Tuesday, June 26, 2012
New home & on-going laundry room saga
So one skeptical friend (with tongue planted firmly in cheek, no doubt) questioned the existence of our new home, because I had yet to post any photos. So, not wanting to post an identifiable "I live here," photo on the internet*, you get the next best thing: the linocut I made RJH for his birthday, now up in our kitchen.
Not enough evidence? Well, here are some photos and updates on the on-going saga of our tiny laundry room. On the back of the house there is a small addition, 8 feet by 10 feet (2.4 by 3.0 m) which contains the cold room (in the basement) and the laundry room (off the kitchen, on the ground floor). We knew it was tiny yet hideous, with its (quite possibly original) wood paneling and dirty, vintage curtains. We did not quite realize how unloved this poor room was. (I dream of a tiny, but glamorous laundry room and have been gathering ideas).
The roof clearly needed new shingles, and RJH decided he could do it, having done a little roofing as a younger man. Also, we noticed a leak during our final home visit before moving in. So, before he took the shingles off, he took a hammer to the ceiling, only to be showered with ants. I'll leave out the gruesome details, but suffice it to say there was water damage and a colony of moisture ants, all of which we removed. When RJH removed the shingles, he found the roof itself was rotten, so that got removed too!
This is our tiny laundry room, complete with missing roof, wood panelling, ugly old curtains, and the flooring which must go. Here's the fantastic new roof RJH built (I just did the unskilled labour jobs, like removing nails from all the debris, and splitting it up so we could haul it away). Looking up and looking down:
RJH did all this work up on a two-storey high ladder. My favorite new neighbour, a couple of doors down, James (age 4½) shouted over at him. "You shouldn't be up there," he said. "It's not safe. You should be wearing a hardhat." "You tell him!" I said, and RJH asked if James had a hardhat. James has 5, and a firefighting helmet. I told him I had a hardhat too, but it was at work. James decided I was lying, and am secretly hiding a hardhat in the house.
We still need to re-install the eaves trough.
We might have thought that after the ant and roof fiasco, that re-finishing the laundry room would be easy. Yesterday, RJH had the day off, and I suggested that it would be nice if our laundry room looked less like the world's smallest horror film set, what with its half-torn-off wood panelling. Also, what with the complete lack of insulation and the partial lack of walls, it has been a very crowded and ugly sauna. RJH suggested one day wasn't enough time, but then he tackled the job anyway. It was quite astounding how much debris could come from a room that small.
We got the walls striped, debris cleared, and started filling cracks with the crack-filling foam and installing new installation. We made a trip to the hardware store to get casters for moving appliances, to roll the washer-dryer away from the wall. This is when disaster struck. RJH wanted to loosen the hose to the washer (after closing the valve of course), but he barely touched the pipe when the fitting came off altogether, spewing water everywhere, so he hollered for help.
Now, I am not one to panic; if you have a medical, electrical, mechanical disaster or need some serious problem-solving help, I am a good person to have around. I worked as a life guard as a teenager, and have all sorts of practical skills, and can fix many things. However, I know nothing whatsoever about plumbing. RJH told me to get towels and turn off the water to the house. I protested that I did not know how, or where to find any valves. He said it had to be somewhere and I must go look. I ran down to the basement in what, I must confess, was a panic. I could see the water was dripping into the cold room. I followed the pipe, but they went behind a wall. I had no idea what to do or where to find the valve. There was some yelling and a lot of running around like a chicken with her head chopped off, up and down stairs and all around the basement. Minouette decided this was the best game E-VER and followed me everywhere I went. I opened the furnace room door. Oh boy, thought Minouette, a new room! "Get out! Stop following me! I can't find any valves!" I turned off the valve on the hot water heater, on the basis that, well, it was a valve. I opened the other door to the furnace room, with Minouette in pursuit. I ran back upstairs. "I can't do it. I can't find it. I looked everywhere!" "Did you follow the pipe?" "Yes, they go behind the wall. I give up. You look." After some persuasion, we switched rolls, and I took the Little Dutch Boy roll, attempting to hold the fixture back onto the copper pipe for the washing machine. RJH went downstairs and found the valve for the entire house; in my defence, it was on the ceiling, behind a bulkhead, in a corner positioned so I needed to lean over a trunk and crane my neck to even see it. So, he turned off the water to the house and went to the hardware store, armed with photographic evidence of our latest laundry room fiasco.
I stayed home, mopping up the water in the laundry room (and wet saw dust, and other debris) and cold room. I made the mistake of trying to remove the spray foam from the door. It had not dried and stuck to my hands. It's the sort of material which will stay on my fingers until I grow new skin, and it picked up all dirty and cemented it firmly onto me. He returned with a new fitting. Apparently whomever had plumbed the laundry machine previously had the compressor ring on upside down. They explained how RJH could fix this, without having to solder a new fitting in place. So, the next few hours were spent attempting to affix this fitting and test that it was water tight. It was a lot of running up and downstairs again, opening and closing the valve, debating whether the water was really on or off (as water remains in the pipes, even if the valve is closed, so it's not immediately obvious), spewing water everywhere, repeatedly, and wetting all the towels in the house. People became cross; cat remained excited. By 7:30 pm, I was starving and exhausted. I was reduced to eating corn chips with my chopsticks, since my hands were filthy and I could not use the water.** After a final trip to the hardware store, RJH was finally able to install a fixture which was in fact water tight! He promptly did a load of laundry, and we made dinner at 9:30 pm, before snuggling up on the couch in exhaustion.
Next step: dry-wall and a new floor! I hope one day to replace the stacked washer-dryer with front-loaded side-by-side models, so I can place a counter on top and actually include such things as an ironing board and storage for laundry detergent and so forth, in the laundry room. I've got it all worked out in my head, much to RJH's trepidation. All joking aside though, I think we have already improved the value of this home, and that it was only a matter of time before that pipe had burst or the roof collapsed or the ants exploded, had we not tackled this tiny but surprisingly challenging room.
*note to the privacy-tone-death: perfect strangers identifying my neighbourhood based on my photostream are perceived as creepy
**I told you I could problem-solve.