New Floor



It was last July – when my granddaughter, Madeline, was here visiting (and her visit was generating a great deal more laundry than usual) – that I noticed that my washing machine was leaking.

Rather, I noticed that what I’d thought was a small dribble was actually a large leak.

It was July when I realized the chipboard floor was destroyed from the water seeping into it whenever I ran the washing machine. I had mushrooms sprouting from the boards!

It was July when I hauled the dryer – also ready to be retired – outside to make room to pull out the washer to investigate the problem. July, in summer’s sunshine, when I decided it wasn’t all bad living without a dryer, and that garments dried on the clothesline sure smell good. July when I started buying wrenches and socket-head screwdrivers and other devices that seemed like they might help me get to the root of the problem with the washing machine. July when I started – with hammer and chisel and mini-crowbar – to pull up the rotten floor.

Yes, it has been all the way since July that I have been growing accustomed to the washing machine as a fixture in the hallway to be navigated around when needing to get into the bathroom or either of two closets.

Three long months that the laundry room floor has been a mass of punky OSB board and dustpans full of wood chips as I whittled away at it. The more I removed, the more I revealed: there were crumbling 1″ x 2″ boards that were nailed to the concrete  underneath, slabs of blue rigid foamboard in between and a layer of wet tarpaper under all of that, put down to act as a vapor barrier on top of the cement slab.

There were days that I came home exhausted from work, just to drop to my hands and knees in the laundry room to chip away at the floor.

There were days and even weeks where I just shook my head in exasperation and ignored it.

There were times when I spoke to everyone I could about it, hoping for assistance, or a solution.

There were times I refused help out of embarrassment for the mess I’d gotten myself into.

My sisters, Brenda and Cheryl, came for a visit in September. “Let’s make a project of it,” they suggested. It was tempting. Brenda and Cheryl get things done! Neither one would live with an issue like that for weeks on end. We always could find the fun in tackling major repairs and dirty jobs. It might have been a blast. Or it might have occupied all of their vacation in the most frustrating way. Or I might have never lived down the shame of having them see the disaster I had created, and was living with.

I declined.

Let me tell you, hanging clothes on the line loses a lot of its charm in the cold, rainy days of Autumn! Many weeks, the rain started as soon as I finished hanging things out, and didn’t let up until – several days later – I hauled them in, soaking wet, to dry by the heater.

Spending my only day off in the laundromat seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.

When I took my aunt to visit her doctor on the mainland two weeks ago, I went shopping for new appliances. I arranged to have them shipped across on the ferry boat two weeks later. I needed time to arrange for delivery from the boat dock to my house. I had to find someone who would come out and hook up the new washer and dryer for me. And I needed to finish dealing with the floor.

I had my day off planned.

First, unhook the washer and move it out of the house. I had bought a new wrench that I was certain was going to enable me, finally, to undo the hoses that kept the machine attached to the wall. I had moved the dryer out on my own, and had been sliding the washer around for months; I felt sure that I could handle it.

Second, take my new Multi-Max tool with its oscillating blade and cut through the OSB board around the perimeter of the room. Then, use hammer and chisel and crowbar to remove the rest of the floor.

Third, measure the space. Take the measurement to the lumberyard and have a piece of chipboard – in the correct thickness – cut to the exact size. Bring it home, drop it into place and secure it.

Congratulations to me, pat myself on the back, pour a glass of wine to celebrate.

Two nights before that planned day off, my friend Vince came over to join me for a supper of soup and bread. When he saw the mess the laundry room was in, he was flabbergasted.

“You should have asked me to help!” he said.

Actually, I did. Or I at least strongly hinted at it. Unfortunately, my desperate cries for help too often sound like murmurs of, “It’s really no big deal,” or “No, I’m fine,” or even sometimes like an amusing anecdote. The despair I feel does not often come through in my words. Combine that with a summer season that was busy for all of us, and that had Vince taking on a challenging new position, it is no wonder he didn’t realize my dire need for assistance.

In any case, he stepped up, and offered to come Tuesday, on my day off, to help.

I couldn’t be any more thankful that he did!

First of all, even with my new wrench, I could not get the hoses unhooked.

I needed help to move the washing machine over the hearth and past the cobblestone walkway.

