Sunday, May 29, 2011

Emergency gutter trepannation

Today I'd planned (inter alia) to take some pictures of the various work that needs doing on the southeast corner of the house. There's water damage, and we were aware of this—we're just making a plan for what needs doing and how.
In particular, I was aiming to find out where the water was coming in, what damage the water had done, how to stop the water coming in, and what needed to be done to repair the done damage.

The window is just as much of a mess as we'd thought. The top of the window frame is shot; there were two pieces of wood making up the exterior casing: one sitting horizontally and projecting 2 inches, providing what's nowadays done with an aluminum drip edge. Below that was the flat (relative to the wall) trim, maybe 5 inches wide. Half the drip edge is gone; half of that casing piece is split away, too, and—as you can see in the photo—the split angles back toward the house, funneling rainwater into the window and wall. Oy. Stay tuned for updates on all this, I'm just getting to today's adventure.

As I was up on the ladder, it started to rain. Hey, a great opportunity to see where the water's
going, check out the guttering. I went inside and upstairs to look out the window, to take a picture from above. Here's what I saw:
Holy moley. The picture doesn't show it terribly well, but there's a huge spray of water directly against the house. With great vigor. Clogged drain. Clogged drain + water + cold=ice, expanding and splitting the gutter; split gutter plus [still-]clogged drain plus 1" per hour of rain times, oh, 450 sq feet for the half of the roof this is draining, works out to about 18 cubic inches of water per second. Oof.

It's not the leak at the top of the window, but it's certainly not doing anything good for the wall. And it's doing certain not good quickly.

Time to get back on the ladder, with the shears and the dead blow hammer, and relieve the pressure in a direction other than directly against the wall.

Snip, snip, bash, bam. Oh, with that 1"per hour rainstorm on my head.

Seamless gutters, anyone? And a big ol' clearing-out of the drainage.

Friday, May 27, 2011

List of compatible metals

Fight galvanic corrosion! Don't use dissimilar metals in an electrolytic solution! What's an electrolytic solution? Well, in the long enough term, water or even damp air (particularly if you're dealing with pipes that remain cool and encourage condensation). What's a dissimilar metal? The good people at Jamestown Distributors have provided a list. If the metals are close by in the list, they're okay together, if not, don't use (or insulate. Or there's the option of provided a sacrificial chunk of metal but I don't know the technicalities.). For the homeowner? This is important when you're dealing with water pipes, window frames, gutters, flashing and exhausts, anytime you've got metal outside the house.

Bronze (silicon)
Brass (red)
Bronze (phosphor)
Steel (stainless)
Steel (mild)
Galvanized (iron and steel)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Just hauled upstairs

1800 pounds of floor. (Laid it down by the walls. Load-bearing walls.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Garden progress

A few of you might remember a post a few months ago about the garden, and how we have no idea what's actually in it!  So here's a few updates on what we've seen so far:

In March, we discovered we had a ton of snowdrops and some lavendar striped crocuses:

In April, we found that the backyard and the front yard are carpeted with little blue squills:
 (front yard - see our red-right-returning porch post?)

 No house is complete in spring without a cheery daffodil or two.....
 And in May, these little tulipy-type flowers suddenly appeared in the back yard along the fence line....along with the beginnings of a carpet of Lily of the Valley - my favorite!  can't wait for those to bloom, which should be any day now. 

 Also, a lush growth of curly ferns have popped up throughout the back yard, which really looks amazing with the pond: 
And, of course, the Chicago perennial....we've got a variety of hostas.  While some years ago I was fairly anti-hosta, I have come to admit that they are darn easy to grow, and they pretty much look good and come back year after year, no matter what you do to them.  Which has a certain appeal from a homeowners' point of view!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We're still alive

In case you wondered if the acquisition of power tools was followed by death and dismemberment, I have good news: the past couple of weeks brought no end of non-renovatory work (and hence bloglessness). As well as planning, meaning the accordian growth and shrinkage of the to-do list. No, come to think of it, it's been only slime-mold-like growth on the to-do list.

We did check off one item completely: "Select flooring for bedrooms." The answer is 4" wide American Cherry, "Natural" Grade.
It will, we think, complement the hallway and downstairs well, without trying to be matchy-matchy (which would be more or less impossible given the first-growth oak that lies there). The finish looks a little darker in real life than in that photo, and we went with the "Natural" rather than "Select" grade because the imperfections bring it more depth and personality. (One of us, incidentally, likes the variations-to-light, the other the variations-to-dark; we'll let you puzzle that one over!)

Meantime, in addition to acquiring the use of a pile of tools, the paint removal in the smallest bedroom is almost done and we've started sanding the trim in preparation for staining and varnishing. Word on the interwebs is that we want an alkyd varnish for trim (it's not as hard as polyurethane, which is what you'd aim for with floors, and a lot easier to work with).

And we're planning (we think) on jacking up the sag in the middle-front of the house. 3" of settlement there. We're booking a structural engineer to take a look and see whether what we think is possible (lifting the main timber of the first floor, putting a pad atop the existing pillar, and building some new well-framed walls in the basement) will keep things on the level for the next 130 years. More on that project anon.