Removing Subfloor

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I’m writing this post as a guy that found a method that works for him, but not necessarily as a guy that knows the best way to approach the problem.  So if you have a better method to remove subfloor, by all means leave a comment!

Well I’m just about ready to run the plumbing in my new bathroom but I have a problem: the crawlspace below the bathroom is completely inaccessible thanks to a foundation wall on one side and a large heating duct on the other.  Add to that the fact that there are parts of the crawlspace where my ample derrière just wasn’t designed to fit without several months of a serious eating disorder.  (Next month: The Boring Homeowner Guy on How he Beat Bullemia!)

I opted to attack from above by removing the plywood subfloor.  This will also give me a chance to ensure that everything is level from the joists on up, something that’s never a guarantee in an old house like mine.

Tools

You’ll only need a few tools to tackle this job:

  • A circular saw with a ripping blade, preferably one you don’t particularly cherish.
  • A drill or impact driver and appropriate bits if your subfloor was installed with screws
  • A hammer
  • A small pry bar that you can handle with one hand (“15 inches is a good size,” said no woman ever)
  • A large ripping/wrecking bar

The Method

First things first: if there is any plumbing or wiring coming up in the sections of subfloor you plan to remove, deal with them now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Separate Sections of Subfloor

The basic approach is to cut the subfloor along the grooves between sheets.  Most plywood and OSB subflooring is tongue and groove, which means that one edge has an open gap through it’s center, and the opposite edge has a protrusion that fits directly into it.  This provides additional stability, eliminates air infiltration, and allows expansion and contraction of the subfloor as a single unit. It also means that if you skip this step, you’re an idiot.

As I said above, don’t buy a brand new saw blade for this task, and don’t think it’s not going to be a little bit duller after the fact.  Your chances of hitting a nail are two are pretty good.

Pry Up Individual Sections

Depending on the method used to install your subfloor this step could be a breeze or it could be slightly less serious than El Nino.  If you’re lucky your subfloor was installed with screws, in which case you can reverse the bulk of them out and lift the subfloor out with little effort.  If your subfloor was nailed, this is the method that I found worked best for me.

Using your hammer and small pry bar lift up a corner enough so that your larger prybar will fit under it.  Rock the prybar in progressively larger motions so that your subfloor doesn’t crack, but you should start to hear nails pop.  As nails begin to pop  remove them with the hammer or small prybar.  Work your way around the sheet in this fashion.  Eventually the sheet will have enough flexibility that you can grab ahold of an edge by hand and rock it up and down to pop the nails even more quickly.  Using this method it took me about ten minutes to remove a sheet, and it was still in decent enough shape to use for something else later.

The Best Thing About Remodeling A House Is…

Totally not up to code! Also totally not actually dropping a deuce in the hallway.

Totally not up to code! Also totally not actually dropping a deuce in the hallway.

… you can put a toilet anywhere you want!

Last night some friends got super-excited when I told them I bought a toilet that has different buttons for #1 and #2. We decided we need to have a pooh party to test this contraption out, but I decided to run some very scientific tests on it beforehand as you can see.

Okay, I’m not really dropping a deuce in the hallway. And for the record, I’m actually clothed behind that newspaper!

2 x 4 Scrap Storage Crate

2 x 4 CrateTonight marks the beginning of a new segment I like to call, “Brian Makes Crap out of Slightly Lesser Crap.”  I love reusing everything I can,  and when I needed some storage, I decided to make some crates out of my abundance of 2 x 4 scrap.

The crates are going to go on the ledge above the closet in my bedroom, which has a little over 18″ of vertical space.  I decided to make the crates 16″ tall x 16″ wide by 24″ deep which fits vertically, provides plenty of storage space, and has a pleasant proportion.

Tools Required

The only tools that are essential for this project are a table saw equipped with a good ripping or all-purpose blade, and a hammer. For simpler cuts and a cleaner finish I used my miter saw
to crosscut my pieces to length and my planer to trim the runners to the desired thickness.

Materials

I built my crates completely out of scrap I had sitting around the shed.  You’ll need:

  • 3 pieces of 2 x 4 that are at least 16″ long
  • 3 pieces of 2 x 4 that are at least 23″ long
  • 3 pieces of 2 x 4 that are at least 15 1/4″ long
  • 1 piece of 3/4″ plywood 15″ wide x 23″ long
  • About 80 1″ finish nails
  • Wood glue

If you need to buy materials, a single 12′ 2 x 4 is enough material for the runners and corners. You should be able to pick up a piece of plywood at a home center cut to size.  My crates were built for exactly zero dollars, but if you have to buy materials you can expect the project to just about $8.00.

Constructing the Crate

Preparing the Materials

The first thing I did was use the metal detector to make sure my scraps didn’t contain nails before I starting sawing. If you’re using new materials or leftovers from new construction this probably won’t be necessary, but much of my scrap was ripped out of my house and contained framing nails and drywall screws. You’ll ruin your table saw blade or hurt yourself trying to chew through framing nails, so don’t try it!

Crosscut Parts to Length

Using the cut list above as a guide, crosscut all your pieces to length.  Remember that you’ll essentially be cutting the 2 x 4 pieces in half lengthwise, so each crosscut part will make two from the cut list. Setup stops on your miter saw or table saw for repeatable cuts.

Rip Parts to Width and Thickness

Use your table saw to rip the plywood bottom and the two 15 1/4″ pieces of 2 x 4 for the corners, making 4 total corner pieces. Since the runners are supposed to be 3 1/2″ wide, we don’t have to rip them to a particular width, however we do need to rip them on-edge into 1/2″ strips.  If you don’t have a powerful table saw it will probably bog down if you try this in a single pass, so make 2 or more passes, setting your saw blade a little higher each time. you’ll probably have to remove the splitter if your saw has one, so be careful and make sure you’re using push blocks!

Since I’m fortunate enough to own a small planer I ripped the 2 x 4’s precisely down the center on the table saw, then used the planer to thickness the strips from 3/4″ down to 1/2″.  This method takes quite a bit longer but you’ll end up with much cleaner, smoother runners void of tooling marks from the table saw.

Assembly

I used 1″ finish nails and wood glue to assemble everything.  I started by assembling the 16 x 16″ ends separately, then gluing and nailing the longer sides together.  Finally I dropped in the plywood bottom, glued, nailed, and put on a few clamps to hold everything together overnight.

Fixing the Hot Water Heater

Sweet, Delicious Water Heater Crust

Instead of calling my mommy to cut the crust off like my sandwhiches, I just replaced these things.

The hot water in my house was never particularly plentiful, but there was usually enough for a warm shower.  Recently all that changed.  For the last few weeks taking a hot shower felt like being on the receiving-end of a German watersports video, and I’m not talking about skiing on Lake Bordesholm.

I finally decided to tackle the problem today, and with the help of a YouTube video from a father-daughter team called Nature’s Friends it was a simple task. You’ll need flat-head and Phillips screw-drivers, a multi-meter, a garden-hose, and if the problem lies in your heating elements you’ll need a special wrench to remove and replace them. After testing the voltage and resistance as instructed, I drained the water heater and replaced both elements which seemed to be growing some sort of Crystalline Entity.

My showers are now hot enough to cause discomfort. Just the way I like them!