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Old 12-27-2017, 11:31 AM   #1
OneStaple
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Tyler's daughter's bathroom build-along

Hey all,

Starting another bathroom build (4th and final!). We had our first kid 6 months ago, so this will be hers (with a tub). It's directly across the hall from the nursery, so it's tough to get time to work on it without waking her up.

Most of the walls had green board drywall. The tiles in the shower used mastic and had no waterproofing. They popped off easily and mold was found down low. The floor is 5/8" plywood with 3/8" plywood underlayment under the floor tile. Plywood was significantly rotted out near corner of shower on shower head side.

I'm starting with just a few pictures of the original bathroom and what I've done so far, then I'll start a new post with my first question.

Done so far:
-Removed old tile (floor and wall)
-Removed steel tub
-Removed toilet and vanity
-Removed most of drywall (remainder will come out eventually)
-Added straight studs to the long wall of the shower
-Added more rigid foam insulation to the long wall of the shower (exterior wall)
-Removed 3/8" underlayment from floor tile area

To do (broad brushstrokes):
-Cut out and replace plywood subfloor with 3/4" T&G
-Install cast iron tub (Kohler Villager...yikes, they're heavy!)
-Install wavy/dimensional white porcelain tiles (12x36) on the long wall of the shower, plain white tiles (12x36) on the short walls, a vertical stripe of blue accent tile going through the shower head, and the same blue accent tiles at the back of the niche on the wall opposite the shower head. Floor tiles outside the tub/shower are TBD.
-Replace basically everything else in the bathroom

Tyler
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Old 12-27-2017, 11:39 AM   #2
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First question...

There's a HVAC return duct running along one wall of the bathroom. It is vertical on the short wall of the shower and then horizontal along the top of the wall. The vertical section had fiberglass insulation in the stud bay, but the horizontal section does not. Air can flow freely between the two sections.

Why would it be insulated this way and what do I need to do to honor that reason? Is it for sound dampening, fire code reasons, or truly insulation? Given that it's a return duct and the entire thing isn't insulated anyway, I don't see how it's there for its insulation value.

The vertical section is insulated on three sides (one side is the bathroom, two are a closet). Fourth side faces an exterior wall.

My plan/hope is to frame out a niche in this area. The stud there currently goes through the center of where the niche would be.

Thanks,
Tyler
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Old 12-27-2017, 12:29 PM   #3
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I'd hazard a guess that the intention of that insulation was sound deadening. Theoretically, the one wall that really needed to be insulated wasn't.

I'd take the opportunity to seal as much of the ductwork as I could and if you're feeling really energetic you could wrap it in duct insulation, but not really necessary, especially if you can insulate the exterior wall. The dark edges you see on that insulation is dust trapped in the insulation from air movement. It acts like a filter and is a telltale for wayward air leakage. You could foam the area where duct penetrates subfloor if you wanna pay attention to all the details. And if you do that, you can figure out a way to box in the hole in subfloor for drain and overflow, which floods the area under the tub with cool crawlspace air. Dumb, but nearly standard operating procedure.

Metal ductwork does a decent job of telegraphing noise from air handler and sometimes from other rooms. Damping the galvanized panels will help to mitigate this if you're into the fine details.

I'm guessing that wall isn't structural, so you can reframe for niche with near abandon, but won't want large areas unsupported.
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Old 12-27-2017, 12:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for the thoughts, Peter.

The exterior wall around the duct, while it doesn't have pink fiberglass batting, does have rigid foil-covered foam insulation, very similar to what you see in some of my other pictures. So I don't think insulating from the outside air is a problem.

If sound deadening was the goal, why would they not have insulated the horizontal run of the HVAC?

I will likely foam the area where the HVAC penetrates the subfloor, although I'm not sure I'll be able to access all sides without punching out the drywall in the neighboring closet. For the sake of sound deadening, I'll probably also put the batting back in, except where the niche will be (no room for both). I might as well also add batting to the horizontal run. And no, that wall is not structural.

Hmmm, I'd love to box in the drain/overflow for the tub, as you said, but that may be tough to accomplish. Once I pull up the subfloor, I'll know a bit better what I'm working with. I'm worried that I won't be able to access the PVC to make the drain/overflow connections once the tub is in place. There are a bunch of structural components in the way for easy access through a wall, I think.

Thanks!
Tyler
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Old 12-27-2017, 01:06 PM   #5
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Pretty sure you have some missing fire blocking in that wall with the duct. I don't know enough to say exactly what fire blocking is required, though.

