« Tips For Writers | Main | Buy Low, Sell High »


01 January 2006 — Wet New Year (4)

Our New Year's Day was a wet one.

As you'll recall, when we moved into the house, we had Gale Contractor Services install some insulation. They messed up the job in four ways, three of which were apparent immediately: they drilled holes in the wainscoting despite explicit instructions not to do so; as one of the workers was crawling around the attic, he fell through the ceiling; and while working in the mud room, they knocked a bunch of stuff off the shelves. We were not happy with the experience.

Then last September, when the rains began, it became clear that Gale Contractor Services had made a fourth, more serious, error: the roof vent they installed was not properly sealed. We had a leak.

The company sent somebody out to fix the leak, and the repair lasted all winter. However, apparently the heat of the summer caused the plastic (!?!) roof vent to curl again, and gaps developed in the seams. With the recent heavy rains, we've had lots of brown wet spots developing on the ceiling.

Would I hire Gale Contractor Services to do work for us again? Hell no.

I took Thursday off from work to attempt a repair on the roof. I spent an hour at the hardware store, reading labels on cans and tubes and buckets of roofing sealants. I brought home a couple of options. After a bit of time on the roof, I think our leaks are repaired. I think they are. I'm not sure. I have no real way to tell. I drilled a couple of holes in the ceiling, and no water came through, but the sheetrock still feels damp. Time will tell, I suppose.

Meanwhile, we learned why the house came with a sump pump in the cellar.

The other day I noticed that the cellar's concrete floor was beginning to look damp. There were radiating lines of wetness extending from certain points. Yesterday I went downstairs to fetch some clam juice (to make the Best Clam Chowder Ever for today's Ham Feast) only to discover that the basement had begun to flood. There was a small pool of water at the bottom of the steps, and it was draining in a small but flowing stream to the sump pump hole. (You'll notice that the sump pump hole is now covered with a milk crate. We don't want Kris to step in the hole again, do we?)


Fortunately, the sump pump works well. We plugged it in and flipped a switch and the hole drained completely in seconds. We've made a point of going downstairs every few hours to drain the hole.

I have a couple of concerns, though: if the water table is this high already, how high will it get if the rains continue? (Last year was very dry, so we didn't encounter the flooding issue.) Will we get an inch of water in the basement? Two? A foot? And what happens when we drain the water to the outside? Isn't it just settling back to the water table, ultimately re-flooding the cellar?

Most of all: what about the smell? When we bought the house, the cellar had a faintly musty odor. The smell faded with time. Actually, I had credited the bathroom remodel with eliminating most of the odor. After just a couple of days of dampness, the cellar already smells musty. What will it be like in April?

Stay tuned, faithful reader. We'll all find out together.


Comments
On 01 January 2006 (05:52 PM), Joel said:

Yes, your basement is flooded. And yes, this may well lead to a sundering of your home's foundation, with the whole structure eventually sliding downhill to the street and tying up traffic. And yes, life might occasionally be simpler if, instead of owning a gigantic house in suburban Portland, you were renting a nicely appointed apartment in residential Vermillion, South Dakota.
But, on the other hand, think of how much your skin is benefiting from the humidity! Imagine, just for a moment, the hardship Aimee and I are dealing with our dry prairie winter! The chapped lips! The painful fissures at the corner of the mouth! Nine's pads brittle and cracking!


On 01 January 2006 (07:37 PM), Mom said:

Normally, your clam chowder would sound wonderful to me, but not tonight. Nothing does. I wish I could have been to the Ham Feast -- I would have liked to see everyone and especially get a chance to view your remodeled bathroom and the other new things in your house. As it is, I hope I'm not seeing too much of the inside of my own bathroom tonight. :-(


On 02 January 2006 (06:22 PM), Dave said:

If you're getting water in your basement, it's a good bet that you're not channelling the water away from your house as effectively as you should. I'd look to the gutter/downspout that's nearest the area that the water seems to be coming from and then channel that away from the house a good 10 feet. Many times a downspout just has the water coming down a few inches from the foundation, which means that once the ground is saturated you run a much higher risk of having the water flow back to the house. Not something you want to mess around with for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that it's inconvenient to turn on the sump pump.

But if you can do nothing else, you should put a float on your sump pump so that it kicks on automatically when the water reaches a certain level. Much like your toilet, but in reverse.


On 07 January 2006 (06:04 PM), Alan Cordle said:

Why do Oregonians put ham products in clam chowdah?

A blogging mom (of a blogging adult)! Cool!