Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What to do with a piano...

...when you're refinishing a floor? My answer:

(aside from using it as a workbench)
Teeter it across the threshold like this.

It's funny, the moment I positioned the piano halfway in/out of the doorway, I thought to myself, "This would sure be a bad time to have an earthquake..."

The piano stayed like this overnight, as the urethane dried, and the next day, we had a 5.4 magnitude earthquake. I happened to be sanding the first coat of urethane on my hands and knees at the time, and stopped for a second with a disoriented feeling. My head was swaying back and forth, and I was thinking what a strange feeling the motion of sanding was giving me! It was that moment that Melinda walked into the den and said, "that's an earthquake!" I looked over at the piano, and it was swaying back and forth, much like my head. The entire thing lasted about 20 seconds, and the piano survived.

From the day I begin investigating...

...behind the Douglas Fir baseboard under which fungus is creeping, I feel as though I have opened a very large can of worms. And I don't intend on going fishing. Or do I?

Pulling off the baseboard reveals even more fungus, as well as MOLD. I pull off a bit of drywall, and notice that the wall studs behind are rotted. Now some detective work.

Only the bottom 3 feet of the studs are rotted, which tells me that the moisture is coming from the floor, and wicking its way up the studs-- or so I think.

As I pull off more drywall and work my way to the corner of the room I make an alarming discovery. On the back wall, which is made of cinder blocks (because
there is earth on the other side) the drywall is adhered directly to the wall with a construction adhesive. Is this common?

"What kind of hack artist
adheres sheet-rock
directly to a cinder block wall?"

"Oh no," I mutter.

Despite obvious concerns about adequate behind-wall ventilation (i.e. to dry out any moisture), it just seems plain careless to slap together a wall in this way and call it done.

Part of me wants to carefully put everything back how it was and sell the house. And it must have seemed like such a simple solution to the guy to did it in the first place. What an easy way to get off without having to frame a proper wall.

As I investigate further, I see that the water is wicking its way through the subfloor, too, creating fungus growth between the subfloor and the oak planks, causing them to warp drastically. At this point I sit down in the corner with my face buried in my hands, crying. The realization hits me that the entire room will need to be emptied and torn apart to fix this problem. I choose to wait.

Cut to 1 year later. You know those 'motivation burst' moments-- the ones where you are determined to fix a problem, and you don't care how drastic the measure. One of these hits me, and an hour later the room is emptied. I'm not sure exactly what is driving me-- anger with the guy to did it wrong in the first place, frustration with the problem as a whole, or fear of what will happen to the room if I don't act now. Regardless, I am tearing up wood flooring with a crow bar-- splintered, rotted, mold-infested, fungus-covered oak planks and plywood subfloor flying in all directions. That said, I'm somewhat careful to only tear up what is absolutely necessary, as the water has not crept all the way across the room. Since the drywall won't simply pull off of the cinder block, the only "somewhat easy" way I can find to remove it is to use a jackhammer. I've rented the lightest one from Home Depot, which I am able to hold it up against the wall and chisel away at the construction adhesive. As crazy as it sounds, it is the best feeling to see the drywall GONE, and the corners of the room stripped down to the concrete slab below. By this time, the room smells like a giant mushroom, because of all that is now exposed. God knows what I have exposed myself to, because I'm not wearing a respirator.

But at least now I can get to the bottom of what exactly is causing this problem. be continued

Life's Lessons

I admire those who can begin a house project and take photos along the way, post to their blog, and continue working on the project all the while. It takes discipline--that's for sure. I, on the other hand, have a hard time working all the way through any single project, let alone posting to my blog. I guess discipline missed me some time along the way. The beginning to this saga was the fungus we found about 15 months ago. Since that day, I've grown a lot.
Amongst greater life lessons about patience, frustrations, motivation, happy marriages, etc..; I also learned about a few smaller things in life-- wall ventilation, vapor barriers, drywalling, refinishing a floor, adding a window to a room. Throughout my next few posts, I hope to bring my blog up-to-date with everything that has been happening around here, as well as let you in on a few of the lessons I learned. Talk to you soon, Todd.