We Have a Functional Septic System!

We knew there were issues with the septic system when we bought the house, the big thing being that the line from the tank to the drain field had to be replaced. Knowing that, we allocated money in our budget for that operation based on a local expert’s estimate.

Unfortunately, none of us thought about the line from the house to the tank and about a third of it also had to be replaced adding a bit more cost we hadn’t planned on. Drat! All in all, though, the vendors who did the work did a great job of keeping the costs down in addition to doing great work.

From the House to the Tank

The problematic pipe from the house to the tank was of a type called Orangeburg (Wikipedia). Orangeburg was made of layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. So, essentially, a tube made of rolled up tar paper. Yeah. That’s a great idea. Well, actually not so much.

Over time the pipe is slowly crushed by the earth around it to the point where little or nothing can pass through any more. Ours had gotten to that point.

Oddly enough, the other two thirds of the pipe from the house is iron and in fine shape. You really have to wonder why they didn’t use iron all the way to the tank.

So they had to tear up our beautiful driveway and dig a trench to replace the Orangeburg. Bummer.

Driveway before
Before
Cutting the asphalt
Cutting the asphalt

Driveway afterward
After

From the Tank to the Drain Field

The line from the tank to the drain field was made of corrugated plastic pipe which had also slowly been crushed over the years.

The plan was to replace this with high-density polyethylene pipe using a pipe-bursting machine (Wikipedia). Basically, you feed a very thick cable (7/8″?), through the old pipe and then pull the new pipe through, shattering the old pipe in the process. This is really great since you only have to dig a couple of holes for the entry and exit instead of trenching. Or so goes the theory.

In this case we ran into a problem. It turns out that pipe bursting doesn’t work so well with corrugated pipe. Instead of bursting, it just condenses like an accordion. You can see it in a video further along in the post.

In the end they had to dig a trench for part of that replacement too. Not a big deal, though, since it’s just out in the field.

The pipe-bursting process is pretty interesting.

This is the head that attaches to the new pipe and the cable. That’s 4-inch pipe on the left.

Bullet head
The head that bursts the old pipe

The 20-foot sections of pipe are literally welded together. The two ends are clamped into a gadget that keeps them perfectly aligned. A special tool is then used to even up the ends so that they mate exactly. Finally, a heating iron is clamped between them until the ends begin to melt and finally, the iron is removed and the ends are clamped together until the joint cools. Voila! a single piece of pipe.

Pipe joint
Welding the sections of pipe
Welded sections of pipe
Welded sections

Here you can see the front of the new pipe being pulled through an intermediate hole that was required because of the length of the run. You can also see some of the compressed corrugated pipe.

So, seven weeks from closing to having a septic system we can actually use.

I had no idea how satisfying it could be to flush a toilet 😉

Say Goodbye to the Giant Satellite Dish

I took advantage of the nice weather last Thursday to take down the 12-foot satellite dish on the upper garage roof.

Still in one piece
How it began the day

There was no realistic way to just remove it, especially by myself, so I disassembled it and took it down piece by piece.

Its construction was pretty straightforward. Nineteen supports bolted to a central hub bolted in turn to the support tripod. The 19 supports result in 18 metal mesh panels that create the semi-hemispherical shape of the dish.

Each panel was mounted to the supports with about a gazillion small, self-drilling, self-tapping screws. Most of them were rusty and not particularly willing to disengage. I used an impact driver to remove them and in the process destroyed a total of three sockets.

Removing the panels
Removing the panels
About half way
About half way

After a certain point I started removing the supports as well. These were mounted to the central hub with 9/16-inch bolts, most of which were pretty rusty. You can also see some of the mesh panels in the foreground.

Almost all of them
Almost all of them

The last two supports were a bit more difficult to remove. In addition to the two large bolts mounting them to the central hub, they were “captured” by some of the support hardware. That meant that I had to remove some very large, very rusty bolts.

The last two mounts
The last two supports

I left the tripod because it is mounted to the garage roof and removing it would result in leaks into the garage. It can wait until we’re ready to pitch that roof.

Just the tripod left
Just the tripod left

Here is some of the hardware that held the thing together.

