Monday, May 28, 2018


Part of the difficulty of a trip is what awaits you upon return. There was condensation dripping from all the cold water pipes in the basement, and the hot water heater was making bad noises. After a while, I concluded that the dripping hot water was what was condensing on the pipes. So no problem  with them.  That still leaves a heater problem, however.

There is a piece of rebar sticking up out of the ground where the new septic went in.  That can't be right. The new grass is growing unevenly.

Still, the house is still standing.  The dog is still alive. We have arrived home safely and argued minimally - far less than when we were traveling with children. There was enough food in the house for supper, so tonight's shopping is minimal.

I took notes of what I might like to write about, but I will be working the next two weeks, so I may not have quite the time I would like.  We'll see. I'll certainly get something down on a page.


Sam L. said...

Just a quibble: hot water heater. Does hot water need heating? Would not "water heater" be sufficient as an identifier?

Donna B. said...

I can relate to quibbling, Sam L., as I do this to everything I read. I try to ignore it because I'm sure I'd do worse if I were the writer, but there are some that I metaphorically throw at the nearest wall. (Never AVI though!) I used to literally do that, but I rely too much on my Kindle to do so now. Would cold water heater also work? But why use three words when two suffice? Bottom line is, even in the South, wanting a cold shower is rare.

My last experience with a "basement" was in Dallas TX in the summer of 1980, so not likely comparable to anything in the NE. However, bailing water daily for 2 months from that "basement" when the sump pump failed, made me swear to never live in a house with anything even remotely resembling a basement ever again. I have no idea how the cooling system in that old house worked, but bailing that water out somehow allowed it to work until we could finally get a repairman to fix it. The bonus was that the lawn and flowerbeds near the door did better than most that year.

RichardJohnson said...

My last experience with a "basement" was in Dallas TX in the summer of 1980, so not likely comparable to anything in the NE.

My understanding is that there needs to be bentonite protective layer for basement.
Did your house in Dallas have any such protection?

Bentonite is a clay that can absorb humongous amounts of water. It is used in oil drilling, where when I was working, it cost a penny a pound. I have seen bentonite selling as a facial treatment for $10 a pound.

RichardJohnson said...

Bottom line is, even in the South, wanting a cold shower is rare.

But when the temperature is 100 degrees, a "cold" water shower is very comfortable. Odds are the "cold" water is more like tepid by then, though. Far from "cold" water in the winter.

Aggie - said...

1. If the whole tank is buried, the rebar might be marking where the lid is located below the soil - you'll need to know that in a couple of years when you go to pump it out. If the lid is readily apparent, don't know why it's there.

2. Basements in Texas are highly unusual except on older homes, where they're only moderately unusual. Land is cheaper here, and winter is milder. Plus we have hydrophyllic clays which swell when they get wet and play havoc with cement walls. Up north they're much more common, and also useful. I've been in Texas for decades but I grew up with basements and miss them. Too bad yours keeps filling up with water, but I bet it's correctable.

3. If your water heater is on the blink and fired by gas, suggest you think about going tankless. I've never looked back since doing this.

Donna B. said...

The Dallas house was definitely an older one, built in 1947. 8234 Garland Road if you are curious. When I lived there, most everything was original, ie, 33 years old over 30 years ago. While I understand the basic principles of A/C systems, I don't understand the practical applications. I've got a "feeling" that the practical applications were more apt to failure in a 30 year old system in 1980. I just looked at the photos on Zillow and the only interior photo that I recognize is the staircase, though not carpeted then. In 1980, there were 4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms plus a separate 1 bedroom, 1 bath carriage house, though it was unlivable at the time. I suppose everything but the acreage shrunk with remodeling?

RichardJohnson said...

An additional problem with basements in Texas is that in a lot of the state there are ~3 feet of topsoil on top of limestone. A basement would entail blasting limestone. Not cost effective.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, "hot water heater" is redundant. I think it is just an unthinking phrase up here. that's it's name, we don't really break it down into constituent parts anymore. Or it might just be me being sloppy.

Basement tends to refer to below-ground concrete foundations up here. We also have "cellars," which tend to be older, stone foundations. Consider a "root cellar" or a "wine cellar," for example. People used to have those, but less often now. That was not a rigid distinction even in my youth, but it was strong. As toilets were often in basements in public buildings, the phrase "going to the basement" was something of a euphemism for "going to the bathroom" (which is itself a euphemism). My uncle used to tell the story of going into Leavitt's department store in downtown Manchester as a boy and asking where the basement was. He was told it was on the second floor, and only years later did he recognise that this was odd, and humorous.

I still don't know what the rebar is, though I have suspected it is attached to the lid. I can't pull it free by hand. As for the water heater, it was indeed leaking, and is now replaced.

Texan99 said...

We get our house water from an above-ground 20K-gallon rainwater cistern. In the summer, it reaches 85 degrees and stays there day and night, so that's the coldest our faucet water ever gets, except for a little burst from the water that was in the pipes inside the air-conditioned walls. By "summer" I mean roughly early June through late October.

Definitely no cellars in this county, where we're about 1/4-inch above the water table half the time.

We put an on-demand water-heater in this house when we built in 2006. It's been OK, but we placed it too far from both the kitchen and bath, so even "on demand" means it takes a while to get any hot water at the tap. We've already had to repair it once.

Donna B. said...

I'm thrilled to pay for being on a city's water & sewer system. Though I've never done the cistern thing, I've had the joy of dealing with wells and pumps and septic tanks and field lines. It's not because those are any less efficient, appropriate, or whatever... but that I'm no longer responsible for whether they are functioning or not! I don't mind paying for those services at all.

RichardJohnson said...

Donna B.
It's not because those are any less efficient, appropriate, or whatever... but that I'm no longer responsible for whether they are functioning or not! I don't mind paying for those services at all.

Before my father paid for the digging of a deep well,we took our baths in the local brook/stream/river during low rainfall times. Then the issues of maintenance of the water pump- an unending drama. I can still hear the water pump in my head.That's a sound you don't forget. One time when I was visiting home, the septic area reached maximum capacity, so with directions from my father I dug out the area where the tank truck could reach the underground septic area.

A further point about city water cost is that when you have your own water, you have to pay for the electricity for the water pump. As I recall from looking at my parents' water bill, that was not a trivial amount. Which makes the city water bill a bit of a wash.

City water doesn't seem like such a bad deal for those who have had experience of the alternative.

RichardJohnson said...

AVI, I had never heard that distinction between basement and cellar. Come to think of it, I had never heard of a root basement.

Texan99 said...

On my little peninsula, some of us prefer the public water system and some don't. The public water (a small local M.U.D.) has recently gotten a lot higher in quality, with RO filtering of the otherwise pretty terrible well water locally available. On the other hand, it's nowhere near as tasty as our filtered rainwater. As you say, the expense of the pump's electricity makes the cost about a wash, not to mention the considerable cost of the cistern, and there's frequent drama with the equipment. On the other hand, after the hurricane we had consistent water and sewer for two weeks while everyone else camped out in misery. We place a high premium on independence from public agencies.