Getting started

First order of business in beginning this project is to:

Get room cleared out of all the stuff that had accumulated in it over the years.  Since the room was basically unusable as an occupied space, it became very useful as a dumping ground.  We called this room the “junk room” and it has fulfilled this use and now is finally being made livable after all these years.


Prepare for demolition work.  We decided to leave the floor in place until last.  This way, as we removed the old plaster and lath from the ceiling and walls the debris would collect on the floor for removal to the trash bin.  Also, the old floor served as a floor to work off of and it also didn’t matter that it got damaged by falling plaster and lath.  

 Before we started knocking down the old plaster, we first rolled up the old insulation in the attic above the ceiling.  

Let the demolition begin:

Demolition is usually easy.  You do need to take some safety precautions (goggles, dust masks, etc).  The basic tools needed are a wrecking bar, vise grips, and a hammer.  In order to minimize the amount of dust getting into the rest of the house, we closed the door and opened the 2 windows.  In one window we put a window fan (set on “high”) exhausting the dust to the outside.  The other window served as the intake to create cross ventilation. This greatly minimizes the amount of dust settling/floating in the house. Once these preliminaries were done, we began tearing down the old ceiling.  Once you have smashed a hole in the plaster you can begin using the wrecking/pry bar to begin  pulling down the old plaster and lath.  The vise grips are used to remove any remaining lath nails from the joists.  Once the old ceiling is totally removed it is time to begin cleanup.  I purchased an inexpensive 33 gallon trash can and a box of 50 heavy duty contractor trash bags.  We would scoop up about 50 lbs worth of debris in the bag, then haul it out to the trash bin.  The reason for about 50 lbs was only because that weight was manageable and still avoid causing the bag to break. This was mainly for the old plaster which adds up to a lot of weight.  With the old lath, we threw it out the window to be used as kindling for our wood stove during the winter.

I have posted some pictures (in a previous post) of the exposed ceiling and the old oak joists .  What you see here is the unfinished attic.  The BX armored cable you see was for the old ceiling light fixture.  This was the only wiring for the room.  There were no receptacles in any of the upstairs rooms when we moved here, only single ceiling light fixtures with a wall switch.

Reason for bowed ceiling

There are a couple reasons for the bowed ceiling.  As I previously mentioned, both the floor and the ceiling sagged like a saucer.  The sag was about 4″ in the center of the room.

Sag reason #1.  The old 2×8″ oak joists (roughly 16″ on center) spanned almost 16′.  This is undersized for this span (even considering they were oak).  Looking at the span tables, the joists should have been 2×10 – 2×12, depending on the species of lumber.  I would like to state that the 2×8 oak joists were rough sawn and were a full 2″x8″ (more or less, as things were not exactly “standard” back then).

Sag reason #2.  We were told that previous Amish residents from the past had brought the bathroom facilities inside.  In order to have “running water”, they had rigged up a gravity system where they stored the water upstairs and piped it down to the bathroom below (much like a water tower).  Now with water weighing 8 lbs/gallon it is very easy to see how even having a 500 gallon tank up there would easily weigh 4000 lbs.  And, if it leaked, that would cause even further warping

The floor of this room was obviously the ceiling of the 1st floor room below.  I had previously leveled that ceiling by removing the plaster and lath in that room.  Then, instead of doing anything with the existing undersized oak joists, I went to the low point of the ceiling and “sistered” 2×6″ boards onto the existing 2×8 oak joists.  The old joists, over nearly a 100 year time frame had sagged as far as they were going to.  By sistering the new 2×6 joists to these, I actually strengthened the span.  Once the ceiling was level, we installed full length 3/4″  T&G bead board (which I stained).  We had also redone the walls in this room and wallpapered.

A photo of the bead board ceiling (in the room below) is shown above.

Gutter Guards

About 5 years ago I had my son Nathan dig a trench for a drain line that would take the gutter discharge out to the ditch. I might mention that Nathan’s work standard was “excellence”, and he did an exceptional job on this! Anyway, this drain line was intended to not only handle sending the gutter drainage to the ditch, but also the planned future discharge of the washing machine “gray water”.

One problem we have had is the clogging of the gutters each fall by the tree leaves and needles. We have several large maple trees along with a large spruce tree in close proximity to the house. This results in a lot of leaves and spruce needles building up in the gutters. Very annoying to the effect that if you don’t get up on a ladder at least weekly, they will end up clogged. I researched some ways to eliminate the clogging and, consequently, I went to Lowes and purchased some 3′ sections of plastic “screened” mesh gutter guards. I think this will actually work for me. BTW, I have a metal roof, which presents some “unique” problems that call for “customized” solutions. I think I have found it.

I have roughly 300′ of gutters to deal with and have installed approx 64′ of material so far. I will be installing more of this material over the next couple weeks and will report my progress (and results) as the leaves begin to fall and the fall rains begin.

((In a couple of the gutters I utilized a “hinged” type metal gutter guard (also purchased at Lowes), that seems like it will work well)). My metal roofing calls for various customized solutions!!!