Monday, April 26, 2010

Last Summer’s Unfinished Project, part 1

Last year I was planning on painting the house. The paint has been popping off the house since I brought it. It is especially bad on the back porch since the PO did have a hot tub setup there. I decided stripping off all paint off, it was the only option I had. I did not want to repaint the house again in other two or three years. When I brought the house, I was given the option of buying the hot tub for an extra $1000. I did not want it and I need the $1000 dollar for other things. I am glad I got rid of it since the exterior paint would probably be in worse shape than it is.

I did not start the project until after July 4th, all my time before then was spent gardening. I decide to lower my expectation and try to just paint the back of the house last summer. I define the back of the house as the exterior walls of the three season porch and the back wall of the proper house.

I first started stripping the three-season porch wall with the screen door. It took me until the first week in November before I finished working on that one wall. As with any project there is more work than you planned for. I torn off several corner clap boards because they were badly cracked. As I was removing them, I found several more that need to be replaced too. It took me a little while to learn how to cut the corners so they line up correctly.

When I finished with the clapboards I made the decision to replace the threshold and the latch side of the door frame. The latch side had been drilled in so many times that the only way to put on a new door latch on was to replace it. I spent the last five year trying to keep the door from blowing open in a heavy wind since the latch would never hold. There was many a time I wedged a chair under the latch to keep in closed. The threshold was original made from a stair trend and I used the same.

The windows to the porch are panes of sliding glass and there are no screens and storm windows to keep the bugs and weather out. I build two of the three screens need several years ago but did not install them. The window did not have a lip which the screens could lay against. I was waiting until I stripped the window to put in a lip for the screen. I did get the one window done on the wall I stripped last fall. This winter I found that I made a mistake when putting in them in; I should not have put one on the bottom of the window. The water now cannot drain out and sit behind the lip. Later this spring when I take the plastic off the screen, I will need to drill drainage holes in the lip and hopefully this will work or my window sill will rot. I hope someone else will read about this and learn from my mistakes.

I started the paint job by using a pressure washer to clean the house and remove any loose paint. Then I used a heat gun to remove the remaining paint. If you are using a heat gun to remove paint made sure the setting is on low if your house has lead paint on it. Lead can vaporize at the higher heat setting. Wear the proper air and face mask. I also found that I needed to wear leather gloves, long sleeves and pant when working with the heat gun. I did burn myself with it while wearing shorts.

After removing the paint I sanded and caulked the clapboard. Hint I should have caulked the clapboard after priming it first. I read by priming it first you protect the wood if the caulking fails. I finally got to start painting the wall with primer and then painting the clapboards with exterior paint. Then I finished it off by doing the trim.

If you look at the door opening you will see the screen door. That will be talked about in part 2.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What did you do this weekend?

While my weekend was full with the usually cleaning, laundry and preparing lunches and breakfasts for the work week, I did get to work in the garden. Saturday’s weather was in the 60s with a brisk wind perfect for hanging out the laundry. I have actually been able to hang the laundry out most weeks since mid-March.

I started to weed the gardens and stone paths. I try not to use herbicides in my yard. I keep the weeds down in the gardens by just weeding and mulching. The stone paths weaving through the gardens I weed. Another technique to keep the weeds down is to boil your dish water and throw it over the stones. I do occasionally use herbicide on thistles, dandelions and creeping Charlie. I brought a dandelion and thistle weed puller but it does not work very well. When I am done my yard is full of holes and the weeds usually return. Using the tool makes it harder to pull the weeds out the second time because of the holes created from using it.

Sunday, I did more weeding in the stone paths; three fourths of the job is done. I spent time rototilling the herb garden. If you go to the Garden Design, the herb garden is the large garden behind the patio on the right side. I transplanted parsley and some Swiss chard that survived the winter. I also dug up my rhubarb since I wanted to move it. The rhubarb never did well when I transplanted here from the last place I lived. The plant would produce some leaves but they would die and never grow large. When I pulled the plants from the ground I found that they had crown rot. I did some research last year trying to find the problem and crown rot fit the description. The only thing to do is throw the plants out and start over with new one. I prefer Canadian Red Rhubarb; I can only hope the nursery's bare root section still has some.

