Demolition Diaries: R.I.P., Nasty Carpet

You know how Mista Lista said that sometimes things don’t go as planned?  Mista Lista was right.  Just after we closed on the house and had the gas heat turned on, I noticed a peculiar, unplaceable smell emanating from the front bedroom–a smell that had NOT been there when we walked through it multiple times.  Chris and my parents didn’t notice it until I brought the issue to their attention, but once I mentioned it, they could smell it, too (Ah, the power of suggestion).  We tried several solutions to get rid of the smell (airing out room for days on end, containers of baking soda and vinegar, sprinkling baking soda, carpet cleaner, and deodorizer, etc.) to no avail.  Chris didn’t really seem to notice, but I’m very sensitive to smells, especially bad smells.  It reminded me of an old nursing home.

Call me crazy, but when I went to FL for my ‘spring break’ I couldn’t take it any longer.  I couldn’t stay inside the house without getting a headache.  I asked one of my neighbors, a stay-at-home mom who seemed very knowledgeable about the goings-on at our house (maybe a little too knowledgable), if the former inhabitants were smokers, pet owners, etc.  According to her, there was no smell in the front room, they weren’t smokers, and they kept their dog at the back of the house on the vinyl tile.  I wasn’t so sure.  I noticed that some of the boxes of our things Chris had stored in the front room’s closet were starting to smell, too.  Noooo!  I bravely went around sniffing the room and determined that the primary source of the bad odor was definitely the carpet, hence why boxes sitting on the carpet smelled bad, but not the boxes on top of other boxes.  I moved all of our things out of the room.  I also noticed that the smell seemed to be drifting into the guest hall, guest bath, and the other bedroom.  The carpet had to go. 

I resorted to drastic measures.  First, I called Chris waste management to set up a bulk pickup appointment for carpet.  They told me it would be two days before pick up, and that I needed to have at least two rooms of carpet to justify the pickup.  That meant I had two days to get the carpet out of the entire front of the house. I stopped by my parents’ house for tools from my dad.  They acted surprised (and a little dubious) that I was going to tear out the carpet by myself.  But remember:

Though she be but little she is fierce. ~Shakespeare

I started in a corner, making cuts with my box cutter along the baseboard along both walls meeting in the corner until I had enough to grip.  Then, I tugged, and the carpet heavens opened the carpet pulled away from the tack strips.  I could have rolled that nasty carpet up in a single roll, but I would not have been able to get it out of the room singlehandedly. I took my dad’s suggestion and cut it into manageable strips around 2 feet in width.  Once I started rolling the carpet back, I saw the signs: huge stains on every section of carpet. Clearly, someone had had an accident (or twelve) in that room.  You can imagine my disgust.

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The stains fueled my enthusiasm for the task, and with renewed vigor, I attacked the rug pad, slicing along the duct taped divisions and cutting it into sections.

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The rug pad was more difficult to dissect into strips because it was disintegrating into nasty little chunks and stuck to the concrete pad where the installers had run a bead of glue around the perimeter of the room.

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After the rug pad was torn out, I started prying up the tack strips and the concrete nails holding them down.  The installers obviously didn’t want those tack strips to move because there must have been a thousand concrete nails I had to remove one at a time (the tack strips were pretty much rotted and thus splintered into numerous bits and pieces).  I swept up the residual refuse and shop-vac’d around the baseboards to ensure I got all remaining pieces of the foul flooring.

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Within an hour and a half, the dirty deed was done.

And the room smelled better.  

Only better.

What?!?!

Part of the weird smell was removed with the carpet and rug pad, but now there was a definite smoker smell.  If there is one smell that we loathe above all others, it is smoker smell, especially since it is one of my many allergies.  Our home was advertised as a smoke-free home, and it had not smelled like that before.  From what we could surmise,  three possible scenarios came to mind:

  1. A + C leave the windows open to air out the carpet odor.  Random neighbor person walking his dog and smoking lingers at the front of our house, curious as to who the new people are.  Smoke drifts inside through the open window, adding to the funky smell in the room.
  2. To close on the house, the door frame wood has to be patched, painted, and pass inspection a few days prior.  The worker(s) smoke in the yard, but with the windows open due to paint odor, the smoke drifts inside.
  3. Option 2, except that the worker(s) actually smoke in the front room because it is raining, thinking with the windows open and the fan on, the smell will dissipate and no one will notice.

Whatever the situation, I was dealing with smoke when I should not have been, and I was not a happy camper.  When Chris came home, he agreed it smelled like smoke.  The walls didn’t smell, but the room still did.  No way was I going to stand by and let our family suffer third-hand smoke damage (seriously, this is a thing, people).  It was time for more troubleshooting.