Dish hardware

Cleaning up a bit

We went over to our house on Sunday to do a little tidying up. You know how it goes. Work is messy. Sometimes time needs to be taken to get control of the mess that had been made.

I started with the totally easy stuff, and cleaned up the pile in the master bedroom that had accumulated with the walls coming down.

Maybe about half (or so) of the flooring in the dining room has bothered to let go of the underlayment so far. Ask Dave about the amount of work he’s put in on that little chore, and how much he’s looking forward to doing the rest. LOL Oh my. That pile of flooring sitting there over by the window has been driving me a bit bonkers, so clearing that away was my next task. I decided to play with the settings on my phone, and created a little time-lapse video of this chore:

As Dave’s been tearing the paneling out of the bedrooms he’s been stacking the wood against the wall in the living room. While it’s a grand place to stage the planks, boards, moulding, trim, and miscellaneous bits of wood, it can’t all stay there. For one thing, he means to take down the walls in the living room, too, but can’t do it with all that other wood leaning there. We forgot that one of the reasons we wanted to take the truck over was that we wanted to move the paneling and other pieces of wood from the house down to the barn. So we took the BMW. Ha! Because 8-foot-tall paneling pieces won’t fit in the BMW, we staged it all in the second garage. First I had to clean out the garage a bit.

Apparently, when the previous owner decided to put this house on the market, the yard wasn’t the only thing that was over-filled with blackberries and ivy. Yes, the garage was, too. They cut the plant material off at the outside of the wall, and again a couple feet down from the top of the walls, and left it all in a pile in the middle of the floor. That was months ago, so it was nicely dried up, and easy to move. I rolled all that plant-mess up, and carried it down to the nearest burn pile. Ta da!

As I dealt with the plant material and sweeping up, Dave continued getting nails out of the boards and planks. When I announced that I had rolled up the dead plant bits, and gotten rid of them, he joined me in the garage to move some of the bigger things out of the way, you know, the things attached to the walls. There is this one shelving unit that’s basically okay just in the way, so it was detached from the wall and moved around a few times. I don’t know if you can really see it, but there’s part of a cupboard hanging on the wall toward the right side of the above photo. There wasn’t much left of it or its neighbor to the right. There’s nothing left of either of them now. The wood from those cabinets was in such bad shape that it wasn’t worth saving. More sweeping, more plant material cut down, more sweeping… Dave has a plan. We start moving the wood from the living room to the garage in a large, slightly wonky figure eight. I took a brief squirrel moment, and cut some ivy out of a small nearby tree. I’m going to need a heavy pair of loppers to get the rest. Finally, the wood is all moved! Here it is in the garage. The living room walls are visible again. Hooray!


Oh, and yes, there are two (three?) door frames still in the living room. There is a different plan for those that will be executed on a different day. Now it’s time to stop for the day. Because it’s time to stop, here’s my closing photo:

The drive in

I meant to share this earlier, but only finally got around to figuring out how to get this file off of my phone today. This is our new driveway. The lower part, the part closest to the road, belongs to someone else. We have an easement. The upper part of the driveway is ours. The video is just over one minute in length. Oh, by the way, the road isn’t exactly smooth. Also, I took the video with my iPhone while Dave was driving the truck, so it’s, er, a bit bumpy.

Roses

Dave’s been super busy inside the house dismantling things. While he’s been doing that, I’ve been spending a lot of time at home paying bills, balancing checking accounts, sending and receiving house-related email… all sorts of things, but mostly those seemingly endless tasks that are never.quite.done.

The weather has been delightful (cool and sunny), and so I took my clippers and a large bucket over to our house, and attacked the roses. When we first saw the house, the rose hedge was still blooming cheerfully. The leaves were bright and shiny with no sign of either pests or mildew, but it was in serious need of deadheading.

That was in late August. The roses have continued to bloom all this time (in fact, they’re still blooming, and they’re still covered with new buds), so I’m sure you can imagine how many rose hips have been growing where the delicate blooms once were. Yeah.

