So What Exactly Is In a Hundred Year Old Basement?

My house has had foundation issues.

I knew about them since before I moved in.  I didn’t realize exactly what foundation issues were and what exactly that meant.  Now I know that meant that we shouldn’t have ever purchased this house.  But we did and I don’t have a time machine so now I must deal.

Typical of houses of this age in the area, my house was built without a very deep foundation.  And then somewhere along the way, someone dug out a basement.  The basement digger just left a ledge of dirt around the foundation and plastered in the dirt.  The dirt and plaster were crumbling.  We were afraid our house would fall down.  It was built in 1906.

So how do you fix a foundation?  There are many different approaches actually.  After much discussion and research, we decided we would use shotcrete.  Shotcrete is sprayed on concrete, applied with an air gun.

The first step of the shotcrete was to actually empty out the basement of everything.  We saved a little bit of money by doing this part totally ourselves.  It makes for an interesting blog post anyway…

So what exactly is in a hundred year old basement?  This blog will answer that age old question.

Seven (plus two) jugs of Sevin.  Sevin is a bug killer.  And I found 9- 2.5 gallon jugs of it!  They were in plain sight, resting on the “shelf” of dirt around the foundation.  I just never bothered to look for them or at them to see what they were.  So much for organic farmer me.  I had nine jugs of Sevin.  And it wasn’t even regular Sevin.  It was Sevin which contained a label that said it was for agricultural and professional use. Even if I was the type of person who loved Sevin, it’d be illegal for me to use that type since I don’t have the right licenses.  Even though my kids didn’t have access to the basement, I am still in horror at the fact that I had this deadly chemical under my roof. For nearly six years, too.
Then there was the problem of disposing of the Sevin.  What should I do with it?  Since I had no idea, I called the extension agent.  He had no idea either, but he called me back after he did some research.  “So&So will take it,” the extension agent said. “He uses that type of chemical for his business, Blah-Blah in [that neighboring town].  He has all the licenses for it.  He will check the label and use it if it’s within date.  If it is unusable or past date,  he has all the right ways to dispose of it. Can you bring it to town?”
Yes, I can and I did, within the hour.  The extension agent helped me unload it out of my trunk so that he could get it to So&So.  Thank you, extension agent.  Thank you, So&So.  The Sevin is now gone, and gone properly.

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Here are some of the Sevins…


Our old hot water heater.
A two barrel wood stove that’s not vented. Because you never know when the power will go out and our floor furnace and woodburning stove will both stop working.

It looks like the pressure tank never made it into the picture.

The good thing is that I plan to use the old water heater as a chicken scalder for when we butcher meat birds.


A creepy spider who is probably poisonous.  He may not be, but we’ll say he is just to be cautious. Better get that Sevin.

He was probably secretly plotting to kill us all.

He was probably secretly plotting to kill us all.


A well pressure tank.

You can see the well pressure tank in the background.  This is our new hot water heater.

You can see the well pressure tank in the background. This is our new hot water heater.


A mushroom.  Yes, a dirt wall corner where the plaster had fallen off had a mushroom growing in it.  It didn’t make the picture while in the basement.


A salamander.  Before now I had never seen a live salamander before.  Kevin named her Sally and took her to her new home in the stock tank.  I still say ewe and that that was an experience that I could have done without.

We put her in a Home Depot bucket for her journey to the stock tank.

We put her in a Home Depot bucket for her journey to the stock tank.



A floor furnace.


The floor furnace is in the background behind my son.


Shelves that are the size of quart sized canning jars.
A World War Two Ammunition box.  I was told that back in the day they gave these out like candy here.

When we moved this shelves out, the plaster wall behind it collapsed.

The ammunition box is on the top.  When we moved these shelves out, the plaster wall behind it collapsed.




Some paint.


So the paint never made the picture while it was in the basement, but you can see it in the corner here after we removed it. You can also see how to access the basement. I used to look for Aunty Em. Really.



A bag of cement that got wet that was now just a rock.
Really *fashionable* linoleum of two different types covered by olive green scrolly carpet covered by a mudslide that was supposed to be holding up our house.

Yes, this was the top layer.

Yes, this was the top layer.

We are stylin'!

We are stylin’!

Today the foundation man came and fixed it all. We now no longer have to worry about our house falling down. (Deep sigh of relief.)

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