The Dark Underbelly of Home Improvement

or: When Home Improvement Makes you Hyperventilate

or: Home Improvement Projects that you are Unexpectedly Forced Into

or: Home Improvement Projects that have no Style Aspect and Are Therefore Not even Remotely Fun

Though I think this has a certain…vintage charm,
this pipe is apparently not supposed to look like this.

or: When the Plumber Estimate Increases by 1000% in the Course of Seven Minutes

or: Fun Fact: Did You Know that Chimneys Aren’t Just for Fireplaces? They Lead from your Furnace and Hot Water Heater, Too!

or: Corrosion: Pipes gone Bad

This is a chimney. I never even noticed it before.
Turns out it’s not supposed to be rusty.

or: Gulp

or: What About that New Guest Bed/Car/Sandwich I was Saving Up For?

or: Did I Somehow Invite a Costly Plumbing Crisis by Declaring it Home Improvement (HIMP) Month?

or: Did We Not Hug our House Enough?

Well, as you can see, I have had some trouble deciding what to call today’s installment. Once I got finished brainstorming titles, I didn’t have any energy left to write an actual post. Suffice it to say that what’s going on in our basement (and up through the roof) isn’t pretty – let’s just hope those new pipes are made of pure gold…

I repeat: have you hugged your house today? (Not to be an alarmist, but IF YOU DON’T MAKE NICE-NICE WITH YOUR HOUSE IT COULD SUDDENLY TURN ON YOU…)


Stay tuned for more HIMP Month Madness: Details on getting our house’s interior painted from white to…drumroll…wait for it…white, fabulous guest bloggers, and a tutorial on tools that you would be a tool to miss.

104 replies

  1. Instead of hugs… it might need a spanking! Bad House! Oh noooooo, Mr. Bill not the plumber! It’s see dollar signs just mentioning the “p” word.
    I’m sorry for your rust but I will be excited to see your new GOLD pipes.
    I’m also happy to see you never lose your wonderful sense of humor. The titles were totally “tubular”! Good luck with it all!

  2. The plumber (actually, turned out we needed chimney guy) is here as I type…I am going to run down and ask if they have a diamond studded version…or something in turquoise…?

    Tubular. hee hee! Thank you for your support in these difficult times…:)

    • HOLY CRAP! Just realized you were FP’d today. YAY! Let me know how it all goes… I was exhausted after mine but it was so fine. Congratulations… you deserve it… it’s always fun around here.

      • So. Fun. I was trying to make lemonade out of lemons with this post but has now turned into a limonada-sangria-margarita! Cheers! And thank you πŸ™‚

  3. Reblogged this on Honestgoodadvice's Blog and commented:
    I just stumbled on to this and found it quite funny. I owned a home in FL a while back and you wouldn’t believe how much work and $ goes into it! After reading this I appreciate that someone at least has a sense of humor about the woes of owning a home =) Enjoy!

    • yeah, just not a fun investment. now if a throw pillow consultant came over and gave us a similar estimate, I would have said, oh yes, we must replace them all at any cost!

  4. oof! I feel your pain. I’m tiling my bathroom floor and just discovered the toilet has been leaking into the subfloor. My simple project just got unsimple.

  5. Been there. Each project feels 100 times more awesome when completed in an old home- the hard part is there are 100 times as many projects. πŸ™‚ Hang in there!
    Check me out at sometime!
    PS Tori is one of my favorite bloggers- her guest post rocked!

    • Yes, that Holmes on Homes certainly put the fear into me. My brother told me: always get 3 estimates. Well, we got 2 on this one…

      Building from scratch? My hat is off to you if you decide to to it- I certainly don’t have it in me! πŸ™‚

  6. I ran right out and hugged my house…well the corner of it anyway. Your post of many titles, snagged my funny bone and I found it very funny but tragic. Kind of like a Shakespearian play. Seriously? Great post! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much! Oh, I just love getting compared to Shakespeare. Ha! (I just pray that the only things that die at the end of this tragedy are those zeros at the end of my bank account.) Thanks for visiting and for hugging your house, well done.

  7. This sounds familiar alright. We live in a midcentury modern house that we LOVE but it also has midcentury modern bones, midcentury modern plumbing and midcentury modern insulation. Indeed, those are not the fun kinds of renovation projects to tackle. I better go hug my house now. CONGRATS on being Freshly Pressed!

