Author Topic: Old house upkeep  (Read 3926 times)

Offline oktheniknow

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Old house upkeep
« on: August 28, 2012, 10:52:18 AM »
In being prepared, one of the things that is always on my mind is house upkeep. We live in a pier/beam house that was built in the '50s. Since we've lived here, we've discovered many things that the previous owners did wrong when adding on to the house, and it was built too low to the ground. I've mainly relied on handymen to do fix-it projects for stuff that I felt I wasn't qualified to do (replace some old plumbing, update some wiring, replace rotten flooring) or had an interest in doing. Our well was dug in the '60s still runs ok, but will need new well house built soon and water softener added for our hard water.
As time goes on, I'm am feeling more of a need to know how to do more of these tasks especially if the shtf and labor/expertise becomes hard to find. Have some handyman books, but they don't go into as much minute detail with photos as I'd like (especially that are relevent for our age of house). Looking into taking some local courses, but pretty sure they will cover stuff that doesn't apply to our house.   
Go to this sometimes - http://www.oldhouseweb.com/. Anyone have other resources they use as  references for their older house?
 

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 11:05:55 AM »
I have 90 year old house that needs a lot of work.   I have found useful how to videos at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/ 

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 11:06:58 AM »
Old Electrical Wiring Maintenance and Retrofit, by David E Shapiro.  This is very detailed and is written for the professional electrician (which I am not), but it covers lots of weird formerly-legal and never-legal wiring situations found in old buildings.

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 11:25:15 AM »
The original home was on my property when the county first started keeping records in 1920.  It was then added onto between 1949 and 1954.  It had all electric heat when we purchased, there was more miles of heat tape lining pipes due to uninsulated basement space than miles of phone line between here and New Jersey.  All the outlets were ungrounded two prongs.  The plumbing was a mix of galvanized, copper pipe, copper tubing and flexible PVC that belongs in landscaping, not inside your house.

There are some things I've had to contract, like having a new tankless hot water heater/boiler installed, which has saved me hundreds of dollars a month during the winter in utility bills, but for a lot of things, I'm learning to do things for myself.  I've decided to convert everything to Pex plumbing over the long run, since running a torch in my tinderbox of a home is suicidal.  I've put in two new outside faucets, put in the water for the washer and utility sink, and I'm working on replacing all the kitchen and bathroom plumbing by the end of this coming winter.  For most things I can have a conversation with the 'guys at Ace Hardware' or Home Depot to make sure I'm barking up the right tree.  For some things I talk to a friend of mine who is a carpenter who does what he needs to do relating to plumbing if it's a job where he's not pulling a permit.

On the electrical side, my brother was a master electrician and while he doesn't do it anymore, he does give me Christmas presents in the form of hours of work on my house.  He's taught me to run wires from the box to where I want to go, loaned me his flexible drill bit, given me some pointers and then comes up just to hook up the wires at the box.  This has been a godsend and has allowed us to put in new grounded outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, and basement/garage.  He also ran the 240v service for the electric dryer.

I have no training, just good friends, the willingness to learn, and the willingness to get dirty, wet and angry.  Things have gotten better since learning to work with Pex and moving away from the hodge podge of copper and rusty metal pipe.  We have the plumbing and electrical books from home depot, but most of the time they don't answer the questions I need answered, like what the hell to do with two pipes that are rust welded together so bad that god him/herself couldn't separate them.  For those questions, you need a friend, preferably someone with arms of steel who will work for a six-pack.

Offline dakotadog

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2012, 08:07:11 PM »
I grew up in a house from the 1700's built by a blind carpenter with no measuring tools.  My house was built in the 80's and has it's own unique issues.  i worked for a time as a contractor and at this point there really isn't much in home repairs or remodeling that I can't handle.

My best advice to you is realize that none of this is rocket science...... But there are right ways and wrong ways to do things though. Don't get intimidated Home repairs are for the most part not fine furniture building.  Someone with willingness who can plan and has basic plumbing, wiring, carpentry skills can do most of it. So....

See if you can find old episodes of Hometime  They did a great job of showing some of this stuff.

Most places have the building codes online - most of these are straight forward and can help you understand what's "legal" and how to do certain things

If you can volunteer at a jobsite like Habitat for Humanity you can learn a lot and have the benefit of practicing on someone else's house

Lowes and Home depot offer free classes too



 

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2012, 10:40:08 PM »
I have 90 year old house that needs a lot of work.   I have found useful how to videos at http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/
Thanks, I've visited there before. Like the Hello Kitty kick ass image.

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2012, 10:50:51 PM »
Old Electrical Wiring Maintenance and Retrofit, by David E Shapiro.  This is very detailed and is written for the professional electrician (which I am not), but it covers lots of weird formerly-legal and never-legal wiring situations found in old buildings.
I've never heard of that book. Will look into it. Thanks.

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2012, 08:42:44 AM »
The internet as a whole is extremely helpful, just google the project you have to do and you will find loads of resources.

I always found That Home Site, part of GardenWeb very helpful as there are tons of good people there.  Your local thrift store or used book store probably has some Fix Anything books or the like that are also helpful.


And my house is going on 150 years old so I hear you on old houses.  Never call a carpenter/plumber/eletrician though, just start researching and then do it myself.

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 08:53:53 AM »
Endurance-
Wish I had a brother and friends like yours :)

Offline PorcupineKate

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 01:44:48 PM »
Thanks, I've visited there before. Like the Hello Kitty kick ass image.

Thanks. 
I am working on learning on how to fix my old house.   I have a lot to learn....

COJDGUY

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Re: Old house upkeep
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2012, 10:31:08 PM »
I am currently living in my second "old" house, and find that I am perpetually doing maintenance of some kind.  My grandfather, who lives in a pre-1900 home, once told me that the thing about old houses is that once you finally finish all the maintenance work, it is time to start over again.  I couldn't agree more.

My source of advice on old home repair has come from three sources, in order of most helpful: 1) Family/friend advice (who needs attorneys as friends when you can have carpenters and electricians?); 2) Internet videos (these have been helpful for complex wiring (non-electrical) work (i.e., CAT5 wiring); and 3) Trial and error.  Of course, each source has its strengths - I prefer to stay away from trial and error when in the breaker box but could care less when cutting plywood.  Likewise with HVAC vs plumbing. 

I guess I should caveat this post by saying that trial and error has saved me lots of money in the past but has also left me with a flooded basement (not finished, fortunately) and an exterior light that now refuses to work...