I filled up my bucket with dead blooms and rose hips four times that first day. I also nipped quite a few long suckers out of the way. I didn’t bother trying to cut those up just to fit them into my bucket, instead carrying their long selves down to the burn pile more-or-less intact.

Saturday I was at it again. I filled my large yellow bucket four more times, and carried countless long suckers down to that burn pile. I also found this little guy. I don’t know if he’s a carrot-nosed ghost masquerading as a snowman, or a spooky snowman. Either way, he has taken up residence on the mantel with the other odd bits that we’ve been finding while working on our house.

Instead of leaving you with a photo of how awesome the rose hedge looks now, because I forgot to take a picture of it, I’ll leave you with a view of our pond. It’s rained quite a bit since August, and so it has actual water in it now. Part way through my pruning campaign I decided to take a little walk through part of our yard. Here I’m standing on the west side of the pond, looking back toward the house. That colorful tree over on the right is our baby willow. There are tons of weeds in the pond as well as around it, but the task of sorting that all out will have to wait.

Removing Some Paneling and More Board and Batten

Started removing some of the paneling up stairs.

This stuff is actually rather hard to remove. First off, it’s pretty high-quality. The panels overlap at the seams instead of simply butting up against each other. That means that you have to take them off in the right order (i.e., you have to remove the top panel first).

 

In addition to that, they used 2″ nails with heads instead of panel nails in most places. That makes it really hard to get them to pop. Most of them are pulling through.

 

I also removed most of the remaining board and batten in my office.

 

That’s a lot of wood!

A Bit More Demolition

The last few days I’ve been doing more demolition.

I removed the ceiling trim and paneling from part of the soffit in the kitchen so that we can see how far up the new cabinets can go.

Those big purlins (beams), on the ceiling are apparently just for show. They stop at the walls and are attached with nothing more than home-made joist hangers.
Soffit and purlin

Having removed some of the ceiling trim I went ahead and finished removing the rest of it upstairs and down. The results aren’t much to look at but here’s the pile of trim.

The narrow boards at the left are the trim (the wider ones to the right are the board and batten that I removed from my office a while ago).

I also removed the shelves and shelf supports from the pantry.
Pantry before
Pantry after

 

And here’s an odd thing.

Yep. That’s a bare copper wire going across the corner of the pantry. On the opposite side of the wall to the right is a light switch. On the opposite side of the wall to the left is where the intercom master unit was. That wire is how they grounded the intercom system. Nice install guys. Not! 😕

I also finished removing all of the faux shutters, removed all five (yes, five), small satellite dishes, removed the (really ugly), medicine cabinet from the master bath, and finished removing all of the folding door hardware.

We’re avoiding the carpet in the library

The carpeting is stuck firmly to the linoleum in the library, and that in turn is stuck quite firmly to the concrete. Pulling up either/both is obviously something that can wait. Instead, Dave decided to pull up the carpet in the family room the other day. I think that must have been Friday. Naturally, he forgot to take any photos. At least, he didn’t share any with me. If any photos of this process exist, we’ll make sure they’re in an appropriate photo album, so they can be viewed.

Between now and then, I showed up at the house, and we had a grand time. I pulled staples out of the subfloor in the family room, while Dave pried carpeting off, you guessed it, more linoleum in the dining room.

This is what it looked like in the area where the family room and dining room meet. Ugly dark carpeting in an attractive arc over classic 1970s lino, which is on top of the subfloor.

The clean bits were under the family room carpeting, the ghastly bits under the dining room carpet.

I was industriously pulling staples (who said that it was okay to put down hundreds of the things to hold down one little pad… certainly not me!), while Dave made quite a bit of progress on the carpeting.

Here’s the final bit at the edge of the kitchen.

In the back of my mind I’d kind of wondered why the linoleum in the kitchen didn’t match anything else in the house. The cupboards all match. Why are the floors different everywhere? Well, apparently they didn’t start out that way, not upstairs at any rate. The horrifying lino that is currently in the kitchen was laid on top of the original lino. The dining room and kitchen matched. Now that makes more sense. It’s not good news, but it does make sense.

It’s time for a happy dance. All the carpeting in the dining room is up!

