Sunday, April 13, 2008

the bug man cometh!

tomorrow. stay tuned. this should be a doozie.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

bye bye floor dragon

so houses in new orleans typically don't have central air and heat. especially those built around the turn of the century (19th into 20th century, that is). instead, they used the house design--shotgun houses were built so that the breeze moved through from one end to the other--to aid mother nature in cooling the place. heating, however, was done first with fireplaces, then took a giant leap into gas furnaces. the gas furnaces, though, were usually designed to heat only one room, and were built into the wall. the wall unit took a giant leap into whole-house heating with the floor furnace, aka the floor dragon. i had one of these, in the hallway outside the bathroom. the grill got really hot, but it worked really well. unfortunately, it also took on water after katrina, and it looked like this:

yeah, yeah. it was old and unattractive before it took on water, but the water caused (more) rust. as some of you might remember, margo came down to help with some of the post-katrina clean up, and she volunteered to shop-vac the water out of the furnace. not a pretty job, and just one reason she decided to trash her clothing when she left to go back north.

this shot actually looks like it was taken right after katrina, but the mess on the floor is sheetrock dust from other work being done in the house. i've had the floor dragon covered up, but with the coming of the plumbers (same guys who snaked & cleaned out my sub surface drainage), i uncovered it for easy access.

they did some banging around underneath the house, capping off the gas line and unscrewing the furnace from its supports. it (obviously) took both of them to lift it out. they said it weighed about a hundred or so pounds.

now i have a big old hole in the floor. i just covered it back up with the grate, and when the floors get redone (this week, i hope), my contractor will cut some new boards to go in the hole. should look like there was never a furnace when he finishes.

the removal of the furnace also allowed the shoring people to come back in and brace the hallway. so now the house leveling is complete, and we move on to floor refinishing.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

lift & separate

so it doesn't look like much. but these are some of the jacks that were used to level my house.

it's a shame that the photos are so boring because this is actually pretty damn exciting. of all the gazillions of dollars that i've spent, this is by far the one thing that i'm happiest with.

if i had a decent 'before' picture of the porch, you could see quite clearly the difference. alas, i don't. it makes a huge difference, though, that when you walk in the house you no longer list & roll down hill. i can't find the picture with the crew foreman demonstrating the height of the final lift by sticking his hand in the gap between the house and the jack and splaying his fingers, but it turned out that it was raised about 6 inches iin the highest spot. awesomeness.

in the course of making the house level, the workers also discovered that i have subsurface drainage. this is huge. part of the reason for the whole funhouse lean to the place is because of standing water. oh, ok. the other part is because new orleans is really a swamp and everything sinks. having water pool in my backyard, though, does not help. so the leveling crew (orleans shoring) called out the plumbers they work with, and we got to work finding out the story with the drainage.

the newly discovered/uncovered drain runs about 70 feet down the side of my house. according to the plumbers and the shoring guys, the drainage system was put in around 1920 and is fairly standard in houses in mid city. to find out the state of my drainage, first they ran a snake down the length.

they put the hose in the pipe, both to gauge when the drain was opened and also to help work the snake down the line. it took well over an hour, but soon the water actually started to flow.

then they pulled out the video camera, and ran it through the pipe. this is how we found out that although the water will flow through the pipe, there are three breaks along the line.

next step is to have them come back out and fix the breaks. when they do, they're also going to put in two more ... drain openings (there's probably a name for them but i don't know what it is) to increase the surface area where water can enter the pipe. i'm going to call them next week, as i wanted to take a week off from writing huge checks.