Check with plumber be­fore build­ing base­ment bath­room

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - ARI MARANTZ

QI read your ar­ti­cle on get­ting rid of a cold-stor­age room, so I thought of writ­ing you about my three-year-old house. I am plan­ning on fin­ish­ing my base­ment and am con­sid­er­ing build­ing a wash­room in the cold room. We think if we place the wash­room in the cur­rent cold-stor­age area, we can get lots of space for a home the­atre room, a bed­room and a small, sec­ond kitchen. Do you think there will be any is­sue with plac­ing a wash­room there? I would ap­pre­ci­ate your sug­ges­tion. Chi­rag Pa­tel, Toronto An­swer: Do­ing ren­o­va­tions to fin­ish a base­ment in a newer home can add a sig­nif­i­cant amount of com­fort­able liv­ing space, if done cor­rectly. There should be lit­tle prob­lem with putting a bath­room in the cold room, if it is in­su­lated prop­erly and ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion is in­stalled through an ex­haust fan. The dif­fi­culty in build­ing the bath­room there may have more to do with plumb­ing in­stal­la­tion than heat and mois­ture is­sues. My dis­like of “cold rooms” in our north­ern cli­mate is well-doc­u­mented. Prop­erly in­su­lat­ing and warm­ing up this space in your base­ment can only im­prove an area that would oth­er­wise be sub­ject to con­den­sa­tion and mould growth. The first step with the cold-room area is to prop­erly seal and in­su­late any cold-air vent or in­take that may ex­ist, in­stalled to al­low ex­te­rior air in to cool the space. If none ex­ists, there should be noth­ing to worry about, or a cur­rent open­ing may be use­able as a con­duit for the ex­haust fan that will be crit­i­cal to in­stall in the new bath­room. The size and lo­ca­tion of this will de­ter­mine whether it will be prac­ti­cal for the fan duct­ing and vent hood, or whether it should just be filled with in­su­lat­ing foam to seal it be­fore fur­ther pro­ceed­ing. In­su­lat­ing a cold room in your base­ment may be done in a sim­i­lar man­ner to the rest of the ex­ist­ing base­ment, with a cou­ple of dif­fer­ences. The main is­sue is whether it has a ceil­ing that is the un­der­side of an ex­te­rior con­crete slab or an ex­ten­sion of the ex­ist­ing main-floor sys­tem. Many true cold rooms have a con­crete ceil­ing that ex­tends beyond the foun­da­tion walls, to al­low it to be nat­u­rally cooled by ex­te­rior win­ter tem­per­a­tures. If that is the case in your house, it will have to be treated dif­fer­ently. In that sit­u­a­tion, the un­der­side of this con­crete slab will have to be wellinsu­lated and sealed us­ing wa­ter­proof in­su­la­tion. Us­ing con­ven­tional fi­bre­glass batt in­su­la­tion and poly­eth­yl­ene sheath­ing may have dis­as­trous re­sults be­cause of con­den­sa­tion on the cold slab. Rigid, ex­truded poly­styrene in­su­la­tion or high-den­sity, blown-in polyurethane are the only two op­tions that should be con­sid­ered for this job. Both of the th­ese types of in­su­la­tion could also be used on the walls of this area, to pre­vent mois­ture dam­age from the bath­room en­vi­ron­ment. This would also have the ben­e­fit of adding a lit­tle more space to the bath­room, as this in­su­la­tion can be in­stalled in thin­ner quan­ti­ties than con­ven­tional batts. The real dif­fi­culty with lo­cat­ing the bath­room in this area will de­pend on the lo­ca­tion of your ex­ist­ing plumb­ing drains. Also, vent­ing th­ese drains may be more eas­ily ac­com­plished if there are other nearby drain pipes to en­sure proper op­er­a­tion. If the plumb­ing stacks are far away from this area, and the sub-slab drain pipes exit the home on the other side of the base­ment, in­stal­la­tion may be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. Most newer homes will al­ready have roughed-in drains em­bed­ded in the base­ment floor slab, so lo­cat­ing th­ese will help de­ter­mine the prac­ti­cal­ity of your bath­room plans. If re­lo­cat­ing the drains to the cold room area proves too dif­fi­cult, putting the base­ment bath­room where the roughed-in drains cur­rently ex­ist will make the most sense. You are wise to ex­plore all op­tions for the lo­ca­tion of your planned bath­room, but us­ing a cur­rent cold room may not be that prac­ti­cal. While it would seem nat­u­ral to be con­cerned about con­vert­ing this unin­su­lated space to a bath­room, do­ing this cor­rectly may not be that dif­fi­cult. The lo­ca­tion of the ex­ist­ing plumb­ing may be the true con­sid­er­a­tion. Con­sult­ing a li­censed plumber should be the first step be­fore de­cid­ing on for­mal­iz­ing plans for your bath­room lo­ca­tion. Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home In­spec­tion Ltd. and past pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Home and Prop­erty In­spec­tors — Man­i­toba. Email ques­tions to trained­eye@in­ame.com. Check out his web­site

at trained­eye.ca.

MITSU YASUKAWA / TRI­BUNE ME­DIA FILES

The first step when build­ing a bath­room in the cold-stor­age area of your base­ment

should be a con­sul­ta­tion with a li­censed plumber.

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