Ceiling Fall Down Go Boom

Today was the day allotted to demolition of the majority of the plaster in the dining room, and after a somewhat slow start that was what we did. Whereas for the first ceiling dropping free-for-all we had almost too many people to work efficiently, this time we were a little spare. Of course, one of those people was the incomparable Gene, so we were in good hands; we just had to work a little harder.

Here's where we started:

Dining room before

We planned to take down the ceiling and the two walls shown here: the North wall and the East wall. The other two walls are in decent repair and can be patched up, so we're saving ourselves some work by leaving them be.

We began the day, after taping up some plastic over the doorways, by removing the ceiling medallion. I'm not sure how salvageable it is; it came down in four pieces, and somebody hacked away hunks of it. But medallions are often restorable even when heavily damaged, so it was worth saving. Noel had turned off the electrical circuit and removed the fixture that was hanging there beforehand.

Removing the ceiling medallion

Then Gene took the lead and went to work on the ceiling, methodically working his way across the room. There were several large pieces of broken glass lying on the ceiling, so this required more care than just whacking away with the wrecking bar.

Pulling down the ceiling

There was a lot of dirt in the ceiling, and in short order we were all utterly and completely dirty.

Richard is a little soiled

There was so much dirt, blown with such force, that it got through our plastic barriers and sort of exploded into the surrounding rooms. There was a significant amount of soot in this ceiling, I think because of a now-removed brick chimney that used to serve this room and the kitchen.

Dirt explosion

As Gene (and then Elaine as well) pulled down plaster and lath, Noel and I sorted it out, scooped plaster into trash cans, and hauled it to the truck for later carting to the dump. The lath we're setting aside for use in my ongoing terra preta experiment, which requires regular infusions of charcoal.

Cleaning up plaster and lath

As we took down the walls and ceiling, we found some fun stuff. I'll leave the actual things we found (some funny, some fascinating) for later, but here are some good ones:

With a nod to our friends the Neumanskys, whose monster truck Bertha made this all possible, a defunct rat's nest made of ancient newspapers was nestled inside the East wall.

Rat's nest

Just above that was this little gem. These are a couple of defunct pipes, and they've been sticking out of the kitchen wall making odd lumps (somebody kindly mudded around them). I'm not sure what they were doing here with the little shims, but whatever it was it just screams "quality workmanship."

I don't even know what they were doing here

Here's our now-non-leak; the particleboard laid over the joists in the attic is still wet from the rain on Monday.

Wet particleboard

And in the Last of the Scary Wiring category, this is how the stupid light switch on the side porch was wired up. No box, just a couple of wires running to that thing. I knew it was iffy, but had no idea how iffy it was.

Great wiring job

In about four hours, we were pretty much done. We had most of the trash cans we own filled with plaster, and we had this awesome pile of future charcoal:

Pile of lath

Oh, and we had yet another room with no walls. (Not true! It actually has two walls, and part of the North wall was good enough that we left it in place.)

Dining room after

Much thanks to our friends and neighbors who came by to help or just to check out the room afterwards. You guys are the best.

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posted by ayse on 10/24/09