After a long night of pretending I was the hulk and getting a few hours of sleep, we got back to work. We removed a 4’x 8′ sheet of the drywall from behind the sink that contained the old pipe and some mold. We figured it would be easiest to just put a whole sheet in instead of having to cut the new drywall to fit. That morning we had to run to Menards to pick up some new drywall to fix the moldy mess behind the sink and a piece of plywood to level off the floor (they laid a second level of subfloor down over the old floor when the cabinet were in, so when we took the new cabinets out there was a drop off – similar to what was saw in the bathroom). Those big 8′ x 4′ boards weren’t going to fit in our tiny Dodge Neon, so J got to drive a rented truck (he can’t wait until the day when he has his own). We made a lot of progress this day, but it wasn’t without surprises.
The biggest surprise we found may have literally saved our lives. The kitchen sink, basement sink, and washing machine all empty into the same drain. After removing the drywall in the kitchen, we found that the pipe that vents the sewer gases into the attic was disconnected in the kitchen wall, which means that for the last however-many-years sewer gases have been venting into the walls of the house. You don’t have to know much about plumbing to know that this is NOT a good thing and is actually extremely dangerous. Based on the set-up the previous owner had with the plumbing, it looks like it could have happened when the he redid the plumbing in the kitchen. That pipe that was stuck in the wall was huge and wasn’t going anywhere. He had cut two holes in the wall to try to see where it was and where it was going. My guess is that when he tried to remove that huge old pipe he twisted and turned it so much that it disconnected from the outgoing drain pipe. Who knows what actually happened but I’m going with that. After we removed that huge pipe and reconnected everything, we also noticed that one of the venting pipes in the basement on that same drain was sitting there uncapped. This means that sewer gases were also just freely venting into our basement. Again, not a good thing. Our home inspector should have caught this, but based on other things we found after moving in, it doesn’t surprise me that he didn’t. This problem was an easy fix – we just bought a new cap and sealed it off. Interestingly, our dehumidifier runs about 1/4 of the time it did before we capped the pipe, so clearly fumes were venting into the basement. While it was all a pain to fix, we are so grateful that we found this. I can’t imagine how sick we could have become if we continued to live in a house filled with sewer gases (and what could have happened to the house if there was a spark in the wrong place.