Everything Went Wrong

We thought everything was set for the winter and began looking at the windows as our next big project. Then decided, no, leveling this house was the immediate worry. When the water heater began leaking it dripped under the house and into the ground, turning the sand into mud and the posts that were holding the house up began to sink on that corner of the house so my bedroom and the bath were tipping seriously.

I started looking into who could help fix my house and keep it from tipping and got the name of the contractor that does this but before I could reach him the cold front came though and our temperature went down to the negative numbers and the wind chill was -30 to -40 degrees and we woke up one morning to NO Water! The only reason for this would be frozen pipes. There was no bust pipes or leaks we could find so guessed it was the water heater. I called James and he could not come as his company already had over 20 people on his list to help with burst pipes and they do have to service hospitals, and business first so it would be a day or so before he could come and since there was no burst pipes he just told us what to do to thaw them out and a handyman to call to cut a door into the water tank cubby.

We took his advice, opened the doors under the sinks and turned the furnace way up and got it over 80 degrees in here and stood it as long as we could. It did work in about 2 hours our water was flowing again and there was no damage to the water tank. I had an indoor/out door thermometer so we took the out door part of it and put it in with the water tank to see just how cold it got in there and called Jason from Above and Beyond to come cut a door into the cubby for us.

Jason like everyone else was busy with places that needed help NOW and when I told him what we had done he asked me to keep track of the temperature in there and when he came the next week he would be able to advise us as to how to proceed.

We were surprised with the results. The temperature in the cubby never went down below freezing True it was warming up out side but not above freezing at night yet the temperature in there stayed above 32. When Jason came the next week he said he didn’t think it was the water heater that froze, it must have been the pipes under the house but if I would feel more comfortable he would put in a register from my room into the cubby and the warm air from my room would go into the cubby and keep it up enough. So that is what we did and everything is great. Most of the time the temperature in there is above 40 degrees and when it goes down to the negative numbers at night it states above 32 in there. Once this last cold spell we had and it went to -10 outside it did go down to 29 in there but the jacket that Joe put on the heater kept the heater safe and now we are sure it was the pipes under the house that froze that day.

After the water was restored we turned the furnace back to 72 degrees and for two days everything went along smoothly. I again began looking to Cody Knapp and the Knapp Construction Company to set up a time when he could come and give me a quote on leveling my house. However before he could come my furnace stopped working. It would light but turn off before it started to blow hot air. It wa getting colder and colder in here so I had to call Oehl Plumbing and Heating Inc. These are the people who sold the new furnace to the owns we bought this house from. They came and after three different visits they got the furnace working again. The warranty covered the part they had to replace $274+ but I had to pay the labor for three visits $404+ and after two months that got all straightened out and paid for. Just a minor hick-cup along the road. Back to the Knapp company. Cody came with his truck and crew and looked at the job. He said he was not surprised at the sinking of the corner. This whole development is built on sand and after a year they all settle and most settle unevenly. While he was in side with me telling me about his company and what he could do for me his crew were going under the house to see what was wrong and what it would cost to fix it. I heard one of them yell “My God! there is nothing under there”. This really surprised me and I asked what he meant by that as I know there was a lot of junk under there and I wanted it all removed while they were there. So Cody when out to see and came back to report to me.

What he reported knocked me for a loop! Under the house should be a membrane sealing the under parts of the house. Usually this was made with a heavy type of paper so often was ripped or torn and needed to be replace to hold the insolation up but in this case all of that was gone- no membrane and no insolation at all. The duck work for the old AC was only half there and broken, the pipes were there but not wrapped and as far as they could see there was no heat tape around them. There was a big hole in the middle where something from the house drained into they were not sure if the was the toilet or one of the sinks or the washing machine but it had caused a large hole to form where the connection from the house to the public septic system was not connected. Yes there was a lot of junk old boards, siding, tires etc were under there and nests of some large animals that were living there. So we discussed the cost of correcting all of this plus reskirting the house.

Long story short it would cost about $15000 to do the job. He then looked to see where he could cut the cost for me and found several places such as the heat tapes, he had some in his ware house left from another job and he would do that at no cost to me. There were several other such things and in the end I had to pay $10,500. That I could handle and we agreed.

