Cats, Raccoon, and Skunks – Oh MY!

Well it sure did not take long for the wildlife to figure out my house had no walls.  I set the roving cam to email me alerts when it sensed action last night. Partly as a security measure, but also because of interest in what might be coming through the house now that it was wide open.

I was not disappointed!

The skunk was the first recorded visitor and made multiple visits including this one at 3:43 AM

The skunk was the first recorded visitor and made multiple visits including this one at 3:43 AM

Next came the Raccoon who first showed up just after 3:00 AM

Next came the Raccoon who first showed up just after 3:00 AM

And then finally at a more civilized hour, the back neighbour cat apeared around day break and again made multiple visits including this one at 9:43 AM

And then finally at a more civilized hour, the back neighbour cat apeared around day break and again made multiple visits including this one at 9:43 AM

But lets back up a couple of days to see how I got here.  As I last reported – Wednesday was an excellent and productive day.    Thursday ended up not being too shabby either.  I finished stripping the wood furring strips that were behind the brick facing on the front of the house and then set to stripping out the electrical system in a majority of the house.  By 8 PM, I had all the circuits that really need to be gone out except for some of the kitchen circuits.

I had 4 different types of wires in the house which is interesting as three appeared to have been installed during construction and were not reno additions. There was cloth covered 2 & 3 conductors circuits, plastic covered 2 conductor – no ground, plastic covered 2 conductor with ground, and then modern Lumex (installed by me). Except for the Lumex, almost all of the circuits showed some break down of the insulation jacket at terminations, especially ceiling lights or other areas that go hot.  The rest of the insulation jacket throughout the circuit would be just fine.

The wiring connections were also interesting. The cables that had ground wires had the ground wire wound around the cable clamp on the OUTSIDE of the box.  From the box you could not see any ground.  The circuits that did not have a ground conductor sometimes had an independent bounding wire (single conductor) routed in the wall between outlets, with itself being bonded to something below the sub-floor (I believe it will be the hot water heating pipes but that system was never bonded to neutral or ground). And in one case, the neutral conductor was jumper-ed to the ground.  For anyone who knows wiring, these are strange (and generally not approved) wiring methods. With the amount of fraying I saw, I am lucky there never was any arcing or fires.  It confirmed my opinion before I started tearing down, that the electrical system would be beyond its service life.

Sorry for the bad picture, this was with a cell and I did not think to take another.  This was a kitchen ceiling light and what the picture does not clearly show is that there were bare conductors present.

Sorry for the bad picture, this was with a cell and I did not think to take another. This was a kitchen ceiling light and what the picture does not clearly show is that there were bare conductors present.

Typically when present, the grounding conductor was wound around the cable clamp screw

Typically when present, the grounding conductor was wound around the cable clamp screw on the outside of the box.

 

This was an area where the outside cloth sheathing had disintegrated and fallen off.

This was an area where the outside cloth sheathing had disintegrated and fallen off.

As you will also see in two of the photos above, wire marrets were generally not used in the system.  There were a few, so I do believe they were available in 1954 and I am not sure why this method of winding the conductors together and just taping was allowed. I cannot really complain though, none of the taped joints had broken down or opened up.

Friday morning, Eric came back and by 4:00 PM had finished bundling ALL of the beach flooring.  The whole job only took 1.5 days.  All is now tucked safely away in the storage container and I have someone coming at 9 AM tomorrow to pull up the oak flooring in the office and spare bedroom.  So this is perfect timing (the beech flooring Eric bundled was in the office).

I spent Friday morning pulling the last of the wiring out of the kitchen and utility room and then went to town on the exterior wall ship-lap sheathing.  By the end of the day, I had stripped the dining room, kitchen, and utility room down to the studs.  Hence why we had so much wildlife in the house last night.

My plan to cut the ship-lap off from the inside was a bust.  The tools were just not up to the vibration.  But then I figured out I really did not need to cut the nails off.  I used the top surface of the sledge (wide part) and started at one end and hammered it away from each succeeding stud.  At first I needed to just hammer out the board a bit and work through 2-3 studs, but once I was able to get the nails free on one or two stud bays in from the end,  then I would just use a crowbar to push the already loose part away from the walls so there was a strain on the board and then just had to lightly tap the next stud bay and it would pop off.  By repeating this all the way down the wall, I was able to get 15-25ft pieces off with no splitting.  This is cedar ship-lap (unusual) and someone has already indicated they may want it.

Of course there were a lot of boards that were cracked before I touched them (decades of expanding and contracting against nails) and other areas that were too short to try and save.  In the end, I suspect I salvaged about 50-60% of the total sheathing removed which is material I do not have to pay to dispose of.  Also, as this is unpainted wood, the material I did have to dispose of is considered green waste, is much cheaper to dump, and will end up as garden soil in a few months and sold back to the public.

What I also discovered Friday was that I had a badly corroded and cracked main cast iron drain pipe servicing the kitchen and laundry.  The pipe was also 2/3 blocked with sludge.  As I tell my home inspection clients, it is rarely the vertical stacks that wear out, it is the horizontal ones you have to watch for.  And after 60 years, this one was done.  This again confirmed my pre-demolition opinion that the plumbing drains would be shot.

This cast iron horizontal waste pipe was fractured, rusted, and 2/3 plugged.

This cast iron horizontal waste pipe was fractured, rusted, and 2/3 plugged.

Today was an equally productive day.  After my Saturday morning breakfast with a neighbour, and the inspection of a West Van house under construction, I loaded up the trailer with a trash load consisting of any of the painted cedar siding that was too cracked to save, and the tar paper from the majority of the house walls. Once already loaded and strapped down, I had a thought that the paper was probably recyclable and could have been taking to the shredder with the shingles.  But I just did not have the time to unload and separate the materials on the trailer. Once back from the dump, I removed the sheathing from the front part of the house that needs to come down first and then stacked the usable sheathing at the front and back of the house and loaded the rest into the trailer for an early morning run tomorrow.

Some of the salvaged cedar shiplap

Some of the salvaged cedar ship-lap

Green waste gereated over last two days from ship-lap too cracked or short to save and 2x4's with too many nails to be worth saving.  All will be top soil in a matter of a few months.

Green waste generated over last two days from ship-lap too cracked or short to save and 2×4’s with too many nails to be worth saving. All will be top soil in a matter of a few months.

Tomorrow I hope to start stripping roof shingles.  It would be perfect if the ones I need stripped now would fit into one trailer load!

I leave you with the last photo.

Something about a man and his throne??

Something about a man and his throne??

Thanks for visiting.

 

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2 Responses to Cats, Raccoon, and Skunks – Oh MY!

  1. leanintothewind says:

    When do you find the time to write all of this?

  2. theenclosure says:

    Most of it is between 10 PM and midnight or before I go to the job site for the day.  Takes a lot of time but I am committed to documenting for my own personal records anyway.

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