Please note that this post refers to past events of July 10…
For this demolition we needed to be careful to preserve adjacent wall areas that were not being demolished. Additionally, we wanted to re-use as much of the framing lumber as possible, and since the bathroom and bedroom are still in full use we wanted to keep the mess to a minimum.
So as much fun as it would be to go crazy with the sledgehammer and violently demolish the walls, due to the aforementioned criteria a much more surgical approach was called for.
The photo right shows my tools of choice, from left to right a small crowbar and a flat pry bar for pulling large nails and separating materials, a hammer, a small fine “shark” pry bar (my favorite) which can dig out nails and has a thin hardened blade which is great for removing moldings without damage, and side nippers for grabbing finish nails and “rolling” them out from the back of the material (leaving minimal chips on the finish side). Above the nippers is a utility knife and across the top is a hacksaw blade with a couple of rare earth magnets stuck to it – we’ll discuss the use for that in a moment.
It may be of interest that there are no power tools shown. I do have a sawzall but don’t like the mess it makes when cutting plaster and wallboard – same goes for a circular saw. The only power tool I’ll be using for this stage is a battery powered drill-driver to back out the wallboard screws.
The most used tools are the hammer, shark bar, utility knife and hacksaw blade with magnets. The magnets are about 3/8″ in diameter and are used to find the heads of the nails or screws lying hidden beneath the plaster skim coat – the magnets of course stick to the hacksaw blade which in turn makes it easier to handle the magnets and “feel” when you have detected a screw head – since the magnet is about the same diameter as the screw head it homes right in on them. This process of finding screw heads is easier than you might think as there are lots of clues where the studs are and once you find one screw, you then know about where all the others should be.
Once a screw head is found it is marked. Linda did a lot of the finding & marking (photo left), then I would come around with the hammer to chip off the plaster at that spot and use a drill driver/pry bar to remove the screw/nail (photo below right).
Most of the fasteners in this instance were screws.
Meanwhile, the utility knife was used to cut thru the mesh tape at the wall corners and also to cut thru the drywall where I wanted to preserve adjacent wall or just reduce the size of the wall section being removed. Cutting in this manner is also a lot easier than you might imagine and with a sharp blade it goes fairly quickly with just minimal dust. Most of the time, once the screws were all out and the cuts made, the panel would basically just fall off the wall. Once in a while we would miss a screw or two and have to do a little prying, but the vast majority of all the wall surfaces came off cleanly.
Now you might think this is a slow process compared to the smash and slash approach, but in my view the net time expended is about equal, maybe even less. For one thing the cleanup effort is greatly reduced, also since I will be reusing all the lumber I would have had to remove all the screws/nails from the studs anyway. As a bonus, the vast majority of the waste is flat sheets that are easy to get out of the house and later dispose of (see photo left).
Today we also had to remove two sections of baseboard hydronic (hot water) radiator sections. This involved shutting down the heating “zone” for the bedroom and draining the water out of the pipes – the water is drained via valves at the boiler down in the basement. However, this proved to be easier said than done, because without any air vents the water did not want to drain – I finally cut a slot in one of the pipes next to the radiator section to vent it and most of the water then came out.
The heating system is comprised of 3/4″ type M (thin wall) ridged copper pipe and the radiator sections are basically the same with aluminum radiating fins attached (Slant-Fin). I wanted to un-solder the radiator sections, rather than cut them, in case I needed to re-use them (probably won’t though) and this would have been impossible with water in the pipes. Once the water was out, a little heat from the torch and a tap with the hammer easily separated the fittings.
In our next post we’ll be setting up the bathroom for continued use even as we remove the old walls.