Oh, my poor, brave, brave daughter!
I got a response from my brother, after I told him about the drip in the bathroom ceiling. Among the things he told me was to check in the crawl space above the bathroom.
This picture is from when the girls had started cleaning the upstairs in preparation for painting. Look at the top left.
See that triangular bit that’s brown?
That’s where the access panel is.
The wall is at an angle under the roof, and there’s a section about 2-3 feet high that’s walled off to hide the ducts and pipes and wires.
I honestly thought it was closed off, but it turns out that panel just pops right off.
That’s where the pipes and ducts for the bathroom are.
My younger daughter is the only one who could possibly fit in there, and still be able to move around.
At least, in theory.
Because it was painted, the panel needed to be pried off.
There’s stuff in there.
Not right at the front. No. Further in, and all the way to the back, past the pipes and ducting.
Also, lots of old mouse droppings.
I had grabbed a hook I’d found when cleaning my mother’s old bedroom, made from a straightened wire hanger, and my daughter poked around a bit.
Which is when she found a live spider.
She is arachnophobic.
That was it. She was willing to crawl into the horror movie death hole with dusty books and jars, cobwebs and mouse droppings, right up until live spiders came into play.
The poor thing managed to hold it together, but she just couldn’t do it.
So I figured I’d give it a try.
My knees are shot, so I borrowed my other daughter’s knee pads (she has a bum knee, too), and set up the vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed the mouse droppings and dust from the front, used the hook to drag some stuff out, vacuumed again, hooked out some more stuff, vacuumed again, hooked out some more stuff, vacuumed again…
And that was as far as I could reach.
The photo is from after I’d vacuumed and taken out the stuff closest to the opening. You can see all the crud that got dragged with it, that I needed to vacuum again. I’m not sure if you can tell, but there is what appears to be fabric – an old coat? sweater? – way in the back, past the duct and pipes.
After clearing things out as much as I could, it was time to try and crawl in.
I couldn’t even get into the opening.
To get in, you have to bend around a corner. My shoulders got jammed between the slanted portion of the wall and the edge of the opening.
Theoretically, I could have squirmed down on my belly and squirmed my way forward. Maybe. Not likely. But even if i could, once I reached the stuff I couldn’t clear out, that would have been it.
At this point, my brave, brave daughter was willing to try again.
She donned the knee pads, gloves and mask, grabbed the flashlight, and started to squirm her way in.
She couldn’t get all the way in the opening.
Because of the angle, the only way she could have fit would have been to combat crawl her way along the bottom. And while she does not share my generous proportions, it was still too tight to move much as at all. Then she would have reached the stuff I couldn’t put out, which would have blocked her way, and would have had to somehow pass it back to me, then continue on. Because of where the drip was happening, she would have had to go at least as far as those pipes.
It wasn’t going to happen.
She could, however, see more from her vantage point.
There are obvious signs of old moisture damage, but nothing looks recent.
Wherever the water was getting in from, it doesn’t look like it was coming through this space.
But without going all the way in, we really can’t say that for sure.
I’d responded to my brother, mentioning that I hadn’t thought the crawl space was accessible, and he’d written back. Oh, yes, he tells me. It’s quite accessible. Then he described having to go in there to put in the wiring for the new electric furnace, dragging himself along a few inches as a time, while pulling the wire.
Now, my brother is a thin man, but he’s not tiny. With the angle of the roof on one side, it would have been like a giant sausage casing.
This is like a scene straight out of a horror movie.
Speaking of which…
This is the stuff I was able to get out of the horror tunnel.
First aid books. An old Polish prayer book. A jug from pickling vinegar. An empty binder. A book on car repair. Maps. And… other things.
I didn’t want to look too closely.
Why did the stuff get put in there? HOW did the stuff get put in there? When? I mean, if my brother crawled around in there, was it already there and he just crawled over it all? If it got put in after, how did stuff get so far to the back? Or has it been there since the area got walled off, after we got running water and the bathroom was installed?
I’m just… amazed.
Just think. If we hadn’t had that drip, we wouldn’t have had a reason to open the space up and wouldn’t have known there was stuff in there.
I could have lived without that knowledge.