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We all work in a yellow submarine…

November 12, 2009

Yellow Submarine….
Yellow submarine…

Alright, I’m going to start with something new I have learned today: Tyvek suits are hot, sweaty, and expensive.  The basement clean out at work went very well. It took from last Thursday to today, but as much as we could fit into four dumpsters (and I’m talking 22’x7’x7′- the big ones) is now out of the building.  The guys we hired were awesome, they worked really hard, and they got all but one load out before they had to leave today.  So I donned a Tyvek suit (for a picture of what I am talking about see: – it is the website for a company that sells them) and brought out the last load.  It was then that I remembered the shop flood I told you about earlier.  The masonite floor by the bathroom was something we needed to pull up and get into these dumpsters- so I did.  Wet masonite tends to swell to about twice it’s thickness and when many sheets are screwed to a floor up against each other, they buckle so that the ends look like a lot of the letter “s” in a line.  Although this was gross, and the bottoms were still wet, this did make it a bit easier to pull up.  Luckily I had my Tyvek suit to protect me, along with some neoprene gloves.
The one thing that I did not account for was the heat.  These suits make pretty good raincoats, in that while a hurricane was blasting through town today I did not get my clothes wet taking trips around the block to our dumpster.  The same quality that makes these things waterproof, however is the quality that does not let them breathe.  I think one of the great questions in life must be: When you are in a hazmat suit covered in sewage dirt from head to toe, and sweat starts dripping down your face towards your mouth, what precisely do you wipe it off with?  I spent a good deal of the afternoon contemplating this one.  For those of you who may be in this situation in the future- I had the best luck with a clean paper towel.
So I pulled up the equivalent of three or four full sheets of masonite with a crow bar, then went back to get the screws out of the floor.  I don’t know how many people have seen the results of years of paint in a Philips head screw with years of dust and dirt that people’s feet have ground into them, but if you haven’t I can tell you that if you picture the head of a thumbtack (the old fashioned flat ones), and then try to use a drill gun to find where the groove used to be… yeah… it doesn’t work so well.  I was finally getting the hang of not instantly stripping out the screw head when I noticed that the screw I was turning counterclockwise was sinking into the floor.  I took a moment to think to myself “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty”, chuckled to myself because every time I hear that I for some reason think of tighty whities… and realized that something wasn’t right.  Two thirds of the screws that were in the floor were pulled up with the nail pulling end of a hammer. The plywood floor was so wet that they just popped out!  Now we are hoping that the floor dries out properly and the plywood layer doesn’t get dry-rot.

And speaking of dry-rot- back to the basement!  With all the random useless stuff out of there, we can see so much more wall than I could ever imagine!  In the first room of the basement… well, let’s back up.  This is the storage basement/ trap room now, which has 3 1/2 rooms (the last section only counting for half because it is only 2′ wide and only holds a sump pump). The first room has the only stairs out of there, and the first sump pump. This holds flats, and a bunch of stuff we threw out.  The second room has the trap entrances, platforms, stairs, turntable, doors- it’s the biggest section.  The third room holds extra platforms and those that surround the turntable ring, and a bunch more stuff that we threw out.  The bottom of the stage (ceiling of the basement) is about 5’7″ from the floor, with lots of exposed pipes and air vents to bang one’s head on, with the lowest clearance being about 5′. All of the walls are made of cinder-block- well… most of the walls.  In the first room, right in the center of the outside wall, was a plywood plug thing.  Leaking out of the plywood plug at a decent pace was rain water.  It ran down the wall across the 5′ of the bottom of the plug, down to the floor, puddled over about a third of the room, flowed into the ravine that someone had cut into the concrete floor long ago, and into the sump pump hole.  There were three other leaks into the basement along the outside wall, all of which were very small.  We have determined that the flood waters rose so quickly the first time the basement flooded because there was no overflow valve on the sump pump (one has since been installed), but I’m sure that this plywood thing could not be helping.  The weirdest part of all this is that the basement, and that hole in the wall, are underground.  So why is it there?  Anyway, Bud took the top layer of plywood off, and found a dry-rotted 2×4 frame with two more pieces of plywood behind it.  It was all quite wet.  Another thing I learned today- Great Stuff does not stick to wet surfaces-  nor will it keep out rain in the middle of a leak.

One more thing I have learned today before I go to bed: The power pole outside my apartment building does not seem to service my apartment building.  We heard what had sounded like a loud explosion and saw a flash of light.  Not really an explosion I guess- more like the popping noise you get from an outlet, but loud enough that you are physically startled when it happens.  The 7-11 down the street lost power.  We did not.  They are now right outside my living room window trying to fix the electrical problem, and there have been 3 more smaller “explosions” since they started.  Oh well… the guy fixing the power does not look fried… I wonder what they are doing?

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