Monday, December 5, 2011

Demo Done!

Put a big red DONE stamp on the basement demo.

We hired a demo crew by posting an ad in the Craig's List Gig section......odd assortment of people who answer those ads.....They basically finished completely demoing the basement and cleaned up after themselves in 4 full work days. Which is about 1 month and 4 days faster than I could of done it.

The subtitle of this post is
 What Horrors Lurk Beneath!!!
With all the drywall off the ceilings and most of the walls a lot of interesting 'features' were uncovered...
Come with me now, dear readers, on a pictorial tour of 'What Lurks Beneath'.

First a boring selection of after shots of gutted rooms

 Bye-bye old kitchens.
 Here the wall between the kitchen-bath is partially removed.


 Bye bye old bedrooms. That gas line above the closet? It just runs to there and stops...?
Insulation sure does take up a lot of space....

Now onto scary things hidden behind drywall.

Check out this selection of odd stuff we found.

Looks like a pair of seriously beefy homemade hold downs, a SCARY looking bottle of beer and what could possibly be a chunk of moonrock? Kryptonite??

Buried Junction Boxes
So, so, soooo many buried junction boxes....






 This is an odd one..its a light swich box that is buried behind drywall in a closet!?!?!?
 See how the top plate is short of the ceiling joists?
 This was where a light switch used to be I think...


These last two pics I thought that I had just copied the same pic twice but nope...

Buried junction boxes are a clear code violation. I'm either going to have to 'unbury' them or redo the wiring with home runs back to the panel or something...

Scary Electrical
This is a live wire just buried in the wall...

Here's a shot of the subpanel for the basement.

Looks neat and tidy doesn't it.  Notice anything weird?
It took me a minute but...there is no ground wire!!?!?!?
With the demo done I could look around and right above the panel I found this.

A ground wire collection.

I traced it back to the main panel for the building...which it of course just stops short of...
So nothing appears to be grounded down here...funny how the property inspector missed this...even though he took off the panel cover and looked inside....

Odd Framing...
In this shot look at the original 4by6 beam above the boxes.

As far as I can tell its just hanging in air...there are no support posts on either end...that beam spans 10' with 2 floors above it...don't know what I'm going to have to do with this. There is no way a 6" deep beam is going to be code approved for a 10' span with two floors above...anybody have the IRC span tables handy?

In this shot you can just see the end of a beam and post to the right of the door..
Well now that post is going to be in the middle of the master bedroom. I will probably have to put in a new code correct beam and footing that will span all the way to the wall on the left....

They appear to of framed the interior partition walls after drywalling the ceiling...The demo was made particularly difficult by the fact that the drywall is behind the wall top plates...


Not sure why you would want to do it that way...the non-load bearing walls are all 1 1/8" shorter than they should be...This is bothering me because I am worried about structural rigidity in the houses short direction. That's the weak, more easily rackable direction and having well attached walls along that direction will help in the case of earthquake.

They also appear to of done the tile after the drywall.

Which I don't think is that big of a deal but they didn't hold the drywall up off the tile....its buried...also making it a PITA to remove the drywall.

They put in vents in insulated spaces...
boy was the batt insulation dirty here...

Odd Plumbing Layout
Fortunately the water supply piping is all copper...unfortunately its pretty wacky.
The main line from the street is only 1"...seems smallish to me for a triplex.

The main line enters the building at the front corner and then is routed all the way to the opposite corner (the farthest run it could possibly have) to a manifold.

Here's the backside of the manifold.

Having a manifold is good. I can shut off the water to the individual units without having to cut the water to the entire building...well, that's the theory at least..I'm having a bit of difficulty figuring out which valve goes to which unit.....also, from the manifold there is only 1/2" lines to each studio apartment...seems a bit small to me but the tenants say they have good water pressure so....if it ain't broke don't fix it...

The plumbing in this place is so wack-a-doodled...The hot water heater is in the attic on the 4th floor yet is somehow plumbed all the way down to the basement to supply hot water to the two baths and two kitchens and the laundry room....I have to separate out the systems so the basement unit will have its own water heater. I'm also thinking about moving the manifold indoors to the mechanical room where it will be centrally located and remove like 20-30' of run for the main line.

Vents Schments..
This pic is the DWV for the bathroom sink and the laundry room and the old kitchen.

I can not see a vent for this group...This is a reoccurring theme in this house...not a lot of venting was done when bathrooms where added on...

Whats a 1hr fire rating?
To cover the HVAC stuff they built two soffits to conceal them.
 I should also say that at just about every joint in the HVAC system air just pours out of...


I'm not sure if this is correct for a 1hr fire rated assembly...doesn't all four sides of the soffit need to have the fire code drywall?

The exhaust vent shown above turns vertical and goes ALLLL the way up through the roof.

This doesn't seem correct to me either...this was enclosed in a soffit covered with firecode drywall but shouldn't there be more to stop the fire from using this as easy access to all floors of the house?
Good thing about this is that when we install the new heaters this pipe will be unused and we can use this space as a chase to pull wires, plumbing through all three floors.

