01 November, 2009

Munch munch munch--hey guys, what's that scraping noise?

I've been repainting parts of the house, and last week I thought I'd spend an hour or two on a section of fascia and eaves. I only finished that section today.

What happened? In my quest to do a good job, I removed the gutters from their brackets, then started scraping away the old wood. I discovered that it had decayed pretty badly; I think I'm the first person to repaint that section in twenty-five years. As I scraped, wood came off with the paint, and I discovered that some healthy fungus was growing out of the board.

That was bad enough, but then I saw the ants. They were crawling out of the cracks in the board, disturbed by the scraping away of their nest. Carpenter ants! Dismay set in. By now it was obvious that it would take a lot more than two hours to paint this section of the house: I'd have to replace the fascia board entirely, and if the infestation went further I'd have a lot of wood to remove.

So, off came the board, as quickly as I and my crowbar could get it. There turned out to be two nests, but the surrounding wood looked good: no galleries moving from one to the other.

I drove down to Lowe's for the wood. Their pre-primed fascia boards were the wrong size (1×4 when I needed 1×6), so I had to buy two unprimed boards, take them home, measure, cut, and prime them. A couple of hours later, I was nailing the primed face of the wood against the beams, with the unprimed face towards me. I then primed that, too. I don't know if that's necessary, but the boards at Lowe's were primed on both sides, and in any case I feel more comfortable knowing that both sides of the wood are primed. The wood that the ants had infected was not primed on both sides; whether that was the problem, or something else, I won't speculate. The next day I came home from work to paint it, and today I returned the gutters to their positions. It almost looks like a professional did it; I even have the fascia board level.

So much work just from a small paint job. Never mind the other problems I've fixed and/or discovered lately. Owning this house is like playing one of those whack-a-mole games: you fix one problem, and another one pops up. Never mind the improvements you make. I'm starting to wonder if there's any end to the amount of upkeep a house requires. At this point I want my next house to be made of stone!!!

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