Oops. Wait a minute. There’s this corner at the opposite end of the staircase, under the windows. Oops.

You can’t see it in this picture, but all of the carpeting is gone from the dining room. Most of the linoleum is still there, as it’s stuck pretty good. Pulling that out is a project for another day.
(Note, no this is not the same photo as two above. See how this one’s darker? Clouds.)

Dave suggested that I end each post with a picture of our view. A view from my office sort of thing, or more appropriately, a view of the day. Either way you look at it, this is it.

Thank you for joining us on our journey!

Score!

So, the other day I started pulling up the carpet in the family room. The first thing to do, of course, was to remove the heat vent grills.

Puling up one of them revealed something shiny. Ooh! what have we here? Aha! it’s a dime. That brings us up to 26 cents. Yee haw!

Wait. There’s more down there. What is it? Wow! five little cars and a Thomas the Tank locomotive. Score!

(picture of the cars and locomotive)
Our New Fleet

Some little kid must have been bummed. Laura contends an older sibling put them down on purpose. I think think the kid might have done it himself.

Indoor board and batten begins to come down

Monday

On Monday we decided it was “sweep the barn day.” So, we swept the barn. Dave worked on the loft while I swept downstairs. The weather was perfect for manual labor. Well before we were done we were both down to our shirtsleeves, even though it was in the low 50s out there, and the barn doors were wide open.

Dave started by stacking the bales of straw. There are nine of them. The straw and hay ladder will be going to friends who have horses.

I created this pile of, er, sweepings, by attacking this one corner with my broom. I wonder how long it’s been since the barn’s been swept. I’m thinking it’d been quite a while.

More progress! I still have to get in under the sink, behind the wood stoves, and behind the huge air compressor. The easy stuff, the middle of the room, is done now, though. To be Ansel-safe, though, the icky parts in the corners need to be cleaned up, too. No telling what’s back there. I’m sure it’s stuff we don’t want our little boy getting into, whatever it is. Ick.

Tuesday

Dave went up to the house without me, so that I could get some stuff done at my desk for a change. You know, the fun things, like paying bills, balancing checkbooks, and the like. He worked between appointments there. The locksmith came by and changed the lock on the mailbox (the tenant forgot to leave the key for us), the insurance company’s photographer swung by to take some photos, the pest guy came by to say he couldn’t treat for the beetles we have as his truck with that equipment on it needs fixing, but while he was there he treated for carpenter ants and the wasps that we found in the wall a few days before, and… I forget what else happened. I know I’m forgetting someone.

His tasks for the day started with getting up the last of the linoleum from the floor in his office. Well, as much as he could. There’s this one area that’s stuck pretty good. Neither the floor scraper nor the crowbar will lift it. Suggestions, anyone?

We’re hoping that the linoleum in the TV room and downstairs guest room don’t need to be pulled before hardwood goes down, so Dave finished cleaning the carpet pad off the TV room floor as best he could. Those yellow bits are resisting, but super thin. Here’s hoping.

The walls in Dave’s office and the library are board and batten where there’s no brick. Rough cut planks. I don’t know for sure if they are leftovers from the exterior of the house, but to me they look like they might be. Dave might disagree. I don’t think I’ve thought to bring up the topic when he’s been around. Either way, though this is a picture of the outside of the house, and the boards have been painted, this is a good example of what the indoor walls look like, too. This is also shows how lovely (cough) the house looks with more of those white plastic shutters removed.

Next he attacked the walls downstairs. He left walls alone that have switches or outlets or anything else electrical for another day, as we want Ansel to be safe when he comes to visit.

Dave’s wall before

Dave’s wall after

You may have noticed the insulation on the wall. That’s an interior wall. The other side of that wall is the TV room. There’s no insulation on exterior walls in this room, so he left the paneling on those walls for now. What with winter coming on, it could get cold in there with nothing between you and the weather but one layer of 40-year-old cedar exterior siding. Brr.

Dave worked on the library walls a bit, too, again leaving panels where electrical wires could get tangled in Ansel’s sweet little paws.

Wondering what was surprising? Dave found four of these sad little mouse carcasses when he was taking the walls down.