    • Thank you Angie Z! πŸ™‚ I think what is weird is not knowing how old certain parts of your house are – ie when you buy your house you usually get a run-down of how old the roof is, the furnace, and hot water heater, but nothing else. For all we know these are the original pipes or were they replaced in the 90’s…? Alas, nothing is quite as smooth, crisp and shiny as it looks in good ol’ Dwell, sigh. πŸ™‚

      • I just saw on your about page that you live in an open floor plan mid century modern house too! I always thought of myself as a brick English tudor kind of gal. But after finding our house 10 years ago, I know this will be the house style I’ll always gravitate toward from here on out.

      • Love MCM! Is yours a ranch? I have to say, I didn’t expect to live in a ranch but I am really enjoying having no stairs. And the open plan is exactly as nice for entertaining as HGTV always claims…:)

      • 1700 sq ft ranch, no stairs! Enclosed carport, no basement, built in 1959 from a California model obviously not intended for the cold winters of the Midwest 😦 Now I know why you get Dwell…according to my neighbor, a subscription to Dwell should be a prerequisite to owning a MCM ranch.

  8. I hear ya! Every time we start a “simple”/”one-afternoon” project it streeeetches out into an extra day or two!

    Good luck!

    • Glad you enjoyed! After I felt like I got punched in the stomach by that estimate (actual tears were shed), I said, I need to write something funny about this. So, take THAT rusty pipe! Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  9. We feel your pain! Our house has turned on us way too many times. The last debacle was when there was a small leak in our bathroom skylight. No worries, right? Wrong. This led to a repairman having to make a hole in the ceiling, which led to discovering our wires had been dangerously masticated by…guess what? An infestation of squirrels living unannounced and uninvited in our attic, which led to pest control, which led to discovering 12 entrance holes chewed by the creatures in our roof, which led to an entire roof repair, which eventually led back to replacing the skylight, and repairing the hole in the ceiling…all of which ended up costing as much as that new car we’d been eyeing. . .Oh, yes, we SO feel your pain! Sending our condolences! – UM&W

    • OH MY. That is a tale of woah. A runaway train of trouble. What IS it about squirrels? – Lately I have been hearing more and more stories about their wiley ways. We have a skylight in our bathroom too – it leaked during one storm and mysteriously hasn’t leaked since…every time it rains, I put on my paranoid hat and check. Thanks for your support and for sharing! πŸ™‚

  10. Almost every pipe in my house the color of rust. So you are telling me this is a problem? I thought everyone had to let the ferric sediments in thier tap water settle overnight. Are you telling me I need to do something about this? Who knew? Thank God for your blog. Now if I could just get that plumber’s number off you….

    • I think you should run out of your house immediately whilst screaming and waving your arms in the air, never to return. I cannot reveal the number of our plumber, but I will tell you that he looked EXACTLY like Kurt Vonnegut – that made us trust him.

  11. Ugh. I hate those expensive repairs that you can’t even show off — like here — look at where I spent $2000 to remove trees, or look at my water heater, or how about my electric panel, so sexy, — or do you want to sit out in the yard and look at my roof? ugh.

  12. I hate finding problems like this; they’re invisible until you start investigating or one becomes manifest, and then they just seem to mulitiply…

    Good luck sorting it all out!

  13. A big YAY! for FP! A giant, sobbing BOO for the home projects that don’t involve paint or a Bedazzler. I did have some stellar ideas for covering the giant pipe to make it look like an abstract collage. I don’t have trouble coming up with ideas…. executing them on the other hand?

    • Jeez, I didn’t even THINK of bedazzling! Brilliant. I should have kept the pipes they took down, just in case we ever renew our vows…rusty leaky flower vases, anyone?

  14. I used to love watching “This Old House.” Now it’s too painful.

    Rule of Two? Around here, it’s three.

    There’s also a saying about owning a sailboat (the kind you take out on the ocean): It’s a hole in the water into which you pour endless amounts of money. An old house, by extension, is a hole in the ground …

    Thanks for the confessions.

    • πŸ™‚ I was raised on the water and my Dad’s boats. We have that saying on board, in wood of course! (teak?)
      Now I live in the country in a 1.5 house that needs major destruction and rebuilding to make half of it work. Yikes!
      Already did all windows and doors, THE bathroom and interior painting, floors, etc. It never ends…
      Congrats on FPd!

