This house is crap

I’ve been listening to something. Good Lord only knows what but I suspect mortar, falling from the top to the bottom in between my walls. I need to rehab this house, immediately before the damned thing falls on my head. Good bones my ass.
Maybe it is because of my job and what I do, but the ancestors, the people who came before were not mini-gods to be worshipped automatically for their works. People who lived 100 or more years ago were just as lazy, stupid, underhanded, dishonest, and on a good day, mediocre as the people who roam the earth today. Those same sort of people built this house, and maybe it was a good set of days when they built this row of affordable housing. But I’m seriously doubting that, as what sounds like a good sized chunk of WTF comes tumbling down between me and the house next door, this worker’s housing unit was supposed to be standing 130 years later.
I’m possibly in a bad mood because something died or enough mortar fell into the chimney cavity so I haven’t been able to work my furnace for nearly a month. I’m keeping the house at 66F by running two little heater fans at full blast.
Okay, I’m going to bed and praying that the damned house can hold itself up for at least 3 more months, or that it doesn’t get any colder before one of these heater fans decides to give up the ghost.

8 thoughts on “This house is crap”

  1. Mari –

    One thing to watch out for when doing any masonry renovations is to be SURE to use lime-based mortar, NOT the mortar sold in Home Depot. Turn-of-the-century brickwork was done with much softer mortar than what is used today, although it is just as durable. The issue arises when you use the cement-based mortar typically used today on top of (to repair) older mortar. It forms a rock-solid block in front of the old mortar, which prevents water from seeping out of the older mortar as it is supposed to do. Moisture build up destroys the integrity of the older mortar and winds up dissolving it. Thousands of older row houses in this area have experienced these types of repairs; mine, built in 1906, has this issue and as I’ve chipped out and replaced the crap repairs I’ve found enormous gaps that need filling because of this phenomenon. If you hire masonry contractors, personally inspect their mortar and ensure they are not doing this. The correct mortar is somewhat more expensive but worth the money. Fragers hardware on capital hill stocks the correct stuff, from Virginia Lime Works. Ask them about it.

    I bet anything that your place has had these types of repairs.

    Also make sure the top of any masonry is capped with flashing or something else metal that keeps the rain from seeping directly in. Your chimney may lack a cap, which needs to be remedied ASAP.

    Hope this helps!

    -2nd st

  2. No the chimney has a cap. But something fell in anyway.
    The minor details like mortar will be delt with by the contractor. The two contractors I have in mind are familiar with DC rowhouses. The wall in question is an interior party wall so I don’t know if it is supposed to take in water.

  3. mari – so sorry to hear about the heat situation! I have so been there, just got heat back a month ago after 1.5 yrs 🙂 i hope your situation will be resolved much sooner! Whats the status?

  4. Status, currently still waiting on eco-guy. The problem is there isn’t a lot of room in my attic crawlspace and he’s trying to figure out what kind of insulation should go there. Insulation made out of recycled bluejeans… good. Moldly cotton that absorbs interior moisture and doesn’t vent… bad.
    Whilst waiting, I’ve been drawing up how I want the first floor and a general idea of how I want the 2nd. The plan with the basement is just to pull out all the drywall, make it unfinished and if I have any money left over, maybe do something with it.

  5. Ok sounds good. But as you know just because someone has familiarity with DC rowhouses doesn’t mean they’re going to buy mortar thats 5x as expensive. I’ve seen it happen again and again – most recently in the renovation of the house that abuts my back yard, where I saw that contractors had pointed the entire 1906 rear wall with cement-based mortar guaranteed to cause headaches down the road. Just something you will want to bring up when you deal with them.

    -2nd st

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