My Multi Max tool was missing the hex key that would tighten the necessary blade and – even after Vince used his hex key to tighten it – it wouldn’t cut through the boards.

All but one of the 1″ x2″ boards had to be cut, removed and replaced as well. I hadn’t even considered that!

The nails that held the boards into the cement were impossible for me to pull.

Finally, every one of the three walls were at least 3/4 of an inch out of square, from one end to the other. If I had – by some miracle – made it to that point in the job on my own, I would have come home with a piece of OSB that wouldn’t have fit into the space.

At that point, I would have broken out the wine that was planned to celebrate my success, and used it instead to drown my sorrows.

Vince saved the day!

My floor is down, new appliances will arrive this week and I’m retiring my clothesline until Springtime!

17 responses »

    • Thanks, Gretchen, and thank heaven for good friends! As the day wore on, it came clearer and clearer that there is no way I would have resolved that issue on my own. I could almost plot it out…here is where I would have sat down and cried in frustration…this is when I would have been wedged behind the washer with no strength to move it further…here I would have given up…Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  1. Check to see if your utility compamy offers a rebate for any of the new appliances. They sometimes do if they’re more energy efficient.

    • That’s great to know, Bob! I could almost guarantee the dryer will be more fuel efficient…Terry and I had picked up the old one, used, in 1978! Not more fuel efficient than line-drying, but certainly easier in this weather! Thanks for reading, and for your comments!

  2. Yay Vince. He is, officially, my new hero! Why do we do these things to ourselves? I want to say “next time, come right out and ask for help”. These situations seem to develop over time till they become so huge, such a mess, that now you just don’t want anyone to know the mess you’ve made. I so get that. It’s what we do with our life, at times, too. So yay for the Vince people in our life who just jump in and get us out of a mess. Oh I know you’re going to be doing a happy dance the first day you use that new washer and dryer!

    • Aren’t those people the very best? It feels like such a “giving up” to ask for help…like giving up a vital organ, I mean, not simply surrender…so when people just readily jump in, as if it’s no big deal, it’s huge. I came home from work last night to a message from another friend…”I have a truck and a hand truck for helping you move the new appliances when they arrive…” He had read my blog! Some days I feel so fortunate! Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

  3. Oh can i relate to this post!!!
    I’ve had a disgustingly dirty carpet in the big room off my kitchen. (Does anyone know what to call these-rooms-that-aren’t-really-rooms in these dumb open floorplan houses?) On top of the dirty carpet was a lot of heavy furniture I haven’t been able to move since hurting my back. Anyway….I’ve been wanting that rug gone for almost a year, but couldn’t bring myself to ask for help with it!! I finally called a handyman and paid to get it done and of course can’t believe I waited so long to do this!
    Asking for help–or worse..admitting I NEED help-is my most difficult struggle in life! I can see from reading the comments/replies here that I’m not alone.

    • Oh, Karen, that’s my biggest struggle, too. I hate having to ask, and never ask twice. I still cringe at instances in my life where people have stepped in to help me…though it was needed, and appreciated, it still feels like a burden. Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

  4. Gosh, I hate when home repairs take longer than they should. This was the story of our lives when we owned the Victorian in downtown Lexington.

    So glad Vince stepped up to the plate. Sometimes it’s hard to accept help. Congrats on the new floor!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Ugh, for me it seems like every project goes on forever when it has to do with home repairs. It’s one of those areas where I can’t see where to start, how to progress or how in the hell to finish any given project. Crooked walls, lack of knowledge, not having the right tool for the job…my list of excuses goes on and on. Fear is at the core, I’m sure. Thank you for reading, and for your comments!

  5. Cindy, so glad to hear that everything’s fixed up now. Seriously, I was hanging on every word in dismay hoping SOMEBODY would help you out! Wondering why it’s so hard to ask for help sometimes. When I was in Florida, our friend *thank goodness* asked to help Barry installing our new deck sliding glass window. He wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise without help–but he wasn’t going to ask! We’re taking his friend and wife out for dinner as a return gift.

    • Oh, that’s wonderful when someone steps up to help, without making you feel obligated. Sometimes here, even trying to hire someone for a small, messy job is difficult. Thanks for reading, Kathy, and for your comments!

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