Ten. Basement Office Update

Basement bookshelves are starting to take shape, but now it’s on hold

Two weekends ago we attacked half of our basement with white paint, gusto, and fervor.  We organized our workout and sporting gear in one corner of the basement, and we moved our office bookcases downstairs.  We had originally set ourselves a November goal of moving our office into the basement.  We were moving!  We were going to smash that goal and be in by the end of September!

But then we thought, well, you know that radon test that we bought years ago?  Maybe we should, you know, use it.  Since there is “a clear link between breathing high concentrations of radon and incidence of lung cancer,” we figured that, if we’re going to be in the basement for hours a day, every day, maybe we should be sure that there isn’t radon down there.  Because this was Chris’ grandmother’s house, there was no home inspection when ownership was passed on to him.  This seemed like the right time to do a radon test.

It’s simple, really.  You open two vials, let them sit in the basement for 48 hours without moving them or opening any windows or doors.  Then, 48 hours later, you put the caps back on and mail it in.  It was about a week later that I got the results in my email, and low and behold, we do have radon.  Not much, but still, we have it.

On Friday, after getting our results, we called a radon abatement service, and, after hearing about our house size and layout, they gave us a price, sent us a contract, and scheduled the work to be done Monday afternoon.  No big detour! We thought.  It’s money we didn’t want to spend, but we have to do it, and at least it will be done quickly!

Orrrrr not.

When Zach, the nice service technician, came Monday afternoon, he immediately recognized that it wasn’t going to be a simple solution after all.  Because there is a load-bearing wall in the middle of our basement, one ventilation stack wasn’t going to work.  We’d need two.  Then, he realized that we have a crawl space with a dirt floor.  Make that three ventilation stacks, plus a plastic barrier to cover the dirt.  Since radon comes from the earth, an open dirt floor is a biiiig suspect for radon.

Zach couldn’t do all that work Monday afternoon, and anyway, we needed a new quote….that was double the price.

Well, we thought, that sucks, but we still have to do it.  Chris called to schedule the appointment for this Thursday instead.

“Make sure your crawl space is cleared out so that they can seal it off!” the lady of the phone told him at the end of the call.

Cue the screeching brake noises.

I mean, it makes sense that we have to clean out the crawl space.  BUT. Ours is filled with 60+ years of stuff.  It looks like possibly, maybe when they built the house, the crawl space became the dumping ground for unused construction materials, and this has been added to over the years: old beer bottles, extra masonry bricks, rusty (heavy-as-&$^!) metal pipes, deteriorating what-we-think-was-cardboard, old lumber.

The crawl space is full but is not tall.  Chris is rather tall.  And the things we have pulled out of it thus far are, frankly, disgusting.

And so.

We’ve had to put a damper on our excitement and on our projected office move date so that we can pull Old Stuff out of the crawl space so that we can get rid of radon.  Womp.  We’ve pushed back our radon abatement for two weeks to give us time to move everything out of the crawl space, and we’re hoping we can get it cleared out by working just for 30 minutes each day (because, EW). It’s certainly a disappointment, but we’re still hoping to be working away down there before our November target!  It just won’t be quite as soon as we were first anticipating.


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