HOUSE: Newburgh

The bathroom renovation continues…

My poor kitchen pantry! Just a few days ago it was looking cute, happily storing shelves of goods. Now it looks like this:


The old lead waste pipe (and all of the pipes, for that matter) coming from the upstairs bathroom (which still looks a lot like this) needs to be replaced, and because it runs through a chase in the back of the pantry (around which all of its shelving was built), it was necessary to demolish the entire pantry. Of course we will rebuild everything and make it more functional and space efficient than it was before, but right now it all feels a little bit sad.

Our plumber came by last night to assess the overall situation, go over our choices for bathroom fixtures, and formulate a game plan. He pointed out to us something we hadn’t noticed—the lead drain pipe coming from the bathroom sink had been resting against the steam pipe leading to the bathroom radiator for many years, and over time the drain pipe had literally melted itself into a crescent shape wrapped around the steam pipe. Scary stuff! It’s kind of amazing that there weren’t leaks all over the place, but since we’ve never really used that bathroom, it’s possible that we just never got a chance to have something horrible happen.

Some cool discoveries that came from our demolition are the decorative tin (?) brackets that were welded to the old lead supply lines to hold them in place. It’s pretty wild to see the kind of details that were used in old houses for even the most mundane of behind-the-walls details!

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  • Reply lena November 29, 2007 at 8:12 am

    yikes! living in an old house too… it’s always in the back of my head that any day i could wake up to a surprising situation like this!! but now you get to renovate, fun!

  • Reply nicole November 29, 2007 at 9:48 am

    sorry to hear about that, but it sound like it’s one of those surprises that are good to know about. reminds me of when we were putting in some electrical work in our place only to have the electrician discover that some of our original cloth covered lines (from 1917) were affected by a leak which was basically flooding them in water! these old buildings have so many wonderful and distressing things just lurking at every turn.

  • Reply lesley November 29, 2007 at 10:30 am

    My house isn’t as old as yours, so no beautiful underpinnings: but I recall my first visit from an electrician resulting in the discovery of an electrocuted mouse and a black ground wire in my main electric box. Yes, you never know what is lurking behind those seemingly silent walls. My house was built from a kit (not by me, although I would have done an even crappier job) and every contractor that’s set foot in the place has either collapsed into giggles, taught me new cuss words or just stood sadly, shaking their heads.

  • Reply lena November 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    are you leaving notes in your house? or finding any? my dad restores old houses for a living (hence i have only brand new living quarters, I can’t take it having grown up in everything under construction — i totally admire those who can do it). anyway, he’s always finding notes from past workers and leaving notes himself. like a magazine with a little message written on the cover between the attic and the ceiling. it’s cool what you will find sometimes.

  • Reply nicole November 29, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    i hope it’s okay to respond to someone else’s comment. lena – we found a big stack of blank birth certificates hidden inside the drop ceiling of one of our rooms. very intriguing!

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