Around 10am the Sunday after Thanksgiving I lost it. The frustrations of a year of DIY projects finally boiled over. After a 10 minute rant and a hundred expletives later all my Dad could say was "I get it." At that point, we pulled the sink cabinet back out and got to it.
This story all started about 13 years ago when the less than skilled tradesmen and poor supervision of an unqualified builder cared less about doing something right and cared more about getting it done. The kitchen in our unit had many flaws, but one that drove me nuts more than anything is that the sink and the window didn't line up. Was the sink in the wrong spot or the window in the wrong spot? I have no idea, but our kitchen update gave us the chance to fix that.
Mrs. Fix-It and I had been making progress on the kitchen renovation, but relocating the sink was the one item I knew I would have to enlist the help of my Dad. I know, how cute, father and son working together. Typically he and I working together is anything but cute.
He is a Union Pipefitter and I figured I would likely need him and his torch but he was not available all month until the Thanksgiving weekend. We were at least smart enough to make sure we had a whole weekend because we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into. This also had to happen before the Granite guy would come measure for the counter tops. Once we tore the sink out, we would likely be sink-less until the counter tops got installed. The pressure was on.
First step was to clean out the cabinet. (What is all that crap we have under there?) Next we disconnected all the fittings on the sink. The drains, the faucet hoses, that stupid soap dispenser we never used and then lifted, well tried to lift the sink out of the hole. The sink was like a hundred pounds so it was a little work. The existing counter top just lifted right off the cabinets. At this point we had the first indication of what we were up against. There was a huge 2" pipe across the back of our cabinet and we had no idea what that did. Was it a vent pipe from another unit? A drain? We could not take the sink cabinet out with the pipe there and can't just tear it out if it could be someone else drain running through our unit. I had an idea. I boiled a pot of water and poured it down the drain (this was before the sink removal) and the pipe got scalding hot, so I felt confident it was my drain pipe. I learned from a neighbor that there used to be grease traps installed at each sink in our building and almost everyone has had them removed. That confirmed what that pipe was and we took it out.
With that large pipe out of the way we started working on taking the cabinet out. This should be easy after you take a couple screws out from the adjacent cabinet and the wall. The cabinet wouldn't budge. This will reflect back on my previous comment regarding the builder. We were dumbfounded. It became apparent that the cabinet was somehow "glued" to the wall and the culprit was all the spray foam the builder used to block drafts from the outside wall and huge gaping holes in their construction. This was bad.
a) Removing the cabinet from the wall it was glued to severely damaged the cabinet.
b) There were obvious draft issues we would have to address.
c) The foam was everywhere! What were these guys thinking?
With the cabinet out of the way, we made some measurements. We were installing a new 12" cabinet that would effectively shift the sink left and under the window. The measurements revealed that the pipes in their current location would not line up with the new sink cabinet location. Next step, rip out the wall. If you have read any previous posts you know this is nothing new in our home. You can see in the picture below the existing pipe. It drains down to the left and vents up and to the right. You can see the two open ends where I had the big piece across the back of the cabinet. There are three drain pipes that come through the wall, one for each basin and the third for the dishwasher. It is probably still code to have a separate pipe for the dishwasher, but will discuss that later. The way this was piped defeats the purpose of that requirement as the two sink drains drained into that cross piece. This is no different than if I had a single pipe with a wye in the cabinet.
On Saturday morning, we started repiping everything. With copper at all time high prices we were careful to remove things so we could reuse it. Three 2" fittings cost $42 and a 10' section of 1 1/2" pipe was $75. This is called "un-sweating." So, we un-sweat all the drain pipe. Cleaned all the various sections and fittings and started reassembling the pipe. Things were going well. We were able to un-sweat the bottom piece as a whole and flip it so it went to the left instead of having that cross piece. We also decided to use two drain outlets instead of the three. The dishwasher can be drained into the garbage disposal, but a better and more accepted option is to have a tap in the drain stem. I'll add pictures when the countertops are in and the sink is piped. We also extended the supply lines twelve inches so they would come up through the sink in the same spots. After all the plumbing was done, we got the insulation back in and some new plastic sheeting. A new piece of drywall was installed and everything was looking good. It was Saturday afternoon and my help went home.
I kept working. I focused my attention on the sink cabinet. It would take weeks and hundreds of dollars to replace. I had neither. I figured that the back, which was badly damaged from the removal would be somewhat supported by the wall when it was reinstalled. I was able to use a 2x4 near the back under the floor to support the bottom of the cabinet and give lateral support. Also, the cabinet face frame was coming off the cabinet. Some glue, motivation from a mallet, and some clamps helped put the frame back together. It wasn't pretty, but the cabinet was salvaged. I cut the new hole locations and installed the sink cabinet in place.
Mrs. Fix-It and I had a sink picked out we liked. It was a granite composite, had a deep basin and a more shallow basin. It was also possible to over or under mount the sink. This was great cause I could then hook it up temporarily and use it while we waited for counter tops. We could then undermount it to the new counters. I put the garbage disposal on and the drain pipe in the wall outlets and made a horrible discovery. The drain outlet from the wall was higher then the outlet of the garbage disposal. This would cause the trap water to sit in the garbage disposal. It was only off an inch or so. I started to re-evaluate. I realized that the sink would drop an inch when undermounted. That was 2". So, I figured I can change the sink to an 8" and all would be good. I called it a night.
Sunday morning, dad showed up and I explained to him what was going on. He and I went to the home depot. This was maybe my 6th trip this weekend. The girls at the paint counter were starting to comment. Probably since I was wearing the same thing every day that weekend and looked like a mess. Brought home a new stainless undermount and we started making more measurements. There was no way with countertop and sink mounted below it things would line up. This is were I had a melt-down. It never dawned on me when taking this apart that the builders put the drain in at the wrong height in the first place. We didn't change that, we just moved them to the left. It all started making sense. Explained why the garbage disposal was on the small bowl of our old sink. The old disposal was shorter as well. After a night and 2 hours that morning trying to come up with a work around, I faced the music and took everything apart again. We refit the drain pipes and were able to drop them 5 inches. The second time around went pretty well. Including a run to Menards for pipe and Home Depot for fittings (neither one had both on Sunday) we re-did everything in only a few hours.
More holes were drilled into the cabinet for the lower pipe location. The cabinet looked like swiss cheese. I got the cabinet into place and everything was looking good. We had the extra room we needed for the right drains. It will allow us to use a deep sink and pipe it correctly. It felt really good that we went back and did it right the second time. I installed my end piece for the dishwasher and that finished all the cabinet work. We were officially ready for counter top measurements. It was a long weekend. Three 12 hour days working on this part of the project. I am glad that we realized to do this when we knew we had an extra day if necessary.
I was able to obtain a 2' x 4' piece of 1/4" plywood. I trimmed it to size and carefully cut new holes in it. This covered up the swiss cheese that was the back of the sink cabinet. We are going to install some vinyl tile in the base for a finished look.
Have you ever gotten anything done and realized you did it wrong? Did you go back and fix it?