Prepper Diary October 6: It’s Been a Week of Chores

A work bench with tools
A workshop and tools are required when you have repairs to do around the house.

We enjoyed a “test burn,” using the wood stove for the first time on a chilly evening at Pete’s Prepper Property.  Happy to report the flue drew very well.  I am used to a wood stove with a glass door, and never realized what an advantage actually being able to see the flames is until I had to monitor the fire in a stove with solid doors.  I also missed the thermometer we usually have stuck to the pipe, but one is on its way to us after an online purchase.

We haven’t tested the upstairs stove, but the basement stove caused the upstairs temp to raise two degrees in just a few hours, even as outdoor temps fell into the 40s.  I expect when it is burning all day and all night it will provide even more warmth than that.

I think we are going to burn through the two cords of wood pretty quick, so I may buy a third.  Also, on our next trip, I plan to bring up my chain saws, maul, wedges and associated wood-cutting equipment, just in case I have to harvest some wood myself.  (There are enough deadfalls in the woods that I can find seasoned wood ready to burn.) I have resisted moving these up the mountain in case we get a hurricane at home and needed to cut our way out due to fallen trees, but I think the chances of a hurricane affecting the Mid-Atlantic states is low now.  I will also bring a nice home-made saw horse that holds logs so you can cut them into wood stove length. We need to empty more stuff out the garage in any case.

A Week of Chores

I continue to spend my days doing small chores at the “old” house before it goes on the market.  For example, we have an outlet on the side of the house that is lacking a cover.  That is a code violation, but also an easy fix.  I picked up the part on Monday and will do it on Tuesday.

What should have been a simple job of replacing the rubber washer in an outside hose faucet took far longer than expected because the valve stem was frozen in the faucet body.  I tried three different approaches with no luck.  Finally, I heated it with a propane torch.  Then, as I turned it with an adjustable wrench and my wife gripped the faucet itself with a pair of channel locks to keep it steady, it surprised us both by popping loose so fast I thought my wrench had slipped.  The fun was not over: as soon as my screw driver hit the brass screw holding the old rubber washer in place, the screw crumbled.  I had to drill out the old screw and replace it with a steel one to cut its own grooves.  Made a 10 minute job take closer to an hour.

We also went around the house noting which lightbulbs needed to be replaced.  Two indoor bulbs – quick fixes.  The one burnt out flood light was also a snap. But the decorative exterior lights, which each use three of those small candle-flame shaped bulbs are in rougher shape.  We replaced eight bulbs, but some of them refused to light.  I put that job off until tomorrow because I may have to do some re-wiring and/or replace some sockets, but thankfully my electrical skills are usually better than my plumbing skills.

Little Things Matter

We also plan to replace a number of the ceiling tiles in the drop ceiling in our basement.  While I love drop ceilings because they give you easy access to plumbing, electric, cable TV and other wires, they are a bit fragile and the corners can break.  They also stain if you get a leak above.  So we want to fix all of those before the showings start.

As recent home buyers ourselves, we know that something like a faucet that drips or a broken ceiling tile is not a deal breaker, but if you can spot ten small problems on a 20 minute visit, it reduces your confidence in the house and makes you wonder what serious problems are hidden below the surface. We are also trying to fix everything a home inspector would notice so that we don’t have much to worry about when their report comes in.

I am so looking forward to leaving this big, maintenance-intensive house behind us. Every chore is made more difficult due to its size. Sure, we’re downsizing by about 50 percent, but there are only two of us now and it is encouraging us to purge.

Re-Homing the Family Dining Room Table

My parents bought a set of dining room furniture back in the late 1950s than included a dining room table with a leaf that could expand to seat 8, a large buffet, and small China closet.  It was made in the early 1900s.  Somewhere along the way, probably when I left New York and moved into an actual house, they gave me the table, and for a good 10 years my family used it every day.  (The other two pieces of the set remain in my father’s house.)

I bought a new, larger and more modern dining room set in 2002, and the table was relegated to the attic for storage.  Just a couple days ago, my daughter agreed to move the table and the five remaining chairs into her new town house and to recover the seats.  This is the table where we ate every meal growing up — from a hurried breakfast to a holiday dinner with the grandparents, so I am glad it is staying in the family. Plus, I think it will also please my father to know it is serving another generation. 

But let me tell you, getting that table down from the attic was not easy!

If you enjoyed today’s article, you might like September 13 Prepper Diary: The Layered Approach to Food Storage