Monday, February 25, 2008

Salvaging floorboards... how to kill yourself.

We obviously have quite a few holes in the floors of the first floor, and although the wood tongue and groove flooring is old, dirty, and altogether icky right now, I have faith. We are planning to use the remaining (non-rotted) wood from the first floor back room to fill in the holes of the cut outs made over the years for plumbing, HVAC and electrical in the front room and kitchen, then sand them and polyurethane them. Yes, I know, three coats.

So, in the past couple of weeks, as I've been pulling up the wooden floor boards in the back room and stacking them in a corner for eventual review to find the sections not rotted or ruined via my aggressive nail pulling and crowbar antics. The plan was to cut out the sections to save and chuck out the rest.

Yesterday, while the husband was cutting out a rotten section of flooring in the kitchen to be repaired with Oriented Strand Board (OSB) [it will be covered by kitchen cabinets, so no need to make it pretty] I began the process of reviewing the floorboards to cut out the sections to be saved. Anything that was salvageable was marked with a pencil line and an X on the part to be disposed of. I went through about 150 linear feet of floor boards, of which maybe only 65 was salvageable.

After pulling nails out, (or if I couldn't pull them out completely, I marked the areas where the nail snapped off, so I didn't accidentally cut through the same area with a saw later on) I used the circular saw to cut anywhere from 10" pieces to 6' pieces of floorboard that we can reuse. The holes that were cut for the old floor vents were about 10" x 10" so any sections of wood that were good, but less than 10" were set aside for making 'plugs', small circular cut holes that can be used to plug up the holes cut for small copper plumbing lines. I'll take some pictures as we get closer to that particular process.

What I wanted to mention at this point was the 'how to kill yourself' section of the blog.

Husband spent a lot of time going through the lead certification process and is very heads-up when it comes to lead dust. We bought the special masks that were rated for lead dust removal (N100 respirators) and it's like breathing through a HEPA filter. But now that the demo is basically over and most (if not all) of the lead surfaces have been removed, wearing the masks was basically reserved for when we were reinforcing the ceiling joists (a lot of dust and dirt falls in your face when you're drilling and pounding into 150 year old ceilings, trust me) and for sweeping up dust on the floor.

BIG mistake.

As we've mentioned before there's been a lot of moisture in the house in the last 50 years, and moreso in the last 2 weeks. The roofers are still waiting for a decent day to return to fix the roof and complete the gutter job, but the majority of moisture over the years has come in from the stack that was broken off and just dumping water into the dirt basement for a long long time. The very same dirt basement that is directly below the floorboards I was pulling up and stacking on the corner.

You ever have one of those moments, almost cartoonish, as if you were Wiley E. Coyote stepping to the edge of a cliff and holding up a sign that says, "hey look, a cliff" and then you step off of it?

Yeah, that was me. After cutting through about half of the floorboards and making rather quick work of the sorting process, it went like this:

Hub: "Hey babe, how are you doing?"
Wife: "Great, hon. Going great. Hey, what's this white stuff?"
Hub: (holding up invisible cartoony-like sign in my mind) "It looks like mold."
Wife: "Oh. Ok. I'll finish up in a bit."

So, I've been using a circular saw for about an hour to cut through the wood flooring with a thick coat of white mold, no respirator on, not even a paper mask, and I've been deep breathing the cloud of mold each time I make a pass. Niiiiice.

It's been about 26 hours since we finished up. It was just about the time the stabbing pain and the wheezing began for me. My head feels like a bucket of cement. My lungs ache. My eyes are dry and red. I am the epitome of good health gone to the seedy side of town.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 to get my office work done, finished up at 9:00 and went back to bed. Husband checked in on me occasionally to make sure I had a pulse. I woke up at 5PM. I'm still tired, cranky and have respiratory fatigue not unlike the days when I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and caught a mild case of pneumonia after college exams.

So, just a warning to all of you who would think of salvaging wood from a moist area of your home: please, wear a respirator. Learn from the mistakes of others, or join the club of cartoony sign holding dolts like myself.

Oh look, an anvil.

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