Jul 122014
 

I love looking around other people’s houses and I’m assuming part of the appeal of this story is you get to peek.

I told you that, for years, water has been allowed to spill on to the bathroom floor and seep into the floorboards and walls below.

I told you that as a result, carpenter ants have enjoyed nesting there.

I also told you that there is an exterior wall that is completely unsupported by the foundation below it.

This is what I’m talking about.

There is a step up to this passage to the basement door. You can see our best attempts to seal and insulate. The concrete foundation wall on the left is not supporting the wall above it.

There is a step up to this passage to the basement door. The concrete foundation wall on the left is not supporting the wall above it.

We don’t spend a lot of time down here, as you can tell. One reason is that I am almost 6’1″ tall (185cm) and, in this corridor under the rear addition, the height from the floor to the subfloor above is 6 feet (183cm). The lowest joist, however, is 67.5 inches (171cm) and, even lower (and the thing I bash my skull on all the time) is the bathroom drain pipe which hangs down to 63 inches (160cm).

When my Dad was helping us in the basement when we first moved in, he brought a bicycle helmet to wear down here. Smart man, my Dad.

You can see in this photo our best attempts to seal and insulate.

The Father-in-law and I tried to seal that gap, but the darker concrete there is damp. Dampness is not a good sign or am I crazy?

The Father-in-law and I tried to seal that gap, but the darker concrete there is damp. Dampness is not a good sign or am I crazy?

We used to be able to stick a pencil between the bottom 2X4 and the top of the concrete and touch dirt. You could feel the air blowing in. At least we can’t do that anymore since we sealed it up!

The other side of that North bathroom wall. That pencil is going somewhere it shouldn’t.

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There should be concrete under this exterior wall, but you can stick a pencil under it.

We can speculate how Carl Whitehead, Leanne’s grandfather, made little mistakes like this, but if you put yourself in his shoes, was it a big deal? As-built, the house had no insulation except a little rock-wool in the attic so who cares about a little gap in the basement? The house was heated by burning sawdust and, later, burning oil so gaps like these kept the air fresh. And hey, it wasn’t as if this wall was load-bearing–all it had to hold up was the roof of the shed extension. What is an issue for us, was not for him or his family.

Now about those carpenter ants…

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Innocent-looking pile of sawdust on the floor

Last year you could hear the clicking here above the basement door.

Last year you could hear the clicking here above the basement door.

Above the sawdust pile you can see the holes in the waterstained subfloor

Above the sawdust pile you can see the holes in the water-stained subfloor

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Plumbing under the bathroom. This is the low-hanging pipe I like to crack my head on.

Last year there was a pile of sawdust in the same spot that was at least three centimetres high. I remember squirting a solution of Borax and sugar into every hole and it looks like it was pretty effective. The pile is smaller this year and, although we still have ants crawling through the kitchen and bathroom, the nest is not nearly so active.

Another issue you can see clearly in that last photo is the weakened joists. Those 2X6″ joists running left to right are holding up the floor above. It is not a good idea to put great big notches in them to run pipes, even if you lose some headroom. I like the solution seen on one joist at the bottom of the photo which has a piece of metal tacked on to it. Problem solved!

All of these issues–the ants, the rotting wood, the possible mold, the weak wall, the leaking air, the damp concrete, the compromised floor joists–all of them will be solved by renovating. Oh boy do I want to renovate!

  3 Responses to “Pssst…do you wanna see what’s under our bathroom?”

  1. […] into the “microbial pollutants and allergens” of which I expect there to be some (with rot and carpenter ants, there must be, right?). However, unlike the services of Monte Paulsen, our energy advisor […]

  2. […] the opposite corner of the house–the corner that started all the trouble, the one beside the bathroom– the excavator found a buried treasure. A concrete box. Chuck […]

  3. […] have seen ants in cracks in the ceiling of the basement where all that water damage […]

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