Monthly Archives: May 2013

Making Progress!

Here’s a quick progress pic of the living room drywall installation. It looks so much different/better without the dark paneling.

Living Room Before After 1

Project 2.3 – Drywall & Insulation

One of the issues we faced when replacing the drywall was that the interior wall studs weren’t 16″ off center (OC). If you’re unfamiliar with this term, basically it means that the center of one wall stud is 16″ away from the center of an adjacent wall stud. In our home, they were 24″ OC, but every other stud was a 1×3 instead of a 2×3.

In order to improve on the existing design and give us a better way to attach the new drywall, I added additional 2×3 studs so the walls would be 16″ OC. There wasn’t much work involved .. just cut the studs to length, and attach them at the top and bottom with screws.

new wall studs


Having the walls at 16″ OC instead of 24″ means that the screws holding up the drywall will be closer together, increasing the strength of the drywall (and the wall itself) and making it less prone to bowing or sagging.

The drywall went up quickly, and we also replaced the electrical outlets on these walls at the same time. We didn’t drywall around the front door yet, since we want to replace it. I’m not sure what the size of the new door will be, so we may need to change the door framing. Once the new door is hung, we’ll finish the drywall around it.

livingroomdrywall2 living room drywall 1

Living Room Drywall 2

Measure Twice, Then Measure More Times

When trying to guesstimate on the number of pieces of drywall to buy, I measured the wall height to be 8.5′ at least 3 times. After horizontally hanging the first piece of 4×8 drywall, something didn’t seem to add up.

The first 4×8 piece was hung high on the wall, up against the ceiling. When going to hang the lower piece, it didn’t seem like there was enough room for another 4×8 piece, let alone the 5″ strip that we would also need. I measured the blank space, and it was only 3.5″ high.

I measured the hung piece of drywall and it was indeed 4′ high. I measured the entire wall height again, and sure enough it was 8 feet, 6 inches. Which makes no sense.

I took a closer look at the tape measure that I had been using, and each “foot” mark reads as 1F, 2F, 3F, etc. I measured the wall height again and paid closer attention, and what I thought was 8F was really 84, as in 84 inches (or 7 feet). The wall height was really 6 inches past 84 inches, or 7.5′. Not 8.5′ like I had measured more than once.

So we took down the piece of drywall, cut a new one at 89″ and hung it vertically. The good news is that we won’t have to mud a butt seam every 8 feet now!

Project 2.2 – Drywall & Insulation

We decided to start on the exterior living/dining room wall that faces the back yard. Taking down the old drywall was pretty simple .. just remove the trim, and use a crowbar around the seams to separate the drywall from the studs. What’s left behind is a wall full of STAPLES! The old drywall was hung with a staple every few inches. Fortunately, they were easy to pry out using a pair of channel lock pliers. Just grip a staple, then roll the pliers like if you were using a claw hammer to remove a nail.

living room drywall removed


The old insulation was in decent shape, but full of mouse turds. In one spot, we could even see where a mouse had built a little nest:

mouse nest


When we removed some of the old kitchen drywall, we found 2 dead mice so this wasn’t surprising. I didn’t really see a way for them to get in through the living room wall, so they must have come in elsewhere (probably the kitchen) and made their way over here behind the drywall. There’s a bit of a gap between the 2×3 stud framing and the outside aluminum siding, so it would be easy for them to move around inside the walls. As we redo each wall, we’re making sure there are no gaps or openings that critters could enter though.

New insulation went up quickly. The stuff we bought was ‘faced’ insulation, meaning one side has a paper backing. We installed the paper side facing the exterior, since there’s already a paper barrier between the 2×3’s and the aluminum siding. If the insulation facing faced the interior, it would allow moisture to get trapped between the existing paper barrier and insulation facing, and we don’t want that.

some insulation installed

Getting up the new drywall was the hardest part. There are strips of wood trim stapled to the ceiling that run from the wall to the middle, and there’s a 1/4″ gap between that piece and the wall stud. The drywall we’re using is 1/2″ so it couldn’t be pushed flush against the ceiling without a bunch of notches cut out. Instead, we installed it about a 1/2″ from the ceiling, and some wood trim will cover the gap.



Project 2.1 – Drywall & Insulation

Due to time and budget constraints, we’ve decided to put the master bathroom on hold for the moment, and work on getting the old drywall/paneling torn off the walls and old insulation replaced with new. Also, we’ll be replacing a few spots in the floor in the master bathroom and the living room, dining room and kitchen, which I will go into detail in a future post.

Since we’re going to be moving in during the remodel, we want most of the drywall work out of the way beforehand so we’re not living in a cloud of dust.

For now, we’re only working on the half of the DW containing the master bath & bedroom, living/dining room and kitchen. The other half, which has 2 more bedrooms and 2nd bathroom, will be done at a later date.

I was pleased to find that the exterior walls were all 2×3 studs, at 16″ off center. This means I can use normal house insulation and hang drywall without much effort. The interior walls, however, are mostly framed out with 1×3’s and are spaced out more than 16″. I’ll worry about that later .. we’re just doing the outside walls for now.

