Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scenes from our front house painting & caulking "party"

Back in December we spent a weekend getting the upper apartment of the front house ready for new tenants. This included painting the walls and trim of several rooms, scrubbing the bathroom until it couldn't be scrubbed no more, and steam-cleaning the carpet. Oh, and re-caulking the tub.

Our previous tenant lived in the house for 13 years and kept it very clean. Still, after all those years the house needed (needs) some major updates, both cosmetic and structural. Our new tenants were on a tight time line so most of the updates in their apartment were, like I wrote above, of the cosmetic persuasion

Our friend & neighbor Kevin helped us paint on Saturday night. Here he is with Steve in the living room.

We decided to go boring landlord white with the painting but are flexible if our tenants want to paint it another color. Besides Steve, Sara, Sean, and me, we were joined by several generous friends and declared it a "painting party." I guess BEER + PIZZA + [any activity] = PARTY.

My father brought over a steam-vac and helped us clean the carpets. They were stained in certain places and generally very dirty. The above photo is of the living room after the carpets were cleaned and the walls and trim painted. Trust me, it looks so much better. Next time I'll do before and after photos.

My primary job was to clean the bathroom and I got really into it. I scrubbed the walls, the tub, the toilet, and the floor. I put a wax on the floor at the end and then admired its shine from the doorway (me to everyone else: "DO NOT WALK IN THE BATHROOM IT IS DRYING"). With Steve's help, I learned how to use a caulking gun and made the following video of my disappointment:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Scenes from Whit's first caulking experience

Warning: Use of a caulking gun may sometimes inflate one's sense of coolness.

Rite of Passage: Our pipes burst!

So Saturday morning I woke up around 9:00 and lazed around in bed for awhile, reading a magazine and thinking about what my Saturday would involve. It was the first time in awhile that I'd had a day open and to myself, and the possibilities were endless: shall I go for a walk? Perhaps kick it up a bit and strap on the snowshoes? Maybe I will clean my apartment really, really well and even start in on the disaster that is our back hallway/pantry?

I was planning a mix of getting-stuff-done and having fun but alas, none of it was to be. At 9:30 Sara called to report that her mom (who was visiting at the time) went over to the front house and thought a pipe was leaking. Oh, and the basement was flooded. Like past the first stair.

I jumped out of bed, got dressed, and put on my rain boots. Sara met me outside and we ventured over to the front house to take a gander. Sure enough, the basement was flooded with about a foot and a half of water and as I discovered upon getting a face full of spraying water, a pipe had burst.

What followed was a morning (and afternoon and evening) of trying to get the fire-hose sized sump pump in our basement unfrozen and working, as well as finding a plumber who wouldn't charge us a million bucks. There was also the issue of hot water, as in our tenants didn't have any. And then the waiting around for the plumber to get there.

My Saturday quickly turned from a day of doing what I wanted to a day of dealing with shit. After an hour of a self-imposed pity party and a tough love talk from my boyfriend, I decided that I wasn't going to let the flooded basement and bursting pipe ruin my day entirely and that, well, I'm a grown up and I own a house and shit happens. So I cleaned the kitchen while I waited and I learned a lot (relatively speaking) about the basement of our front house.

Nate the Plumber--and that's actually how he introduces himself--showed up just as the water in the basement was all pumped out and the lights turned back on. It was dark in the basement all day (and flooded with freezing water) so I hadn't been able to see the burst pipe, I just felt it when the water sprayed my face. Not knowing anything about electricity and with our electrician-in-residence at work, I didn't want to play around with the fuse-box and light fixtures while standing in a foot of water. Once the water was out and the lights came on, this is what I saw:

Nate the Plumber went to work thawing out the frozen pipes, cutting and replacing the split pipe (thankfully it was a small part), and solving our drainage problem. He eventually concluded that the waste pipe* in the middle of the house had no access point and therefore no ability to be cleaned. We usually get the main drain pipe in the front yard cleaned of tree roots twice a year but our regular Roto Rooter maintenance didn't do the trick this winter. Nate thought that there must be a clog towards the middle of the house and without the ability to clean it, our basement would keep flooding. So, Nate and his son cut the pipe and installed a Y-shaped pipe for access.

And so far, so good. We had a big melt on Sunday and while that would usually flood the basement, it stayed flood-free. My fingers are crossed, hoping that we've solved our problem for the time being. Or at least until the lining of my rubber boots has time to dry out.

*Steve claims that he's never heard anyone describe this by a name other than "shit stack."