26 August 2014

Oh boy. I recently ventured down into the basement and noticed a gaping crack in the brick wall running down the center of the house. It has always had a settlement crack, but I don't ever remember being alarmed by it. This time I was, and (I think) rightfully so.

In construction lingo, it's what they call "not good." I know it's difficult to tell from a picture if you've never been in my basement, so I'll do my best to describe what is going on. Through the doorway and on the right half of the picture is a standard full-height basement with a concrete floor. On the left side of the picture is a crawlspace. It's just dirt held back by a short retaining wall that is two bricks thick. The knee wall is integrated into the full-height brick wall. The knee wall is bulging out a little bit around the doorway, and the brick above (that forms the left side of the doorway) is going with it, widening that settlement crack.

We met with one contractor today and will talk with two more before we make a decision on how to fix this. In the meantime, we've placed a jack under the door lintel to catch the weight in case the wall takes a dive.

18 August 2014

A stinky investigation

With my in-laws' anniversary party on the forefront of my mind, not a lot of house stuff got done in the past couple of months, not even regular housekeeping tasks. It took me almost a week, but things are now back to their normal state of disarray. I've been able to get a couple of little things done here and there. When I was installing the crown moulding in the back bedroom, I had to take down the attic hatch access door

When the door was off, I noticed a sewer gas smell coming from the attic. There was always a small odor around the bathroom, but I figured it was just because there was no water in the traps to prevent sewer gas from coming up. But this was a very strong smell, so I climbed up to investigate. This is what I found: 

Sewer gas venting into attic

Sorry about the terrible picture. I was trying to balance on the joists and not fall through the ceiling while snapping this shot. In case it's hard to see, the elbow is not attached to the (stinky) pipe at all, so sewer gas was just getting dumped into the attic instead of through the roof. I did a dry fit to see if I could just push the elbow down back onto the pipe, but that wouldn't work. The vertical portion of pipe was cut badly on an angle, and the elbow that connected to it was rotated out slightly. The result was that the pipe was never seated in the elbow very well. Even when it was seated as far as it would go, there was still a gap between the pipe and the elbow because of the angled cut. Our plumber extraordinaire strikes again. I simply cut off the elbow, straightened the cut on the vertical pipe, and glued in another elbow. Miraculously, an elbow with a longer sweep angle fit perfectly. Only a half an hour from start to finish, and most importantly, no more smell! 

Before I enlisted Tom's help to re-hang the attic access door, I primed and painted it flat ceiling white. Now it's back up and finishing the 1x2 frame around the door is the next project. Well, it's another project, not necessarily the next one.  

I probably should have painted the edges too, but the trim will cover those. This picture also shows the finished crown moulding, still in need of a coat of paint.