Pictures are forthcoming, but in the meantime, just picture something like this, only imagine that I am standing in the basement. Because there is no more floor. Also, instead of me holding a tea cup, imagine that I’m covered in several layers of decades-old beetle excrement. Now imagine the photo with no electricity throughout the house except for one overworked outlet, and you’re almost there!
Whilst excavating our living room this weekend (the latest episode in Project Hardwood Floors By November), Seth and I ALMOST made it through an entire construction project without a devastating surprise.
This time, it was our sill.
Please don’t stop reading. This is good. I promise.
The sill is more commonly known as the giant tree that sits on the concrete foundation that holds up our walls. Or it did, until the mid 70s, when it was attacked by a roving gang of powder post beetles.
According to our happy home inspector, these little A-holes roamed Knox County for decades, turning perfectly solid structural elements into, appropriately, powder. Ours would be fine, he told us. Our beams, that is — not the powder. Our house was as strong as oak.
While pondering how best to screw our lag blots into the sill (it’s okay — we’re married.) Seth tapped our beam with a hammer to watch it disappear into a fine, orange dust. Because powder has never been good at holding large bolts, we dug a little deeper into the wooden beam and became nervous as we excavated almost all the way through to the outside of our house.
Several hours later, covered in (and having ingested a few pounds of) our timber-turned-orange-beetle-poo, a phone call to dad confirmed our theory that we could simply replace the giant beam with pressure-treated wood.
For you, dear readers, who grow sick of the construction talk, here is a translation:
We discovered that a huge, important beam had long ago been destroyed by wood-boring insects. We are glad that the house had not already caved in on itself. We fixed the problem with little additional cost and several hours of manual labor. I have some blisters, but they’re not as bad as Seth’s.
Additionally, for those who are in the business of hammering, musician Tom Waits produces a fine collection of solid hammerin’ tunes. Of particular note is “Get behind the Mule.” We had sushi and a shower and were in bed by 11:30 p.m. Sunday. It was the best sleep I’ve had in a while.
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