While trying to figure out what to do with the peeling bedroom wall, the roof and chimney, I got the brilliant idea to try a moisture meter to see if water getting behind the chimney was, in fact, the cause of the peeling.

I was like a little kid on Christmas when my new toy arrived with the mail.  It had just rained the day before--gulley washers--so the timing seemed perfect.  I couldn't get it open fast enough and get the battery installed.

I turned it on and stuck it on the wall.

0 percent moisture.

Seemed odd, actually.  Am I sticking it far enough into the wall?

Does it work at all?

So I took it outside to try it on the wet back porch railing.

21 percent.

In another place, 18 percent.

I checked the wall several times over the next few days each time getting the same result.

It's great news but now I have to figure out what happened and try to fix it.

Around the same time, I got a call from Sam (my contractor) saying he had a few weeks open and asked if I wanted to finish the downstairs bathroom.   It took me a little by surprise.  I haven't picked fixtures or tile and, even more importantly, I need to replace my water main.  I learned recently that my water main was installed in 1918.  It was lead and, given its age, the fittings can be so brittle, they can disintegrate when you try to turn off the water. 

If your house is over 50-60 years old, you may want to put this on your to-do list!

My neighbor's son is the neighborhood plumber but it's kind of a big job so he referred me to a company--a landscaping company actually--that could replace it.

Replacing the water main requires digging up the street and sidewalk and the contractor took care of    calling Dig Safe, a free service that contacts all of the utilities who come and mark where the water, electric, gas and other utilities are underground so they can be avoided.  It's not only a useful service, it eliminates any liability I might have if a contractor hits an unmarked utility.

Replacing my water line also requires coordination with City who replaces the pipes between the water main in the street and the turnoff valve outside my house.  My contractor then replaces the line from the turnoff valve into my basement.

The blue line marks the path of the water line.

It was kind of a no-brainer but it still needed to be done.

Each utility uses their own color to mark their lines.

The city posts "no parking" signs a few days before the job date.  I believe my contractor paid for the no-parking permits so they're included in the overall cost of the job.

Normally a no-parking permit costs about $25 per day per vehicle so it seems the parking permits added about $200 to the cost of the job.

I thought this job would be much more complicated than it was.  They attached the new 1-inch copper pipe to the old one and just pulled it through underground.  The contractor was great; they even washed the dust off my front porch. The whole job took about four hours.  Total cost:  $1860.

Now I can start thinking about finishes for the bathroom.