How we came to purchase our home.

WPA Photo

A Works Progress Administration photo offers a glimpse of our home's past.

Reproduction Windsor Chair

Finally, a dining room set.

No Power, No Heat.

Our first snow storm and it's aftermath, October, 2011.

Lead Poisoning

Updates to our son's lead levels.

Bit By Bit

My wife's blog on being pregnant, giving birth and raising our first child with all the complications, hardships and joys that life throws our way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lead Testing

Warning:  This test kit has an expiration date!  It must be checked prior to purchase.  Solution 2 needs to be checked regularly to ensure it is still active.  A negative test result will occur if the solution is inactive!

My wife and I have a newborn.  We have a very old house.  Lead is guaranteed to be present.  I purchased a lead test kit in hopes of identifying which rooms have lead.  As our child grows and starts to go places, as well as restoration efforts continue, I need to ensure that my child's safety is first.

The lead test kit I purchased initially from my local hardware store is called D-Lead by Klean Strip.  The kit has an expiration date on it as I realized too late.  A new test kit purchased from a home improvement store will cost you around $30.  My kit specifically was $30.81 after tax.  This product is one of two or three kits approved by the EPA for the homeowner to use to test for lead based paints (as seen here: EPA - Approved Lead Test Kits).

The kit is a miniature chemistry set.  There are two chemicals enough for six tests, a razor blade, a brass paint capturing tool, a plastic plunger, paper for collecting samples, surface preparation wipes and  a disposal bag.  There is also a set of test indicator strips for double confirmation of a negative result.

The test seemed confusing at first, but the directions were simple enough (once read).  The process took 15 minutes the first time, much less for successive tests.  First, using the included wipe, the surface to be tested is cleaned as are the utensils used to capture the sample.  The brass capturing tool is then placed on the spot with a paper collector underneath to capture what isn't captured by the tool.  Either a light tap with a hammer or pressure twisting by hand cuts through the layers of paint.  What doesn't easily fall out onto the paper below is pushed out of the tool by the plastic plunger.  The sample should be smaller than a pea-sized circular cut.  Using the razor blade, the sample is cut into quarters, poured into the clear bottle of solution one and shaken for 10 seconds.  Five drops of solution two are added and the mixture is shaken again for 10 seconds.  Wait 10 minutes to ensure breakdown of paint.  If lead is present, the color will be darker than the sample color on the solution 1 container.  If lighter, then there's no issue.

If the sample is not black, but not clear, you are now in a "gray" area.  Comparison to the color on the solution one bottle is simply one's interpretation and the test results, personally, I would consider invalid.  Don't risk your family.

I took a sample from the parlor's south window and wall as well as the baby room's window.  Here is my result (there were many sample vials, these are typical):
Negative Lead Result

The yellowing is the additive from Solution 2 as opposed to the initially clear vial.  The brown rectangle is the Test Standard.  If the mixture in the vial is darker than the Test Standard, you are positive for lead, if lighter, then you're negative.  I was excited to find negative results thus far.  The test indicator strip was used to test the quality of Solution 2.  Placing one drop of Solution 2 onto the indicator strip would result in a black coloring for "good to go" and clear if there is an issue with solution 2.  A number is provided by Klean Strip should the that arise.

I then tested the exterior paint.  The original color of our home was most likely white, at least that what the paint chips indicate.  And that color can be seen as the current paint is bubbling and peeling off.  Seeing how other aspects of this home were dealt with, I assume that the surface was not prepared prior to painting.

A sample was taken from the exterior paint and trim around the windows separately.  I mixed both the existing paint color and the underlying white paint together, not because I am lazy (though I can be), but because it was impossible to separate.  Here was the result:
Positive Lead Result

Positive for Lead.  Bummer.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spirits and Bangs in the Night

At some point while running through the gauntlet of reality shows on cable TV, one comes across the unmistakable green washed image of night vision goggles being used on yet another episode of Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures or any other carbon copy series. You hear the homeowner's tales of encounters with the supernatural. Footsteps in the attic, a distant voice, perhaps even the levitation of various objects... ohhhh my (in a George Takei impersonation).

No, our kitchen cabinets are not opened by some mysterious force, just our mystgevious cat. No, the clanking sounds are just the plumbing pipes that were never perfectly suited for a home of this vintage. That rumble in the basement? Oh, that's the oil boiler doing its job in a not so efficient manner. The flapping sound in the attic is the recently installed bathroom vent cap flapping in the wind.

I tell you these things because I am aware and conscious of most of the sounds my home makes. I must, by now, as it has been several months since we moved in. So, what is this post about?

You must've guessed... surely I wouldn't have written all the above without hinting at some sort of paranormal ongoings.

Several months ago, I was sitting in the old kitchen (now our living room) watching TV when I heard a thump come directly below me in the basement. I like to think of myself as a manly-man; late at night, probably due to just completing an episode of Ghost Hunters, in the dark (no less), I was not to keen on entering the bowels of our home to investigate a bump in the night.

Upon the rising of the sun I had a sudden surge of courage to venture into the cellar. Here is what was found:

A part of a brick had "magically" popped out of a patched wall, attached to it was a piece of garment.  In the hole in the wall, was and still is a stuffed shirt, seemingly, stripped and a bit lacy as if it were feminine. Well, OK, it's not too freaky, I'll admit, until I heard of a story from the prior owner.

Several years ago, the story starts, the previous owner was hosting a party for a few friends and friends of friends.  Not knowing it at the time, two of the guests were mediums.  Upon the conclusion of the party, while leaving, the two mediums said to the previous owner, "We don't want to alarm you, and they're really quite harmless, but there are two women, other than yourself, living here."

I'll wait a couple seconds for the goose bumps to settle.....

Hearing this second hand didn't really phase me.  I mean, really, that sounds interesting, but she could have just been saying that, right?

My lovely sister-in-law made a visit last week to help us while we are adjusting to our new born baby.  She's a bit of an oddity when it comes to dreams.  At times, her dreams become reality or closely related.  Does that make her a medium, perhaps, perhaps not, but what she told me as a first witness account freaked me out.

While leaving our room after yet another crying fit from our little boy, crossing the second floor landing to the guest room, she closed the room's door and heard a woman's voice say, "Hi!".  Thinking it was her 8 year old son, she turned around to find him fast asleep.

She had a dream that night involving a few names one of which escapes me at this moment.  They were Maggie, Scarlet or Charlotte and a third.  I am curious to know if these are related to any prior inhabitant.

To any future visitor, don't hesitate a visit just because our home has (had) a history. My wife and I haven't seen any spirits nor are we on a T.A.P.S. waiting list. Our cat does get the scared-bushy-tale syndrome once in a while, but don't let that phase you either.  Our home is quiet aside from the usual banging, clanking and rumblings that all homes of this vintage make.

So come one come all, to ye olde home abode, and fear not thy bumps in thy night.