Archive for September, 2010

Finding Windows

Our house is approximately 90 years old and has a plethora of character; nooks, crannies, odds and ends embrace its interior.

Original Bathroom

Original Bathroom

Since the downstairs bathroom was leaking, rotting, and overall in poor condition, we decided to remodel it. We thought it would be a great way to find out what lies within our ceilings, walls and floors.

We had our first surprise when removing the tub and shower walls. A  full sized window was hidden behind a layer of bright green wood. Somehow we never realized the small window in our bathroom was actually a full sized window, which was visible from outside. Regrettably, as with the rest of the room – all the way down to and including the sub-floor – it needs to be replaced.

Removing Layers

Removing the tub and shower wall

Our second discovery came when we trimmed and removed the bushes on the north side of our house (the same exterior wall as the mysterious bathroom window). We are working on completing electrical updates. To determine how we are going to run the new conduit we needed to remove a board at the base of our house. The board was wedged in and sealed with expanding foam. Ryan popped the board out with the crowbar and there was the top of a window.

Basement Window

Basement Window

We dug out some of the bushes and a large area around the two sets of glass. Unfortunately, we will not be able to salvage one of the windows; however, we are hopeful that we will be able to use the second window with a new frame.

New plans unravel as we decide how to rebuild the window into the basement. We are also excited to begin envisioning landscaping ideas for next year. The best part is that we intend to do all repairs thoroughly so our house will be like new!

Close up

Close up

Ryan and I took our beagle/basset hound, Gizmo, for a hike and swim in peninsula state park with our friend Colin and his dog, Logan. We had just finished a short swim with the dogs as the thunder rolled in. We packed up and headed back on the Eagle Bluff Trail towards the car. We were only halfway back as the storm surged. Thunder and lightening roared. The rain poured down on us.

We made it back to the car and tried to dry off. Our wet warmth fogged the windshield. We left the park and headed home. Just before turning onto our road, a large truck pulled in front of us with lights flashing and a rescue boat in tow. We followed behind until it stopped just north of our house. A police car pulled next to us and informed us that we could go no further because a tree was down on the road.

Tree on the Road

Tree on the Road

I knew instantly that it was our tree. We quickly found that the tree had fallen during the storm, along with hail and heavy winds. Luckily the only house affected was our own. The phone pole had snapped like a toothpick and our power-line was ripped from the house.  Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) disconnected and cut the power line before the Gibraltar Fire Department could remove the tree, which was blocking the road. In less than 45 minutes the fire department cut and pushed the tree aside and had the road cleaned up.


An electrician came to assess the damage to utility connection. Due to the age and condition of our power input, we needed to replace the existing meter box. Action Electric came out the next morning to upgrade our home to 200amp service and worked with WPS to get our power reconnected. A big “thank you” to the Gibraltar Fire Department for lending us a portable generator; you saved our saltwater fish tank.

We should have heeded our own advice and had the tree removed right away. We are no longer taking chances and had all of the trees around our house and cottage inspected, trimmed, cabled and some removed. We understand the risks associated with procrastination and hope to be more proactive in the future.

For more photos of the second half of the tree, visit our photo album.

That's a big tree

Wet and windy weather has caused unstable trees to fall, impacting houses and homeowners throughout Door County. My husband and I are no exception. A tree was our alarm clock on June 23, 2010.

The wind was docile and a few sprinkles persisted. An elongated rolling thunder shook our house as the massive maple tree in our front yard fell on it. A 10-foot limb pushed its way through the porch roof, greeting us at our front door. The cottage power-line detached from the siding and hung under the trunk. Our main house’s power-line was missed by a few inches. Wisconsin Public Service disconnected the hanging line. Tree removal was scheduled for the following day.


Storms continued into the evening. Plaster and lathe walls and ceilings in our bedroom had buckled. We were thankful to find our home standing the next morning as father and son team Dave and Todd Burke of Dave’s Tree Service arrived. Four ropes and a chain held the tree trunk while four men began sawing and removing “small” branches.

Todd prevented further damage by holding the remaining 50-foot trunk with a log lifter as two men sawed and dropped logs until they safely lowered a 30-foot section onto the front lawn. The largest section was cut into three logs, hoisted onto the truck like a giant claw machine and then hauled away.

We used a blue tarp to bandage the roof holes until all were repaired. The next day we split the wood and cleaned up the yard. The second half of the tree fell just over a week later.

The Trunk is the Heart of the Tree

Be mindful of what’s swaying in your yard because it doesn’t take a powerful storm to bring down a tree. It is more expensive to wait until damage has been done than to be proactive. Homeowner’s insurance only covers a portion of tree removal and home repair costs, especially with older homes.

We estimate the tree was over 100 years old. A nine-foot stump still rests in the middle of our front yard. We hope that someone artistic will create something wonderful from our wooden canvas.

There are no guarantees when it comes to nature, but here are some tree tips from Todd Burke.


Look Up:  If a tree has multiple stems or shoots close to the house, it will have problems sooner or later so check these trees on a regular basis. Big mature trees get rotten centers when branch intersections fill with water and wetness becomes visible, running down to the trunk base. If things are growing on the tree, like fungus, it’s a sign of rotting. A certain amount of dead branches are natural. If a lot of dead branches are visible something is wrong. Big woodpecker holes can be large enough for raccoons to get in!

Inspect:  Healthy trees should be inspected when they are full of leaves because it’s easier to see if there are dead branches or areas that need trimming. Old, large or suspected “sick” trees should be inspected when leaves are off because major cracks, splits, rot, holes and other problem areas can easily be seen. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent major problems just by going outside and seeing what the tree is doing. If you’re concerned about a tree, don’t hesitate. Have someone come out and look at it.

Hole Bandage

Care For:  It is important to have someone come out with a trained eye because every situation is different. Depending on which way the tree is leaning you can do things not requiring whole tree removal – such as cabling or removing certain parts. Trees hanging over the house should be trimmed and trees that are leaning towards the house should be removed. Keeping dead boughs to a minimum is best because it eliminates weight that could be hanging over your house. There are a lot of things to take into consideration such as power, phone and cable lines, roads, and neighbors. Dave’s Tree Service will thoroughly check the health of your trees and provide a free estimate.

Todd Burke is the Owner of Dave’s Tree Service Inc and certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) as an Arborist and Utility Specialist. Dave’s Tree Service is member of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and ISA. Visit them at or call 920-823-2259.

To see additional photos of our tree ordeal, visit our photo album.