I start sifting the compost piles and got two wheel barrows from it so far. I spread one wheelbarrow over the north side raised bed that I will be planting Monday. I did plant the middle raised bed on April 4 with pea pods, black Spanish radishes, breakfast radishes, Spinach, Detroit Red Beets, Dragon Carrot and Nantes Carrots. All the seeds germinated and I cannot wait until I get to start eating them. The raised bed to the north, I will be planted with yellow pea pods, Giant German Radishes, mustard greens, more carrots and beet.

I hope your weekend was just as productive.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moisture and Water Problems Part 3

As I said in part II my goals were to:
1. Paint the floor in the sewing room and in the unfinished basement with Watertite paint
2. Hang the drywall in the unfinished sewing room closet where the oil tank was. This involved waterproofing cement wall, insulate the wall with Styrofoam, hang drywall, and install a closet organizer.
3. Repair exposed cement walls and paint them with Watertite paint.

Here is what I completed over the winter.

I did get the floor painted in the sewing and craft room except for the floor space in the unfinished closet.

The unfinished closet is still in its unfinished glory to my chagrin. As you can see there is a lot of work to be done before I can drywall it.

Lastly there is the unfinished basement, this is largely undone except for half a wall along the south side and a small portion for the floor in front of it. I have three exposed basement walls that need cleaning, patching and painting.

My biggest problem in doing the work was the curing time required for each step. When I started I have no idea it would take so long. First I would wash the walls and floor with TSP and wait a week for the wall to dry with the dehumidifier turned on. Brush off loose cement and paint with a wire brush then chisel open cracks along the wall. After completing the wall preparation, I mixed up the hydraulic cement and fill in the cracks and holes. It takes a week for the hydraulic cement to cure before any painting can begin. The preparation time usually would take two to three weeks because I would keep finding new areas which needed more work. Then I could finally paint but after reading the direction for Watertite paint, I found they recommended at least three possibly four coats of paint. I found it took three coats for the floor and four coats for the walls. The walls required more paint because the surface was grainy and full of little pits. Once the painting was done you should at least wait a week before moving anything on the newly painted floor.

Another reason it has been taking soon long is the unfinished section is mainly storage. After reading many of your blogs I have seen many pictures of basements being cleaned up this winter, my basement does not look much different from those before pictures. I have been going through my storage area trying to reduce it but I think what is left are heirlooms and Christmas decorations, so I am not throwing these out. So it comes down to where can I find the space to move them, so I can work on the next wall section.

To sum it up the basement project is done until next winter because I need to start working on another unfinished project from last summer. What project is that, PAINTING THE HOUSE.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Craigslist Find

Look what I found.

I found this by accident. I responded to an advertisement for a drafting chair. I have been wanting a drafting chair for my cutting table for ages. While looking at the chair the lady who was selling it stated that the other items in the garage were going to be for sale in the city garage sale. I saw this desk and ask what she wanted. We closed the deal on Tuesday, made arrangements to pick it up Thursday. It needs some work but I am ecstatic to have it.

By the way I also brought the drafting chair.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Moisture and Water Problems, Part 2

I may have solved the water problem but does not mean that the moisture problem is under control. I define moisture as humidity not standing water. I might not have water in the basement this year but my house has always been humid. Some people might be thinking the house is to air tight but this is a house build in the 1930’s and still has no insulation in the wall. When you touch the outside walls they are ice cold and you can feel the drafts coming out along the floor and baseboards. I would think there would be plenty of holes for the humid to escape. I will admit that I do need to put in a vent in the bathroom and kitchen. The bathroom is on this summer's To DO list but the kitchen will wait until I remodel it.