Nearly all of the drywall on the interior has been removed .. the downside is having to go back through and remove the ton of staples that was left behind. We’ll be removing the exterior wall drywall right before we put up the new stuff. Not sure if there’s a valid reason for that, but I felt uneasy leaving the exterior walls ‘open’ for longer than necessary.

nowalls nowalls2

Well Pump Turning On And Off

One thing that we discovered after working in the house is that when we ran the water, it came out in chugs instead of a steady flow. We took a look at the well pump, and found that when the water was running it would click on for 2 seconds, then off for 2 seconds, then on for 2 seconds, and so on until the water was shut off. Having no experience with water wells or well pumps, I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to behave. Our neighbor to the south has a similar pump setup in their yard, and I noticed that their pump would come on for 30 seconds, run, then shut off. I did a bunch of internet searching, and found out that clicking on and off is called “Short Cycling” and it’s not supposed to happen. There are a few possible causes, but the most common is a loss of pressure in the storage tank.

See, in most common shallow well setups, you have a water pump and a storage tank. The storage tank is pressurized, and the pressure is what pushes water to the house. At least that’s how I understand it. When the storage tank has too much water in it, there’s no room for air and it can’t build up pressure.

Our storage tank was a ‘bladderless’ design, meaning it’s just a big metal tank with no rubber bladder inside. On the top, there’s a Schrader valve similar to what you’d find on a car or bike tire. When I pushed in the valve stem, water shot out. This means 2 things:

1. There is too much water in the tank
2. There is not enough air in the tank

Since the tank was full of water, there was no room for air. So the pump would push in a small amount until it reached the expected pressure (50psi) and then turn off. The small amount of pressure would move water to the house, and the pressure would quickly drop to 30psi where the pump would kick on again. So since the pressure was being created in small bursts and pushed to the house that way, it came out of the faucet in chugs instead of a steady stream.

In an ideal situation, there should be much more air in the tank. Things I read on the internet that the amount of air should be equal to the ‘cut in’ pressure (30psi) on the pressure switch, or others said 3psi less than that pressure. To fix this, we need to add air to the tank, but it’s already full of water. To fix this, we must:

1. Drain the water from the tank, and
B. Add air somewhere between 27 and 30psi

To do this, Tiffany shut off the power to the well pump, and I opened the water spigot that sticks out of the top of the pump. I attached a normal bicycle tire pump to the valve on the storage tank, and started pumping. As expected, the air pushed the water out of the storage tank and out of the open spigot. I did this for a while, until there wasn’t much water coming out. At that point, I closed the spigot and inflated the storage tank to about 28psi. This reading was confirmed by the pressure gauge on the pump itself, and a common tire pressure gauge.

Tiffany turned the power back on to the well pump, and the pump ran steadily and added water to the tank until the pressure reached 50psi, at which point the pump stopped. Now the moment of truth .. we opened the spigot on the pump, and water came out with good pressure and steady flow. I watched the pressure gauge, and once it got down to around 30psi the pump kicked on and ran steadily until it reached 50psi, at which point it shut off again.

Turning on the kitchen sink faucet resulted in a steady stream, and no more chugging!


Project 1.2 – Master Bathroom Demolition

Our first task in remodeling this bathroom is to get rid of the existing sink, toilet and bathtub. The sink and toilet should be no problem, but we’ve never pulled out a bathtub before. I watched about  8 hours of HGTV and DIY Network before this, and have an idea of what I’m up against.

sink and toilet removedAs expected, the sink and toilet came out without a problem. The sink only had 1 shutoff valve on the hot side, and it was stuck in the ‘closed’ position. I cut it off, and installed a cheap compression style shutoff valve on both the hot and cold lines for the time being. The toilet shutoff valve leaks a bit, but it’s good enough for now. I’ll replace it before I get the subfloor cut out. We plan to install a pedestal style sink instead of another vanity, so the sink drain pipes will need to be reconfigured.

master bath shower plumbing
I removed the drywall on the wall behind the bathtub to expose the plumbing. Basically there’s a hot and cold line coming up thru the subfloor that go into the one-piece bathtub filler/diverter, and a line running from the diverter up to the shower head. The black pipe is the drain vent. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the vent pipe doesn’t need to be disturbed when installing the new shower valve and shower head plumbing. I cut the water supply lines and temporarily capped them off with Sharkbite 1/2″ Push Fit end stops. I hear people say that the Push Fit (as opposed to crimping) stuff leaks, but the budget doesn’t allow for the $50+ crimping tool yet. With all the water lines shut and the toilet and sink removed, we take a look at the bathtub and figure out how to get it out of there.

The first think i did was remove the tub surround, which ran from the top of the tub to the ceiling. It was just glued to the drywall behind it, and stapled along the ceiling. It came out without much hassle. I also removed the drywall, opening up the bathroom to the bedroom and dining room.

