Grounded outlets, now available in the living room!

With the trim painted, the old brown outlets stood out. They were also two prong un-grounded outlets with old cloth wiring into the wall. Like a lot of other wiring in the house, the wiring from the panel box was updated but the branch circuits were mostly left in place.

img_1111I was surprised to find that the cloth-covered wiring did have a ground wire in it. Those are the black cables in the picture, and the ground wire is tied to the junction box. That box was probably grounded in the same way when it was originally wired. Unfortunately, the “updated” wiring from the panel box didn’t do that. They just left the ground wire loose.

That’s now been updated, so we have our first new circuits! Right in the reading corner of the living room too, so it’ll make a nice place to plug in the electric blanket next time it gets down to zero degrees.

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Let’s hope that’s not for a while – we just opened up a new hole in the kitchen wall to check on a beam…

Week 6 – Leak 6. The roof!

An update from on top of the house.

First, an image of the yankee gutter, the internal gutter system that involves cutting in to the rafters to make an indentation for the water. It’s an interesting idea, but if there are any leaks at all you don’t get leaky gutters – you get a leaky roof.


Once the old metal was taken off, all the rafter tails under the yankee gutter had to be sistered with new wood.


Except for that, the boards were in good shape. From inside the attic, with no sheeting on yet:


From across the street. They had to cut up the rolls of sheet metal to get it off the roof and into the dumpster.


Work continues…

Ghost of a stairway?

Always new clues. What we think we know about the house constantly changes, and this back wall of the house may show a few layers: img_1039y

First, it took us a while to notice the obvious clue: there used to be a window there. This is the back wall of the cobblestone house, in what is currently the stairway to the basement. The stairs go outside the house and in through a doorway in the basement wall. You can see the view out through that door in

The vertical structure with the light on it is just wood. What we didn’t notice right away was the horizontal structure near it. That’s stone. The same stone that’s under all our other windows. At some point, there must have been a window there, which was covered over with more stone somewhere along the way.

What struck me the other day as I looked out the kitchen window was the stairway above a neighbor’s garage shown here:


The slope of the stairs up to the second floor… I’d seen that slope before on the same back wall:


If that image is oriented correctly on this post, you’ll see a tip of a yellow broom handle in the bottom left corner. From the top left there is a hint of a sloping line down and to the right. In the first picture with the window sill, you’ll see it continues down to what is essentially a continuation of the foundation wall out away from the house.

That could easily have been a stairway up. But where to?


Up to the little dead end hallway upstairs maybe? The indoor image is down the upstairs hall that goes along the back wall of the cobblestone part of the house, which is up the steps to the left. The window is directly above our current basement door, so could have easily been a door in to the second floor. But how was it laid out from there?

The Mirror!

There was an empty spot in our entry way. The house had, through many owners, always had a few key items from Capt. Throop. Unfortunately, they did not survive the previous owner, and we ended up with a house with holes. Literal holes – empty spaces, like the missing wall paper in the entry way:


There are other holes too. An empty hook for a portrait above the fireplace, a missing sculpture of the captain’s dog, and a desk that’s gone.

However, there is good news on one item: the mirror has returned!


We found out neighbors had purchased it to keep the history in Pultneyville, and we’re happy they felt comfortable entrusting us to put things back as they should be.


And now they are – in the entry way, at least.

Week 5 – Leak 5

Enough of the sunrise and muffins. Up to the attic!

There were water stains in two of the upstairs rooms when we first saw the house, but they got a lot worse after a heavy rain. My guess is that the cobblestone part of the house has a hundred-year metal roof on it, but that it’s 150 years old. It’s been covered in a rubberized coating, but that’s leaking too.


I have buckets and plastic catching the snow melt for now – a new roof is ordered but we’re still waiting for the materials to arrive. Not much call for roofing in the winter, so it appears to be slow in shipping.

You may notice the new wood in that photo. That’s because that was the worst of the rot, and we had to have it replaced. We contracted with Randy Cornelius for the repairs, and in these pictures you can see the temporary brace that was needed and some of the rotten wood that was pulled out of the corner.




Fortunately, it was just the one corner, and the rest of the structure appears dry and solid:


The one other thing that’s interesting in the picture with the rotted wood on the floor – on the rock wall by the brace there is a trace of an old slope. It’s hard to tell, but that looks to me like an old roof line. It also happens to line up with the top of the beam in the last picture, which would explain its placement. It’s certainly possible the roof was raised from its original placement. But it must have been done before that Wayne County History of 1877. Somewhere between having it built in 1832 and the drawing from 1877, Capt. Throop must have decided to update the look of the place.