Cheers, Wayne
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Old 12-27-2017, 03:04 PM   #6
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I assumed ground floor with crawlspace. If that's not the case, you can disregard duct to subfloor sealing and drain comments.

Wayne has a good point. What's above the duct? Attic? Living space?

As to why insulating only some...who knows! I encountered a shower with two exterior walls (in Idaho). One insulated, one not. Brain fart on somebody's part. Drywallers should have caught it, but insulators already gone, so pressed on regardless. Posh neighborhood, supposedly was for daughter of the homebuilder. Ha! Probably realtor story to somehow enhance value. I've heard it many times.
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Old 12-27-2017, 03:53 PM   #7
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Wayne, I'm sure you're right. My impression of fireblocking is that it would need to be present at the bottom and top of the vertical section, blocking fire from moving both below the floor and into the horizontal HVAC area. If I put foam around the subfloor penetration, it would be fire rated foam. Not sure yet how to properly block at the top.

Peter, the bathroom is on the 2nd floor with an unheated garage below. I believe the duct turns 90 degrees and goes between the joists under the bathroom. I plan to pull up the subfloor tomorrow, so that'll give me a better idea. I think there is insulation in the floor between the garage and living spaces. I think.

Above the bathroom is an unheated attic. They put sheet metal between the joists in the ceiling above the HVAC and then there's insulation laying on top of that.

Well, needless to say, I plan on redoing some of this and adding to it. The niche area could be a challenge, as it could be tough to get insulation between the niche and HVAC.

Thanks,
Tyler
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:53 PM   #8
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4th bathroom, man-0-man you should open up a bathroom remodel company!!11
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:33 PM   #9
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Ok, floor (mostly) removed! Deflecto says L/828, so I'm good! I'm using porcelain on the floor.

I can better see around that HVAC duct (see pictures). Looks like I'll need to fashion some fire stops, which could be challenging due to the tight space.

The insulation between the joists is pretty lousy, as I can feel cool air coming up from the unheated garage below. There are a couple open holes in the drywall on the ceiling of the garage due to some electrical work that's ongoing. I'll need to add more insulation.

Ok, my question. How do I best set myself up for success with the tub drain/overflow? Seems like I need an access panel after the tub is in place to connect plumbing. There is a HVAC duct below the drain/overflow, preventing access from below. There is a double 2x10 rim board header (right term?...what the end of the joists are supported by) below the floor under the shower head. I could punch through the drywall above floor level from the other side of the wall, but don't know if that's sufficient access. I've never done a tub before and don't know what to expect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mullet
4th bathroom, man-0-man you should open up a bathroom remodel company!!11
Haha, no thanks! I'm impressed by you all that do this daily. It's hard work! My bro is currently building a house, so I sense that I'm about to become the bathroom "expert" over there.

Thanks,
Tyler
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:33 PM   #10
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Hi again Tyler. It looks like you might have fire blocking in duct chase. Is that some sheet metal I see at subfloor level?

Concerning tub drain. It probably was plumbed from below before the duct was installed, which would be easiest and maybe only way to do it still. It certainly would have been plumbed before all the drywall. You may be able to access through stud bay behind overflow, but there's not much room to work and it's a pain at best. Your rough in would have to be perfect and you'd get one shot at hookup. Add to that a heavy tub and I'd be looking to gain access from the garage. A section of duct will have to be removed and replaced. Most easily done by calling HVAC guys Access from other side might be helpful, what's on other side of wall?

Biggest problem with fiberglass insulation is that it doesn't stop airflow. All loose insulation is compromised to some extent by air movement. Think in terms of making the heated/cooled envelope airtight and the only moving air is within the HVAC system.

Living space above garages is particularly problematic. Ideal would be to sheet garage ceiling with continuous board foam and bring the joist bays under living space within the conditioned envelope, but it's rarely done. I proposed a job last year to retrofit similar that had freezing problems. Too time consuming and costly for the client. If one can't see it, it must not be important, right? Pardon the sarcasm, but it was FAILING, and client preference was to turn a blind eye while explaining to me that they paid a lot of money for the house. I failed to see the logic.

Making structures perform better is of particular interest to me, but I've found it a hard sell with customers. If you're willing to DIY and pay attention to the details I can coach you through.
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:53 PM   #11
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Ugh, I had a feeling that access to the overflow/drain might be an issue. Other side of the wall behind the overflow is a stairwell. I can punch through the drywall there for access above subfloor height, but as you said, it probably won't give me much room to work. I can cut out a section of HVAC if necessary, but I'm not excited to do that.

