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Drying out basement

9 Jul

When I first moved here, I had a dehumidifier in the basement. It worked great and kept it dry. At some point it broke and due to incredible sloth and laziness, it has taken me about five years to replace it. I just got a Frigidaire, Energy Star, 50 pint model from Home Depot online (delivered to my door, thank you very much). I’ve hooked it up for constant drainage with an old bit of garden hose (and propped it on an old radiator, levelled with some broken tiles — this is a classy operation right here).

 


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In the first three hours of operation, it filled up — 50 pints! So I switched it to the constant drainage. It already smells better and feels dryer and the rugs in the hallway above the basement feel dryer. Why did I wait so long??

This model had great reviews on HomeDepot.com and only cost about $240 with tax (including free delivery, which is really worth it). It has a five year warranty, so when it does die (in five years and one day, no doubt), I’ll plan to replace it toot sweet and not wait forever. One step towards a less gross basement.

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Ceiling repair

22 Sep

We’ve had a difficult few months here at Townhouse Turnaround and there hasn’t been much home improvement. My dear sweet cat Jerome died on July 30th. He had feline leukemia and became very suddenly extremely ill. He’d been tested for it and vaccinated against it, but the vets think it must have been dormant in his little system. They tried extraordinary measures to save his dear little life, but couldn’t in the end. He was only seven, and I’d had him for only four short years. It’s been a huge loss; he had an enormous presence and personality. Everyone who met him loved him and he followed me everywhere. I miss him terribly.

I also fell down the cellar stairs in late August and sprained one knee and the other ankle, so I’ve been hobbing around for a month. I was lucky to walk away with such minor damage to my aged frame, and everything’s healing up on its own now, so I’m thanking my lucky stars and getting back to things around the house.

Next up is some work that a professional will be tackling — ceiling repair. Here are some before photos:

The pro will be removing the tin ceiling on the top floor and replacing it with sheetrock. He will also repair the crumbling ceiling and walls on the fourth and third floors, including the treacherous under the stairwell business. NB: everything looks worse in reality than it does in those photos. The halls are horrid and this is going to make things much better.

And then I’ll “just” have to come up with the funds for the wallpapering and the halls will be finito!

 

Summer of Closets Continues

7 Jul

One of the coolest (yet completely and utterly grossest) places in my house in the summer is the basement. Not, mind you, the ground floor of the house where the kitchen and monkey room are (though that floor is cool, too), but the actual basement. Dirt floor, spiders, dampness, old scythes and saws hung mysteriously on the walls, piles of bricks and dirt probably hiding centipedes — that basement.

As you, dear reader, can perhaps gather, this basement is not my favorite place to be. So I go there as little as possible. But I do have to go there to access my paint collection (for the other closets) and I also keep a broom and mop and vaccuum on the landing to the basement. After the plumbing collapse, this little landing got a lightbulb – yay — and also got trashed by the water and collapse (boo).

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So I figured it was the coolest closet-space I could work on today, and I finally had at it. Took an enormous bag of junk and rubble out, swept it right up, put back the stuff I actually use in a way I can reach it, and even hung one of my million and one fire extinguishers on the wall (and brought another one down to the basement).

I think I’ll try to make some sort of shelving unit on the studs to keep other cleaning stuff there and maybe hang some stuff on nails, but for now, it’s really handy and clean. It was very gross and dirty, but took all of 45 minutes — I love doing stuff I’ve been putting off forever. Three cheers for heat wave productivity!

The trouble with contractors

13 Apr

I don’t know what it is with contractors. At the end of the job, they always seem to slack off and do poorer work. Do they know that you’re really fed up with them disrupting your routine and making a mess and you just want them to leave? Do they know you’ll just pay them and go and not make them do things the right way? Are they just sick of the job and stop caring? Who knows. Does this happen with other people or is it just me? I find that just about everyone I hire to do something around the house starts off doing quality work and then slacks off towards the end.