I did some online research and learned three things: 1.  We needed to clean the room’s walls hardcore even if they didn’t smell bad.  2.  We needed to use odor-locking/blocking primer and odor-eliminating paint to seal in the bad smell and hopefully eliminate it once and for all.  3.  We needed to de-popcornify our ceiling (yes, that’s a word I just made up).  Apparently popcorn ceilings are notoriously bad at harboring smokiness, so we needed to scrape and clean the ceilings.

The demolition job had only just begun.

We aren’t huge fans of popcorn ceilings and had planned to clean and paint anyway, but not immediately.  Unfortunately, we needed to address the lingering smoke problem quickly before it permeated the whole house and all of our things that Chris had been steadily transporting from the city to to the coast.  Fortunately, we had a little money saved up to tackle the issue because we had planned to do these things relatively soon anyway.  I headed for Sherwin Williams and came home with the products I needed, plus an extra can of paint for the other bedroom, thanks to the good sale they were having plus coupons I had from Pottery Barn and my preferred member discount.  I essentially got three gallons of odor-fighting, premium paint for the price of one.  Yay!

Since I now had enough paint for both guest bedrooms and the clock was ticking on my bulk pickup, I went back to attacking the carpet in the other bedroom and the hallway that connects the two guest rooms.  Wouldn’t you know, the other bedroom and hallway carpet were also stained, hence why the smell was present in those locations, too.  There weren’t as many stains, but it was still gross enough to merit a swift elimination.

There was one additional complication of removing the carpet from the hallway, though: The tack strips had been nailed through the vinyl tile in the bathroom entryway and in the doorway to the foyer, and there were some rusty concrete nails that were still stuck into the vinyl tile after I pried the tack strips up.

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I couldn’t get the crowbar (or anything) underneath the head of the nails to pry them up because of the slick-yet-sticky, stupid vinyl tiles.  This meant tearing out some of the vinyl tile (tragedy) in order to eliminate the possibility of tetanus.  If you give a DIYer a crowbar….

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Overall, I overfilled ten contractor trash bags full of putrid, disgusting flooring material.  I’m glad to say all the carpet has been hauled away, although there was a mix up and it didn’t get picked up right away.  When I say mix up, I really mean a big problem: I called Waste Management on Wednesday morning to schedule the bulk pickup.  I was told to put the carpet out Thursday night and that it would be picked up sometime on Friday.  By Friday at 4:00 p.m., the carpet was still by the road, so I called again.

Apparently, someone unbeknown to us cancelled our account with Waste Management on Wednesday afternoon (despite the fact that we had paid for services for the entire quarter), so our bulk pickup request was never routed to the local folks who actually collect items.  Say what?! We were astounded to learn that you can cancel someone’s (anyone’s?) trash services with Waste Management by simply providing the address. We suspicion that the former homeowner may have called to cancel his service at our address and that the representative with whom he spoke cancelled our service at our address, but what a coincidence that it happened to be the exact same day right after I had called to schedule the bulk pickup.  Waste Management apologized for the inconvenience/misunderstanding and rescheduled our pickup for the next week, since it was late Friday.

We hauled the bags of carpet and refuse into the garage over the weekend and then back out to the curb.  Once again, the carpet was not picked up, so we called a third time.  Waste Management apologized again and submitted a third request.  By now, I was starting to worry that the neighbors would think we didn’t know that you had to call for bulk pickup and that we were fast becoming the pickup pariahs of the neighborhood.  (“Look, Maude, those fool youngsters left their carpet out again.  Don’t they know you’re supposed to call first?  That’s what happens when the house prices drop–you get a bunch of young riff-raff who don’t care about the neighborhood and don’t follow the rules.  We’d better call the HOA president.”)  Shortly after the third request was submitted, we received a call from the local WM people who apologized profusely and said that the carpet would be picked up the next morning as the first pickup location.  It was gone before Chris left for work.   They also gave us their direct line and said we could contact them directly regarding pickups, given our previous difficulties.  We sincerely hope that Waste Management starts asking  callers for additional information pertinent to the account before stopping service to someone’s home so that this doesn’t happen to other people (or to us again!).

R.I.P., nasty carpet.  Of course we do still have the living room and master bedroom to rip out, and I foresee that happening very soon, now that we know how disgusting the carpet is, even in places that aren’t oozing Great Uncle Vernon and his dog smell (We are sure that there are very nice smelling Great Uncle Vernons and their dogs out there, just not the fictitious one that occupied our front bedroom).    Until then, smell you later, carpet.

Update: We have since found out from a different neighbor that previous inhabitants DID keep their dog penned in the front areas, which definitely explains the stains/smells. Poor baby–locked up without access to a proper place to go (hello, fenced in backyard, people!).  Accidents happen, and some pets have special needs.  Regardless, if you are a family that includes animals, please be responsible for your pet’s welfare by providing appropriate venues and sufficient opportunities for elimination–for their sake and everyone else’s.

