When we think of home improvement disasters, many think of mold, termites, soon discovered holes that would have you stepping on the ground to wake you during your morning coffee instead of a clean floor; things that would require a ‘do-over’ of the home. However, I have found not all home disasters include the caving in of a roof.
I had been mulling around, and liking, the idea of ripping out all of the carpet in my home. I had two reasons for this. The first being that I often have scorpion visitors during the warmer months, and they are very hard to see on the beige colored carpet I had. The second was this smell. To describe this smell, you have to be a pet owner, or around someone who is. It smells like animal scents, (in all facets of the word), and leaves you checking your animals, bathing them almost weekly, and checking places that might contain an ‘accident.’
What I found while doing my home improvements would bring even the most stomach-hardy person to a slight queasy feeling.
I let my fingers do the walking as I contemplated this undertaking, and searched around the internet for what I needed to do, and what I wanted to put down as new flooring in my quaint, little country home. The people who had sold me the home had rented it out previously, to us as well as other tenants, before selling it to us. They said, when I spoke to them about my idea, some of the things they felt I would need, and informed me that the flooring underneath the carpet was all plywood. This led me to do further research into cement boarding, and exactly what I needed to get and do for my project.
Now, one thing to consider is that sometimes these landlords let people work their rent off when they had no money to pay. The work these tenants gave was hardly up to par, but usually provided a temporary fix. I do believe that one thing they didn’t consider was if their tenants didn’t like them, how that would reflect in the work done on the home.
I learned the answer to that question in a very unique way when I started my home improvement project.
Now, before I tell you the great big, bad thing that happened, I will add as a disclaimer that I am unsure of who exactly put the carpet in, and thus will not assume it was the people who sold us the house, or previous tenants they had. However, by the time I’m finished, I’ll let you make your own assumptions.
After installing a new screen door to replace a glass storm door, my husband and I started to work on what would be a rather large undertaking. He decided we needed some more tools, and hurried off to the hardware store to gather the supplies needed. While waiting on the return of tools, I decided to take a swath of carpet up, just to get a gander at what was truly underneath.
As I cut here, and there, making a rectangular opening in the middle of my flooring, I discovered a very nice surprise. The flooring hidden was none other than hardwood floors with a cherry colored varnish. Oh, how excited I was! I felt that perhaps, with a little sanding and re-varnishing, we would have nice looking wood floors, eliminating the need for tile, vinyl, or anything of the like.
Upon receiving new tools, we both set to work, tearing here, ripping there, and finding that the job done had not been the best. The tack sticks that had been used for carpeting had been unevenly glued and nailed to the floor using picture frame nails, the single layer of not-so-awesome padding had been stapled to the hardwood floor every 4 inches or so, and both the carpet and padding probably needed to be taken out the day we signed the papers to our home. I contemplated calling in the police for forensic samples when I thought I saw a blood stain on the underside of the padding, but my husband insisted it was nothing more than a bad mold. Either way, all of it was removed from the house.
We finally finished ripping up the carpet in the wee early hours of morning, leaving us to look at exactly what we had. There were a few spots that appeared to be glued, as if someone was trying to glue the padding onto the floor, but it was only in about 4 – 5 spots that were no more than a foot in diameter at the most. Again, possible evidence of a shoddy job in my opinion, but we were determined to fix it! With all that was done, we decided we were too tired to continue, and cleaned up to head to bed.
The next day, I awoke ready to work on the floors again. This was going to entail the removal of staples, nails, and the so-called glued areas of the floor. I gathered all my supplies, a fresh cup of very strong coffee, extra sweet of course, and set out to start my day. These tools included a pair of vice grips for the staples, a mallet hammer, nail hammer, and a hammer I use to beat my starter into submission when it decides to lock up on my car, and a utility knife for all my cutting and scraping needs before I brought the huge sander out that I was sure to need in the end.
With all my ‘girly’ tools, I sat on the floor, scooting along from area to area, doing what needed to be done. Then I hit my first so called ‘glued’ spot. With my handy-dandy utility knife, I decided it would be a good idea to scrape what glue I could off the floor. With the screen door open, and a fan to circulate anything coming off the floor, I set about scraping off the glue.
This is where the big, bad thing comes into play, so here we go!
Within the first few swipes of the ‘glue,’ I thought I smelled something along the lines of animal defecation. ‘Oh great, one of the animals needed to go out and didn’t tell me,’ I thought to myself. I got up, and went to looking to find everyone silently asleep with no messes. Being satisfied that no one had any outside issues, I decided to let everyone out to make absolutely sure, and again, sat on the floor to scrape away at this glue again.
There that smell was again. I couldn’t believe it! I had no animals in the home, and I only smelled this smell in this one room. I searched the room once more, moving furniture, turning furniture over, checking everywhere. I couldn’t find anything amiss. Confused, and becoming irritated, I sat down once more to scrape this glue off.
That’s when the smell and my thought process really kicked in. This wasn’t glue! This was animal urine and fecal matter that had been on the floor prior to the carpeting. Whoever put this carpet in didn’t bother to clean the floor in the first place, and laid padding and carpet over it!
Absolutely mortified, I immediately washed my hands, and began to feel queasy. I knew then that the floor was going to be cleaned right then in one form or the other and I wasn’t taking no for an answer!
I grabbed some gloves and started scraping. The smell was overwhelming, causing me to turn the fan on high to get it out of the house. Finally, when I had sufficiently scraped up all the matter, including taking up a few wood pieces, I cleaned the floor with a heavy duty cleaner. I made sure it dried quickly, and did it again before contemplating a shower with bleach.
I have decided that vinyl isn’t so bad, and would look great in the living room that no longer has ‘that smell.’