Plenty to do

Progress on the cellar storage room is making headway but it is time-consuming. The main problem the room has is its location which is beneath the porch at the front door of the house. The rear wall backs onto the ground beneath the threshold and is prone to moisture ingress though it isn’t as bad as it could be. The only saving grace is the fact that the area outside the front door is covered with stone so the ground doesn’t get really wet.Now that the room is empty while work is ongoing the walls can be treated with silicon sealant which hopefully should solve any damp issues. Not all of the wall seems to be affected fortunately, just a few bricks. On Friday (6) after working in the room on and off for most of the day I gave the wall its first coat of sealant. I had started work in the morning concentrating on filling in some holes with bricks and later fixing timbers across the ceiling near the room entrance in order to strengthen it as it was necessary. 

The holes in the following two pictures have yet to be filled and the wiring tidied up. They won’t be as easy as you might think for there is a void behind them being as they are between the ceiling joists. I was faced with similar problems when refurbishing the gym/boiler ceiling.

The next picture shows the storage cabinet that stood against the rear wall of the storage room. It is staying in its new position at the end of the workbench in the room we call the workshop as shown. This room could do with a face-lift too. At the very least it needs tidying up!

 So there is plenty for me to do if I get bored but for now there is plenty to do on the storage room project.

Shirley Anne

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It never ends!

In our house there is no loft/attic as such but there are three spaces or areas alongside the three ordinary rooms at the top of the house. One of those spaces can be entered simply by walking in though only for a metre for the floor joists beyond are only part of the ceiling in a room below. Larger joists would need to be installed to make use of the approximately ten square metre area. It does house a cold water storage tank and a hot water cylinder which supply the en-suite bathroom below which I installed years ago. There is a one square metre access hole from inside the area into the second area which is above the main bedroom on the floor below. It is simply an access area and cannot be used for anything else as again the timbers are only those supporting the ceiling below. The third area is accessed through another one square metre removable wooden panel located in one of the three ordinary rooms and is again simply for access to the central heating cold water storage tank, some pipes and electrical wiring. The aerial amplifier and power supply together with the several aerial cables feeding rooms in the house are all located in there. Part of the floor in there has been fitted with boards to enable any work that needs to be carried out to be done safely. There are some heating pipes in there too. As they run through the area they need to be well insulated to prevent heat loss to the unused space. That insulation I replaced on Thursday morning after I had been reminded that it needed doing and that came about like this…….. I was sitting at my computer the previous day and I heard a tremendous crashing sound outside the room. I jumped up to investigate and even went outside to see if there had been an accident. I shouted to E to see if she knew what it was but she was as much at a loss as I was. She thought the sound had come from the top of the house so we went up there and found the wooden access panel to the area I have just mentioned was lying on the floor. I switched on the light (the access areas are lit) to see what I could find but nothing was wrong. Sometimes if it is windy outside the panel will drop to the floor if not secured. It was then that I noticed the pipes needed new insulation. However we still didn’t know what had caused the loud noise. It would soon be time for our evening meal and we returned downstairs for the rest of the evening. Around ten o’clock I decided to retire to bed but beforehand take a shower. I entered the main bathroom, the one we refurbished a few years ago and I couldn’t believe my eyes by what I saw. I called E to come and have a look. The floor was covered with broken glass, the end panel of the shower tray had completely disintegrated! 

You may I hope be able to see the panel in the top picture has disappeared in the lower picture. It was located alongside the toilet unit. It took us both an hour and a half to clear up the mess and wash the floor to ensure there was no residue glass. Here is the glass in these containers ready to be taken to the dump.

I did get my shower though much belated. We are now considering whether to replace the glass panel or erect a small tiled wall in its place. The panel isn’t technically needed as water splashes from the shower don’t actually reach that far.