So it went with these guys, who did a really crappy and not satisfactory job of closing up the ceiling in the ground floor (leopard) bathroom. No sanding, not enough plastering (joint compounding), big gaps between the ceiling and wall, and they bought the cheapest and flimsiest toilet seat in the world to replace the one that was broken by falling debris. Sigh. Luckily, what they didn’t do is within my skillset, but I really wasn’t planning on spending the weekend plastering and sanding. Whatever, they’re gone, I can finish it, and THEN I can clean, but it’s disappointing. 

Non-finished ceiling.

Non-finished ceiling.

Non sanded joints.

Non sanded joints.

A light, yay!, Non-removed ceiling and non-anti-mold painted wall, boo.

A light, yay!, Non-removed ceiling and non-anti-mold painted wall, boo.

Whole lotta debris.

Whole lotta debris.

Where ceiling doesn't meet wall.

Where ceiling doesn’t meet wall.

Water, smoke detector, bleah.

4 Apr

So. The new plastic waste pipe is installed — all four storeys of it. They did it in one day, which is great. The water that was not going down the pipes for several days did some pretty decent damage, though. A good bit of the ceiling in the powder room (first floor, the one with the discontinued leopard wallpaper) collapsed. A couple of sections of wall are gone in the second floor and in the stairway to the basement (that’s no biggie), and I need to let everything air dry out for several days to prevent moldification. Also lost a toilet seat due to a giant chunk of cast iron and ceiling falling on to it. No people or animals were hurt, so that’s okay.

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As all this mishegas was unfolding, my smoke detector system also began to malfunction. So at 7:20 yesterday morning (while I was in the tub), at 3:30 this morning, and again at 6:00 this morning, the piercing alarm rang out. Thank goodness the fire department only came that first time (I was in the tub and barely had the time to dress myself, never mind get on the phone, before they arrived). I’ve got an ADT tech coming tomorrow to fix the sitch. I think it’s a simple case of needing a new unit. After learning that the ADT technicians charge $150 for the first 30 minutes and then $39 per 15 minutes after that, I came to the conclusion that I’m in the wrong line of work and should really become an ADT tech in order to pay for my home improvement projects.

I really need a good night’s sleep with no collapsing ceilings or fire alarms. Also want to note that the dogs did not even get out of bed when the smoke detector was blaring a few feet away from their little pea brains.

Corner repair, Gudenov style

4 Jul

 

So there I was, happily painting away when I came to this corner in the hallway. The wallpaper was completely unattached to the wall. Rather than just painting over it, I thought I’d take it off and paint the wall below, spackling over any rough spots.

Well. I discovered an ENORMOUS hole in the wall (four inches by 3 inches) and the plaster at the corner was in horrible shape. It was like pieces of gravel stacked on each other. No way to paint that and make it look remotely normal. So I went down into the creepy basement and got out a dented old can of putty (Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty, to be exact. What a weird web site). I’d used a combination of putty and plaster when I re-did the craft room walls many years ago (and plaster washers and wall liner and all sorts of other things to keep those walls from collapsing off the lath.).

I mixed up the putty and used it to fill the major hole and some of the biggest gaps in the corner. I had some leftover masonry/concrete waterproofing caulk from the stoop project, so I used that to cover some of the smaller cracks.

After the putty had dried, I sanded it down. I mixed up a batch of leftover plaster (thus using up what I had leftover of both the putty and the plaster) and skim coated over the putty and some of the caulk (as neither takes latex paint – it crumbles the putty and it beads up on the caulk). When I ran out of plaster, I used some spackle I also had in stock.

Gave it all a quick sand when it dried (this took several days overall) and painted it over. It’s nice and tight now, it’s painted green, and Bob is basically your uncle right here with this Gudenov leftover junk in the trunk corner repair project.

Drip, drip, drip….

17 Dec

I’ve had a steadily intensifying leak in the basement…. and recently sprung another leak down there. So I held my breath and called a professional. The plumber came today and we found the source of leak number one. It’s in the best possible of many horrific locations. yay. So he needs to replace about ten feet of 4 inch cast iron pipe. A wall will be opened, BUT it’s just an already semi-ruined wall in the stairs to the basement. It could have been MUCH worse. He’s coming on Wednesday afternoon to do the work and I’m hoping (nay, praying) that it comes in at under $500. Prayers from the blogosphere are welcomed!