Inside The Plumbing Chase

by Josh on March 4, 2009 · 10 comments

in Bathroom,Journal

In my last post I described the repair I made to the shower valve in the main bath.  As part of that process I accessed the bathroom plumbing chase for the first time.  What I found there added some interesting information about the house’s past.

Plumbing access with junk 

The first thing I noticed was the bucket and plastic sheeting on the floor of the chase.  Either the faucet had been leaking for a long time and a previous owner decided an evaporation bucket was the best fix, or a previous owner put the bucket  and plastic there preventatively in case a leak ever developed.  Who knows?

There is also a lot of evidence of the bathroom remodel that added the shower to the bathtub.  Next to the tub and on the floor are big chunks of plaster that used to be on the walls surrounding the tub before it was retiled.  The blue fiberboard appears to be a solution to equalizing the thickness of the wall between the old lath and plaster that was left intact at the top of the walls, and the replacement work beneath it that accompanied the shower installation.  As I witnessed in my faucet fix, the wicking ability of fiberboard makes it a poor material choice for a bathroom.  The possibility for mold growth here–along with my deep desire to replace the inappropriate square blue tiles– is a reason I hope to restore the bathroom someday.

Shower supply chase

What didn’t I find?  After I saw the plaster I was disappointed I didn’t find any tile, or scraps of paint or wallpaper.  And unlike my old house treasure fantasy, the only secret stash I found was a few plastic poker chips amid the debris.  The search continues…

Knowing where your utility chases are and how to access them is good information for any homeowner.  It is probably worth exploring your utility chases– even without an obvious problem– just to become familiar with what is there.  Who knows what you’ll find?  Conversely, if you have plumbing or other important components that are inaccessible, now is the time to install access panels so you are ready if a problem arises.

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