Where We Live: Regular upkeep good for home, health
It’s a typical August day, with the mercury pushing 90 and the air thick with humidity.
So I’m buying 4 tons of coal, searching for a chimney sweep, and talking with a contractor for pre-winter repairs to our 108-year-old slate roof.
Living in an old house in Pennsylvania requires year-round planning, checking and upkeep.
It’s kind of like living in an old body; not as old as the house, but old enough to have its share of creakiness, quirks and increasing need for repairs.
Our home was built in 1910. It’s a rambling wood-frame Pennsylvania farmhouse, white with dark green trim. It has high ceilings, wood floors, old woodwork and thick walls. There’s a spring in the cellar, and a dumbwaiter in the dining room.
The house was built so that heat would circulate from the parlor coal stove through the connected first floor rooms and up the front stairs, through the second floor, and down the back stairs. The bathroom floor has a register, allowing it to be heated by warm air from the kitchen. Most of the windows are the original wavy glass.
They don’t build them like this anymore.
But, like an aging body, it needs regular attention and advance planning.
To maintain my body, I see my doctor and dentist for checkups, try to eat healthy meals, and take care of small problems before they get worse.
I maintain a spirit of gratitude and faith, and do my best to not dwell on life’s inevitable troubles.
For the house, I go up into the attic a few times a year and look for sunlight coming in through any breaches in the slate.
I keep tabs on the state of the support beams, and inspect the stone foundation.
September is a busy month. The chimney needs to be cleaned, the coal stove prepped, and any repairs to the roof and window frames done. The frames and sills need to be painted.
With attention to maintenance, I’m hoping this old house will be home to our family for generations to come.
I’m also hoping that with good maintenance, this old body, too, will be going strong for many years to come.