We’ve been so busy that I’m falling behind on blogging! With the inspection behind us, the next order of business was to install the bathroom exhaust fan ventilation. I had done some reading and decided that the best way to do this was to use PVC pipe, as opposed to the galvanized metal ducting that is typically used. The ducting can leak if there’s a lot of moisture condensing unless the mastic and taping are perfect. Even if they are, if it isn’t perfectly wrapped in insulation water can condense on the outside of the duct. On top of that, all the moisture can mean that even the galvanized metal will start to corrode and rust over time. PVC pipe, however, is impervious to these problems. You slope the pipe to the outside, so that any condensing moisture drains out. Since this is in the basement ceiling, it’s a straight shot between two joists to the outside wall, at least until it gets to the rim joist.

In most houses, a rim joist is 2x dimensional lumber, the same size as the joists, running around the outside perimeter. Cutting a 4½” hole is just a matter of a hole saw. However we have a balloon-framed house where the rim “joist” is more of a rim “beam”: a 6″ high, 8″ thick wooden sill that sits on top of the brick foundation. The floor joists are notched into it and the wall studs sit on top of it. Getting through this was going to take more than a hole saw that would bottom out in less than 2″, and specialty bits were very expensive.

Instead I pulled out my cheap, trusty Harbor Freight reciprocating saw. Instead of a nice round hole, I cut out a 4½”-wide block, then cut a round hole through the sheathing and siding. It took a long time, and I actually took a few breaks to keep the saw from overheating. It would have gone faster but I only had one dull blade that was long enough. The rest was easy: I cut the pipe to length, used silicone caulk to seal it to the bathroom fan, and put a cap on the outside. We need to use some canned foam to seal around the hole in the wall.

Next up was leveling the ceiling. The floor joists were of various heights, partially because they’re old and partially because in this section I was still working out the best way to level the floor above. I screwed 2x4s to the sides of the joists at the lowest level. I wound u having to add blocking along the top of one wall, because the ceiling was now lower than the top plate. I ran into some further challenges on the other side, having to cut down 2x4s on the table saw so they’d fit in some confined spaces and adding some ½” plywood in another spot, but at the end I could put a level to it that didn’t wiggle, so I knew drywall would work.

After that was done I was on to insulation. We’re insulating between floors for a few reasons: sound proofing, fire resistance, and to keep the in-floor radiant heating in the floor above instead of in between the floors. I picked up a bunch of Roxul Safe’n Sound insulation and installed it in the area above the bathroom. For the time being we’re not installing it in the rest of the basement ceiling because we will still need to run plumbing and electrical up to the other floors, but the bathroom ceiling is getting drywalled, so this is the only opportunity. With that done, Sarah and I put up moisture-resistant fire-code drywall.

Once the shower surround is in and the rest of the drywall is done we’ll start mudding and taping. We got some more water in the basement, so we also have some additional downspout modifications to perform along the side of the house. It feels good to be back at it and getting things done!

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