For those of you who are wondering about what has replaced the carpet, the answer is (drumroll, please)…..nothing.  That’s right, those rooms have had concrete slab floors for several weeks now and will likely stay that way for some time until we have saved up for the good hardwoods we want.  Mista Lista approves this plan, even if it means that some of our soon-to-be-arriving guests will have cold feet.  In the spring/summer heat, that’s not necessarily a bad thing at the coast!

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Furniture Fridays: Caster(ed), the Friendly Furniture

Confession: I love furniture with casters.  In fact, sometimes I wonder why all furniture doesn’t come with casters.  So for the first Furniture Friday post, let’s talk casters and why they make furniture friendly!

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Top Ten Reasons All Furniture Should Be on Casters:

  1. Cleaning: I may not be Susie Q. Homemaker, but I am rather OCD, especially when it comes to a clean home.  It is my sworn mission to launch frequent cleaning assaults on dust mites lurking in the carpets and upholstery in particular.  Unfortunately, instead of mass-cleaning in one fell swoop, I find myself turning the vacuum cleaner on and off constantly while I move furniture around to make sure all areas of the carpet and rugs get vacuumed properly. Trust me: There is simple satisfaction in being able to relocate furniture with a nudge while continuing to vacuum, instead of waiting for your spouse to help you move the 92″ sofa where the dust mites are marshaling their troops (or wrenching your back trying to strong-arm it one-handed yourself: See #4). Oh sure, I may not move the furniture every time I clean, but I’d really like to avoid the nightmares about dust bunniculas that haunt me when I don’t move the furniture.
  2. Clutter Magnets (also known as Kids): We don’t have kids yet, but I know a lot of blogger buddies and friends who do.  From what I can tell, the average child leaves a room looking like an F5 tornado swept through recently.   In the FEMA-worthy clean-up that follows, some toys are never found in the wreckage: Presumably they took shelter under a sturdy piece of furniture and are still in the back corner, cowering in fear of being sucked into the tornado by giant, grabbing hands covered in marker and saliva (and who knows what else).  Of course, this leads to the inevitable meltdown when your kids set out to build the perfect Lego masterpiece, only to discover that a few essential pieces are missing.  Utter frustration.  Flash forward a few years when you move into a larger home to accommodate your growing family and discover those missing pieces under the bedroom dresser.  Someone in the family shouts, “My Legoooooooooos!” and then, because the Legos have already been packed, those stray pieces get thrown in a random box, never to be seen again…at least until the next move when you are empty nesters downsizing and your children are “too old” to play with Legos because they are now (gasp) adults.  Then, because you are a sentimental parent (or maybe you are the adult children who secretly still love your Legos and want to save every piece of your childhood), you end up with a Ziploc bag of random toy parts in a drawer in the guest room and Hogwarts in a box under your bed, waiting for (grand)children (someday).  Okay, fine.  I bought the Harry Potter Legos when I was in college.  But still.  #NeverTooOldForLegos
  3. Companions (i.e., your other children): We do have animal companions in the form of two spoiled cats.  They have toys, too. Lots of small toys that squeak, shake, jingle, or roll, typically under things out of reach (Note: This picture clearly shows a ball within human reach, but you get the idea).  IMG_2332How many of you have a pet that pouts when his/her favorite toy is under something and he/she can’t reach it?  My cat just falls asleep where his toy is lost, but he’s not exactly an active breed.  My husband’s cat, however, is a different story entirely.  She will whine and fidget in front of a piece of furniture until someone rescues her toy from underneath it, which is usually rather quickly because a Siamesesque shriek is hard to ignore (Siamesesque because she is a rescue cat that has seal-point Siamese markings, but we think she isn’t a purebred).  Usually this rescue mission involves a contortionist act with a Swiffer duster and shoulder dislocation, which brings us to #4.
  4. Critical Injuries: How many people land themselves a visit to the chiropractor trying to unearth toys for sobbing children and whining pets?  If you are a DIYer, go ahead and triple that number.  DIYers probably experience an above average number of accidents (and ER trips) resulting from assuming they have super-human powers (but come on, everyone’s favorite superheroes have a weakness here or there, so aren’t DIYers allowed a few tragic flaws, too?).  A trip to the ER is fairly expensive these days, so if you are a DIYer with pets and children, stock up on Aleve. You’ll need it unless you have mobile furniture that reduces the frequency of opportunities for neck strain and shoulder separation.
  5. Company: As an only child, my childhood involved having lots of people over to my house for pool parties and sleepovers.  Wouldn’t games of Twister have been much easier if the furniture easily rolled back?  Nowadays, when we get together with my husband’s family, the inevitable Xbox 360 dance marathons or Wii Sports games involve lots of action and the need for lots of space.  Furniture relocation for game nights is a cinch if everything rolls in/out.  
