My stomach didn’t ease up as I got lower into the basement, my insides on a full, wild rumbling when I got off of the bottom step. For some reason my nerves were running full throttle in the cold, damp underground floor.
The entire basement was empty, lacking any kind of furniture or boxes used for storage, the main reason behind having a basement. The only items were just more work and construction tools, consisting of a ladder resting against the back wall and another tool box on the floor near a support beam. There was a single, low-hanging light bulb in the center of the room. I flashed the light on my phone around to find the power switch, eventually seeing it next to the railing of the steps. When I flipped the switch up, nothing happened. I flipped it back down and everything remained dark.
“Looks like the wiring got completely ripped out down here, too,” I mumbled. With a sigh, I tightened my grip on the phone and cautiously began walking on the cement floor.
The air down here had a musky smell to it, the scent of wood rotting from being submerged in a body of water for too long. On a normal day, the smell wouldn’t phase me; smelling something like this is just another task from flipping homes. But with my nerves and stomach acting up, the stench was more unbearable than usual. Every couple of breaths I would cough, bringing my arm up to try and cover my mouth and nose as best as I could. When I reached the center support beam I could feel the cold dampness radiating straight off of the wood. Water drops were tricking down the wood at a sluggish pace.
Christ, this isn’t a good sign.
I looked up at the top of the beam to see what was causing the water. Directly above was a long copper pipe snaking across the ceiling. Around one long section, a thick condensation wrapped the pipe and dripped down the beam—another problem me and the boys had to deal with before construction could be completed. Since my phone was already aimed up at the ceiling, I took a quick photo to log the exact spot and the severity of the problem for later discussion.
As I focused on the problem at hand, a small burst of cold air brushed against my arms. At first I ignored it, assuming it was just my senses still acting up. But then the air brushed again.
I scanned the basement again with the light from my phone, curious. “Where the hell is that breeze coming from? There aren’tany windows down here, right?”
I checked every inch of where the wall met the ceiling, checking on all four sides: no window whatsoever. For a moment, I believed that the breeze was coming from upstairs and reaching down here, but the breeze was coming from up ahead, and the stairs were a couple of feet behind me. When the breeze came through once more, I aimed my light towards its direction, focusing on the back wall where the ladder was resting. Feeling air coming from the wall meant that there must have been some kind of hole in the bricks or cement holding it all together. I went to check out the wall, moving the latter aside to get a closer look. The bricks were cold to the touch, each one feeling colder than the last. As my hand traced the wall I found the exact spot where I felt the air coming from—the hole was found. It was roughly large enough for me to stick a finger inside, let alone for air to pass through. I went to test out the spot my pushing against the brick, but stopped when I saw the brick fall back out of its position.
Shit. Brick erosion.
It was a worrying sight, seeing part of a wall fall apart. It would have been understandable if it was a wall on the first or second floors; those floors were currently being worked on, so stuff falling apart isn’t too troublesome. However, no work has been done in the basement. The only thing that even occurred was just putting down some extra tools for later use. Perhaps there was a hidden leak on the inside of the house that we were unaware about? That would explain why the support beams down here were in bad shape. Maybe somebody accidentally hit a water pipe and didn’t tell the rest of the crew about it? Regardless of the reason, this entire house remodeling project now had a serious issue that needed to be addressed.