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May 25, 2008
How many steps does it take to fix a wall?


The downstairs southeast wall, with some of the mold-damaged areas marked

Since the beginning of the year, we have been dealing with the fact that the exterior walls of our mountain home are not waterproof. We discovered this just after New Year, when a windstorm drove rain almost sideways into the south side of our house. What we had hoped would be an evening of listening to the rain outside turned into a nightmare of mitigating water damage with towels and buckets.

The situation has turned into Gailís ďpersonal hell.Ē She is meticulously going through every external wall, staining the wood, removing trimwork and caulking seams. When the weather has been too cold outside she has worked inside, removing blocks of insulation and bleaching the walls. In the last several months, Gail has also begun coating the insides of the walls with enamel paint to create a further water barrier.

This was the task that Russellís friend Steve volunteered for when he joined Russell on Memorial Day weekend.

Russellís original intention had been to continue installing a drop ceiling downstairs to cover the plumbing Ė a task that would require two people. Unfortunately, he couldnít install joists until he installed a cross-beam. He couldnít install a cross-beam until he installed a wall brace. And he couldnít install a wall brace until the wall itself had been repaired.


The southwest ceiling and wall, showing the overhead plumbing where a drop ceiling would be required. Before we could construct a brace across the wall, step one would be to remove all of the insulation blocks.

So while Russell continued framing upstairs, Steve began the tedious work of fixing walls downstairs. Following Gailís example, Steve first marked and removed the insulation blocks from the southwest wall. Second, he bleached the wall and connecting 2x4s to kill any mold that had accumulated. Third, he painted the wall and connecting 2x4s with enamel paint to create a water barrier.

    
Step two: Steve bleached the wall and surrounding wood to remove mold

    
Step three: Steve painted the wall and surrounding wood to create an additional water barrier

After a phone conversation with Gail, Russell decided to add an additional step: caulking all contact points between the wall and connecting 2x4s just to be sure.


Step four: Russell added caulking in every single seam between the wall and the surrounding wood

By Sunday morning, Steve and Russell had bleached four walls, painted three and caulked one (the southwest). Unfortunately, they had run out of time to begin installing the drop ceiling.


By Sunday morning, three of the walls had been painted

On his first visit in several months, Steve also took time to get outside (despite the rain), clearing brush from one of the riding trails.

We still have several walls to repair, both downstairs and upstairs and both inside and outside. Already, Steve canít wait for the next opportunity to come back again.


On the wildlife front, Russell encountered a two-foot-long rattlesnake next to the step-up pump. Fortunately for Russell, it appeared to be too cold to strike.

 

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