A few years ago, when I built the deck behind my house, I built it right over the under-the-house access. My son, who wasn’t very old at the time, was a bit concerned about the wisdom of such a move and suggested I locate the deck elsewhere. He may have had a point.
Actually, I did put in a trapdoor so I could still get under the house if necessary. That worked well—in the summer when it’s hot and dry. The problem is, in the fall and winter months the boards on the deck swell up, and no amount of tugging or prying will open the trapdoor. I did anticipate this when I built the deck but the half-inch space I left between the boards wasn’t nearly enough. Once the wet weather begins, I’m locked out from under my house.
So, for the last 16 years, I’ve just hoped I didn’t have to go under the house for anything during those months. The last thing I usually need to do is turn off the sprinkler system and blow the lines out so they do not freeze and bust. Normally, I do this in early October—once I’ve decided my lawn doesn’t need watering. It has never been a problem, until this year.
This year, we had an early rainy season, thanks to a typhoon in the South Pacific. The prevailing winds carried the remnants of the typhoon bringing a lot of water. And it rained, and rained. By the end of the first week of October, the deck was sealed shut.
I waited; thinking there was still enough time for things to dry out but sadly, there was not. Although the rain subsided, the cool damp air didn’t allow the boards to shrink down. My son, jokingly suggested I build a fire under the deck—to dry it out, of course. And that’s what I did, kind of. It was more of a modern day controlled fire, though—known as a heat lamp and a fan.
It took a while (about ten hours) but eventually, the door did come open! I was able to get the water turned off and the lines cleared so next summer, my sprinklers will actually work! But... It seems there’s always a “but” to my stories, doesn’t it?
Before I could put the trapdoor back in place, the rain started again. The rain has caused the adjacent boards to swell up and now the trapdoor won’t fit. So now, it is sitting inside the house. With any luck it will dry a little more and shrink enough to match how much the outside boards have swollen. At least that’s the plan.
My son suggested as long as the trapdoor is open, and dry, that I trim a little off the sides to make it fit better all year long! (He seems to be brimming with useful suggestions)! I suppose I should probably follow his advice but where’s the fun in that? Besides, if I had listened to him to begin with, I wouldn’t have had anything to write about this week. Maybe. Now that I think about it, he would perhaps have a suggestion—or two. ~
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, The Lana Denae Mysteries, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook at www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.