Archive for the 'Cleaning' Category

100% Pure Uncut Funk

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

[[This took place in early November, but it’s part of my “catching up” on stories about the house that occurred before and after we moved in.]]

One of the last things we did before moving in was give the basement floor a good scrubbing.

The front half of the basement floor was recently (re)painted, and the back half looked to be just Plain Ole Concrete (unpainted). I swept the whole floor several times, and even used sweeping compound to help get up the fine dust. As far as I could tell, the floor was clean and ready for moving in, right?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was filthy, disgusting, nasty, and then some–we’re talking about the stuff nightmares are made of. Unless we wanted to track this crap up into the house, we had to clean it up.


  • 1 hard/coarse scrub brush (on a 5 foot extension pole)
  • 1 24″ squeegee (also on a pole)
  • 1 14″ sponge
  • 2 buckets
  • 2 pair rubber gloves

  • 1 gallon bleach
  • 1 gallon Pine Sol
  • 150 gallons of scalding hot water
  • 6 Advil 🙂

One of us would use the brush and a bucket of water mixed with bleach and Pine Sol to scrub a section of the floor, then squeegee the water off of it. We’d attempt to squeegee it into a floor drain, or if the drain was too far away, the other would mop it up with the sponge.

We basically worked our way across the entire floor, one 3’x3′ square at a time, changing water every 2 squares or so. It was easy to tell when the water needed changing as it went *totally* black. So black that I couldn’t even see the pole attached to the scrub brush 1/2″ under the surface.

And when we finished the floor the first time, we started over again a second time, and then the water came up clear in some areas, and just grey in others. Now the basement smells like bleach and Pine Sol, and that’s Just Fine by me.

Now that the dirt is gone, I can see where there are cracks (small 1/16″ to 1/8″ cracks) in the basement floor, and I can see where some frame walls used to be. The floor even shows signs of having been painted in some areas long long ago.

Further Misadventures in the Basement

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

After being out of town for a week, I thought I was ready to tackle the basement again. Well, little did I know that the basement was ready for me–just lying in wait.

I started off by running through the rafters in the back half of the basement with the Shop-Vac. This was the same drill that I did in the front half of the basement a few weeks ago:

  • Strap on my trusty respirator and a pair of goggles.
  • Attach the hose to the outtake of the vacuum–basically creating a huge concentrated air blower.
  • Run the hose over every crack and crevice in the ceiling at point blank range.
  • Watch the tons of dust and crap that come falling out of the rafters.

I don’t know for sure what it was that came out of the ceiling boards–it’s mostly fine white powder and some white grainy stuff, but M. suspects that it’s the plaster dust from when the original plaster basement ceiling was demolished years ago.

Back to the basement bathroom. While I finished ripping out the bottom bits of that, I decided to take some time to rip out the panelling on the North wall of the basement, West of the bathroom. This turned out to be an adventure, but in the end, it yielded only small surprises.

So we started with something like this:

Your typical panelled room, right? Removing the panelling revealed sheetrock over some simple framing. Here’s what that looked like (with some of the sheetrock already removed).

And after I removed the sheetrock and some of the framing, I was left with the original basement wall:

That’s the original foundation, which exhibits some small cracks as well as signs of efflorescence (not as bad as I expected), and the original plaster wall above (which has a small bit of water damage at the bottom). So the foundation along here (and presumably the rest of the North wall) is going to need some patching and some painting, but only after we rip out the driveway, expose the foundation, and seal and repair the outside first. From what I’ve been told, just fixing the inside is only going to hide the problem.

More Flammable Fun

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

The storage closet in the Southwest corner of the basement turned out to be the home of a delightful mix of flammable goodies, including: Paint stripper (the really nasty Methylene Chloride stuff), Polyurethane, some miscellaneous paint, bug killer, weed killer, and a few othert toxic gems. Is it really that hard to get rid of these things, people? The wards in our city have an “Amnesty Day” every year when you can dispose of hazardous materials like this without paying a penalty–you’ve just got to cart it over to the disposal site.