From the dining room wall, I can see the tub’s drain connection:

bathtub drain

I reached in to get a feel for what’s going on, and discovered that the tub drain isn’t even connected to the P trap! Well, one less thing to do. Looking at the tub, there are screws that go thru a lip around the top of the tub into the drywall behind it. Not much holding it in place. I removed as many screws as possible, but some were rusted so bad that the heads just crumbled. A little bit of muscle and a crowbar, and the tub was broken free. Having the wall to the dining room opened was a blessing .. we were able to turn the tub on it’s side and slide it between the studs, and then out the front door. Here’s what was left behind:

master bath tub removed

The hole for the drain plumbing was about 12×12, and we could see the ground underneath. Based on the number of mouse turds found on the floor under the tub, this must have been some sort of swanky mouse club.

master bathtub p trapHere’s a look at the P trap. The X drawn on the floor is the approximate location of where the drain for the new shower pan needs to be. Hopefully, rerouting the drain to that location won’t be much of an issue. I believe the lighter colored 2×6 can be moved back or brought forward as needed. I also plan on making the hole in the new subfloor much, much smaller than this! The hole is covered for now with a scrap piece of wood while we wait to start cutting out the floor.

We were fortunate not to find much mold during the demolition. The only bad spot was inside the wall next to the toilet that separated the bathroom from the bedroom. Once we take down the drywall on the outside walls, I expect that we’ll find more.

Project 1.1 – Master Bathroom

We decided to start our complete remodel in the master bathroom, and then work our way into the master bedroom, which then leads to the living/dining area and then the kitchen. These are the areas that need to be fairly close to completion before we move in.

The existing master bathroom is hideous. The floor was torn up, the bathtub is gigantic and orangish-yellow, the sink vanity stinks of mildew, and the toilet looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since the 1980’s.

Old Bathtub

master bathroomThe existing flooring was basically a few loose tiles laid on the floor. After being removed, we’re left with the picture to your left. The vanity under that sink has a damp, musty smell. The subfloor around the toilet is a bit soft, and it looks like there’s a minor leak around the shutoff valve. The subfloor in the center of the room might be ok, but due to the small area I’m just going to replace everything. Next step is demolition .. the tub, sink and toilet need to come out.


Clean-Up and Clean-Out

Before we can start doing anything, the previous tenant’s (Tiffany’s sister) stuff needs to be moved out. The place has a heavy smell of dog, so the couches, bed, and carpeting will all be removed and thrown away. The rest of the stuff will be temporary stored in one of the spare bedrooms for now.

The giant sectional couch was removed and thrown out the front door. Carpet was cut into strips and rolled up into manageable pieces and thrown out the front door. The mattress and box spring .. out the front door. Now that the rooms are nearly empty, we can get an idea of what needs to be done.

The subfloor is in good shape, except for some areas along the outside walls. The bathroom subfloor is damaged around the toilet, and probably under the sink vanity. Since the bathroom isn’t very big (5×11) I plan to cut out the entire subfloor and replace it with 23/32″ plywood. The bedroom and closet floors look to be in great shape.

The previous tenant had a dog, and it’s obvious that it had multiple ‘accidents’ in the house. After the subfloor is repaired, we’re going to cover it with a few coats of Kilz oil-based primer which should help block any remaining odor coming from the floors.

Here’s most of the the trash that was moved to the curb after a weekend of cleaning. Thankfully, the city’s sanitation department will pick all of this up so a dumpster rental isn’t needed.

We started to pull up some of the linoleum in the kitchen, and removed the carpet from the spare bedrooms. Just getting the existing flooring out of the place helped to improve the smell. Tiffany mopped the heck out of the remaining linoleum, and you no longer get hit in the face with ‘dog odor’.

trash on the curb

trash on the curb

Hello and Welcome!

Hi there! My name is Jeff. My girlfriend Tiffany and I have been given the opportunity to move out of our small apartment and move into a doublewide mobile home on about 2 acres of land in a small town in central Florida, about 20 minutes north of where we are now. Based on an old paper found glued to the inside of the kitchen pantry door, the home is a 3BR/2BA 1982 Fleetwood model. It’s located about a half acre back from a dirt road. Other mobile homes on the road are in great shape and the yards look to be well cared for. I’m a city boy, having grown up in Cleveland, OH, so this will be a whole new scene for me.

map of location

Our plan is to gut the place completely, and rebuild the interior as nice as possible on our budget of $500-$1000 per month. We’ll paint the existing aluminum siding and trim, put up some skirting, rebuild the collapsed front porch, and repair and screen in the existing back porch. If we plan to stay for more than a few years, the siding will be replaced. I’m not terribly thrilled to be living in a ‘trailer’ so I want this place to look like a normal house as much as possible. My vision is to have the entire interior looking like a brand new home.

Neither of us have much experience doing this type of work. I’m a data analyst, and she runs her own cleaning business. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty though, and do an obsessive amount of research on the internet before starting any task. We want to do everything the ‘proper’ way, taking our time to make sure it’s done correctly.

There’s no timeframe for when this needs to be completed. Before we can move in, however, the master bathroom, bedroom, living/dining areas and kitchen must be improved. Structurally, the place seems solid but some parts of the subfloor will need to be cut out and replaced. We’re hoping we’ll be able to move in after 2 months of work.