Lots of things can go wrong with houses . . . and for a myriad of mystifying reasons. With a life-time in the construction business, including six years with Community Action, I’ve run into some doozies . . . and here’s a few of my best.

At two a.m. one summer night one of my clients called and said I had to come over right away and fix the basement sump pump. The water was starting to rise. OK. Thirty-five minutes later I was standing in the basement in question, examining the sump pump. I opened the basket lid and there, on the pump float, sat the biggest bullfrog I ever did see, as big as a softball. I asked the lady of the house if she wanted to keep him for a pet. I won’t tell you what she replied. Anyway, the mysterious pump failure was resolved.

Another time a client called in a panic, saying that the fireplace was broken and that the smoke was filling his house. I arrived with my extension ladder, chimney sweep rod and brush in hand, and quickly ascended to the roof-top. I trained a flashlight down the chimney to discover a smoked raccoon – the poor fellow mistaking the chimney for a nice place to den up for a good nap. The raccoon was still alive and in a really snarly mood. I tried to calm him with gentle entreaties, telling him softly that his hair would grow back, and managed to fish him out, thereby restoring the tranquility of the house.

Then there was the time that all of the client’s water pipes froze and broke under the kitchen cupboards. After a careful look-see, I discovered that a rogue chipmunk had bored a hole through the siding, rim joist and insulation, and helped himself to the waste basket under the kitchen sink. The minus 20 degree cold that subsequently followed the rascal’s snack highway, froze and broke the water pipes. We had to tear out the bottoms of the cabinets to replace the burst pipes – then reinstall insulation, framing and siding. The owner asked how to stop the problem from reoccurring. All I could think of was . . . “Don’t feed the chipmunks!”

I saved the best one for last. A client called and said that there were evil spirits around his house, and that I better come over and fix it, as the house was still under warranty. He asked if someone of old had been the victim of foul play on the property, or if the site was an ancient burial ground. I didn’t have that answer, but responded, “Be right over.” My imagination had been peaked. I arrived and asked him to describe the events. He said pheasants and deer kept running into his house, many of the pheasants committing suicide. “Hmmm . . . ,” I said. I walked the property and noticed a plethora of animal tracks at the base of a wild plum tree. I asked the owner if he had noticed anything unusual about the tree. “No,” he said, “other than all the critters are always eating the wild plums.”

“There’s your evil spirits,” said I.

“What’s that?” Said he.

“Your plums are fermenting, the critters are getting drunk gorging on them, losing their equilibrium and bashing into your house,” said I.

“Arrrgh, I can’t believe it,” said he.

After subsequent observation, he found it to be true. I think he was a little disappointed that there had been no spooks, no noteworthy historical dramas.

So there you have it . . . some of my best client/critter tales.


Energy Saving Tips for March

Having a hard time keeping up with your energy bills? I have two suggestions for you. First, set up a family budget (on paper). Call Tri-CAP if you need a budgeting form or if you want to attend our free Financial Fitness class. After you start tracking your income and expenses, get in the habit of paying yourself FIRST. Once you start a savings account, you will learn to live on the remainder of your income. This is a proven fact. You will learn to do without some things, as saving will become a desirable and worthy goal. Before you know it, you will be able to pay your bills on time, use less credit cards with the attendant high interest, and have the security of a growing bank account. The second thing that you can do is to improve the energy profile of your home. How? Ask Tri-CAP to send you energy saving tips. There are dozens of things that you can do to save energy in your home. If your house needs a major energy makeover, ask Tri-CAP for an Energy Advisor Home Visit. For those who are income eligible, you may also receive Weatherization Services, or possibly a low interest rehab loan. Sign up for energy assistance, if you qualify, it is the gateway to many of our programs.

March 2017 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund