Leveling floors & ceilings in 120 year old farm house.

First…A little history.

Back in 1985 my wife and I and our 5 children (at the time) purchased an old farm house out in the country that was built in stages beginning in 1894.  We had lived in the city and felt it would be a good idea to move to the country.  Anyway, after about a year of looking at “out in the country” properties, we found this one.  I liked it at first sight.  Being young and strong (but not overly bright), I underestimated what I was getting into in regards to the amount of work and money this place needed.  But, like I said, when you are young, there is that feeling of invincibility…that feeling of “Yea, I can do that…piece of cake”.  Kinda’ like that saying “ask a teenager, they know everything”.

Anyway, I am not complaining.  I have actually enjoyed my life here and the work I have put into the place.  There is a sense of pride and accomplishment when you step back and say “wow, was I really able to do that!”  I really enjoy the projects (once I start them).  One of my biggest struggles is getting started.  Often I will come up with reasons why a particular project is too hard (too expensive, beyond my skill level, too busy…whatever).  But, after my wife plants the seed in my head, and after all my initial resistance, I begin to mull it over, research it, ask lots of questions…then I get started.

This old house was an obvious, very rundown, handyman special.  It had very minimal electricity, no heat, no insulation, sagging floors & ceilings, and many other shortfalls.  In order to get the bank to even give us a mortgage on the place we had to first upgrade the electric to a 200A service in order to install necessary heating. 

Over the 28 years we have been here, the projects have been many…and ongoing.

I often tell people that I live in the projects.

My latest project has been to finally tackle one last unfinished room in the house.  This is an upstairs bedroom with a seriously sagging floor and ceiling along with failing plaster.  The floor & ceiling both sagged about 4″ to the center of the room in a saucer like manner.  If you placed a marble anywhere along the perimeter it would quickly roll to the center.

Tomorrow, I will explain the reasons behind the bowed floor along with how I dealt with it.  Until then…

Pictures of the upstairs bedroom project 

Sump Pumps (Part 3)

Well hey!!! Here I am posting 2 days in a row!!!

Today we (my son & I)finished excavating the remaining 4″ or so of clay/subsoil from our sump pit. It had accumulated a small amount of water overnight, which added to the weight of this subsoil. Anyway, after removing this remaining bit of subsoil (down to the 28″ depth), I placed the corrugated plastic sump barrel in it. BTW, I did drill alot of holes in the upper half of this barrel to allow for “under the floor” seepage into the barrel, which should help prevent seepage coming up thru the floor since it will now find its way to the sump pit.

Once the barrel was in place, I backfilled the outside area with 800 lbs of gravel, then topped this with 200 lb of concrete. My one regret was that I didn’t listen to my gut feelings on the concrete mix (which my contractor friends had suggested). My feeling was to use sand mix concrete or vinylcrete…and now I wish I had. The problem with the regular concrete mix is that you can’t feather out the edges to the existing floor for a nice smooth finish (because of the aggregate). With sand mix (or the expensive vinylcrete) you can feather it. Oh well, too late now. However, it is not really an issue in my 90 year old unfinished basement since aesthetics are not a highpoint feature of my basement.

I also ran my new designated electrical circuit for the sump pump. I already had an unused 20A breaker in my panel to utilize, so all I had to do was run the romex cable, install a box and a GFCI, make the connections, and test…and now I am good to go.

I will now let the concrete cure overnight. Then tomorrow I will install the pump and do the plumbing…and then report the results.


Sump Pit

post hole digger


spud bar in basement corner

Our New Bosch Dishwasher

First, the background:

I purchased and installed a Kitchen Aid dishwasher in my remodeled kitchen in 2001. This was (supposedly) a quality dishwasher with a stainless steel interior tub. My problems began about 4 years later when the catch for the dish detergent compartment door had deteriorated to the point where it no longer existed. This looks like a little $.25 item that could not stand up to the rigors of a dishwasher. Consequently, you could no longer put the detergent in the dishwasher detergent dispenser compartment. I called Kitchen Aid to complain, and they essentially said “screw you, customer”. I was left with choice of calling service tech for about $250, putting up with it, or buying new dishwasher. My response to this poor customer service for what I consider a manufacturers defect (in designing a catch that couldn’t handle the job), was that I would never buy a Kitchen Aid dishwasher again.

My temporary solution was to start using the 3 in 1 Electrasol Powerball capsules, and drop them directly in dishwasher. This was ok, except for it causing etching of glassware and less than desirable dish cleaning. Anyway, I put up with this annoyance/inconvenience for another 4 years.

Then…after some research…I determined that Bosch has a good reputation, so I decided to get a Bosch dishwasher. I went to Lowes and purchased a Bosch Model SHE45M dishwasher with stainless steel interior. I asked the sales guy for 10% off and got it. Also, asked them to match Home Depot 6 months same as cash and got it. I think I could have even gotten 12 months same as cash if I had asked.

Anyway, bought it, took it home, and installed it (same day). Had to make a couple modifications. In order to run the supply/drain hoses thru the cabinet I had to drill a couple new holes (lower & further to the rear). Other than that, installation was easy.

My opinion so far: Happy, but too early to tell. I was used to the racks on the Kitchen Aid. Bosch is different…and I will have to get used to the difference. Kitchen Aid “customer service” was the deciding factor in going with a different manufacturer. I consider this little $.25 item to me a mfgrs design flaw, and they should have owned up to it.

I will post further comments as I get used to the new dishwasher…