Saturday, July 6, 2019

There's A Funny Story in Here Somewhere - Water, Wasps & Mosquitoes

There has been a little break in action here at Swamp Central. By that I mean, there are no workers under my house, performing inscrutable procedures. I’ve had the time to re-examine what has gone on, and how, quite possibly, my own distress taken advantage of. First of all, standing water under one’s house is no joke. Specters of mold, mosquitoes, collapsing foundation walls and dollar bills being sucked down the drain at hyper speed are not crazy panic-induced illusions. They are all possible. However, they are not inevitable.

I realize now that the word “mold” was used by a man purposely wearing a for-real, I-mean-business respirator. I realize now, that the workers who spent hours in that same environment wore the same kind of mask I wear to clean out the bottom of my birdcage. I realize now, that the people I hired did not have proper equipment for removing the water, despite " flood clean-up" being their business. I realize now, that two dehumidifiers, left running under my house for more than a week, were not discharging water to the outside of the house, or the sump pump pit. Quite possibly, they were just discharging the water right back into. the crawl space. And, I realize now, that I know where the abundance of mosquitoes around my deck is coming from.

A correction is needed for sure, and no independent inspectors seem to exist. So, decided to get at least three estimates from local water proofers chosen by an online web service that purports to list reputable companies. I arranged appointments over a day and a half, looking to make a decision immediately following. I gave very detailed information about wanting an inspection and quote. For a crawl space. With a three-foot clearance. And standing water. I purposefully did not mention the “m” word, now convinced, that if you mention it as a concern, they will play on that and tell you it exists, whether it does or not.

Contractor/salesman #1 arrives. He pauses as I open the hatch. “Oh, this is a crawl space,” he says. “Oh, it has water in it?” he asks. “Nobody told me, and, anyway, I am not dressed for that,” he concludes. “How about I come back tomorrow, or first thing Saturday morning?” He had been at my house about 3 minutes.

He left, and I immediately went on the online web service, and gave his outfit a poor review, indicating that they were being dinged for wasting my time (time I had taken off from work) and that they lost my business no matter how many good reviews they had.

Then I decided I better call the other two bidders to make sure they were coming prepared. Contractor #2 put me on hold. Then another person came on the line and said, “Oh, our inspector just called out sick for tomorrow. Can we reschedule for next week?” No second chance for them.

Contractor #3 was almost surprised when I asked if their representative would be prepared to go under my house. They assured me he would be. But, actually, he wasn’t. However, he at least jumped down into the pit, shone a flashlight into the crawlspace, took measurements with a laser ruler, and examined the sump pump system and new pump that had been improperly installed. We walked around the outside of the house and he determined that grading was NOT contributing to the water. I felt a little better about taking a quote from him. This was the only place that I had an actual personal recommendation for, and I made sure to name drop. However, I think they need to come again, with a clean suit and a mask, to crawl around down there and give me a better assessment.

Of course all things halted for the Independence Day weekend. But that didn’t mean things got quiet here. The LOML was mowing the grass in the front yard and I was inside the house. I heard him cry out and the lawnmower stop. All the DuPont Safety Magazine gory articles about lawn mower accidents ran through my head, and I ran outside – running into the LOML heading into the house, pulling off his shirt. Apparently, he brushed up against the yews in the front yard, and had gotten attacked by wasps. After finding all the stings and administering AfterBite and Benadryl, I went to peek at the bush. A fairly large amount of angry wasps were flying around. From behind the safety of the living room window, I could see a paper wasp nest – not as big as the basketball-sized ones I have seen in trees – but bigger than a softball for sure.

Friends had all sorts of ideas, from burning them, to sneak stomping the nest after dark. I decided that discretion is the better part of valor, and we called in a professional. 

And he never once mentioned mold.
The real WaspMan at work in my front yard.

Monday, July 1, 2019

There's a Funny Story in Here Somewhere - Part 4 Back to Square One

Welcome Back to Square One! Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Square One! Tonight we have a breathtaking show for you! Hair-raising feats sure to take your breath away! Comedy to leave you rolling on the floor! Tonight, at great expense we present the comedy stylings of Jersey Girl, warming you up for the grand finale — the daredevil only known by the initials, LOML."

(applause and cheering)

Jersey Girl: Hello Jamesburg! Glad to be with you tonight! Especially because it isn’t raining! Because it has been raining a long time in Jersey!

Crowd: How long has it been raining?

Jersey Girl: It’s been raining so long; the dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark have gone extinct!

Crowd: Laughter

Jersey Girl: And in addition to that, it’s been raining so hard!

Crowd: How hard has it been raining?

Jersey Girl: It’s been raining so hard my house is “underwater" — both literally and figuratively!

Crowd: Groans

Heckler: Hope you had some liquid assets to bail you out!

"Thanks Jersey Girl. Looks like LOML is ready to perform his feat of unmitigated strength and bravery. Please, we need complete silence as he dons his protective facemask, safety gloves and boots. Notice the headlamp — this could go out at any time, leaving LOML in complete darkness during is descent. I direct your attention to the trap door being opened by our lovely assistant."

(hushed attention)

After the trap door is opened fully, LOML gazes down into the chasm. He adjusts his mask, and flicks on his headlamp. With a wave to the crowd, he begins to slowly lower himself into the darkness. The crowd gasps as his feet hover close to the gaping Pit of Sump, just missing it at the last second. He takes a deep breath, drops to his hands and knees and begins to crawl. As he disappears into the void, the crowd holds their breath.

“Yes!” comes the muffled voice. I’ve reached the Pool of Groundwater, and I can see the Hanging Wires of Electricity.”  There is a sound of splashing. “I’m ok! It’s clean water!” Then the voice goes silent.

Jersey Girl hovers over the chasm opening. The crowd begins to murmur. “Pull him out!” someone shouts. Then suddenly, a light appears, and LOML crawls back into the chasm, waving his cellphone triumphantly. “I have pictures!” he shouts. He hoists himself out of the hole, tosses his mask aside, and is greeted by a relieved Jersey Girl who looks as if she wants to hug him, but then remembers where he has been. “To the showers!” she proclaims.

(The crowd goes wild.)

Tonight’s show is brought to you courtesy of Rising Water Tables, Inc. Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment.