Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

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VanTry2DIY
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Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by VanTry2DIY » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:48 am

Hi all,

We will soon be removing the carpet across our entire upstairs, stairs, and two rooms downstairs and replacing it with hardwood. This is in a 2-story 1970 Houston house with galvanized pipes and aluminum wiring.

Since we plan on living on these floors forever, I assume the next time I'll have to access to the upstairs sub-floor will be when a catastrophe strikes (plumbing issue, etc). I'd like to draw on the experience of this board for anything to consider doing while having reasonably easy access to the sub-floor. My goal is not to needlessly expand the scope of the flooring project but hopefully circumvent a future project alltogether by checking the condition of or improving on anything I'll have access to plumbing/electrical/HVAC/structurally or otherwise.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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A. Spruce
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by A. Spruce » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:25 pm

IMHO, you have to analyze the use of the individual spaces of the house, now and into the future, and determine from that if any upgrades or modifications are needed at this time.

As an example, a number of years ago I also had a 2 story house, typical layout was formal living room/dining room in the front of the house with the family room in the back, all bedrooms upstairs. We decided to turn the front room into a rec room, complete with regulation size pool table, wet bar, dart board, etc. We layed out this room and determined that more lighting was needed in the ceiling. After mapping the electrical system of the house, we then pulled the carpet and subfloor upstairs to rework the wiring. Upon completion, new flooring was installed throughout the entire house. By going through the floor upstairs, I saved the time and hassles of repairing the ceiling and blending those repairs in with the surroundings. We had lighting everywhere we needed, etc.

So, for you, if you determine that the room functions will remain the same and you're happy with the way all supplies are currently laid out, your work is done. However, if you determine a new use for spaces or that the supply needs are not up to snuff, then by all means, add what you can now while you've got good access.

I don't think it necessary to change out aluminum wiring, but I'll leave that to the elekumtrickety experts here. As for the plumbing, it probably would be a very good idea to change out the steel pipe to copper or pex while you have the chance. Steel pipe does corrode and loses it's capacity for flow, as well as loads up the fixtures with rust particles, and going through the floor is a whole lot less messy than having to do ceiling drywall work later.

The only other thing I can think of would be to run screws down next to all the nails in the subfloor and then pull the nails to stop current squeaks and prevent any future ones.
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Shannon
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by Shannon » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:28 pm

I agree here with Spruce on all points.
As a added note the aluminum wiring is fine Try to avoid adding copper to it but if you do there are special wire nuts for joining aluminum to copper.
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VanTry2DIY
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by VanTry2DIY » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:14 am

Thank you Shannon and Spruce--I really appreciate the feedback; this has given me a lot to think about. Our house sounds very similar in layout to Spruce's old house with all bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen/living areas downstairs. Here are the things I plan on:

-The lighting in our kitchen is fluorescent and terrible, so maybe this will make a good opportunity to change that fixture out.

-I'd eventually like a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system in the living room with recessed ceiling speakers (that I can't yet afford yet 8-) ) so will pre-run some speaker wires from approximate spots in the ceiling down the walls of the room where they can reach the receiver.

-Both full baths are upstairs with tile floor that will be left as is. Depending on access, I could replace at least sections of the galvanized pipe with PEX, but the pipe would likely be unthreaded. Any suggestions for the best way to connect PEX to unthreaded galvanized? Could be that threading the pipe end is the best option.

-Research options for soundproofing for airborne noises going from bottom to top floor - any suggestions here are welcome.

-Refastening sub-floor as needed to eliminate squeaks.

-Mapping any exposed wiring/ducting/piping/other stuff for future reference.

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A. Spruce
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:21 pm

VanTry2DIY wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:14 am
Thank you Shannon and Spruce--I really appreciate the feedback; this has given me a lot to think about. Our house sounds very similar in layout to Spruce's old house with all bedrooms upstairs and the kitchen/living areas downstairs. Here are the things I plan on:

-The lighting in our kitchen is fluorescent and terrible, so maybe this will make a good opportunity to change that fixture out.

Assuming you have 4' fluorescent lights, have you thought about changing the bulbs to LED? I did this last year in my kitchen and it made quite a difference in the amount of light AND much lower energy consumption. You have two options, direct replacement which is simply changing the bulb, or to rewire the fixtures and delete the ballasts. The latter doesn't waste energy powering up the ballasts that aren't being used, so it's the best way to go.