Most of the material he needed to order but a lot of the work could start right away. He and his crew spent the rest of that day and well into the evening cleaning out under the house, repairing the broken duck work so I was no longer just blowing hot air out or as he said, “trying to heat all out doors”, repaired the connection to the sewer system so the waste water no longer went into the ground under the house causing the sand to turn to mud like quick sand. They wrapped all the pipes and put on heat tapes so we would never have a frozen water pipe again. He removed the old duct pipes that were not used and disconnected the old AC unit. He could not disconnect it completely as that took a licensed electrician to do but when I want that removed all I have to do is get one out here to make the final break and we can haul the old unit out of here. He sealed off the old floor register so I will no longer get a cold draft out of that every time the furnace turned on. He insulated and sealed the whole under side of the house so my floors would not be so cold in the winter. Then they cleaned up all the trash from under the house and hauled that away. The only thing left to do the second visit was to put up new skirting and the under side of the house would be tight and secure. It took a week for the new skirting to arrive and as soon as it came they came back and finished it up. Usually the skirting is just hung all around the house but not this. A wooden frame was made all around the house, the skirting was hung and fastened to this frame so that no animals, large or small could get under the house and nothing could blow the skirting in or crack it. This stopped all the large animals from getting under the house and in doing it this way, it got rid of all the mice that were coming into the house. Joe had set traps out for the mice as we had all kinds of sign of them such as building a nest under the bathroom sink using a half roll of toilet paper to make the nest with. After that skirting was put on we never saw a sign of the mice and no trap caught one. Oh and they did jack up the house and put new footings under there to keep it level and if it sags at all for a year they will come back and fix it at no cost. They never promise more than one year here so at the end of the year now I will have them come back and check it out. If it has settled at all they will fix it again at very little cost and it will be good for another year. I learned long ago any thing this big should be checked once a year and fixed if need be and in the long run you save a lot of money and keep everything working as it should. So next fall I will call Cody to just adjust things if need be and I will do the same thing with my furnace. No more big bills like this again.

Before I go lets tie up a couple loose ends. Remember this vet or what ever you call it. This is the one Jason put in to get heat into the water tank cubby which is just behind this wall and insolation. When it got so very cold I tried pointing a heater to it and that didn’t change the temperature any and I tried pointing a fan at it but that too was unnecessary. This vent was all that was needed to keep the heater and its pipes from freezing.

As to this cubby, it is still a mystery. It is a small cubby with two electrical outlets in it, the one you see here and another just below it. In the ceiling are cut two round holes larger than a silver dollar that just seem to go into nothing land. Joe though that maybe this was put in to blow hot air into the water tank cubby but the night when it got so cold we tried putting a small cube heater in here and it never effected the temperature in the water tank area ,all it did was shock the electrican. He made me promise Neve to put a heater in a small space like that as it was a sure fire to do so, and we had proved it had nothing to do with that, what it was made for only God knows. I am sure we will never find out.

So with this said I will say good bye for today. Tomorrow I will tell you about the windows and the home warranty and I think that will take care of all the big expenses and all of my savings. Now I will get back to my knitting. The sweater you see in this last picture is Myiah’s sweater and I am finishing up her husbands sweater. When that is done I will send them both to them in OR.. I have Tina’s sweater ready to go also. And I am working on Maureen’s and her grand children, it will be quite a while before I get all six of those done and ready to send out. Have a good day and God Bless you all.

About Carol (Ouma) Petts

I am a retired teacher. I have taught all levels from kindergarten through college and have been retired now for over 20 years. The last ten years we have lived on a farm and lived off the land, growing our own food and canning for our extended family. Now we have sold the farm and are moving to Florida to truly retire. I guess I have always had a short attention span as this is our 11th move. We have moved from a small farm in New Hampshire, to more city type living, small business adventures, focusing more on traveling, Florida living, Georgia, and Tennessee farming and now back to Florida. My blog is a way to keep my children up to date on what I am doing and letting them know I am still alive and well. My children are spread across the country from New England to Florida, Nova Scotia to New Mexico and CA and several places between, They let me know what they are up to by commenting on my blog but they are so busy with their own lives most times I have to assume " no news is good news". Now I are starting on a new adventure so will try to give daily updates until we get settled into a routine. Then I know even if I am getting older and should settle down I will start looking for some new and exciting adventure to start. Welcome aboard. Norman died Oct 30, 2017 so I am continuing the journey alone with the aid of my children, grand children and great grand children. At present I am living with my daughter and we are 7 in one house and cover four generations. We range in age from 7 to 85 and are finding common ground, we are living proof that multi generations can live and function in a three bedroom house if they really want to. Soon my grandson will have his house built next door so we all will have a room of their own except for the seven year old twins who by choice will share a room.
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