the best way to get through cast iron.
An important note here – if you’re taking out a cast iron stack, it’s critical to clamp everything in place very well before you start. Cast iron is heavy.
You don’t want a whole stack of cast iron falling down your chaise.
That would be a very bad day.
We left the top section of stack going out the roof in place. After clamping it securely, we started at the top, taking out 3 to 4′ sections at a time. At this point, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong guy for the heavy lifting – thanks to my dear husband here.
As we worked our way down to the bottom, the pipe got more brittle as the inside got more corroded. Then this happened.
Instead of snapping the pipe, we made a hole.
It was a bit more of a challenge to get a clean cut towards the bottom. We planned to keep the bottom few feet of the stack so we didn’t have to mess with the drains below the concrete floor.
Eventually, we got a clean cut, and saw this.
Yuck. You’re looking at 100 years of…who knows what. As you can guess, not the best drainage.
Next came the gross task of cleaning out the section of cast iron that was staying in place. A shop vac without the filter, combined with some judicious taps of a hammer and chisel worked pretty well.
When we were all finished, we replaced the stack with a new PVC drain pipe, planning ahead as much as possible to future drains we may want to add. It’s pretty lovely.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that PVC makes for a much noisier drain pipe than cast iron. However, it drains very nicely and it’s harder for gunk to collect on the plastic, so we’re happy.
If my dad wasn’t helping, this would not have been a diy job. Heavy cast iron with a threat of falling 30 feet isn’t something I’m up for gambling with, though a braver well-researched person could try it. However, there’s enough labor involved that offering to help a plumber with removal of the old pipe and installation of the new one could be a viable option to cut costs.
We were also able to angle the stack slightly to allow for us to take out more wall in a future kitchen renovation, and put in future connections for a fully legal washer in the basement and future bathrooms. I’m also slightly less intimidated by PVC than I am by cast iron, so I’ll be more open to diying it if my dad’s not around and we need to change something.
However, a very hot shower is recommended after this job is completed. At least it will drain nicely now.
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posted in gardening
Jack Frost visited last night.
It’s time to bring in those last few green tomatoes and peppers from the vines.
First, a basket of tomatoes and a few peppers. My Roma type tomato didn’t take off til October, so I have plenty of green ones from it. They could add some freshness to Italian dishes after they ripen up inside this fall. The darker one on the top right with some stripes is a Hillbilly Heirloom. I can’t wait for it to get ripe.
Green peppers were everywhere. I didn’t realize how many were still hiding out there. It’s too bad they didn’t get red – that’s the best stage. However, they’ll make for plenty of fajitas and stuffed peppers this winter.
This is my favorite basket of peppers. See the purple sweet peppers? Such a gorgeous color. Those will be eaten fresh. They were a Carnival mix – also slow to start this year, so these are the first. You can also see some of the little ones with a hint of spice on top. They were theoretically an heirloom giant poblano – but they were actually little poblano shaped spicy peppers. Tasty. But definitely a surprise.
Together, I filled a paper grocery bag with tomatoes and peppers. We’ll have a full freezer this weekend.
Now for the pretty part. These are Peace Roses, planted by Wayne Rose, a wonderful Rose man and member of the rose society. Yes, that’s his last name. The color has gotten stronger with time (it’s been here a year and a half). Aren’t they beautiful? I also rescued the last foxglove of the season.
Goodbye to summer. Perhaps it’s time for chili now?
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posted in gardening
The red raspberries are in their second year – I believe they’re ‘Caroline’. I planted them last summer – a plant in a gallon pot on clearance at Home Depot. The stems are sturdy and hold themselves up pretty well – this year a few leaned into the path but they could be easily tied up. Before this fall, I never got more than a handful or berries from it. However, now I’ve been getting a large handful every couple of days for several weeks. The berries have gotten larger and sweeter the longer it bears – and there are plenty of green berries still waiting to ripen up. I’m expecting it to bear even more heavily as it gets established.
The yellow berries are ‘Anne’, planted as a bare root twig this spring. They aren’t quite as yellow as I expected – it’s more of a very pale peach. I haven’t fully learned how to tell when they are fully ripe, but the flavor is good – very delicate. I was very surprised by the vining habit of the plant – the stems are long and very flexible. The only stem that’s bearing this year has a very large bunch of fruit loosely hanging at the end. It’s pretty heavy, and I had to prop up the vine to keep the fruit off the ground. You can see the bunch of fruit in the picture – and you can see how much it’s moving on the floppy vine.
This may not be the right variety for you if you want an upright row of berries – but it could work very well in a spot where it could be tied to a trellis or arbor or other vertical object. However, the berries are unique. And very large, even in the first year. The amount of fruit hanging on the end of one stem is amazing, so I’d guess it will bear heavily once established.
Raspberries have been by far one of the easiest fruits I’ve attempted to grow – and I think they give you more bang for your buck than just about anything else. We can assume I’ve harvested about a small carton of berries twice a week for three weeks. Those cartons sell for about 4 dollars at the store on sale, and more at the farmers market. So, just this fall, I’ve harvested about 25 dollars worth or raspberries, and I’ll probably be able to keep harvesting for a few more weeks. I will have fresh berries every spring and fall for the foreseeable future, and it will probably bear more heavily as it gets more established. I know that no chemicals have come anywhere near this fruit. And this is all from a 10 dollar plant. Now that’s an impressive payoff.