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dmadole 07-20-2010 11:46 AM

removing kitchen ceiling
I have a furdown (lowered ceiling) in my kitchen that is about 1 foot lower than the dining room ceiling. I would like to raise the kitchen ceiling to the same height as the dining room. How do I go about starting that project? Do I just punch a a whole in the dry wall and start tearing it out (like you would a wall)? I'm trying to save a little money by doing some of the demolition myself.

Any instructions would be a great help!

Msupsic 07-20-2010 03:24 PM

Is it new construction, or an older house, i.e. was it part of the original blueprints or tacked on later?

If it is an older home, I would suspect that at some point someone wanted to cover something up. Be prepared to find some wonderful treat waiting for you behind the furdown. Wear a dust mask and just make a small hole to see what's doing up there first. If you uncover anything too troublesome (lead, asbestos), you may want to reconsider.

The only problem I can think of is if the builder is hiding plumbing or electrical of some kind in that space. Then you're in for a major headache, trying to reroute pipes and wires. Not so simple...

Otherwise, it is most likely a facade of some sort. Probably nothing structural there. Does the room above the kitchen step down or follow the contour of the furdown at all? If not, your load-bearing beams are most likely going to be up at the level of the dining room cieling, so no problem.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-20-2010 10:37 PM

I agree with the previous post that no one would have simply opted to reduce headroom in your kitchen for the sake of fashionable or stylish architecture alone. There was obviously a necessity to lower the ceiling, and the most obvious reason I can think of is that the room above that kitchen is a bathroom that's been renovated. If so, I suspect that what's happened is that someone decided to relocate the toilet as part of their renovation plans.

The drain pipe from a toilet is 3 inches in diameter, and you don't want to cut a hole in a floor joist that big, or you'll severely weaken the joist. So, probably someone decided to lower the ceiling of the room below so that the toilet drain pipe could then run under the floor joists from it's new location and connect to the vent stack at a slightly lower elevation. But, if that was the best option they could think of at the time, it probably still is, and cutting a hole in that ceiling is likely going to just create work in requiring you to then repair that hole.

PS: (you don't need to know the rest, but I thought I'd toss it in)

A toilet is nothing more than a glorified siphon hose. The difference is that with a siphon hose you suck on the discharge end of the hose to fill it with water to get the siphon hose to start flowing. The laws of physics dictate that as long as the siphon hose is full of liquid, and the downstream end is lower in elevation than the upstream end, it will keep flowing. With a toilet bowl, water flows from the tank into the bowl and then into the toilet bowl's discharge channel opening at the bottom of the bowl faster than it can flow through that tortuous discharge channel. That results in the discharge channel filling up with water. Once the discharge channel is full of water, exactly the same laws of physics take over and the discharge channel of the toilet suddenly becomes a great big siphon hose that siphons the water (and everything in that water) out of the bowl. Simple as mud, really.

Newbie DIY'ers often presume that the curvatious and undulating shape of the discharge channel somehow acts like the p-trap under a sink to prevent sewer gasses from getting into the house, but any explanation of it's shape or how that shape results in the better trapping of gas than a straight channel is beyond the capacity of mere mortals to undersand. But, they claim, that has to be the reason because there doesn't seem to be a better one at hand. It's just not that complicated or mysterious. The curves are there to reduce the rate at which water can flow through that channel to ensure that it fills up with water and becomes a siphon. Once that toilet discharge channel becomes a siphon hose, then barring anything else from interfering with the process, you have Sir Isaac Newton's personal guarantee of a successful flush.

And, you can use that understanding to help diagnose toilet flushing problems. If your toilet isn't flushing properly, pour a 5 gallon pail of water into a toilet bowl as fast as you can without causing the bowl to overflow so that you end up spilling water all over the floor. If the bowl THEN flushes properly, then the problem is in the bowl or upstream of it. The issue is that there's not enough water flowing into the bowl (and hence the discharge channel) fast enough to cause the discharge channel to fill with water. That could be that the jet hole at the bottom of the bowl or the holes under the rim of the bowl are clogged up, or that the toilet flapper isn't opening wide, or there simply isn't enough water in the tank.

However, if the toilet still doesn't flush properly after doing the 5 gallon pail trick, then the problem is in the bowl's discharge channel or downstream of it. It could be that there's something stuck in the discharge channel and toilet paper is accumulating on that obstruction and preventing flow through the channel. Or, it could be that the drain pipe from the toilet is already full of water, so there's no place for the newly added water to go.

dmadole 07-21-2010 07:16 AM

Furdown issues
It was originally built that way in 1982, so I'm assumming it is just the way houses were built in Oklahoma. At this point, I will just poke a hole and see what's up there. At least I can fix a hole! Thanks for the advice! I'll let you know how it goes.:)

brodi500 08-06-2012 12:13 PM

What did you end up finding in the ceiling
I want to do the same thing but worry there are plumbing pipes all through there.

CallMeVilla 08-06-2012 01:23 PM

3 Attachment(s)
This was a common practice in the 1980's. I just finished a remodel like this earlier in the year.

1. Yes, you can punch a hole in the ceiling to explore but be careful. We ended up leaving a perimeter at the original ceiling height due to aesthetics and structure. The central part of the ceiling became a trey ceiling with recessed lights. Demolish carefully until you can understand their original framing.

2. In our case, they had 2x12 framing to support the 2nd story and 2x6 on edge with the 2x12 to create an open space for wiring and HVAC ducting. We removed the 2x6 framing to create the higher ceiling and relocated the wiring higher within the 2x12 space to get it out of the way. Similarly, we elevated the HVAC duct and reattached it to the framing and ceiling. (see pics)

3. While we were at it, I ran low volt airing for under-cabinet LED task lighting.

4. Of course, the wiring for the recessed lights was added, using the existing flourescent wiring for power. The breaker had to be upgraded to 20 AMP and the wiring (#12) supported the upgrade.

5. Following the design of the house, we used bullnose drywall corner bead and skip troweled the surface. The gloss paint was chosen to match existing.

Like any project, these are the essentials. There were a lot of tricks along to way. I hope you can get started with this as a guide! :)

nealtw 08-06-2012 01:26 PM

In the 80s, sunlight kitchen fixture were in style. You may find old floresent fixtures but if they were built in at time of construction, you may find anything up there.

CallMeVilla 08-06-2012 04:47 PM

One last comment because some people just have to knock what they see in the pics. We removed some of the blocks in the framing to relocate the HVAC. When the newbie replaced the blocks, some of the corners were no aligned properly, leaving a lip, which would have telegraphed through the new drywall.

To fix this, we just used an electric planer to get the line correct and the new drywall okks like it always belonged there!

brodi500 08-07-2012 08:44 AM

Was there a bathroom above your kitchen? I have one and that is my main worry, that there are pipes below the joists. Wondering what you saw in terms of piping up there.


CallMeVilla 08-07-2012 11:51 AM

One reason we left a perimeter around the raised portion is due to water pipes that were present in part of the dropped ceiling area. Actually, I could have relocated the pipes easily but the aesthetic look did not require adding this section, so we left the pipes and the ceiling as originally built.

However, if you have a waste pipe, or a drain, you may have to elevate them to get the ceiling you want. This means cutting them off, raising the pipe and re-attaching . . . This could get tricky depending on the slope and the availability of access.

My advice is to realize: IT IS ONLY DRYWALL. You can explore carefully and see what is possible. If there is too much in the way, just repair the drywall and move on . . .

Good luck with your adventure! :)

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