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Over my headTuesday, June 12, 2007
This morning began with another trip to Lowe's, motivated mostly by a need for moth repellant. Armed with a can of something ending in -cide, I put on my gloves, a dust mask, and safety glasses (is it just me, or does this combination always result in instantaneous and complete fogging of the glasses? is there some trick to making this work?), and set up shop in the rear of the basement. My first order of business was to detach all of the plumbing and electrical lines from the ceiling (it's interesting to examine the layers and guess when things may have been added, like the old-style twisted-pair telephone wire completely encapsulated with plaster). Then I started with the pry bar and baby sledge hammer to remove the plaster and lath from the ceiling. This generated quite a mess in a quite a hurry. Starting in the corner under the kitchen sink, I made two discoveries in a short period of time. The first was that this was indeed the breeding ground for the moths. The second was that this was also where the mummified mouse once took up residence, in the days before it's unfortunate encounter with the trap under the sink.

Speaking of the mouse, I've unfortunately noticed that the unpleasant odor remains in the kitchen and is sometimes present in the basement under the sink as well. Judging by how decomposed the mouse was, I doubt that he was the source, and I'm now becoming more suspicious of both the plumbing setup and the state of the wood in that area.

Someone decided to forgo the standard vent line and instead installed an air admittance valve under the kitchen sink. While this is considered acceptable, the model that is currently there is rated for light-duty and RV use! Looks like we'll be going back to Lowe's tomorrow! Anyhow, I digress - back to the demolition. Examining the area under the sink, I noticed that there were extra boards nailed between the joists. Peering between them I could see that served no purpose, and as they didn't look like they were in the best of shape, I decided to pull them down.

One extra benefit that we'll have from this work is that it will be a lot easier to route the mechanicals when we do the kitchen renovation. I've also noticed that the subfloor (at least from the underside) looks to be in good shape. Then it was on to the rest of the room, where I learned that it's actually much easier to just pull the lath and plaster down all at once, rather than removing the plaster first. With this faster technique, I was able to finish about half of the room before the muscles in my neck convinced me to focus on something below eye-level for a while. Covered in dust, and with a rather large pile of debris, I decided to shower and work on something else for a while.

I had a chance to iChat with Katherine for a while, and she had the insight that the light in the third-floor bathroom was likely an old gas light that was converted to electric, thus explaining why there was a pipe leading to the fixture! Brilliant!

When I was at Lowe's this morning, I decided to purchase a few shelving units for use in the front of the basement for deep storage. I wanted to get the boxes off the ground, and this way things should be easy to get to. As it was now pouring rain outside, I decided to spend some time assembling the shelves. As I was doing so, I noticed two storm-related phenomenon that we're going to need to find permanent solutions for at some point. The first is the leak in the front corner. In a period of fifteen minutes of torrential downpour, I collected another five gallons of water using a new and improved capturing system which managed to prevent any water from reaching the floor.

Then when it came time to empty the bucket, I found something that I'd suspected before but had never been able to confirm - the basement sink backs up big time during heavy rains! I'd noticed sediment in there before, but I'd never seen it during the storm. Well, it's clear now that we have a potential hazard sitting right there. Some poking around on the internet shows that they make check valves specifically for this - something else to add to that shopping list!

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