Archive | November, 2014

Complete bathroom demo down to the studs.

12 Nov

Remodeling isn’t like what you see on the reality television. It can be quite dangerous, very messy, and you will run into problems that you didn’t expect. It may look fun to use a sledge hammer and start pounding but if you don’t get hurt in the process you will probably damage something that you didn’t want to. All remodeling should be well thought out and demolishing/gutting anything should be done in a strategic well planned manner.

So let’s say you decide to diy a bathroom remodel yourself or you are hiring a contractor like Good Guy Home Improvements LLC to do it and you want to know the process. First locate your electrical panel and the breaker that powers the bathroom you are about to remodel, as well as the main water shut-off valve, and main gas shut-off if you have one. I strongly reccomend hiring a professinal when dealing with electric, plumbing, or gas for your safety and so that everything meets code. You don’t need to shut anything off at the start but know where they are and make sure they function so when you do need to shut them off they work.

You will want to lay down some runner tarps leading from the bathroom to the exterior door you are exiting the house from to help contain your mess.

If you don’t have a pick up truck and nearby dump to take out the debris you can rent a dump trailer for a couple hundred bucks and they will park it in your driveway then haul it away when it is full. So let’s get started, turn off the water valve to the toilet which is sticking out of the wall behind it with the water line running up to the tank, then flush your toilet. Also turn off the valves under your sink. Use a pair of pliers to remove the water lines from all the valves. It is common for the valve to still drip water with it off and the water line removed and if this is the case and you can’t do the plumbing just reconnect it all and call a plumber to come out and install new valves. If you want to try it yourself then you will need to shut the water off at the main shutoff, and turn the valves on at every sink in the house, flush all toilets, turn on shower valves, outside valves and if you have a basement sink turn it on. You want to drain out the water from the lines before you remove the valves in your bathroom so you don’t drain a bunch of water into that area. Now if you have galvanized pipes and lets hope you don’t becasue they rust from the inside and slowly close up over the years, anyway galvanized valves screw on so use two pair of pliers and unscrew the valve and screw the new one on using plumbing tape. CPVC should be screwed as well. You will have to sweat on a new one if you have copper and that really needs to be taught to you by a professional in person.

So at this point you either have good valves or new ones. Take the lid off the toilet tank and toss it out, you don’t need the extra weight when carrying the toilet out nor do you want it falling off and damaging something. So turn off the valve for the toilet, flush the toilet holding down on the flush knob until no more water is exiting, then let it go and disconnect the water line from the valve. Now pop off the bolt covers on both sides of the toilet down by the floor. Use pliers to remove the nuts on either side, sometimes the bolt will turn with the nut and in this case it will need to be cut off with either a dremel or sawzaw. Once the nuts are removed the toilet can be lifted. There is still water in the toilet so either suck it out with a wet vac or lift the toilet keeping the front lower than the back which will keep the water from draining out and set it in your tub or shower then tilt it back letting the water out of the trap. Once all the water is out then you can carry it out of the house with a helper because it is heavy. If you are replacing the tub or shower you can throw a tarp over the toilet while it is in there and break it apart with a sledge hammer. The tarp should keep the shards from flying but they will be sharp when picking them up, so wear gloves. So the toilet is gone and there should be some wax ring left on the flange and I like to use a paint stir stick to remove it into a bag, that way my gloves stay clean from that kind of mess. Use and old towel to stuff in the drain hole to keep the sewer gas from creeping into the house.

Next let’s take out the vanity/counter/sink. If you have a lamanate top it is screwed on from underneath in the four corners, otherwise simply lift up from the front and it will pull apart. Make sure you disconnected the water lines from the valve as well as disconnecting the trap from the sink, which is the drain. I take the trap out and pour the water into the tub/shower drain then discard it. So with everything disconnected you can remove the counter with the sink and faucets still attached. The cabinet should be screwed to the wall as should a pedestal sink, so unscrew and remove them.

Mirrors are can be dangerous if they are glued. Most will just be sitting on their clasps. If glued they should just have a few dollops of glue behind them and if you use a putty knife you can slowly and methodically work your way around the mirror prying it off the wall.

Shower doors are screwed and glued on so use a razor blade to score the silicone and remove all screws, then you can remove the doors and tracks. Tub surrounds are screwed to the wall behind the drywall, the tubs and shower pans are either screwed or nailed on their sides and then the only thing holding them in place is the drain which is screwed on but if it is old just hit the drain with a hammer until it breaks away but wear safety glasses and ear plugs when you do it. Cast iron tubs are extremely heavy and will weigh hundreds of pounds.

You can break apart fiberglass surrounds with a hammer but I don’t reccomend cutting them with a saw because it puts the fiberglass particles into the air and it is very bad for your lungs. Also you might cut into something in the wall you don’t want to cut.

When removing drywall or plaster wear a face mask, gloves, safety glasses and use a hammer here too along with a box cutter so you don’t cut into a wire, gas or water line. If you are removing the ceiling and your attic is above, you will want to climb up there first and move the insulation away from the area so that it doesn’t all come down on you during the demo. Also while you are in the attic check to see if your exhaust fan is properly vented to the outside of your house.

Remove the flooring down to the plywood (OSB board) or in older homes the decking slats. Removing tile is a nightmare especially if it is hardiboard underneath the tile and is screwed down. You will be hammering, chiseling, and prying for hours.

When removing lights, and outlets obviously turn the breaker off at the panel and make sure you have an alternate light source in the bathroom so you can see what you are doing.

So the demo is complete and you have decided you will never do it again, ever, am I right? I know how you feel, I have done way too many to count. Look around for mold, rotted wood that needs replaced, faulty wiring, and plumbing. Wood may be black or discolored but if it is still hard and doesn’t allow you to stick a flat head screw driver into it then it is still structurally sound. Mold can be killed by spraying some bleach water onto it. People freak out about mold, but the deal is it can only grow where there is moisture much like a weed, so kill it and fix the moisture issue and problem solved. It can’t come back without moisture and won’t grow further than where the moisture exists.

So good luck with your project and feel free to email me (Joe) with any questions at, we are always available for consultation or if you are in the Dayton, Ohio area give me a call at 937-689-1635 if you need to hire a Good Guy!

Joe Taulbee
Good Guy Home Improvements LLC