Monday, September 22, 2014

Trust me, I'm an expert

The main goal in what you have been witnessing over these past few posts is to have a radiant heat system humming under our feetsies where we live on the upper floor.  We have known for a long time that the basement area would need a major overhaul in order to realize this goal.  The impacts are systemic in range as the following pics will show.  

In the living room there existed a pretty major floor issue, where along one side - between the living room and family room, and along the front windows the floor sloped up, pretty sharply in some places.  The elevation difference from highest to lowest must be a few inches .. I haven't measured it, but it *was* significant.  Putting in any sort of hardwood flooring, even manufactured, would have been impossible.  This line of thinking is running in parallel to that of the joist work down below.  I knew the day was coming where I would need to open up the floor to remove the floor from sitting up on the built up stone foundation - which accounted for the dramatic slop which was present in our living room from about 5 feet back from the window to the window.  Somewhere I have pictures of the floor from underneath at this point - and literally the joist that *should* be supporting weight at this point is indeed nailed to the floor, but is floating above the steel beam.  That is because the floor is resting on the built up foundation which is about 2 inches higher then the rest of the joists resting on the steel beam through the rest of the house.  

On the chopping block is the lovely fake stone work that also contains asbestos.  I know it's asbestos by the way it tastes.  NO No no, we knew this when we bought the place.  There was an enormous wood burning stove in this corner.  We'll pick up a nice little pellet stove in its place, which will warm the place in the interim before the radiant heat is operational. 

In order to get at the foundation areas where the floor is sitting on, I have to begin removing layers of sub-flooring.  Measure the depth of the first layer, set the blade height, and begin buzzing away checkerboard-like sections for (somewhat) easy removal.  

I believe that this corner was host to a bathroom at one point .. probably many many years ago.  Just below this area was where the vat that was part of the cheese making process.  I don't think there was a bathroom in this location at the same point in time when the cheese making was happening just below.  That would be gross.

I have seen a lot of this sort of thing while working on the house.  There is what looks like wallpaper glued to the surface of these boards.  Maybe these boards once belonged in an interior wall before they we're used here?  It's odd, but not surprising in this old place.

Further back shot of the fake stone area where the wood stove once stood.

Ok, shit's gettin' real.  I've buzzed off enough of a section to expose the foundation that I'll be working on.

This is the beginning of may alarming discoveries.  This is the corner where the south and west foundation walls meet.  On the tops sit huge wooden timbers that bear the weight of entire sides of the house.  What I find is a large cavity filled with bits of bedding that animals, rodents have dragged in over the years.  I have known that the foundation suffered from this sort of thing, that mice have a labryinth of tunnels in and out of the foundation walls.  This is different and needed immediate attention.  I was surprised how for down I was able to shop-vac out bedding and deteriorated mortar.  In the hole I could see some of the exposed, ancient hardware that was used in securing the beams in place once they we're placed on this foundation who knows exactly how long ago ...

This is my major find.  In the exposed wall I found these old-school fuses.  60 watts!  AND I found a penny in that hole that was made in 1917!  I'll take a picture with a better camera, but yeah - 1917.

Here is a vertical crack in the foundation.  No good.  What could be causing that??  While gutting the basement I discovered some major holes in the mortar between these foundation stones such that you could see from one side to the other!  Check this out.  This is the vertical crack with the holes near the bottom.

A closer shot of the cavity.  That white dot in the middle is light shining through from the other side of the wall!  This is an extreme example.

This is a shot of the same area, but pulled back so you can see a vertical crack in the foundation.  The crack coincides with the cavity pictured above.  There were several rather scary cavities that I addressed one by one, so as to not destabilize the entire column.  Care is taken to brush and vacuum out each hole and wet it to prepare for the lime mortar mix.  Once set, the filled in cavity will strong and rigid, impervious to critters, water tight yet breathable.

You can see a crack that runs do the corner below where this rather large abscess was.  This is where I found the old penny.  Eventually, this gets cleaned out and filled with mortar.  

That beam holds the floor up through the middle of the house.

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