If I'm especially careful with my rough-in, is it possible to do without access? Perhaps at the worst, if I missed on my rough-in, I could either pull the tub back out and adjust or at that point decide to cut the drywall and/or HVAC, correct?

There is a weak attempt at fireblocking on the HVAC. You're right that there is a bit of sheetmetal at subfloor level, but there are gaps in it that I could fit my arm through (tough to see in the picture). I'll need to fill those gaps.

There were certainly a lot of shortcuts in the building of this house, as I've found out the hard way. I'd prefer to do a little extra work to make it right, so I welcome any suggestions on how to better insulate the joist bays at this point. Part of the problem is that there are three bedrooms above the garage as well as this bathroom, and fixing those joist bays is probably beyond the scope of what I can accomplish at the moment. Is there a way to better insulate under the bathroom such that I can later go back and fix the other areas (probably from the garage side)? Or would the ideal be to remove all ceiling drywall in the garage and replace with continuous board foam, as you mentioned?

Thanks,
Tyler
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:17 PM   #12
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Think like air. Your house kinda respirates for lack of a better term. Fiberglass works fine if air isn't moving through it. Stop obvious air leaks and think of the joist bays as part of the conditioned envelope to be kept separate from garage unless that space is conditioned similarly.

Gun foam is handy and if you don't have a foam gun, you'll love it. Leave a can on the gun and use when needed. I rarely take them off unless empty. Makes the basic cans seem like nothing but PIA.

Here's a plug, but you can get them many places now. Used to be harder. I like these because of the plastic tips. Dow foam seems live longest in can, FWIW.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Foam-Gun-PR...-/201054474360

I guarantee if you continuously skin the ceiling below living space with 2" EPS then drywall, sealed all that looks leaky and pay attention to details
you'll make your home more comfortable and safer. Think carbon monoxide from cars wafting into bedrooms. It happens.

Concerning rough-in. You can try the stud bay first, if it doesn't work, onto access via duct chase. Easier to do DIY that way.
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Old 12-28-2017, 05:05 PM   #13
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Peter, I recently had an opportunity to try my brother's foam gun, and it certainly makes life easier! Do you like the foam gun you linked to more than the Dow foam gun? If so, is it mostly because of the ability to use plastic tips?

Just to be clear, I believe the main reason I'm getting airflow at the moment in the joists bays is because I've cut holes in the drywall ceiling in the garage in order to fish electric wires through. They'll eventually be sealed. I know that going around with a foam gun and hitting all the cracks is still worthwhile. I've done so in plenty of other areas that I've updated.

I'd love to skin the garage ceiling with 2" EPS, but that project is going to have to wait. So, for now, is my best bet to fill gaps with foam as best as possible and add better fiberglass batting?

On the plus side, the garage is only a woodworking shop, so no cars or carbon monoxide. Plenty of sawdust to spare though.

Thanks,
Tyler
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Old 12-28-2017, 06:43 PM   #14
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First gun I bought was a Hilti, IIRC. Something like $80 years ago. If foam hardened in it, it's useful life was essentially done. Then they started knocking them off in (probably) China and I could have two or three around. And yes, I like that gun specifically for the tips. I've talked to the owner of the eBay store and he knows how they're used, and, again IIRC, he designed it. If used every time the tips keep foam from hardening in the barb fitting at the end which, in turn, retains the tips.

Fiberglass is fiberglass for the most part. Used, new, dirty, clean. The air doesn't know the difference. The craft paper vapor barrier is useless the way it's installed in floor and mostly this application doesn't need it. All any insulation does is trap air in the matrix of fibers to create little microenvironments. Compressing it mitigates some of its functionality too, so just seal what you can, fluff up what's there and make it as contiguous as possible.
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Old 12-28-2017, 07:14 PM   #15
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Sounds good about the foam gun. I might pick one up. It's $10 cheaper than the Dow one sold at the big box store, but I have to be patient and wait for it to come in the mail. Ugh.

I know not to stuff fiberglass in, as tempting as that is sometimes. I need to get more fiberglass because there are decent sized swaths with no fiberglass at all. I want to fill those open gaps/areas.

That craft paper vapor barrier crumbles if I look at it funny. Good to know it's not really needed.

I appreciate all the advice!

Thanks,
Tyler
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