Shirley Anne

Darned thing

So Saturday (24) came along and I was up early once again. During the last few days we had discovered that the dampness in the bottom of the cupboard in the gym we have been decorating wasn’t drying up. It had to be caused by an ingress of water from outside the building. I had given it a few days to dry but it stayed wet. Two things are at work here. Firstly, the house walls were not constructed with a damp-proof course or membrane and secondly, the boiler room floor is below the ground level outside. I have no real idea why when it was laid the builders made it so. The house was built in 1877 but a quarter of the boiler room being part of an extension built we think at the turn of the century, that is 1900, was added to the already low floor. It is the only room below ground level at the rear of the house though at the front the rooms there are below ground only because earth was piled-up in front of the house…

There are vestiges of former windows below the soil level which have been bricked in. I suppose the thinking was because the ground the house stands upon is sandy there was enough drainage as not to become a problem. Anyhow on Friday I got to thinking about what I could do about the ingress of water and from where it was coming. When I took measurements I discovered that the floor inside the cupboard was nine bricks down from the window in the room but outside only seven courses are visible above the path and eight just where the wall ends at the grid. Now the grid is below the path so it puts it at the same level as where the dampness appears inside. On checking the brickwork I found gaps in the mortar at ground level and especially around the grid. I decided to mix some fine cement and use it to seal off the gaps both along the base of the wall and around the grid earthenware.

I used a small amount of what was left to patch up the plinth beneath the boiler

and then I set about painting the shelves and insides of the doors of the cupboard which now will only need touching up here and there,

Saturday and Sunday were forecast as dry and sunny and as I write this on Saturday lunchtime it is indeed sunny. It needed to be dry at least so the cement can set.

Shirley Anne

Just when things..

Just when things are beginning to look good something bad happens. Don’t you ever get that in life?  E and I but mostly I have been plodding along getting the gym/boiler room in shape over the past few weeks and by today, that is as I write on the 12 th, everything is coming along fine. There is still some way to go yet and part of the reason for that is that I am finding extra things I can do and have decided to do in the room. As for the decoration the ceiling isn’t quite fully painted yet as are some of the heating pipes. There are still some holes to be filled and this cupboard to sort out…

..and I have also decided to build a cupboard around the boiler, not to cover the boiler itself but the surrounding pipes and fittings.

I plan to fit a door over the switch gear and removable panels where necessary to make maintenance easier. all that will remain visible is the boiler itself for there is no need to hide it. You cannot see the base of the boiler in this picture (above) but it is standing on a square paving slab which is supported by bricks on top of another paving slab. The space between the slabs is open so I plan to fill it in. It was done that way by the heating engineers many years ago when the boiler was replaced. On the right-hand-side of the boiler is the drain cock and I plan to fit a small outlet pipe through the brick wall with a valve on the inside which can be connected to using a flexible pipe to drain down the system if required. The flexible pipe will only be connected when it is needed. The pipe will therefore remain dry at all times. Aside from being able to shut off the water when draining the pipes the valve will also prevent insects from crawling through the pipe when it isn’t being used. You just have to think of everything! Anyway it all sounds intricate and complex but in reality it is all simple to do. The bad thing had nothing to do with the room we are working in but the garage where my van is housed. The roof has been leaking or rather letting rain water seep in. I wouldn’t mind but it is the area we had reconstructed late last year to accommodate the new garage door. Although the sealant is the best so I am told, it looks as though part of the timber it is protecting has bent and has consequently forced a tear in the sealant. As I write a temporary cover is in place until it stops raining to allow a repair. Just when things were going right!

