Preparing for the next flood!

Lang House Rebuilds to Face Future Floods

Marian and Bruce Langhus

July 2018

In the 138 year history of the original Weston House, flood waters have never reached inside the structure. The 2018 Spring Freshet changed this secure notion as six inches of Saint John River sat in the house for many days. The resultant destruction of floors, walls, and appliances has been costly and the Langhuses are determined to rebuild with future flooding in mind.

First and foremost, only the water pump will remain in the basement.  The heat pump and all other heating/cooling and electrical equipment will be moved upstairs. Introduction of three mini-split heat pumps will replace the heating and cooling system. Keeping items out of the basement has proved to be the biggest challenge. If any stuff starts to accumulate, we only have to remind ourselves of the cost of clean-up!

The choice of Rock Wool insulation is an expensive but solid choice. It does not hold water and therefor the feared black mold will not be a threat. Floors throughout will be wood only. Original flooring in the formal dining room escaped unharmed and needed only cleaning. The carpeted “birth room” covered a lovely varied width spruce floor that is painted and returned to its original loveliness. The entryway hardwood floors looked like those found in a bank and are now painted as well. The kitchen had six layers of various flooring but now the original floor, now painted, offers a unique texture.

The new part of the house is entirely new cedar boards with a penetrating oil finish. Pine wainscoting replaces the gypsum wallboard. Our hope is to more easily survive the next flood with all of the options available to us in rebuilding. Some surprises await you in your visit to Lang House! Please come see us August 5th!

Our utmost thanks go to: Marcel Tremblay at S&K Electric 238-0556,
Doug Ryan at Scrapwood Industries 488-1930, and
Tyler Thomas and Alexandra Sutton at Phoenix Overhaul Solutions 461-8212.

Area of Interest Cost for 2018 Cleanup Action taken Result in future flood
Veranda and deck Lost carving wood, craft barn board wood, and plastic chairs  No wood will be stored outside. A carver’s studio was created that replaced a BnB room on the first floor.

Plastic chairs will be secured to the veranda with unbreakable ties.

No loss of wood due to floating away.

Plastic chairs will remain in place where tethered.

Floating Veranda

caused by Irving propane tank

Team of workers from Irving Propane and another propane company worked together to untie and capture the tank.  The tank was stored and then placed at the opposite end of the house (near Front St.)

Cost of moving the tank and running the new line was about $1000.

The veranda should not float due to the propane tank being attached to the veranda and tank may not be disturbed. 
Outdoor shed and tools. A plastic shed ($300) came apart and some pieces floated away.  The sole purpose of the plastic shed was to house a generator. It will be placed on an elevated stand and covered.  No replacement cost and landfill space for the sheds.
Basement Approximately $900 was paid to Service Master. Other workers continued to clean, costing us additional money. Complete clean of the basement.

Promise to not store anything in the basement. Only the water pump.

Storage of items that are usually stored in the basement are going to be stored in new closets made in the main floor. 

When water comes in the basement, it should go out without ruining anything (with the exception of the water pump as it did this year.)

Items can be placed higher or put into water proof tubs set on the washer and dryer. No loss of household chemicals.

Insulation of walls and floors Workers spent days rushing to get the pink type insulation out before it molded. Large bags filled with wet, sometimes moldy, pink insulation. The bags were too heavy with wet insulation to easily throw into the dumpster. Upon recommendation of the building inspector, we replaced all of the pink insulation with Rock wool that is made out of spun basaltic rock. It does not hold water and therefor does not harbour mold.  Rockwool will drain and dry in place. The mad rush to remove the insulation will not happen. The volume of waste in the dumpster simply won’t happen.
Electrical wiring The entire first floor had to be rewired.The wiring project is not yet complete but the cost will be over $10K with materials and cost of labor. All of the junction boxes in the basement were replaced. ALL of the electrical plugs throughout the house are now at least one foot above the 2018 flood level. The electrical panel had already been moved to the first floor in 2008.

The splice box for the phone service was also over ridden.

We were without electricity for weeks in 2018; this will not happen in the future. The electrical sockets will not be destroyed by future flooding.

Our phone system should have to be replaced due to the new wiring.

Floors All floors at the ground level had to be removed at great cost. Filling two dumpsters on site and part of the village site attests to the volume.  All flooring was removed with the exception of the original hardwood floor in the dining room. In the old wing the 1880 floors were cleaned and painted. In the new portion, the flooring buckled and the finish peeled. It was replaced with cedar decking material stained a natural color. No carpet or underlay will be used to become water laden.

Costs will be saved on contractor removal and replacement. No landfill will be taken up and the water will not be held in place. No mold will be able to grow on the flooring.

In the rest of the house, water will be able to come in and go out with  only a standard cleanup and drying with dehumidifiers.

No costs should incur associated to floor replacement.

Walls Walls made of gypsum were used throughout the house and all had to be taken down at least in part, the insulation removed, and walls dried with dehumidifiers. Contractor cost to remove and restore the walls was considerable taking many weeks. Crack filling and painting had to be done in order to finish the project. Rock wool insulation, mentioned above, was the beginning of wall restoration. Wainscoting made of pine was put over the insulation so that flood water would not interact with the gypsum board but flood in and out without damage to the walls. Only temporary removal of the wainscoting for drying should be necessary in places.  Without having to remove wallboard and insulation in the future, time and cost to remediate the walls should be minimal compared to the 2018 flood.
Cost of the wainscoting will be one time compared to the repeated replacement of gypsum board that costs not only in itself but the crack filling and painting that is  needed.
Heating and cooling Flood waters completely engulfed the ducts and the heat pump system. Cost to repair the heat pump alone would be about $13K. The cost of the duct system many thousand more.

The removal of the ducts that had mud and potential for mold was costly as was the cost of removing the heat pump. 

Three heat pumps (mini-splits) were purchased to replace the main heat pump system. 

One was placed to heat and cool the bedrooms for the bed and breakfast (old wing) and two were placed on the ground floor (one on the riverside and one in the formal dining room).

Each unit has its own control so that only the are of the house that needs attention will be drawing electricity. Heat is augmented by a propane stove in the living room and an electric fireplace insert in the formal dining room. The outdoor units  can be disconnected and moved if a high flood is eminent.

The fireplace insert can also be easily raised. The electronics of the propane stove may have to be replaced but not the whole unit.

Kitchen The large appliances were replaced upon recommendation of the EMO Disaster Relief inspectors. The dishwasher had indeed corroded after sitting in the flood waters. The new appliances have been given extra lead for connection so that they can be raised and set up on blocks to give some advantage in the future. Appliances are expensive and if raising them even a few inches could save the cost of replacement (and landfill space) it would be worth the effort.