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Season's first mowing, mystery water leak somewhere?

May 2nd, 2011 at 05:07 am

Having charged the lawnmower the night before, I commenced with the season's first lawn mowing yesterday. When it's allowed to grow without a shave, my lawn resembles a colorful spring meadow, with wild violets in bloom, teeny white flowers and patches of taller white flowers that will bloom if given the chance. So I mowed around the largest patches of wildflowers so I could enjoy the show.

My lawn's too big to do all at once, so I'll hopefully finish up the mowing today.

Yesterday, I also planted some Swiss chard, which I like to use in soups. I also planted several pots of basil. (A girl can never have too much basil, especially a girl who loves her homemade pesto sauce.)

It's so easy to forget all the great things about summer in the depth of winter. But then again, would we appreciate them so much if we enjoyed them year-round?

I also laid the soaker hose in the vegetable garden and cut back the overgrown basket willow and giant hemlock that were shading out my blueberry bushes. I dragged the cut branches down to the ever-growing pile in the driveway, now taller than me. It awaits my father's arrival to help me bring them to the landfill in his pick-up truck. Hopefully some time this week.

I changed the hummer water, watered the newly sprouted grass where the forsythia stand was and weeded more garlic mustard, which is growing just about everywhere.

I discovered a small water leak that discolored a large wall mural my mother painted in my living room in 2001 and wondered if that leak was the source of the musty smell I've been smelling for the past month in my upstairs bedroom. If so, perhaps the leak came from the attic window, traveled down the 2nd floor bedroom wall and down to the first floor? (I see no evidence of a leak in the 2nd floor bedroom, just a smell.)

So i hauled my extension ladder out, used it to climb to the shallow pitched roof of the family room, and then hoisted it up to use it again to reach the attic window. There was a good-sized gap between the top of the window casing where it meets the wall of the house, so I caulked it up pretty well; while i was up there, I also caulked the top of the upstairs bathroom window. It will all be covered with vinyl siding this season, but still a good idea to seal up any openings.

I'd also more or less pinpointed where ants were coming in the sunroom at a corner at the ceiling. Looking at it from the outside, I could see some cracks where ants could crawl through, so I did more caulking there, too. I hope it finally does the trick.

I'm still concerned about the musty smell in my bedroom, which was never there before. I don't think it's from this past winter's ice dams, because the water infiltration was all on the back (south) wall of the house, and the bedroom abuts the north wall. You'd think if there was a mold issue, I would have smelled it sooner. Besides, it would have dried out by now and then the mold would die.

There is no plumbing in my upstairs bedroom, so don't think it's a leaky pipe. Although, I remember years ago I kept smelling a musty water smell on the first floor, near the front door, and I traced it to a sink in my basement which didn't have a proper trap on the drain pipe, allowing those bad odors to rise up to the first floor. Recalling that incident, I examined the plumbing in the basement, but see no leaks.

I want to go back into the attic again with my flashlight and look behind the knee walls, and then do it again when it's raining so I could more easily spot an active leak.

So for now, the source of that musty smell remains a mystery.I would like to think that my caulking of the attic window fixed the problem and the residual mustiness will dissipate with time, but I'm not sure that's it, partly because if the bad odor was coming up from the basement, you would assume you'd also smell it on the first floor, which I don't. I smell it on the 2nd floor, in my bedroom, which leads me to think it more likely to be a leak from above, somewhere in the attic, if it's coming from somewhere other than the attic window crack which I already caulked.

One more possibility: I recently discovered I have some sort of leak from my washing machine, which is in the basement more or less directly underneath the 2nd floor bedroom where I'm smelling the musty smell. (If that's the source, why aren't I smelling the musty smell on the first floor?) The leak appears to be coming from either underneath or behind the washing machine, will have to do a load and watch carefully as the water fills. The wet spot on the cement floor spread about 5 feet.

So what to do about the washer? It's 15 years old; it's a Whirlpool. Had it repaired once before, something to do with the water not draining away. I was happy with the repair job, though i recall it being about $75 (?) or so. Considering I'm not working, should I go for a repair again or consider a new washer?

I hope that once I have the vinyl siding installed, this sort of thing will happen no more; everything will be sealed up. But I'd feel better if I were able to identify the source of the mustiness and deal with it prior to vinyl installation because once it's on, it could make it harder to deal with any leak issue later.

I seem to have recurring issues with leaky windows. I don't think this is normal. Is it something about how my window casings are constructed? Because there's always that weak spot, along the top of the window casing, which is basically a piece of wood trim that butts up against the side of the house. This joint is supposed to be kept sealed/caulked, but no caulk lasts forever.

2 Responses to “Season's first mowing, mystery water leak somewhere?”

  1. North Georgia Gal Says:

    Gosh I am tired just reading all that you got done!

  2. Tightwad Kitty Says:

    Washing machine at 15 years old, you may need to change the rubber & plastic pipes in the washing machine if you can or get a new one.

    You have done a great job with climbing ladders etc.

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