So what could be causing the moisture problem in the house and basement? After talking to a long time residents, I found out there are springs in the area and beside that there is a creek running through the property behind mind. So all the water draining through the ground passes the house and toward the creek and with the possibility of springs in the area the ground water is close to the surface. Here is a picture showing what happens, when we have a heavy down pour in back of my house. This happens at least three or four times during the year. Last year I saw a waterfall from the creek to the tree showing on the right side.

The walls in the unfinished basement have the paint popping off the wall from the water vapor passing through the walls. The areas are also having a white power building on the wall as show in the photo below. I started to clean the exposed cement wall with a wire brush to remove the loose cement, paint and mineral build up on the walls. I brought wire brushes that I can attach to my drill, it did a good job. After I removed all the loose material I covered area with hydraulic cement. Hopefully this will reinforce the wall and stop the moisture from traveling through the walls. Any cracks found in the foundation also were filled in with the hydraulic cement. After all that, the walls are covered with a waterproof paint.

My goal was to finish the basement over the winter but there are always delays and of over estimating what you are capable to get done. The complete to do list was:
1. Paint the floor in the sewing room and the unfinished section with Watertite paint
2. Finish drywall the closet in the sewing room where the oil tank was. This involved waterproofing cement wall, insulate the wall with Styrofoam, hang drywall, and install a closet organizer.
3. Repair exposed cement wall and paint them with Watertite paint.

The next post will show what I finished.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Moisture and Water Problems, Part I

The basement moisture and water has been a problem since I moved into the house. During the first winter spring melt in 2005, I found water in the carpet but it smelled like cat and I believed my cat was urinating there. So I turned on my dehumidifier and dried the area out after treating and cleaning it. Again in 2006, I thought carpet felt damp but was not sure and could not find where if any water was getting into the basement.

It was not until the winter 2007-2008 when we had 100.1 inches of snow that I did find the problem. The carpet was soaked and there was a low area under the carpet where the water was pooling. The carpet was also acting like a wick and pulling more water into the house. So I torn out the carpeting and threw it away except some of the padding which I use to keep cut worms from destroying my broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and eggplants. So now I finely could determine where the water was coming into the house. The finished part of the basement is the only area where water leaks into the basement. This area is my designated sewing and craft room. Once I torn out all the carpeting and moved the furniture to a dry area, I put on the heat and dehumidifier to dry the place out again. During the summer of 2008, I raised the ground level around the southwest corner of the house since then this area has been dry. I hoped my problems would be fixed.

Unfortunately, during the melt in 2009 I had more water leaking into the southwest side of the sewing room. It does get discouraging when you keep trying to fix the problem and the same problem just shows up in a new place. The source of the water is mostly likely from the snow piled around the front of the house. The snow piles were packed about 10 feet from the fountain. I starting looking around the fountain and found a low area on the southwest side filling up with water under the front porch. At the time I believe the snow was piled far enough to drain away from the house but obliviously they were not. I will need to fill in the low area under the porch but that will not be done until I get to stripping and painting the front of the house. At that time, I will need to remove and replace the lattice skirting around the porch, this will provide the needed access under the porch. For now, I decide the best way to keep the water from coming into the basement was to change how I piled up the snow. Last winter I piled the snow father away and downhill from the house. I made it through this spring melt without any water but this was just one winter. I will have to wait several more thaws before I believe the problem is over.

Sorry, there are no pictures. I was hoping to find some but my basement is a mess since all stuff is stacked up and right now it is impossible to find anything.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Garden

I did it, I'm done!

Oh, I forgot this.

Under the blue tarp is all the sod removed from the garden. I alternated the sod with hay used to mulch the garden last year. Since the new garden will be where the tomatoes are going, I will not need to do anything with the compost pile until Mother's Day. I added a compost additive to increase the decomposition rate. Hopefully I will be able to sift it and add it back to the garden at that time.

This is not the only compost pile I have to sift through this spring. I was hoping that I would not end up with an over flowing pile last year because I did not start any new gardens. Boy was I wrong!

I will be busy this spring.