     Roll it out for dance sessions and roll it back in place for boardgames. Because who wants to injure their backs before the dance marathon happens? Not this kid, especially since Kinect dance-offs are the only thing I usually win when playing games with my husband’s extremely competitive family.  My family is only competitive when it comes to SEC football, but piling a bunch of people into a room to yell at the TV watch football comfortably would be helped by rolling furniture, too!
  6. Christmas/Holidays: Company frequently coincides with the holidays, no matter what holiday you might be celebrating.  More people = more furniture and less room for it.  If you celebrate Christmas like we do, there may also be the addition of a tree or two (or several).   Trees need space, which involves moving even more furniture. Casters make Christmas (and Christmas decorating) a happier time.  And who doesn’t want to have a happy holiday?
  7. Creative Whims: Decorating for Christmas certainly necessitates furniture finagling to fit everything and everyone in the room together cozily yet happily.  However, if you are like me, a creative whim to change decor and rearrange furniture can strike at any moment–not just the holidays.   Casters make it possible to cater to your creative whims, especially if creative inspiration usually strikes you when you’re home alone but don’t want to wait to try out your new idea until reinforcements arrive.
  8. Cross-country Moving: Whether moving cross-country or cross-city, you may not always have the financial resources to hire a professional moving company or be fortunate enough to have your company pay for movers if relocating to a new job/job site.  I have lived in 5 states and have moved 14 times in 29 years.  Only twice did those moves involve professional movers.  Moving furniture would be much simpler if everything rolled so that you could save your strength for lifting across thresholds and up ridiculously narrow ramps and staircases.  Plus, you wouldn’t have to use those small, rolling dollies that seem prone to wiggle out from under furniture at the worst possible times and are best suited for pet skateboards (or beds, in this case, thanks to the soft towel laid on top to protect the sofa in transit to make it more comfortable).  IMG_2331
  9. Critters: The Great Mouse Roach Hunt: This section is not for the faint of heart.  We currently live in a townhouse with neighbors on both sides.  We have perfectly wonderful neighbors on one side, and interesting neighbors on the other (interesting: a Southern female euphemism for less than savory).  These interesting neighbors have habits that seem to invite critters of the six- and eight-legged variety.  I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that the combination of a mild winter and dry summer plus those neighbors has led to critters finding their way to our home, too.  We have regular pest control services (and our service provider is absolutely fantastic!), but last weekend we saw a ginormous roach emerge from the floorboard along the wall we share with those neighbors.  Neither of us had seen a roach that big since dorm days.  It zoomed under furniture, up walls, and even attempted to fly-hop across the kitchen before we trapped it. I completely lost my head and stood on our new storage ottoman from Target (with casters, of course) while my brave husband went after it.  I am normally only that creeped out by spiders, centipedes, and snakes, but this thing was as freaked out as we were, which made it that much worse.  If all the furniture had been on casters, we would have been able to end The Great Roach Hunt more quickly. Blech.  At least it wasn’t one of those infamous German cockroaches. Exponential blech.IMG_2282
  10. Couching: This last one may be a new one for some of you.  If you grew up as a suburbanite, perhaps you may or may not have participated in (or been the recipient of) a toilet-papering/rolling/TPing of someone’s house.  What you may not have done is “couch” someone’s house.  This involves the traditional toilet paper, accompanied by various and sundry other random things deposited in the victim’s yard, including: traffic cones, street signs, toilets, and couches.  (All of these things found their way into my yard at some point during my high school years.  You know who you are). 😉  Things like toilets and couches were allegedly scrounged from people’s yards who had set them out to be hauled away to the dump (translate: NASTY condition).  Things like traffic cones and street signs, well, you can figure those out.  Not legal, folks.  Don’t do it.  Now,  I would imagine that sneaking a couch into someone’s yard would be made much easier if you could simply roll a couch down someone’s driveway and run/drive off, rather than carefully placing it on the front porch.  Of course, maybe that would be taking some of the fun out of it, if, in fact, couching is a fun activity.  My dad played a good joke on the people who “couched” our yard one chilly night in late October that involved a toilet and a gigantic pumpkin, and let’s just say, there were no more couches or toilets in our yard for a long time afterwards.  Maybe this is why I love pumpkins so much.  At any rate, I’m not endorsing couching, but as an OCD person, I wanted a list of 10 reasons, and this came to mind as something humorous/bizarre/unique to add to the list when I was thinking about why you would want casters for moving furniture more quickly and easily.

Can you think of any more reasons why casters would simplify/improve your home/work/life (preferably a better reason than #10)?  Please share!