Category: 1940s House


Portico under construction.

I haven’t posted here in a while because I haven’t been able to hear myself think. We’ve recently had our roof replaced. Almost immediately after that a crew came to build a portico and fix several issues around the house. Davis & Bankerd Custom Painting has been terrific. In addition to painting they do a variety of home repair projects. We’ve worked with them before and really like them. Even though they’re great guys, I’ll be happy when they’re done.

Asbestos Removal, Not as Fun as It Sounds.

One of the “joys” of owning an older home is sometimes you find “innovations” from days past that could kill you. Luckily for us, this house was not high end when it was built for workers coming into the DC area for World War II. Had it been a more expensive home at the time, the builders would have likely done “upgrades” like asbestos-wrapped duct work and vent liners. We don’t have any of that, so foolishly, I thought we were asbestos free accept for a few shingles at the peak of the roof that are in good shape and that we keep painted. What we did have was some mysterious black cardboard looking stuff that functioned as joist panning for the air returns. I never thought much about it, but when we had the HVAC replaced, the installer mentioned that it looked like it was asbestos paper. Asbestos paper? Seriously, was there nothing they didn’t make out of asbestos? Since the paper was damaged in a few places, I cut a piece off and took it out to this lab in Dulles to have it tested. It came back as 65% asbestos, so you know, deadly. Obviously, it had to be removed. I went looking for a company to remove it and discovered that having a small amount of asbestos removed is not as simple as it sounds. Simply finding a company willing to do a job under $3000 was a challenge. I was eventually able to find Young Environmental Services. Everyone I talked to was really nice and they were able to schedule the removal within the week. The owner, Peter, said that since the big asbestos jobs are pretty much over, a lot of companies don’t handle asbestos anymore because of all the regulation and licensing. The other problem is that, for removal, a small job and a big job still require the same set up for a safe working environment for the crew to take down the material. Since the paper couldn’t be encapsulated, which is the preferred way to deal with asbestos, it had to be removed. I have to applaud Young Environmental though, they were here at 8:00am and gone by 11:00am. Everything was clean and all the asbestos was gone.

After they left, Colin and Spencer and I got the fun task of repanning the joists so our air return worked. There really isn’t any point in having a new HVAC if you don’t have air return, so that had to be done right away. We used this product and it went up pretty quickly and now the whole system is working really well.

April and May were a little more expensive than I would have preferred and I’d really like it if we don’t have another couple of months like this in a long time. On the other hand, given that the house is seventy-three years old, there is always something. Home ownership: not for the faint of heart.

Woohoo, HVAC!

Trane Compressor
Trane Compressor

“Wow, what a compressor!” said no one ever.

April has been quite the month of expenses in the Flanigan household. Shortly after we removed the large maple from the front yard we replaced the twenty-year-old HVAC. The problem with spending money that way is that no one notices. Hardly anyone even remembers what the maple even looked like and it’s not like we have wine and cheese parties around our furnace.

“We went with Trane over Carrier,” followed by clever laughter. Yeah, no. That’s not going to happen.

On the other hand, when Tom of Carmel Mechanical Services turned on the system to test it, the difference was amazing. As my friend Michele said, “Comfort is sexy, good HVAC is important.” She’s totally right and we don’t regret the decision at all. I’m sure we’re going to be really happy with the new air conditioner now that we don’t have the shade from the two giant trees that used to be in our front yard.