Shirley Anne

12 ahead

I have been writing a lot about my projects at home and the current one, the gym decoration being no exception. This post is twelve ahead  from that which you were reading on the day I wrote it, 7th March. This project is taking a lot of time to do because it doesn’t involve just painting but other things too for instance replacing pipe insulation. There has been much wiring to secure and many holes to be filled both on the ceiling and the walls and much of the ceiling has required more than just the one coat of paint. In fact one part of the ceiling has never received a coat of paint the whole time we’ve lived here! On Wednesday (7th) I spent four hours in the room and was determined not to spend any longer in there after Tuesday’s eight-hour stint. I concentrated my efforts painting more of the ceiling and walls and had to paint the areas a couple of times before it was as white as the previously painted areas. When I was clearing out the room and moving equipment to enable access to the work I discovered the old floor tiles had dropped in a couple of places by the walls so after I had finished painting for the day I decided to mix some concrete screed and fill them in. The largest ones are shown in the pictures above, the top one is situated alongside the treadmill (when it is lowered to the floor) and the lower  is alongside the steps leading out to the garden. It won’t be long before I will need to move this lot either…..….before I can decorate that area, which will be the final area to decorate. Most of it is garden furniture. After lunch I spent a little time in the garden sitting on the patio in the warm sunshine. However that didn’t last too long for the clouds rolled-in, though it did get brighter later. I discovered some more bluebells and spent twenty minutes digging them out before relaxing for the rest of the day.

Shirley Anne

Slowly getting there

Slowly but Surely
Slowly but Surely (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.

 

Shirley Anne

 

A fine end

Sunday, the last day of the year turned out to be bright and sunny, The temperature hovered around 9 deg C all day though a stiff breeze made it feel colder. Still, it was nice to be outdoors when sheltered from that wind. I had deliberately arisen early so that I could drive to the beach to collect some more stones. I left the house around seven-thirty and by the time I had parked the van in the car park near to the beach it was beginning to enter the twilight zone. Twilight for me is the best part of any day and I am glad I live in a place where we have a period of twilight twice a day. Anyway, the wind felt stronger down on the sand but I persevered and collected quite a few stones while it was still quite dark. I made three short trips to and from the van to collect the stones in a plastic bag to then place them in a large bucket I had stored in the van. I should have taken a couple of more trips at that time but I was beginning to feel tired and cold. I could always return later. Before returning indoors on my arrival back home at eight-thirty I decided to make an attempt at sliding the hard neoprene strip back into the guide on the garage door. If my readers will remember it had slid out a couple of weeks ago and I informed the installer to have it repaired. At the time of writing this on the last day of the year there has been no follow-up from them. I will have to inform them it has been repaired. After doing that small job I took a parcel we had received on behalf of our neighbour across the road to give it to her who at the time it arrived wasn’t at home, then I went indoors for my breakfast. E came into the kitchen just as I had finished eating. After breakfast I donned my overalls and went into the garden to empty out the stones and to dig out a couple of montbretia plants.

Still not enough stones to cover the soil so I would have to do some more collecting. With that in mind E and I drove down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst I went to collect more stones she sat inside the van admiring the sea view. From her vantage point however I was invisible because of the intervening sea wall. I collected a small bucket full of stones which I placed in the empty space when we returned home…..

It looks full now but in fact there is space for a few more. I plan to put some other plants in the area later so some of the stones will move to create a space for them. It should then look fuller. (Click on pics to magnify)

Shirley Anne

Ready but not

It had taken longer than I had thought for the delivery of a new halyard rope for the flag pole but when it arrived on Tuesday it was too late in the day for me to install it or to make the attempt. I seldom like beginning a task late in the day so anything arriving late gets put off till the next day. I had spent time on the treadmill before breakfast whilst E ate hers during my exercise. We were expecting the delivery of a new dishwasher and at that time I hadn’t switched on the computer to track its progress. For some reason I developed a cramp in my right calf muscles whilst running, something I never had problems with years ago. I persevered and finished my exercise but I was left with an aching leg for a few hours thereafter. After breakfast I switched on the computer and checked the expected delivery time for the dishwasher and found they had scheduled delivery between the hours of two and four o’clock. E was pleased about that as she had to go shopping and did so in the morning. I of course was free to do other things so I decided to install the new rope for the flag pole. I was a little concerned that I might have difficulties in using the old rope to pull in the new one but my concerns were unfounded, it went in easily. I had however stitched them together with a needle and thread to ensure they would pass through the finial at the top of the pole. The flag was re-attached and ready for the wind which didn’t arrive at all during the day. Oh well. I returned indoors to recheck the delivery time for the dishwasher and it had been revised. It would now be delivered between one and two o’clock. E returned home before noon and I told her the new delivery time but checking once more I found it had been revised to arrive between one-twenty and one fifty. It arrived half-way between. It was ready for installation but by this time it was time for lunch. It took about fifteen minutes to unpack it and connect it up. That was it, all outstanding jobs done……..well…er…..not quite. I still have the garage light project as and when I can do it……..when I am ready.

