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She did, didn’t she?

Well, part of it is probably the same reason she had a little needlepoint hat for the toilet paper – because it was the 70s/60s/50s/decade of your choice and that was cool back then. But I now have a new theory.

1) Your grandmother probably had well water. Well water is *cold*. This will be important latter.

2) Your grandmother probably did not have air conditioning. She probably had windowshades, and fans, and other things to make this bearable (honest to gosh, we didn’t think it would be possible, but it completely was) but windowshades and fans don’t do a darn thing about humidity. Again, I promise this will be relevant soon.

3) Your grandmother probably had one toilet, and seven people in the house. That toilet was seeing a lot of action.

Ok, that last one is at least related, but still, what does this have the least bit to do with toilet fashions? Imagine, for a moment, a nice glass of ice tea sitting out on a humid summer day. Refreshing, Yes. But also dripping all over the table with condensation. now realize that a toilet being constantly refilled with nice cold well water sitting in an unairconditioned house has a lot of similarities to that cold glass of tea.

Primarily, that it will drip all over the floor and make it look like you have a very serious plumbing problem. Ok, most people probably don’t suspect septic disaster while observing ice tea, but you get the drift.

For two people, this isn’t too much of a problem – the water must warm up enough between flushes to not cause problems, but if we have guests, we get puddles on the floor. And when guests are over is exactly when you don’t want to give the impression of a malfunctioning bathroom.

However, since it’s not the 50s anymore, the shag rug aesthetic isn’t really our cup of tea (there we go again with the tea…) In fact, we threw out the shag rug that was attached to the toilet when we bought the house, because, among other things, it was so thick the seat wouldn’t stay up. Obviously, one solution is air conditioning, but that seems a bit overkill.

Anyone have ideas less expensive than cooling systems, but less fugly than shag rugs?

Laura at (not so) Urban Hennery posted about shocking her well, and I realized we actually *have* been doing something at the house, it’s just been so slow it doesn’t feel like progress.

Anyway, I’d never heard of shocking wells before we moved here. Apparently, you throw a bunch of chlorine down them a couple times a year to get rid of iron bacteria. Most of the neighbors in our area do it, and we wanted to start as fresh as we could before replacing the softener, so we went ahead and gave it a shot.

We bought an ‘official’ kit from a local water softener office. I think chlorine is chlorine as far as effectiveness is concerned, but the granules were easier to deal with than liquid, and we wanted good instructions and measurements the first time through.

The process was pretty simple. Pour the chlorine down the well, run the water with the hose going back into the well for a while to get it distributed, then run the faucets in the house until you smell chlorine. Then wait. We’d thought it was a 24 hour process or something, but apparently you only want to do 8 or so to avoid damaging the pump. Then you run the water again until it doesn’t smell like chlorine (a few hours).

That’s where we got a little scare. When we ran the water afterwards, it stayed cloudy even after the smell went away. We’d had a hard time getting the water to clear after installing the new pump, and were afraid again of having to drill a new well if it didn’t clear. We let it run overnight into the yard, which was what we’d done when the pump was being installed (thank goodness all this is going on during a wet spring, not a summer drought). Thankfully, in the morning it was better. It really seemed to knock a lot of crud out of the pipes – grit and strange colored water would come out of the faucet when you cycled the water for some time, but a couple minutes standing at the sink turning the water on and off seems to have fixed it for good.

And I am such a convert. The water here used to be *nasty*. I know well water, I don’t have a problem with it. M’s family has some pretty icky well water, and I can deal with it, even when it turns my toenails orange from showering. This water was nasty. It smelled horrible, iron and sulfur and just nasty. Tasting even a drop off your wet finger was not advisable. B – A – D. After, it just tastes like well water. Still not yummy well water like my grandmother’s, but you could drink it, if you were thirsty. It was a good experiment.

In other news, we’ve found a guy to do the floor who actually seemed to recognize that there was a difference between our old-growth pine, and normal hardwood or modern pine. And, he was willing to do the prep like countersinking the top nailing and other things we’re not sure about himself. There was another company specific to old house restoration that we were considering, but given that after two calls, they still can’t call us back to schedule an estimate, I guess they don’t really need the business.

Now we just have to decide whether to sacrifice the upstairs, or the dining room to get patch boards. The dining room would be a better choice, as it is large and in poor shape, but it would require a pretty big transition from old to new wood between it and the office. We’re trying to decide whether that would look too strange.

So, there we were, diligently (attempting to) insulate the basement. then M notices some damp and mold sprouts in a previously bone-dry place. (I do not understand our basement drainage. It is incredibly to-the-dust hasn’t seen moisture in ages dry. There isn’t even a sump pump. I find it incredible)

So we pop out to open the vent near that area, and examine possible causes – like the nearby downspout. After running and digging about the yard trying to find where the downspout goes we run the hose down it and decide that wherever it goes, it isn’t clogged, and the problem is more likely that we had an *incredible* amount of rain recently, so probably won’t be reoccurring. (later note: we think it may actually go to the cistern – which we will need to check for an overflow)

Having run about in the unusually dry and warm weather, the notion arises to clean the junk out of the well-pit. In goes M, a shovel, and a bucket. And here’s where the fun really begins. About one bucket of trash down, M slips in the cramped muddy pit, and bumps the well pump. At which point, the rusted top cracks off, and begins spurting water everywhere. So I run to the basement and flip the breaker labeled ‘well-pump’ . . . to no effect. So we flip the main breaker to solve the immediate problem, and call the plumber to order a new well-pump asap.

So, now we need to solve the electrical problem too. M puts the main back on, and flips random breakers until the well goes back off. Apparently, it’s on an unlabeled 15 amp breaker (the breaker it was labeled as on was 40 amps, which seems more reasonable). Better call the electrician and get him to fix what he messed up.

But wait! there’s more! In flipping though the breakers, M gets a little zap. Forgot to dry his hands completely after the foray into the well-pit? Well . . . open up the panel and check. No…it appears there is water dripping into the breaker box from *inside* the main service line. Let’s make that call to the electrician a little more heated now, what do you say?

So, in the space of a day, we have no water, *and* no electric. Which, coincidentally, makes mixing mortar and applying it to the un-windowed basement, well, difficult. So we went home and watched the Kansas-Davidson game.

New plans for the week are finding a sink, and doing the bathroom demo (since it’s not functional anyway), and continuing to try to find someone to tell us what to do with the floors.