Chris & Hillary's DIY Conquests Why hire a professional when you can have this much fun just winging it?


The Beast Within

wooden handle

Who decided that wood would be a good material in an environment as moist as the bathroom?

Today's little project ended up taking a lot more time than originally planned. Our upstairs bathroom sink had a leaky fixture since we moved in. The water just slowly pooled up around the "hot" handle. Repairing it could have been easy: maybe a new washer or something. But the fixture was also hideous (ugly handles!) So we decided to replace it.

However, as previously discussed, our bathroom has had a little bit of a moisture problem. What exactly does that mean? It means that everything in the bathroom is rusted in place. Including the 1/4" thick nuts that held the faucet fixture firmly onto the sink. So instead of simply using a basin wrench to remove the old fixture, Chris had to really go to town:

  • He took the whole sink, faucet and all, down to the garage. Luckily the sink was only caulked in place on the countertop, so removing it was easy enough.
  • After the pipe wrench and various other hand tools proved futile in trying to remove the nuts, Chris decided it was time for some power.
  • Using a Dremel with a grinding wheel attached, Chris cut into one of the rusted nuts, removing most of one corner (with the Dremel you can't quite get in close enough to cut it off completely.) A chisel and rubber mallet made quick work of the what little bit of nut was left. Once free, the nut could easily be pried open and removed.
  • Repeat these same steps for the other fixture handle!

Another 10 minutes was spent fighting with the hoses that attached the faucet.  Someone decided it was a good idea to solder copper tubing to the handles rather then just use flexible, detachable hoses.

While Chris was cursing up a storm in the garage, Hillary decided to make herself useful and clean out the P-trap under the sink. It was there that she discovered the Beast. Twenty-five years worth of hair and soap-scum congealed into a long cylinder that, once removed, looked like your average adult bowel movement. Given the Beast's horrific appearance and likeness, Hillary dumped it into the adjacent toilet and flushed. For the record, the Beast did require TWO flushes to completely clear the toilet and make its way to its new home: the septic tank.


Bathroom Exhaust

Chris gets his game face on

Chris gets his game face on

One of the first things we wanted to fix when we moved into our house was the lack of bathroom ventilation. Our home inspector had pointed out some mold growing (OMG mold!) on the attic sheathing due to condensation from our improperly vented bathroom. We negotiated with the Sellers to get some cash back at closing for this expense, but after living here for three months, we finally got around to addressing the problem. Although the mold is alarming, we decided before any remediation could be done, we first had to address the source of the problem. So.... what was the problem you ask??

Here is the BEFORE:

  1. Bathroom fan was exhausted up to attic, across ceiling joists, and into a soffit vent. But, the hose was kinked and the soffit vents had been painted over from the outside. A plume of moist air was running up the rafters and condensing on the attic sheathing.
  2. Bathroom fan had been disconnected from the power source and it had a hand towel jammed in behind the grille (presumably, the previous owners saw the mold in the attic and decided to keep all the moisture in the bathroom. Nice try.)
  3. Due to disconnected fan, mildew was starting to grow on painted wall surfaces in bathroom. After showering, the walls were literally dripping with water.

We got lots of advice about how to solve this problem. Some vendors we consulted said if we replaced the clogged soffit vents we should be okay. Our home inspector recommended venting the bathroom fan straight up and through the roof. After finding a really helpful video on, we agreed that the roof vent strategy was most likely to be successful. So, we chose a long weekend with clear skies, and got to work.

Here's the AFTER:

  1. Removed old bathroom fan. Laughed at the measly 50 CFM/4 Sones fan and tossed it aside.
  2. Assembled new 110 CFM/0.8 Sones fan from Lowe's. Made opening in ceiling a little larger to accommodate the new fan, dropped it in, and hooked it up to existing wiring.
  3. Unpacked roof vent cap kit from Bathroom Accessories Unlimited and made sure everything fit together as desired.
  4. Put 20' extension ladder up on the outside, did a sanity check to make sure we wanted to really do this.
  5. Went into attic, visualized how the duct would come straight up from the ceiling, marked spot on attic sheathing where it would terminate, and drove a long nail into the roof
  6. Walked up the ladder with hammer, Sawzall, roofing cement, utility knife, and vent flashing. Found the nail we hammered sticking up from the shingles.
  7. Cut a 4" hole in the roof (right through the shingles and everything) with the Sawzall! Nothing quite like power tools on a roof with the wind blowing! Weeee!
    readytosaw sawing
  8. Lifted shingles above the hole, slid roof cap with flashing underneath, and nailed in place. Applied roofing cement to edges (in theory, this isn't neccessary. But we're amateurs; we like insurance.)
  9. Went back to attic, attached flexible duct to fan and roof vent with zip-ties (We probably need to replace this with an insulated duct soon, to prevent condensation from running back down into the bathroom.)
    newfan fanhookup

After all was completed, Chris was pretty grimy from all that hard work and decided to take the first post-fan-install shower. Time to test out our handiwork! After a long shower with the water nice and hot, Chris emerged from the bathroom victorious. The walls were dry; the mirror wasn't foggy! It took maybe 30 minutes to install the new fan, and another 45 minutes on the roof and attic to get it all connected to the outside.

Now we just have to test for leaks... so we can't get toooooo smug just yet.

Total Cost: $186.00 - Here's the breakdown:

  1. Bathroom Fan: $110.00
  2. Exhaust Ducting Kit (included roof cap, flexible hose, connector, and clamps): $64.00
  3. Tube of Roofing Cement: $2.00
  4. Sawzall Blades $10.00
Filed under: Bathroom, Exterior 1 Comment