The 15 Ton Workout

We started demo two weekends ago. I’ve been holding out on you guys but you’ll understand why I’ve been so busy…and please excuse the crummy pictures because my DSLR is still being fixed so all we have is a little point and shoot.

I couldn’t be more excited to start the demo after patiently waiting 3 years for this day! We wanted to do this project ever since we bought the house but we decided to spend our time and money on getting the “guts” of the house working properly first. We started the morning on the roof so we would spend minimal time on the roof before the heat of the day both for comfort and limiting damage to the shingles by walking on them when they are hot. First Flannel Man & I smashed everything down to below the roof line so we could patch the roof up right away.



 

Then Papa Flannel stopped by just in time to help patch the roof but he had to leave right after that.



 

Back down to the first floor or what we like to call the main floor.

 

Then we tore off the paneling covering the main fireplace. At first glance I was thinking “OMG look at all of the space we’re gaining and it’s all going to our master closet!” and then I was more like “Holy cow look at all of those concrete blocks!” There were way more concrete blocks than either of us had anticipated…putting us way over the weight limit for the dumpster rental. But it was too late to stop now!

 

Undoubtly, it wasn’t the best time of year to do this kind of manual labor but Flannel Man & I wanted to wait until after the shooting season had ended. It was well worth it too because Flannel Man had one of his best shooting seasons ever! He won two matches this year, took second at the State Championships (he lost by 1 point out of 800), and we won the State Championships team match. I managed to take home a few trophies of my own and came in fourth at the State Championships despite having only practiced a few times this year.

The weather was near record high temperatures and humidity levels that week with the heat index hovering right around 100 degrees. We had to take frequent breaks to keep from overheating. I’m not sure I’ve every sweat so much in a 48 hour period! It was early afternoon by the time Flannel Man got up into the attic and well over 100 degrees up there. The plan was to smash everything in the chimney small enough to drop the rubble down the flue because the attic access was a long distance from the chimney. With the concrete blocks coming out in solid pieces though they didn’t fit down the flue so we had to cut a hole in the ceiling. Then Flannel Man passed me one block at a time through the opening.

 

It was messy, dirty work but the blocks weren’t too hard to knock out. Moving them was the tough part. We piled all of the blocks and large pieces of flue on the floor, carried two at a time down a flight of stairs to a wheelbarrow, wheelbarrowed the blocks up into the dumpster, and then picked them up one last time to toss them farther into the dumpster. The rubble we scooped into trash cans which we could only fill 1/3 full or even the two of us couldn’t lift them.

 

And this is why I stood back behind another wall while Flannel Man was knocking the blocks out. When a 35 lb solid concrete block comes falling through the ceiling you’re just glad no one got hurt.

 

At the end of the first day we got the chimney below the roof and the attic but we were a bit disappointed in our slow progress.

 

The second day we woke up early and attached the demo with new ambition. In no time we were down to the firebox where we found the infamous exposed 2×4 which made the fireplace inoperable.


 

When removed the heat resistant blocks from the floor we found a poured concrete slab! Dang why did the masons have to do such a good job building this thing?!

 

After breaking off as much as we could of the flues from the main floor we went to the basement and started chipping away at the brick façade. I’ve always hated that shiny red brick with a passion. Glossy fire engine red with painted white grout? Really?! The bricks quickly became a mess because they shattered into a million pieces when you hit them with a sledge hammer so we chiseled them out one by one to save on clean up. For some reason we could only find one face mask so I was doing my best impression of a patriotic burglar.

 

No demo in our house would be complete without finding mouse skeletons and evidence they were there. On the main level we found a nice big mouse nest made of dried leaves, insulation, and fur on backside of the heat resistant block where it angles forward at the top of the firebox. All of that dry debris could have been a fire hazard. In the basement fireplace we found another nest and lots of stored nuts on the backside of the brick facade.

 

At the end of day two we were still between the two floors thanks to all of these interior walls of the chimney.

 

Dumping rubble down the flue into the trash can below proved to be a good idea though a lot of missed the trash can.

 

The next day I had to go back to work but Flannel Man had enough vacation time to take off all week to work on demo. Finally he started to see a light at the end of the tunnel when he could start to see the firebox below. Notice he also found another exposed 2×4 in the same spot of the basement chimney! It was not only blackened with soot it appeared to have caught on fire at least once. Luckily, the fireplace had never been heavily used or it could have been a real problem. We’re so glad to be rid of these fire hazards!

 

And it all comes tumbling down!

 

Sophie checks out the progress at the end of day three.

 

Our 20 yard dumpster was only supposed to be filled half way in order for them to be able to pick it up. When it was all said and done we were a little over that mark so we just crossed our fingers and hoped they’d be able to lift that much. Thankfully they were able to lift the heavy dumpster and we found out later that it weighed 15 tons! With just the two of us we carried the majority of that down a flight of stairs 70 pounds at a time in some pretty horrid weather. Now that’s one heck of a workout!

 

To make the load a little lighter we saved the nicest blocks and knocked the mortar off. We saved over 150 concrete blocks and 40 heat resistant blocks (not all pictured). Now we just need to find some people who what these…

 

The angle iron and metal damper that were in the fireplace Flannel Man was able to recycle at work in the metal scrap pile.

Look at all the square feet we’ve gained in just 3 days!

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7 Responses to “The 15 Ton Workout”


  1. 1 meryl rose August 1, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Congrats on your awesome shooting season!!!

    And HOLY CRAP you guys did a TON of work. It must be nice to look back on now that you’re not dripping sweat and tossing concrete blocks around 🙂 Good, hard work is always fun to reflect on once it’s done. Good job!

  2. 2 kit @ DIYdiva August 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Yay, demo! Looks very exciting and I can’t want to see it as you progress. Congrats on the shooting as well! It looks like it’s going to be an awesome summer for you guys.

  3. 3 Coley August 2, 2011 at 11:10 am

    wow, what a project! I would probably puke if I saw all the mice findings. They are like the one thing in life I am afraid of!!

    • 4 Robin August 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

      Yeah the previous owners had a real mouse problem especially in the basement. It comes with country living but it didn’t help that the basement patio door was rotten open and had a huge mouse hole chewed into the bottom. We’ve filled every mouse hole we’ve found with non-chewable material and haven’t heard or seen any in a long time.

      The stuff we found this time was all very old so they are basically just fur and bones at that point. Not quite as gross. I would have taken pictures but I thought it would have grossed some readers out. LOL Wait to hear where else we found them during demo…

  4. 5 Carrie @ Hazardous Design August 12, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Holy cow! You guys took on quite the project! It must feel really good to have this project crossed off your list. Now i’m looking forward to seeing what you do with all that extra space you picked up.


  1. 1 The Dark Obstacle Course I Call Home « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on November 14, 2011 at 8:39 am
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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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