Week 4 – Leak 4


Don’t touch the oven, it gets hot. No, seriously, hot on the outside. This picture shows how we jam the door shut to keep the heat in. New hinges are on the way that should fix that  problem, but if it doesn’t you’ll probably read about it here.

The interesting part of the picture, though, is the dishwasher in the back, which is also held shut. It wasn’t fully installed and didn’t work at all, but we left it in there while waiting for a new dishwasher to be delivered. If we didn’t prop it shut, though, the door would randomly open with a slow creak and then a loud thump.

A new dishwasher was set to be delivered, so I finally wanted to remove the old one so it could be hauled away when they brought the new one. When I disconnect it, though, I realized I hadn’t finished with the leaks at the kitchen sink. The shutoff valve on the hot water supply to the dishwasher didn’t shut off completely, which caused it to drip on the kitchen floor.

Fortunately, there was a second shutoff valve, but it also shut off hot water to the kitchen sink. Now we’d have no hot water at the kitchen sink, but the floor would stay dry.

Then Lowes called to reschedule the delivery for a week later.

The old dishwasher was already at the side of the house waiting to be picked up and the hot water was shut off. On the bright side, we could now open the drawer that had been blocked by the semi-installed washer.

We had water, but only cold water. I had already removed the utility tub in what would become the panty (not that the water to the tub had actually been connected) and we still didn’t want to use the downstairs bathroom. We ended up boiling water in a tea kettle so we could do the dishes. Remember, we had no dishwasher, so we had to do dishes by hand. And now we had to boil our own water first too.

Then Lowes called to say it would be another few days.

Then, on the scheduled day, their delivery window came and went.

When I called to find out why, I learned that the driver had gone to our mailing address (a PO Box around the corner) and saw it was a post office, so he left.

I ended up talking to somebody in distribution and they managed to get the driver turned around and the washer delivered that night.

Of course, every water connection is different and they can’t include all the possible parts, but when I sent Kendall a picture of what I was starting with and what I needed to connect to,

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she came back with a combination that made the transition work:


The dishwasher is now installed and working beautifully!

Week 3 – Leak 3

This one is the worst. It kept us completely out of the downstairs bathroom and did some real damage.

The first clue was on the floor: img_0772

The bathroom was fine while I was working at the house, letting contractors in for roof estimates or getting the heating repaired. But Toni quickly noticed an odd fungus growing in the grout between tiles, and it seemed to be growing quickly.

The tiles were cracked and loose and the grout was always wet, which ultimately led to the leak from the toilet supply line.


(yes, that picture shows you something about the paint in the bathroom)

There was a strong steady drip in the back corner, which would then seep down in to the grout and across the floor. It seemed to be the connector on the supply line, but once again was solved only after a second trip to the hardware store for a more complete repair kit.

We didn’t want to touch the floor or use the bathroom, but after multiple cleanings and a few weeks of drying out, it seemed to be fine. I’d only find out the benefits of that leak a few weeks later…

Week 2 – Leak 2

I should have started the blog earlier so I’d remember exactly the timing, but we were too busy dealing with the water leaks. So, another catch up from the first few weeks in the house.

Something was odd with the kitchen sink during the pre-purchase inspection, but it’s only now clear what it was. That was the first tap we tried during the inspection, and it only gave a trickle of water. That made us wonder if the water was turned off but we checked other rooms and the water was fine. When we went back to the kitchen, it seemed fine too, though the faucet had a bit of a leak. We moved on.

The first week or so after we bought the house, I still noticed the leak but it was only a little annoying. It was only the second week or so – still before we moved in – that I noticed the water got hot even when I turned it to cold. I just hadn’t run it long enough in the past.

So, that little leak turned out to have been a much worse leak, but the previous owner had decided to just shut off the cold water to the sink to solve the problem. When I turned it back on, the slow drip became much more annoying. So, I turned it back off and we only had hot water again.

But, instead of leaving it off, I took the faucet apart so I could bring the parts to the hardware store and find replacements.


After a second trip to get a more complete repair kit, the problem was solved. We had both hot and cold water again, at least for that week…