-I'd eventually like a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system in the living room with recessed ceiling speakers (that I can't yet afford yet 8-) ) so will pre-run some speaker wires from approximate spots in the ceiling down the walls of the room where they can reach the receiver.

-Both full baths are upstairs with tile floor that will be left as is. Depending on access, I could replace at least sections of the galvanized pipe with PEX, but the pipe would likely be unthreaded. Any suggestions for the best way to connect PEX to unthreaded galvanized? Could be that threading the pipe end is the best option.

If you can open the back of the wet wall, you'll be able to change out virtually all the steel pipe right to the fixtures. If you can't, then you want to at least get to the base of the wet wall so as to remove as much of the steel pipe as possible. I'd try to stick to ending with threaded connections, but there may be a Sharkbite or similar fitting that will allow you a threadless connection.

-Research options for soundproofing for airborne noises going from bottom to top floor - any suggestions here are welcome.

Stopping noise is a tough thing to do. I was researching this topic for myself not long ago, though, I don't have any links off the top of my head. Basically, you've got two types of noise, airborne (voice/ambient) and kinetic (impact), and they require very different methods of remediation. Airborne can be minimized with surface coverings of absorbent materials, kinetic requires decoupling and mass to counteract the low frequency and long traveling vibrations.

-Refastening sub-floor as needed to eliminate squeaks.

As I mentioned earlier, you'll want to pull old nails and put screws beside them. The reason for this is that with movement and heat cycling, nails will work themselves loose again, hence why you have squeaks now.

-Mapping any exposed wiring/ducting/piping/other stuff for future reference.

This is simply a good thing to have on hand. You never know when you're going to need to repair or modify something, and it's nice to know where those things are, be it pipe locations or what circuit in the box feeds whatever area you're working in. 8-)
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Shannon
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by Shannon » Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:48 pm

Just a quick bit to add to The iron pipe issue. I am not aware of any way to connect pex to iron pipe, so you should do some research on that to see if there are options . I rarely see iron water pipes here (drains only) and if I do they are being completely removed.
All I can think of is some kind of coupler that threads on and copper sweated to it then you can continue with pex? I am totally guessing on this.
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A. Spruce
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:02 pm

Shannon wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 7:48 pm
All I can think of is some kind of coupler that threads on and copper sweated to it then you can continue with pex? I am totally guessing on this.
I'm absolutely certain that a threaded coupler arrangement can be made, the question was no threads on steel pipe, due to cutting it off rather than breaking an existing joint. My opinion is to break a joint over cutting the pipe and preferably replacing pipe all the way to fixture.

Connecting copper to steel requires a di-electric fitting that isolates the copper and steel from each other. Going to pex, you should be able to get a female ferule to make that attachment. If not, then a di-electric coupler with a length of copper pipe to give a place to attach a Sharkbite fitting.
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Shannon
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by Shannon » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:46 am

Yes you are correct copper and iron don't work together but brass will. There must be something in brass that is threaded on one end and a nipple for pex on the other.
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VanTry2DIY
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by VanTry2DIY » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:26 pm

Update here: I've removed the carpet and baseboards in the first room we will tackle and am now prepping the subfloor which is a series of tongue and groove planks ran perpendicular to the floor joists. Many of my original ideas now feel more difficult since these do NOT seem easy to remove--they are mostly nailed down (screwed in some places), and since they are T&G I'm not sure one from the middle of the room could be pulled up without starting from an edge of the room.

In any case, I am wondering if they are suitable to install the hardwood directly on. I would first prime the subfloor to seal in any stains/odors, then apply our underlayment (FloorMuffler Ultraseal), then the 3/4" hardwood which we're planning to do in a herringbone pattern. The question is if I first need to install a layer of plywood or take other steps to level the subfloor which feels solid but has some irregularities, primarily with spacing between the planks. Attached are a few pics showing the general condition--I'd appreciate any input.

EDIT, having trouble attaching my pics--will try again soon.

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A. Spruce
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Re: Getting ahead of repairs while upstairs subfloor is accessible

Post by A. Spruce » Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:03 pm

You can open a T&G floor in the middle, is there a need to for some reason?

If the surface of the subfloor is reasonably smooth and even, you can lay directly over it. If it's got a lot of high/low areas or from board to board, then you should install underlayment to smooth out the surface before installing your hardwood.
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