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.
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!