After we bid farewell to family on Christmas night I downstairs to fetch an item from the basement, and lo, an unexpected pond.
Thanks to our work the previous winter, the drain overflowed as designed and the water didn’t cause any further damage. We bailed it out with buckets and towels and squeegees and set up fans overnight. Luckily I was able to get a plumber out the next next day, so we only had to live without drains/flushing for a short time.
The plumber diagnosed tree roots in our main sewer line. He cut through them and cleared the clog, but warned it would grow back soon. We had the plumber back later in the week for a full scope. As expected, the main sewer line had several problems that will lead to frequent clogs, and the kitchen line was in terrible shape too.
After some research and pondering, we decided to replace both lines completely. Yes, it was very expensive. Yes, it was annoying and loud. Yes, the damage control was bad. But we should we set for decades of functional drains now. This job was inevitable, given the age of the house. In fact, we saw a neighbor getting trenched for the same job on the same day with a different company. The basement drain even flooded again between the scope and the replacement job.
The big day – the cats were secured in our room and the faucets and toilets taped off. They told us it would be a one day job and despite some setbacks they were true to their word. The plan was a trenchless replacement of the main sewer using a “pipe burst” method. But they figured out the angles of the lines wouldn’t work, so they had to do the old trench method. They laid down plywood before piling up the dirt. I think most of my gardern survived, thanks to Ben’s planning when we laid out the garden. I’m very curious what it will look like this summer.
I wanted to do all the post-replacement repairs myself to keep costs down. After the concrete dried I patched the floor around it to even out some gaps. Then I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed. There was SO MUST concrete dust everywhere. Every wall had to be wiped, every trinket and book and picture had to be dusted. Every blanket and couch had to be washed or beaten and vacuumed. Then I replaced the carpet as best I could and gave it several turns with the vacuum. I had to replace some carpet tacks, use carpet glue and tape, and try to mend the tears from pulling it out.
Now I could work on the walls. I learned the basics of drywall repair and stubbornly brought home an 8 foot sheet of gypsum in my minivan (it BARELY fit). I cut and drilled the patches. I applied 3 layers of mud, sanding and texturing as best I could. With the repairs mostly done, I could focus on putting the room back together.
However, I always disliked that orange color from the previous owners. We had had to remove everything from the walls for safety while they jackhammered, and now the walls were bare and clean. It was the perfect time to paint.
The kids helped with the first coat. We picked a rich, dark green. After two coats and touch-ups, we set to work rehanging all the speaker wires and casing. The speakers used to be on janky shelves that was nearly broken. I swapped those for invisible wall hanging hardware. I replaced all the baseboards. We re-hung the theater screen and re-set the projector. I rearranged the artwork and shelf displays. I made a new storage system for all of Ben’s video game disk collection (out of sight and his Amiibo/Disney Infinity figures (proudly displayed). Finally, we replaced the hand-me-down couches for new theater seating. The new couches have cupholders, a drop down table, power access and lights, and are not beige.
After a short break I tackled the spare room – no changes there. Just meticulous dusting and vacuuming, and fitting everything back in it’s place.
I haven’t gotten around the repairing the kitchenette area. That’s a future Rachel problem.