Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unrented Bugs

The house we rent has been a rental for more than a decade. As is the case with many rentals, it has not been well cared for. Also, it was the victim of a very cosmetic remodel, I’m guessing just prior to it’s last sale about ten years ago. 

The house makes a fairly good first impression. Many fixtures are new-looking, as is the flooring. But if you look a little closer at most anything, you’ll find yourself stepping back and saying, “Oh.”

Faucets must be turned on gently, or the handle may come off in your hand. Some exposed pipes are new, but where they meet the wall some are so corroded and rusted I’m afraid to touch them. This isn’t just me being uptight either, there is a precedent for pipe-touching gone bad.

When we first moved in, I was cleaning the floors. I bumped an exposed pipe under a sink and it started to leak. I inspected the pipe and discovered it was so old/corroded that I could put my thumb through it with very little pressure. I try very hard not to think about all the pipe I can’t see because we need a place to live and moving is hard.

One of the more impressive WTFs about this house is that many of the heating ducts under the house are not attached to the subfloor. If you lift off the registers you’ll see the square tube of the duct, in some cases just floating loose, with one-half to one-inch gaps at some or all edges. One duct is not only not attached to the floor, it doesn’t even come up all the way -- you can actually see sunlight from a nearby under-house vent through the gaps. 

Two ducts on one side of the house are attached on all four sides and come all the way up. I assume they fired whoever installed those for making everyone else feel bad.

Last weekend, my husband and I attempted to seal all the gaps around the ducts as part of the ongoing effort to defeat the silverfish. I think we successfully sealed most of the gaps. I’m too afraid to actually lift up the registers and look because I don’t want to accidentally dislodge any foam sealant.

It’s too soon to tell if the sealant has made a difference, because we’ve been in a kind of artificial silverfish remission (a couple of days of cool weather). Construction has just resumed on the house next door though, which I suspect will drive their bugs (which we DID NOT rent) toward our house to challenge our sealant.

I have a girlfriend who lives in Phoenix. A shopping center went up near her house a few years back. During construction, her house was overrun with scorpions fleeing the work site. So, with regard to perspective, things could be worse.