Playing With Jacks

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Renaissance Man and I spent yesterday playing jacks. No, not THIS kind of jacks. Oh, how I wish …

Available at www.amazon.com

 
We played with this kind …

Available at www.lowes.com

 
I love my old house, but sometimes it has a mind of its own. Awhile back when I saw this at the ceiling line above my kitchen cabinets, I knew I had to listen.

 
Are you having a little trouble seeing it? Feeling a little blurry? Yeah, that’s how I felt, too–with tears welling up in my eyes. Oh, please, don’t let this be a BIG problem. We worked so hard in this kitchen, and it’s served us well for almost five years. I’ve loved this kitchen…from the very first time I saw it…

 
… in all its hideous glory.

 
And when we tore out EVERYTHING …

 
… then started filling the space with “us.”

 
As I assessed the situation, I saw that the upper cabinet had dropped a little…about 1/4″. See what I mean?

 
Looking closely, it seemed the installer didn’t attach it well enough and all these years later something shifted. The damage was done, but the cabinet was actually not going to fall, so we decided to get through the holidays then address it. You think this was the weekend to address it? Nope, it was NOT! But something else … unconnected to this … happened last week. And it HAD to be addressed. We’ll go outside and look at it in a minute, but for now, let’s just fix this problem. It really shouldn’t take long…
 
Remove the old caulk …

 
Remove the dishes from the cabinets …

 
Make several trips to Lowe’s… (Do you do that? Can’t get everything you need in one trip? Please tell me that happens to you, too.) This project is taking longer than it should…<   Finally, with the bottle jack in place...
 
… we raised the cabinet.

 
Then came the “fun” part. Did you notice earlier that the walls in our kitchen are concrete lathe over brick? Well, Renaissance Man had to drill through the concrete and into the brick then insert sleeve anchors through the top edge of the cabinets. 5/8″ x 4 -1/2″ lonnnnnng sleeve anchors. (Don’t worry. They aren’t visible from below.)

Available at www.lowes.com

 
Finally, that project was done except for the clean-up. But remember, I said there was another one. It’s a lot more complicated…
 
In the center of this picture right where the painted wall meets the crown moulding, there is a very thin white separation line. Do you see it? And just below there in the center of the window header there’s a very slight sag…like something is pressing down on the wall. I live in a two-story house. That can’t be good, can it?

 
Of course I found this last week while Renaissance Man was out of town on a business trip. Be brave, Girl. Go outside and see what’s happening on the other side of that wall.
 
Yeah, that’s what was worrying me. You see, my old house is blessed with wonderful concrete lintels like this…

 
… and beautiful tall windows.

 
But I knew that many decades before we bought our house, that particular beautiful tall window in the original kitchen had been changed. The window opening had been shortened so that cabinets could be placed on that wall under the window. (You may have noticed that in the “bare bones” picture above.) All those years ago, in the process of making that change, the lintel above that window sustained a narrow crack. Apparently they re-stabilized everything, and there had been no movement since…even when we changed out the first “short” window for a new one. But our window had cracked in the bottom corner–we thought from a hail storm while we were out of town–and last summer we replaced it. Now I wonder why our first window cracked…
 
Well, I’d stalled long enough. I went outside to look…

 
… and found just what I’d feared: a wider crack in the lintel. And just in case I thought my memory was unclear, my eyes told me the truth. There was more weight than usual on the lintel. The black metal was bent just below the crack … where the weight was bearing down.


 
Great. This was not a problem to mess around with. If it was going to happen, I’m just glad it happened before we finished bricking up around the window!
 
When Renaissance Man returned, I showed him…and we headed out the door to purchase a steel floor jack. We needed something like this for our 76″ window opening. Unfortunately, the shortest one we could find immediately was an inch too long. Of course it was (she says with heavy sarcasm).

 
But it’s times like these when I’m so glad I’m married to Renaissance Man. He always finds a Plan B…or C…or D if necessary. He never gives up until the job’s done. Fortunately, this one only required Plan B!
 
See that contraption made of 2x4s and 4x4s? After we add some shims below the jack on the window sill, Renaissance Man is going to lift that contraption up into the window opening…and set it onto the jack. Then yours truly will jack it up. It being her house! Jack up the second floor of her house! Do you know how scary that thought is?<
 
Here we go… Ooops, wait, Babe. I forgot to take a picture for my blog! And I need the step ladder. Gotta have a little more height to really work that jack…

 
OK, it’s done. I jacked up my house…and heard the lintel draw back together. That’s a really gritty sound. I didn’t like it, but I hoped it was progress…

 
It WAS progress. We’re back to the amount of break we had to begin with. The lintel isn’t going to fall…and take my second story with it. Oh, gee…

 
We’ve already talked to one brick mason, but it was obvious to me that he really didn’t understand old houses. They’re not constructed like new ones. You really have to respect that. I’ve got a call into someone else who I hope can refer us to the right person. This is more DIY than we want to handle ourselves. Too much at stake! But I will be glad when we can get this fixed. The view out our kitchen window leaves a little bit to be desired, don’t you think?

 
So these are our Befores and Afters for today. I’ll be so glad when I can show you the FINAL After!
 
I’m linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.
 

Comments

  1. WOW, Susan…as a LOVER of old homes I have to say that yours is fabulous. Sorry you are dealing with all this maintenance stuff and hope you find the right person to do the work that needs doing.

    Blessings!
    Gail

  2. Beautiful house, but whoa, that is scary stuff. I hope you find a qualified contractor to take that on for you!

  3. Wow, that last one is really scary. I don’t blame you for calling pros. Keep us posted. ginger

  4. Oh Susan..The disadvantage of older homes..I went through the same thing with a 1890’s Victorian year back. To find something good out of all this..is..It’s a good thing you saw what you did when you did. Could Have been 5 times worse and more expensive. Hang in there..it’s worth it. Keep us all posted. Sherri
    http://twotulipstalking.blogspot.com/

  5. Oh wow that is so scarry. Lucky the Renasance man knew what to do. I hope this all turns out to be ok. Your home is lovely.

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