Choking on Dust
Everyday after the demo I would go and vacuum off the forced air unit before turning it on for the night. Yet somehow it was sucking up great gobs of drywall dust and evenly distributing it through out the house...all three floors where covered in a hyper fine coating of white drywall dust...

After it was too late I finally figured out what was going on.
The heater is built atop a plywood box that is used as a return plenum.

That's actually a good way to do it...provided the box is actually air tight.

Yep, that's a 1/2" gap in the box...through which the heater was sucking up the dust...I'm glad we are replacing the heater as I'm sure inhaling drywall dust has shortened its life span considerably...

No Earthquake Retrofitting Done....
Notice something missing from all the shots of the exterior walls? Yep no earthquake sheathing...this is a huge bummer for me...I was really hoping that since the foundation was done with permits that they would of done the earthquake retrofitting at the same time...nope...

There are some bolts anchoring the sole plates.

But a troublesome construction detail is going to make installing the earthquake sheathing a lot harder...
The fricken bottom plates are mostly buried in concrete...which means that there is no edge to nail the sheathing to...actually, this worries me from a rot perspective also...now the plates are surrounded on 3 sides by potentially damp concrete...seems like that's going to shorten the lifespan of the bottom plates...
Wow, this just added a lot of work and expense to this remodel. I'm going to have to install hold downs, more foundation bolts, the sheathing, the clips to tie the floor joists into the walls...hope my harbor fright rotary hammer is up for the task... maybe even have to pay an engineer to make sure I have enough racking strength in the short direction...ugh...

Nails!
Check this pic out.

This shows probably why the lame bamboo floor in this area was buckled. They nailed the subfloor down to the concrete with about a billion nails. Then they nailed the wood floor to the subfloor...I believe that for below grade applications you are supposed to float the flooring and subfloor...
Not sure what I'm going to do about the nails...they stick up from 1/2-3/4" and are a surprisingly effective trip hazard. They grab the lugs on your work boots and make you stumble...

I plan to float an engineered wood floor in this area so I think that means I have to remove the nails...just pulling them out takes a big chunk of concrete with them...I think I need to break out the angle grinders again and grind them all flush with the floor....shades of having to grind nails for weeks on end at Chez 2.0 for the radiant heating...at least its not overhead.

So, that's it for now...anybody see anything else in the pics that I missed?

6 comments:

Jim said...

It's really hard to tell from the picture, but isn't there a ground wire in the feed cable to the sub-panel? It kind of looks like it in the picture, but really hard to tell.

The MadScientist said...

I could always be wrong but.
The feeder cable only has three wires, two hots and the neutral. It does not appear to have a 4th ground wire. Its my understanding that at a subpanel the neutral and ground must be seperate and only tied together at the main panel.

David_N said...

Wow. So much going on here. Amazed by the lack of grounding in that junction box. How can the same person who took the extra care to keep all those wires so organized also been the sort of person who skips grounding? That's just crazy.

Is the grounding bar even connected to the mail neutral? That sounds like what you're thinking based on your reply to Jim. It doesn't look like it in this picture: 8 circuits leaving the box, 8 wires connecting to the neutral bar. If there is no separate ground wire coming into the box and going to the grounding bar (impossible to see), then this whole thing is ungrounded. If something faults to ground, this could energize all sorts of things no one wants energized, other boxes, the skins of appliances, the plumbing. I'm sure you know this, but geez, be careful.

Do the units have separate electrical meters?

One nice thing is you didn't have to title this post "Surprise asbestos". Every East Bay house of this vintage I've poked at seems to have asbestos lurking somewhere.

Jim said...

> The feeder cable only has three wires, two hots and
> the neutral. It does not appear to have a 4th ground
> wire.

Ok; one of the copper bits near the top looked like it might be entering with the feed cable.

The MadScientist said...

David_N,
You sound familiar have we met?

Uh, we might be getting sloppy with our terminology here. That is a subpanel not a junction box. As a subpanel the ground and neutral must be kept seperate so the grounding bar in the subpanel is indeed seperate from the neutral.

I will have to replace this subpanel with a much bigger one anyways and move it to a different wall so I can fix the issues then, I hope...I will probably have to run a new longer correct feeder cable to the new panel location.

Yes house has seperate meters..its actually got 4 but I'm not sure which circuits exactly are controled by the meter labeled 'house'.

David_N said...

Sorry about the loose terminology, and thanks for clarifying my comment. (There's a reply you don't see very often on the internet.)

And now I see that that subpanel is on the wall you are already demoing (picture 3). So it's nice that this was something you would have had to redo anyway as opposed to an unplanned additional expense. Can you salvage most of the wiring in place or are you going to have to redo everything? At the very least, a rewire would let you remove all those buried junction boxes.

Since this was just a demo of the basement, do you think the rest of the house has similar wiring horrors, or were the other sections done in a different era?

And no, I don't think we've met, though I'm also a scientist living on Alameda (recent transplant from Oakland). Have enjoyed your blog for years. Commented occasionally, most recently about HVAC suppliers. Figured I should move up from "anonymous" if I post more than a few times.