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Top:News:Salem House Restoration Updates:1995

July 1995

The house needs a new roof, but is otherwise fine for a 65 year-old house. We had a surprise a few days before escrow closed - the real estate agent discovered that the main water shutoff valve had broken in the basement.

Hot weather leads to discoveries, like the fact that both of the big old double-hung windows in the living room (and one in our bedroom) have been painted shut for forty or fifty years. Anyway, in an effort to cool off a little, I started tearing apart one of the living room windows, thinking I just needed to break the paint and replace the ropes. Well, the window weights for the larger sash in each of these windows are missing. No, they're not in the wall. I've looked. They're gone. My pet theory is that they were given as scrap for the war effort in the Forties. Needless to say, this is a little more than I had planned on doing right off the bat.

August 1995

We didn't make much progress on the roof. I discovered that we needed a building permit, and that meant a full set of plans for what I wanted to do. So, I bought a copy of AutoCAD LT and dug in. A couple of weeks and a learning curve later, I had a decent set of house plans. Now I just need a building permit.

We woke up one morning this month and decided to see what kind of shape the wood floor underneath the somewhat ratty carpet in our bedroom was in. So, we spent the day ripping up carpet. We discovered a fir floor with a beautiful warm red glow that needs refinishing. Another project. But, the bedroom doesn't smell musty anymore and now we have a carpet scrap for the basement! Unfortunately, I discovered that the floor right under our bed (which used to be the front porch) does not have any sub-floor, just planking. Another project.

Discovered that the bozo who installed the new modern cupboard doors over the old cabinets in the kitchen didn't understand that cupboard hinges need a full complement of screws anchoring them in place. Yes, I found out the hard way. The doors are all well attached now, thank you.

The window saga continues. I decided to go ahead and strip all the old paint off the window I tire apart in the living room. My hands do not like scraping paint….

September 1995

We got our building permit! The first project was to buy materials. Home Depot and I are very good friends now. Next, I cut a hole in our hallway ceiling for the access to the attic. We're going to add pull-down attic stairs later. We have a bunch of work to do in the attic before we can start on the roof itself.

In the process of putting in the attic access, I cracked a rib. I thought it was just a bruise until I took a hard hit in the exact same spot at fencing the following Monday. So, no more building for me for a few weeks.

Still working on that window!

October 1995

Selina got an early Christmas present in the form of two cat doors, one from the kitchen to the garage breezeway, and a second from the breezeway to the outside. It's great fun watching her run in and out, especially when she comes in an complains that the birds and squirrels are picking on her.

Finally got the living room window back into some semblance of usability. Most of the casement has been scraped and sanded. The smaller upper sash is installed properly (and it even works right!). The larger lower sash is just wedged in place. The interior molding is in place (at least temporarily). Weather forced the issue, as it was getting too chilly not to have the furnace on.

The benefit of this is that now we know the furnace works! Wow! Does it work! I have never seen a furnace bring a house up to temperature so quickly. Very nice….

November 1995

Now that my ribs are finally better (after a re-injuring them at least once), I finally made some progress on the house. With a lot of help from Kim, I got all of the lumber moved into the attic where I need it (and where it's much better protected). That was a big job, but it's done now.

Due to the increasingly moldy ceiling in our bathroom, we decided to put in a bathroom fan. This is the time to do it anyway. More holes in the ceiling! Grunt! This led me to discover that I have to rewire every switch on the main floor because of the non-code-compliant junctions in the attic. All of the wall switches have knob and tube wiring in the walls that is connected to newer wiring in the attic. No problem, except that the attic has six inches of blow-in cellulose insulation and I have to add eleven more inches to bring it up to code. That means that the cheesy aluminum collars that they have keeping the insulation away from bare wires at each of these junctions need to go. Yech.

The floor under our bed (where the old front porch used to be) not only needs to have a sub-floor put in, it needs insulation! We keep that part of the basement closed off because it is several degrees cooler than the rest of the basement. That part of our bedroom is noticeably colder. Another project!

December 1995

The bathroom fan is done - our first improvement to the house! I still have to run some more wiring for it, but the installation is complete, at least. It turns out that the heater on the fan draws 1500 watts (12.5 amps). The circuit that the old bathroom light was on is a 15 amp circuit. Great! No problem, you say! Ah, no, there is a problem. All of the ceiling fixtures on the main floor, the appliance outlets (all four of them) in the kitchen, the microwave, and the refrigerator are also on that circuit. Hmm….I have a bit more rewiring to do than I thought.

About half of the cheesy electrical junctions in the attic have been redone now, so we're making slow, but steady progress. All of the wall switches are being replaced with grounding switches and I'm replacing all of the in-wall wiring with Romex. Lots of fun cutting holes in the house! (lots of Tim Allen grunts here…). Next I get to learn how to patch plaster and sheet rock….

December 23 was spent taking apart our casablanca fan in the living room, rewiring it, and re-connecting it to the ceiling joists. I have invented a new verb: krugerized. Something has been krugerized if it was installed in a mickey-mouse fashion (a la the previous owner's repairs). We're lucky the fan didn't fall off and kill someone. In the course of rewiring it, I discovered that it was only to the plaster in the ceiling, not to the ceiling joists! I fixed that. It now has a wall switch in a sensible place with a dimmer for the fan light. Much better.

Page created 12/19/95.
Last updated 03/17/03 14:35.

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