Fixing Everything in Our House

We started planning the kitchen remodel at the beginning of the year. We’d been saving up for several years, the boys were out of day care, and now was the time. We came up with a desired layout, found a contractor, and modified our layout several times until we were in agreement on features and price. That work will start up soon, but it’s not the only work we’re having done this season.

It All Started With Some Seepage

One evening I went down to the basement and noticed that our floor was wet. “No worries”, I thought, “the snow is melting and a bit of water is seeping up through the concrete like it usually does.” I threw some towels on it and called it a night.

The next morning we took a shower. I went down to the basement afterward and was astounded to find an inch of water covering the floor of my Mac Museum and seeping out from under our hot water heater and washing machine. This was not the seasonal seepage I was used to. Was the hot water heater finally done? After some investigation I realized that water was not coming from the hot water heater but spreading to it. Was it the washer? Upon further inspection I noticed that our sewer pipe was wet. Oh no. A quick flush of the toilet followed by a fountain of water shooting from the washing machine drain pipe confirmed it: something was clogging our sewer line.

Several hours later Roto Rooter arrived to auger the sewer line. The tech was really nice and spent about two hours trying to remove the blockage and scoping it with a camera so we could see what the problem was. The verdict: our sewer line was impeded by a root and needed to be partially replaced. As our house wasn’t originally built with city sewer the line exited from the back of the house, wrapped around the side, and traveled through the front yard before reaching the street, some 80 feet or so of piping. He gave us a quote for $5000 to replace 20 feet of it and was on his way.

We got a second opinion from Heritage Heating & Plumbing to see if it was something that could be addressed with an epoxy liner. It’s a no-dig option where they basically put a new pipe inside the old one. We found out that our pipe is made out of Orangeburg which of course, they don’t use anymore because it doesn’t last. Ours is so old that it has basically disintegrated so we couldn’t go the epoxy route. The recommendation was to dig up the yard and replace the line for about $10,000. Woo hoo.

Luckily we were able to add it into our kitchen remodel for a bit less than that.

And Then We Had Our Furnace Inspected

Yearly maintenance is a great thing and we try to maintain our stuff as recommended. It was time for the oil furnace to have its yearly cleaning so we brought Heritage out again to clean it. The tech took one look at our probably 50 year-old oil tank and said it wasn’t safe. The tank is visibly rusting, the oil line is corroded, and is buried in the concrete. Oil lines were typically cemented into the floor until they discovered that cement corrodes them and causes oil to leak into the ground. Back in the 1950’s that was cool, now not so much.

An oil leak is a big deal. Not only does it ruin everything that it touches, but we can’t get it cleaned up or fixed until the EPA comes out to evaluate whether it had leaked into the ground. I’m pretty sure insurance wouldn’t covered it either as it is considered a result of not maintaining our property. We had to sign a waiver stating that we accepted the risk of an oil leak. A replacement cost $5,000.

The furnace had issues too. It’s 30 years old this year (Happy Birthday!) and needs some love. Two of the control wires are burning and the coil needs replaced. Another $1,000 investment in something that is past its useful life and far less efficient than anything on the market today.

We decided to have someone come out and quote us for a new furnace since a thousand dollar investment probably wouldn’t last long. While we were at it we thought we’d get a quote for a new water heater as well. It’s old and needs to be relocated so it’s not in front of our washing machine. We’d also like to switch from propane to something else.

By the end of Saturday we had sign up to get a new oil tank, furnace, and water heater. They’re coming out tomorrow to start the installation.

But Wait, There’s More (Possibly)

So after a new oil tank, furnace, water heater, sewer line, and kitchen we should be done with our home investments for the year. There are still a few things that could add additional cost that we know of. One is the chimney. After installing all of the heating equipment the city needs to do an inspection. If the chimney isn’t lined we need to get it lined before the inspection can occur. It is lined according to the inspection we had done prior to buying the house but who knows what condition it’s in. He may have said “it looks” lined but couldn’t confirm. I don’t remember.

The other big one is the sewer pipe. We were quoted for redoing the piping to the edge of our property line not into the street. If the city requires us to go into the street then we have to pay to dig up and re-tar the street which will add cost. Then of course the rest of the kitchen could also go over once they get into our wiring and once we see progress and change our minds.

There is Light At the End of the Tunnel

After all is said and done we should be pretty good for a while in terms of large investments. Heating, hot water, and sewage will last us another 20 years; the kitchen should too. Our furnace and water heater should both be more efficient, we’ll get to move the water heater out of the way in the basement, and we’ll be able to get rid of the propane tank. And sewage won’t pour into the basement, another plus.

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