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…


You can’t unpack boxes without a place to put the stuff. Today, we finally finished some shelves – lots of shelves. Most of them are in the new pantry, which used to be a little room off the kitchen with a utility sink that wasn’t even hooked up.


Removing the drain was easy – cut the PVC and tighten a plug. Removing the hot and cold water lines not so much – but, since they weren’t actually hooked up to the utility sink, they’re still just dead-ended along the floor, waiting for the day when I have the water shut off to do real plumbing work.

After adding some insulation to the wall, that little room turned out to hold a lot of shelves.


The wired shelving is easy to install on plain drywall. This room wasn’t plain drywall. Somehow, those wooden slats in the first picture were running behind every place I wanted to put an anchor.

The ones behind the washing machine went in as advertised – much easier.


A shelf in the front entry closet for hats and gloves rounded out the day.

Maybe with a bigger car I wouldn’t have to cut drywall in the parking lot in order to get it home…


Week 1 – Leak 1

Time to catch up on a few previous improvements we’ve already made. Part of the reason to write these down is to capture our progress – it can seem like there is so much to do, and the list keeps getting longer – but we are moving forward.

The day we closed on the house I found 2 inches of water in the basement and a lot of spiders.


I burned out my little drill-mounted pump and resorted to buckets before I thought to take this picture. There had been a lot of rain, and there are some very large gaps through which the water can come in. The downspouts all just drained next to the foundation, so I added some diverters to push the water away. No small part, though was the constant leak from the boiler’s pressure relief valve.


The recommendation from the HVAC technician was to drain the expansion tank first and see if that relieved the pressure. A slow process, but fairly straight forward. It didn’t help.

Next was having them in to replace it. Should have done the zone pump I told them about at the same time, but they would have to come back a week later to replace that when it failed.

After running the dehumidifier for a week and some quality time with a broom, we had a basement!


Those stone pillars near the stairs? The neighbors across the street have something similar in their basement, and it’s part of a massive fireplace. Taking a closer look at the ceiling over those pillars did show a patch to the sub-floor, so it seems like a good possibility. Back in the day, they had radiant heat in the cobblestone section!

My take away? I needed to get a real mask for the next project.



Welcome to the Lake

Normally, a home on the lake has pictures of sailboats and beaches, but that “Welcome to the Lake” phrase was running through my mind the other morning as I was shoveling snow against a howling wind. It’s the lake. They call it Lake Effect Snow.


But, this post is not about the problems or challenges of the house. This one is about the two working fireplaces with their good (and now cleaned) liners. It’s about being inside as the wind whips down the street.


We’ll talk about frozen pipes another time. This post is about holidays and family, and our new home.


Merry Christmas.

Sarah LePlata Throop Miller

Reading more of the book I referenced in the last post, I found the following picture:


Accompanying text describes that house next door as having been built by “Washington Throop… in the early 1830s to provide his daughter, Sarah, with a clear sight of ships arriving and departing the busy port, a view of the lake John also appreciated. (Herman Melville described Lake Ontario befittingly as one of ‘those grand fresh-water seas of our,’ which ‘possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean’s noblest traits.’)”.

It’s a view we appreciate as well.

Emma Graepper

A name under the wallpaper.

Shortly after we closed on the house, Marj and Geri came over, because Geri finds joy in peeling off wallpaper… I don’t know why, but we have plenty of rooms to satisfy that compulsion. They started with the red paper in the master bedroom, revealing white plaster underneath that’ll do for now.


Apparently, one room wasn’t enough, so they want on to the dark wallpaper of Kendall’s room, which came off quickly.

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Under the wallpaper, were some notes from previous owners that had run the home as a bed and breakfast. This was “Emma’s Room”.


I did a search on Emma Graeper, but only found random listing for people across the country with that name. Searching for “Graeper Throop”, though, revealed a photo essay from Tom the Backwoods Traveller. Then, an entry for a book, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life (By Karin Roffman, page 42), came up with the following diary entry from a summer in Pultneyville some time after 1942:

“…his fifteenth birthday party – which he had looked forward to celebrating at Emma Graeper’s “Woodshed at the Captain Throop House,” a charming tea shop she had recently opened in the rear of her home to make extra money…”.