Unwanted Guests

I am hoping to get the radiators turned on next month. In order to do so I need to get a couple hooked up still.

Like the one in the servant’s hall (eventual breakfast room). This radiator could not be installed because the floor was torn up in 2014 because of termite damage, and I put down miscellaneous pieces of plywood and OSB board. A temporary patchwork of flooring.

To install the radiator, I thought it would be a good idea to install a permanent subfloor, and place the radiator on a couple of pine floor strips. When the real floor is installed it will be easy to just disconnect the radiator.

I started to clean the room out and noticed that several wainscoting boards were standing proud of the wall, which would be in the way of the new subfloor. So I pulled them out.



The previous owner removed the plaster and spray-foamed the open walls and attic space. He squirted some foam down behind the wood wainscoting. I thought this is what was causing the bulge. You can see the boards I pulled away. And at the moment, if I was an eight-year-old girl, I would have shrieked. But, because I am a fifty-nine-year-old man, I…ahhh…well…I…um…still shrieked. For, before me, to my horror, was…



…a whole lotta termite damage. And, yes, you would have shrieked, too. Most of the plaster under the wainscoting boards is gone, and most of the wood lath has been eaten away, as well as…



…a lot of the sheathing boards. See also the two wood studs to each side of the electrical outlet?



They are missing their bottoms. This is not good.



This stud to the left? Its entire middle has been devoured. There is a strip to the left, and a smaller one to the right, but no middle.


I have a strange two-fold reaction to such a discovery.

I am, as stated, horrified.

And pleased.

The latter is caused by the fact that I discovered this mess. I would rather fix it now, when the room is already torn apart, then spend years after the room is finished trying to ascertain why the window above keeps drooping, why water is leaking into the basement, and why termites have reappeared.

Sadly, I cannot repair the wall now. It will just have to go on the To Do list. But I will continue with putting a subfloor in.

Luckily, I did not find any living unwanted guests.




  1. Cindi M on December 10, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    And no two-legged trespassers, at that! Vandals? Termites? I’ll take dead termites, too

  2. Melody on December 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Ghosts of Termites Past

    Scary indeed. But, as you said, better to find it now.

  3. Cindy on December 10, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Holy cow!! You are stout of heart and true of mind. I’m still trying to breath…eeekkkk!! Well, the after photos will be amazing!!
    Hugs to you:)

  4. Blair Carmichael on December 10, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    What would you replace the wood with? Pressure treated? Redwood? Aluminum studs? When I repair termite damage I always have the area treated by a professional before I rebuild, but the termites came back! This is where I want Chlordane legal to use again.

    • Ross on December 10, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      I will replace all the bad bits with pressure-treated lumber.

      Most importantly, I will also stop the wood from getting soaked by water. The damage was caused by the lack of a downspout, so a huge amount of water was just dumped for decades on the outside of the wall. Rot and termites was inevitable.

  5. Cory on December 11, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Why are you turning on the radiators next month when Saturday is going to be a low of 10 degrees? What are you heating your house with now?

    • Ross on December 11, 2016 at 7:46 am

      I have forced air on the basement and first floor.

  6. Julie Fuller on December 11, 2016 at 10:17 am

    “The horror. The horror”

    I SO get the shrieking. Years ago, just a few weeks before my husband and I were having our wedding here at the house, we of course did a lot of fixing up. This included weeding the flowerbeds around the house, as well as replacing the skirting from the siding to the ground. (Part of our house, built in 1877 is on post and pier (read: rocks and charred posts))

    In doing this, one flowerbed had some interesting plumbing. The drain pipe from the utility sink, which was badly corroded, and didn’t slope enough. It was also hooked to a small “cesspool” which was built of bricks with a cement top, and held maybe ten gallons. Of course, it had long since silted in.

    So, we dug it all up, replaced it, and the drainlines.

    But when we got ready to reconnect the drainline to the sink, we discovered rot in the wall near the floor, and started pulling the wall apart. Can you hear the shrieking?

    From the sink to the corner of the service porch, ALL of the studs were rotten at the bottom. When we opened up the corner, we were both stunned. The corner post was literally sawdust from the floor to about 4 feet! Literally sawdust.

    So, there we were, three weeks before the wedding, looking at re-building the 10×20 service porch. All because I wanted the flowerbeds to look nice.

    We got it done, for the most part. The inside was open studs, but the outside was gorgeous, with new custom cedar siding, newly reglazed windows, fresh trim paint, and new drain lines running under a beautifully replanted flowerbed.

    I love old houses. They are just as much fun as taking road trips in old pick-ups!

    Okay, I may be a sadist. *grin*

  7. [email protected] Ridge on December 11, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Have we met your radiators yet? Did most of the original Cross House radiators survive?

    • Ross on December 11, 2016 at 10:29 am

      What??????? You have not my radiators yet?

      • [email protected] Ridge on December 11, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Ahhh…thank you,Ross! I believe now I will have to indulge in a nice case of radiator envy!!

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