Shirley Anne

Changes

A few months ago I manufactured a gate to fit at the side of the house……

It didn’t take long to construct and it fitted perfectly into the space where I placed it but that was when the weather was warm and dry. The weather naturally has changed since then becoming colder and more humid which all means the wooden gate expanded. That’s what wood does when the temperature and humidity change. I knew I had to remove the gate and shave a little wood from it but I had to wait for my youngest son to return the borrowed plane so I could get on with it. In fact he had borrowed two planes, one of them electric and it was the electric one I wanted to do the job. Finally after weeks of asking he brought the plane over and I was able to do the work which only took a half hour. Now there is a gap between the gate and the frame so further expansion if it happens will not result in the gate jamming as it did. A few years ago I erected a flagpole in the front garden….. 

As you might expect the weather has affected that too. The flag has to put up with wind, sun, rain and everything the weather throws at it. That being the case the flag has to be replaced from time to time and in fact new ones have been purchased along the way. On Thursday last week however I noticed the halyard rope had become worn and I had to remove the flag for a few days until I could replace the rope. At the time of writing I am waiting for the delivery of the rope and a couple of accessories. I have never had to change the rope since it was new and I am hoping I will be able to attach the replacement to the old one in order to pull it up through the pole and out at the top. If I find I can’t it will mean erecting part of the scaffolding tower around the base to remove the top section of the pole. It may be prudent to do so anyway so that the finial can be serviced. At present it tends to remain fixed when it should be free to rotate about the top of the pole. The weather takes its toll on anything exposed to it!

Shirley Anne

Time slot

Following on from yesterday’s post it turned out that the weather was favourable on Saturday after all. I am referring to recovering the top of the garage wall with a concrete mix. When discussing the work with E’s nephew the builder he assured me that the seal between the fibreglass and the brick walls would not let in water. Well he would have been right in that assumption had the joint been against a smooth and flat surface but brickwork as you might guess is far from that, especially if the wall is aged and the mortar has given way in places! I checked inside the garage for any leaks the following day and sure enough there were four of them, though one was not associated with the new roof alteration work. They were all but one very minor and that which was worse wasn’t too bad, just bad enough to do something about it! Any leaks are undesirable, especially after new work has been done. Part of the problem was due to the top layer of bricks not keeping out the water because the mortar had cracked and some weeds had found a home in them. I had suggested all the bricks have new mortar or be repaired but nothing was taken on board. Any builder worth his salt would have ensured the wall he would be securing something to was solid enough to take it. Seems our builder didn’t think it was necessary. At the end of the day it didn’t matter because I could carry out the repairs to the brickwork myself. All I needed was a time slot in which to do it. The weather forecast hadn’t been promising and rain was said to be on its way to stay for a few days. There was just the one slight opportunity after lunch on Saturday when it would remain dry for about the next sixteen hours. It was raining when I arose and it didn’t stop until about ten-thirty. We knew that marked the beginning of the short dry spell so I took the opportunity and began the work. Here is the result…

The topping is a fine concrete mix, that is sand, grit and cement rather than just sand and cement in order to give it durability and strength. The same mix is used when laying a footpath and at the rear of our house there is a footpath constructed using the same mix. It has been there for 28 years and is as good as the day it was laid. Not only have I put a layer on the top (where it was needed) I have put some on the sides too as that was where water was getting in mostly. That should have been done by the builder before the new roof seal was applied so that the fibreglass could be placed over it. That can still be done should there be any more problems but I have a feeling it won’t be necessary. The rain held off until well after the concrete had set. Timed to perfection. The work had taken about thirty minutes to do.

Shirley Anne