Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The saga continues! - Episode 2


I suddenly remembered--our carpet has gotten WET! Remember? When I walked in the alcove that one day, my feet got wet. We pulled the carpet up, pulled the sheet rock off, and set up a fan, but maybe we didn't get it dry enough? Maybe it molded?

And then I remembered the day that I had poured gallons and gallons and gallons of water in our furnace/water heater closet*, only a couple weeks before. When our furnace was installed, it had a little pump put beneath it. After I poured so, so much water in there, we tried to use a Shopvac to pick it up, but we got, like, a pint of water. "Huh, that's weird," I said. "I know there was WAY more water than we're vacuuming, but maybe the furnace pump already took care of it?" It seemed weird, but the water just wasn't there, so it had to have gone somewhere.

Maybe more of the water was in the carpet than we realized, and we couldn't dry it fast enough with our fans. Maybe it molded.

J and I decided I would pull up the carpet to take a look. Most likely, the carpet and carpet pad were moldy, and anyway, it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace them. I've really wanted fake wood floors, and one of my buddies at HD*** told me I could put in Trafficmaster Allure**** and it would be SO easy, and SO fast, and he said it's cheap, but it actually lasts. So. I was excited that I would be pulling up the carpet that day.

I got up to go look at the carpet by the furnace area, and as I headed that way I realized something. "J, no way, I just thought of something and you're not going to believe it..."

I crawled into the furnace closet to look beneath the furnace at the pump.

Back when I installed linoleum under our kitchen counters, I saw beneath the furnace: there was a line of 2x4s. It needed to be there to access furnace stuff, I just assumed.

"Yep. The pump is self contained. J. Remember how when you were buying this house, there was a line of 2x4s out in the hallway by the garage?"

"Mhmm?" (He was listening.)

"I think...I think the line of 2x4s goes all the way down the middle of our house...And that's why the floor is not level, and kind of goes up in the middle."


I continued: "Yeah. I'll BET...I'll bet when all that water poured into the furnace closet, it wasn't pumped at all. It couldn't have been, actually, since the pump is all self-contained. You know what it did? It poured into this channel down the middle of the house. No way... Hm. I'll bet that's it. I'll bet that's why you're so allergic to the house. Think about it! The floor would get wet, from when it rained, and any water that got down there would sit beneath the floor, down the middle of the house. And it would just sit there. And that's why you're sick a few weeks after I poured so much water down there."

J nodded. "I think you're onto something. We never even thought about the 2x4s in the hallway. I think we just thought it was a vent..."


J: "So you'll go ahead and pull up the carpet, then, because that would definitely cause mold under the carpet."

Me: "All right."

And I pulled up the carpet while J was gone to work, so he wouldn't get super-sick from participating in the project.

Sure enough, there were boards down the middle of our main room.

I started to pull up the 2x4s and I was in for a bigger surprise than either of us had imagined!

The ends of the boards were resting on little concrete ledges. Basically, there was a trench down the main room of our house. It was about 15" across, and about 10" deep. The bottom of the trench was gravel and dirt--just like the ground outside our house! Except, this gravel and dirt was damp, and very musty.

For sure, for sure, I had definitely found the source of J's allergy problems. No question about it.

The trench connected with the section outside. Down the middle of the trench, there was a 1" PVC pipe. The pipe we already knew about--it comes up from the 2x4s in the hallway outside.

When I talked to the previous owner (and also on the How the House Works DVD), he explained that the pipe went up along the wall of the patio, out to the roof outside, and then along a fence that no longer exists. They used the pipe to water their garden outside. Now, the pipe still goes up the wall, and outside, but then it is severed--there is no fence or garden.*****

So definitely, what happened is, all of the gallons of water went into a trench in the middle of our house, and sat there. But not only that! This year, we began irrigating. Any time water runs near the house, I am quite certain we have also been irrigating the middle of our house.

I determined that we should probably remove the PVC pipe and fill the trench in, but I wasn't sure what I needed to do, so I went to Home Depot to go find someone to explain what I would need to do.


* This is a story that I meant to blog before, but I'm pretty sure I never did. Maybe I'll still get to it. This can be like LOST, with flashbacks that make the present stuff make more sense.**
** This is almost everything I remember about LOST, since I only watched part of one season.
*** Online, everyone calls HD "Orange" and Lowie's "Blue." So they're like, "I was at Orange the other day and they had x on sale!" Or, they'll ask "Orange or Blue?" and you're supposed to say whether you like Home Depot or Lowie's better. I don't get it. If I were talking about Vons, or Walmart, or Smithy's, or any other store, I would say the name of the store. Is there some reason we're not supposed to name names when it comes to Home Improvement stores? Like, I could say "Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green??" and mean, "Do you like Smithy's, Albertsons, Macey's, or Reams the best?!?" but I wouldn't...So, I'm not into using secret logo-color codes to talk about home improvement shopping, I guess.
**** When I say the names of home improvement project parts, it makes me feel like I am bragging about specs for something else--'It's got a 203948320 GIG HARD DRIVE, with 38 RPM!!' 'It's a Mac.' 'You just can't beat the suspension--nobody makes a better suspension than ThisBrand!' or 'We're installing Trafficmaster Allure. [*frownsmile*?] It has a 25 year warranty.' It's just like, whatever it is, it must be so good that for some reason I need to namedrop, and can expect people to know what it is. But actually, it isn't really bragging, because it isn't Pergo, and it's in my little house that is not deluxe deluxe at all.
***** The previous owner did not mention the trench went to the furnace closet. When I asked him about the 2x4s in the hall, and asked about what it connected to, he mentioned the garden, and he told me that, you know, they didn't do everything the best way, but that it had worked for them. When he said that, it confused me, and I just told him we enjoy the house a lot.


The Sarmiento Family said...

Oh my gosh! Em! This is SO exciting!! Seriously, I'm reading along like, GASP! "Oh no way... Wowwww.. Oh my goshhhh... Daaaanng.." Keeeep going!

Lou and Louise Barba said...

Wow! I just can't imagine why anyone would want a trench going through the middle of their house. It must have been SOME party.

Jason said...

I just came across your blog and was reading your and J's mold/mildew/water roof and floor adventure... sounds very much like what my wife and I went through (we're young and this was only a few years ago when we bought our first house.)

We had a whole section of our house that got soaked and grew mold because the previous owner redid the drainage and didn't use any pvc cement on the pipes running through the house! I had the same thing as J but didn't figure out what it was for almost a year until I was remodeling the kitchen. Turned out to be black mold; I don't get sick, but for a long time while we were trying to figure it out I was so sick and had no energy; even had troubled remember what I was doing from one minute to the next. Within a month of the house getting fixed I was rapidly returning to normal. What a pain! Not long after we had a big rough leak....someone had installed a vent through the roof and hadn't put ANY sealer around it!