Monday, March 03, 2008

Agh Spring

We had a flood downstairs. We noticed about 10 p.m. with a splash as we were walking by the bed. I spent the night on towel patrol. I think about 20 gallons came inside over 24 hours.

So with cold splatter, my summer plans are changed.

As it turns out, we have a part of the basement foundation wall extending off the back of our first floor privacy apartment into the back yard. There, five brick-clad, slate-capped concrete stairs lead from a glass door to the back deck. At the bottom of the stairwell is a drain. The uphill side of this drain has taken to freezing and creating an ice dam for the drainage tile. When we have a rapid thaw of over a foot of snow (from 20 degrees to 58 in 24 hours) and about an inch of rain to boot, a dam on the drainage tile is bad. A pinhole at the base of the foundation wall is all it takes to have a freezing puddle in the middle of your program.

I dug out the blueprint for the house. Yes indeed, there is a complete foundation wall back there, enclosing 10 feet square, partially obscured by stairs. It is about a foot thick, as my dad intended to add a third story to this place and we carefully built in the forest without destroying mature trees (tree doctors kept many an oak alive). The trees and the added weight will do nothing to dent this foundation.

A quick inventory of the supplies in the outbuildings indicate we have windows and glass doors ready. My dad was a contractor and a depression survivor, so he probably squirreled away an entire house on this property. So my summer schedule? I am going to dust off the tool belt and build a two-story addition. I need to cover the staircase drain to prevent the flooding. The first level will be an enclosed staircase/greenhouse and second floor a step-up solarium off of the guest bedroom. The exposure is southern, but the addition would place a new gable at the middle of the southern wall. In the summer it is well shaded by trees. In the winter, the sun streams in and warms the place.

So now the research begins. What flooring and wall covering between the windows will provide the best absorption mass for solar energy? I suspect I can make a dent on the heating bill if I do it right. Admittedly it is not hard to heat and retain heat in this fortress, but now I am really serious about it.

I look forward to arguing with the building and zoning people about just how much this adds to the property value.


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