For now, it’s off to the garage with the lot of it–I just want it out of my house.

The Move-In Prep begins

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

We purchased a whole carload of stuff for the house this weekend–our first load of “Household Items” like bathroom towels, rugs and hardware, shelf liner and rugs for the kitchen, and a bewildering array of other odds and ends that you just wind up having to buy when you move into a new home. We even got an awesome big ole front door mat for folks to wipe their feet on.

M. spent the bulk of today straightening and cleaning up the main floor of the house and lining the kitchen cabinets. She put all our purchases away, put some rugs down, and got the powder room and kitchen reassembled since we’re finally done with the painting.

Oh, and she relocated all the tools and junk that I left lying all over the Dining Room and Kitchen to the basement where they belong, so that helped considerably. While it’s not a home yet, it’s starting to look a little less like a cavern/garage/dump and a little more like we could actually live here.

Basement Abatement

Saturday, October 16th, 2004

S. and I finally finished cleaning the rest of the furring strips and trash out of the basement and gave it a good sweeping. After flushing the basement drains with some scalding hot water and Pine-Sol, the basement’s starting to look and smell like liveable area. I still need to clean out the rafters in the back side of the basement, but I’m sure that I won’t get to that for a few more weeks.

Miscellaneous Finds

Monday, October 11th, 2004

Before putting the fridge back in its place, I tipped it up and vacuumed out about a pound of dirt and pet hair, but only after pitching a dozen or so magnetic letters that had found their way under there.

We went to remove the nest of insulation that some critter had made in the crawl space under the breakfast nook, and I discovered that one wall of the crawl space seemed to be made out of an old hutch of some sort. I ripped the doors off and found a 30 year old can of bug spray, a glass milk bottle full of sand, a coffee can full of rusty nails, and a few jars of an unidentifiable green granular substance. I trashed everything except for the milk bottle and blocked the bottom of the doorway with some bricks and an old limestone lintel in the hopes of keeping out the critter. How many more flammable items will we find in the house? Stay tuned for more exciting flammable finds!

In other boring news, I got the bathroom door back on (with the hinges right-way up), our alarm system was installed today, and M. and I got the first of 5 heavy-duty steel shelves assembled. Woo.

Radiator Toys

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

As promised, here’s a picture of the toys that M. found when cleaning behind the radiators.

Can you believe how much crap was in there? I’m especially fond of the Mr. Potato Head parts. And now off to the dumpster with the lot of it.

The Great Radiator Reef

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Our radiators look like they haven’t been cleaned in 30 years. In fact, there’s a good chance that they haven’t been cleaned in 50 years. Cleaning radiators this dirty is a four step process:

  • M. Sweeps under radiator and removes any large items (i.e. non-dust/dirt). M. Grabs a large shopping bag for this–what I’m sure is total overkill for the job at hand.
  • I don a particle mask and safety glasses and blow all the dust out of the radiators using the Shop Vac (in reverse).
  • M. Sweeps dirt and dust into small pile
  • I vacuum up small piles with Shop Vac (not in reverse).

Turns out that the large shopping bag was appropriately sized for the job at hand. M. discovered enough toys for us to open our own daycare center. She also found keys, a fake plant, half a dozen cat toys, a resume, a cough drop (stuck to the floor-ew ew ew) and a few pennies.

I managed to blow hundreds of golf-ball sized dust bunnies out of the radiators themselves, and I even found remnants of the green shag carpet that graced the floors downstairs for who-knows how many years.

In the living room I found a phone cord that went nowhere (Snip-snip gone) along with a pair of wires that had been cut in the basement (thank goodness–they were AC power wires that were cased in nothing but paper), but apparently used to provide juice to the outlets in the sun room. Snip-snip gone. Then on to the old doorbell wires. Snip-snip gone. Makes me kind of wish I had a holster for my diagonal cutters.