  15. lol, your titles gave me much tittering, great blog :-). That pipe looks like a friendly, smiling Knight.

  16. Ha ha! This is hilarious, although I’m sorry to hear your house is so needy in the hug department. πŸ˜‰ And CONGRATS on your Freshly Pressage – well deserved! You rock!!

  17. Welcome to my world…ha ha ha. My house was built in 1920. Sure, it’s a historical landmark and all…but nothing can be fixed in 30 minutes or less. Seriously. The exception to the rule is light bulbs. The exception to that exception? The power is weird and we change A LOT of light bulbs.

    Yeah, I could rewired the entire house, but I’m not willing to take out a second mortgage to do it. Can you say “spot fix”? It’s either that or open up a can of worms by starting a project. Wires lead to walls lead to painting leads to floors. You get the idea.

    When my fortunes reach Roman proportions I’ll pay someone to fix it. And the drafty windows. And the creaky floors. That semi-straight wall in the kitchen. Again…you get the idea.

    I’m not sure if I should be mad at you for sharing your post or show sympathy as part of the brotherhood. I’ll sympathize. It looks like you have enough grief in your life with the chimney. πŸ™‚

    Good luck with the house!!!

  18. At least you didn’t find a coffee can in place of your heating duct. I did and left it there. It was still doing a pretty good job.

    • Yup, finishing the basement is on our To Do list – but we’d have to clear out a lot of cobwebs/spiderwebs first and I, for one, don’t see that happening. Bravo!

  19. You mean you don’t LIKE rusty pipes???!!!! I’ve always thought they added character to a house. πŸ˜‰

    But seriously, I hope all the problems get fixed with the minimum cost to you both. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Enjoy!

  20. Forgot to mention that the pipe in your picture appears to have mismatched parts which may be the reason for the rust spots. Is this from a furnace or a water heater? Either way it looks like an ordinary 90 elbow was used in place of the Class B fitting. Furnace and water heater duct work has an outer and inner lining. The pieces lock to prevent exhaust gasses from escaping. They are also treated with a process that makes them more resistant to the corrosion associated with natural gas combustion.

    • Thanks for your expertise! Let’s hope that the guy who fixed it knew as much! And btw, I really like that it’s actually referred to as an “elbow.” πŸ™‚

      • Been watching this site all day. The stuff you have to do really isn’t that hard. Getting handy is empowering. Here’s first order: A handyman is just someone who has screwed up enough that he finally gets it right.

  21. Gah! We’re getting our third and final estimate on our new roof today. Again, GAH! Houses WILL turn on you in a skinny minute. Good luck. May your estimates be lower and your chimney raise higher.

  22. Hey, I know you! How nice when a new friend gets Freshly Pressed – big congratulations. Big sympathies on the plumbing stuff, though. I’m with you on the “not remotely fun” aspect of having to spend $$ on this stuff.

  23. I just laughed hysterically when I saw your indecision about titles..I do that all the time, though I wasn’t so creative to make a blog about it. We have some home improvement nightmares ourselves…it’s a ton of work- and scarily unpredictable. Congratulations on the freshly pressed!

  24. oh my goodness! as someone who also writes about DIY/home-improvement, i laughed SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard at this post. thank you for making my day.

  25. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Your blog always brings a smile to my face…and makes me grateful that I only have 650 sq ft of my own ! πŸ™‚

  26. Poor You. Good luck with the repairs. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t bought a house yet. We are scared of the upkeep.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  27. Wow wee! I am so sorry for the loss of your money! But maybe your house will be a much calmer and happier house after all rustiness has been fixed.

    • Yes, thank you – I think it will be calmer and happier, now that our hot water heater is back in biz and we are not in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning… πŸ™‚

  28. If we want our house to be in perfect shape then we need to do whatever it takes to maintain our house. One could do small home improvement projects on their own.

  29. HAHA did you get Freshly Pressed again?? So funny – I just realized I missed this post & popped over to read it .. Along with LOTS of other people. πŸ™‚

    Congrats! And sorry about the expensive plumbing. I’m with you, haaaaaaaate spending money on things that I can’t see.

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