When It Rains, It Pours

Dec 11, 2003

I’ve been musing about the light outside my basement door. A couple of weeks ago, I shattered the bulb trying to change it and, while trying to fix my newfound problem, I made things worse. Long story short, I need a new light.

If that little light behind my house was all I had to worry about, I’d count myself lucky. It’s not. If I was forced to rank my worries in order, I’d have to say that light is somewhere around 162, give or take two. Yep, that sounds just about right.

Topping my list is mold and I’m not talking about a science project left in the fridge too long. A couple of weeks ago, the sump pump in our crawl space overflowed. Oddly enough, the pump appeared to be fine. The basin that collects the water was the problem. It had disintegrated. Water wasn’t looking for an escape through the conveniently placed pipes nearby. It was spreading directly into the crawlspace. For a while — and exactly how long, I’m unsure — we had our very own creek located right under us.

This didn’t seem like a very big deal. I was able to get the pump working and we bought a humidifier to clean up the leftovers. A couple of days later, our designated builder (the wife’s brother) sent a crew (consisting of her nephew) to replace the pump (lock, stock, and, most importantly, barrel).

Obviously, that wasn’t the end of the story. Shortly thereafter, I discovered mold between the rocks in the crawlspace. I pulled up some nearby boxes (we use our crawlspace as a storage area) and found more problems. The bottom of several boxes revealed even more mold. This didn’t look good. We called in some folks to do testing.

The test results confirmed our fears. Mold had found its way into our basement. It was in the crawlspace. It was in the rafters of the crawlspace and it was all over a leak near our fireplace. It was bad mold — evil mold, if you will. We needed to take action and we needed to take action fast. Mold of the evil variety isn’t that big of a deal to the wife and I. Factor in our 11 month old son and you have another story altogether.

What followed was a whirlwind of events. We quickly found a contractor willing to come in and fix our problems. We needed the mold removed. We needed our fireplace leak repaired. We needed all of this now.

The leak would be fixed by waterproofing the basement. We knew about the leak. In fact, we believe we can prove that the previous owner maliciously sold us the house without mentioning the leak. However, it was expensive to fix. Pipes needed to be run between the leak and our sump pump. These drainage pipes would carry the water to the pump and, eventually out of the house. The problem was that everything between the leak and the sump pump would be damaged. The floor would need to be destroyed to place the pipes into the concrete. The built in cabinet would need to be removed to get at the leak. We decided to waterproof the entire wall, meaning the wall would be left without – well – a wall.

Sadly, the mold was a bigger deal, at least in terms of overall price. Specialists cost money and this was no exception. They brought in their equipment to contain the mold. They wore heavy gloves and masks. We lost a lot of stuff we stored in the crawlspace but that wasn’t our real concern. We wanted to make sure it didn’t come back.

We added a couple of things to the bill to accomplish this. The crawlspace lacked ventilation of any kind. A humidex would fix that. The floor of the crawlspace is made up of simple dirt and stone. An extra sump pump and plastic sealer would help us out there.

The total bill was rather impressive, impressive enough that we spent Tuesday at the bank acquiring a home equity line of credit. I’m still getting over the cost and there’s more work to do. The mold is gone but the construction is just beginning. We’re still redesigning the basement. Hardwood floors? Maybe. A whole lot less paneling? Definitely. And what about the bathroom?

So, I’ve been musing a bit about my light out back when I have no shortage of more important things to think about. Why? I’m of the opinion that when the least of my worries is finally taken care of, the bulk of my worries will quite likely be history. At least, I’m hoping.

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