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Operation Basement Cleanup: Final

Basement Desk Area

It’s done. A long week of cleaning and organizing has transformed a literal dumping ground of random materials into part living space, part storage, part work area in the coolest part of the house. The biggest change of the day was the moving of a desk area into the east side of the basement, near the stairway door. All three file cabinets and a large dresser with office supplies have been assembled in a mighty array of desk work goodness. The rest of that area now has rugs, toys on shelves, and an assortment of chairs. We even found a decent spot for the Thomas the Train set. The rest of the basement is now at least consolidated, if not purged. All like-typed objects are now in the same general vicinity. So, overall, this week was not a really cleaning, but a huge organizing to put ourselves in a good position.

Here’s the remaining projects at this point, which will be a nice excuse to head down into the coolness of the basement as the weather warms up:

Boxes and packing materials:

We have sooo many boxes stacked up right now. Some night I’ll have to break them all down and keep about one out of every five. If that. Also, several large bags of styrofoam peanuts.


We still have a bunch of kids’ clothes in boxes that should really be gone through and organized. We all have way too many clothes.

80’s Toys:

My son had a blast when he found my old G. I. Joes and Tranformers in the basement, but now I have the GenX first world dilemma: Do I let my son play with my first gen Optimus Prime or try to sell it on eBay?


We have a TON of papers that were just thrown unto boxes and hauled into the basement to get them out of the way. I imagine that this project will take the longest to finish.

But enough of the work left to do, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the space we have now. We had the whole family down there this evening playing and it felt just great. Here’s the pictures showing the transformations of the week.


Operation Basement Cleanup: Day 4

or Strong off the Bench

No surprises today, and nothing spectacular; I just worked on the workbench today. It had accumulated a fairly deep pile of random tools and hardware. I grabbed the stack of clementine boxes I had saved and started sorting. It took all day (and a couple of extra hours in the night), but I got the benches cleared and moved into the back corner of the basement. That gave me just enough room to get the rug down. Huzzah!

Tomorrow is the last official day, and it will be spent getting the play/living area set up and trying to get the rest of the items in storage in a configuration where they can be worked upon. We still have a TON of empty boxes, a TON of clothes to go through and a TON of unfiled papers in boxes. But those will have to wait as regular cleanup jobs, perhaps as a way to enjoy the cool air over the summer months.

Operation Basement Cleanup: Day 3

Sidequest discovered! Press Credit Card to start the “Repair Broken Sump Pump” quest…

Replacing the Sump Pump

Today started off much the same as the last two: getting up and out the door for school, returning home, grabbing an extra cup of coffee and heading into the basement. I got through the remainder of the East Side room boxes and had stacked the toys to the side, as they are planned to remain in this area. I started cleaning and vacuuming up the last remaining corner of the area and decided to take a closer look at the sump pump, which hadn’t been working right recently. I took the cover off and noticed some oil floating on the surface of the almost full sump, which obviously wasn’t a good sign. I disconnected the pump from the pipe and tried running it by itself. The motor hummed, but no water moved. I took the bottom cover off and tried to spin the propeller of the pump: it was locked up. Broken sump pump = basement cleanup project delayed.

This had happened before, and we called in a plumber to do the work because the original pump had been installed before they poured the floor and the sump cover was partially blocked by cement. He chipped it out, put in a 1/3 HP pump and charged us $420.00. That old pump had a one-year warranty, and lasted all of three years. But today, I was emboldened by getting the old pump out so easily so I headed to the local Lowe’s to try to fix it myself. We found a very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful associate named Colleen right next to the sump pumps. She recommended a 1/2 HP cast iron/stainless steel beauty with a lifetime warranty, for a bargain price of $165.00. She also explained exactly how I could take the PVC pipe that was screwed into the old pump and reuse it on the new one without having to cut a new pipe.

When we got home, we called the county water resources office to see if there was anything special we should do with the small amount of oil in the sump. They explained that as long as it was poured out on earth, the soil would filter everything out before it hit the water table, similar to if your lawn mower had a small oil drip. In other words, nothing to be worried about.

I unscrewed the PVC pipe from the old pump and it fit perfectly in the new one. I dropped it in the sump, quickly tightened the hose clamp on the top of the pipe and plugged it in. It whirred to life and I saw a nice giant puddle of water spreading into the side yard. Success!

So, not much to show on the cleanup side of things, but a bit more clear on the East side of the basement near the bottom of the stairs. Tomorrow, I hope to really get that rug down, unless something else breaks.

Operation Basement Cleanup: Day 2

Made some serious progress today. In addition to more consolidation, we moved the wardrobes out from near the bottom of the stairs to a location further back in the basement. The Wife was able to come down and help for a good part of the day, for which I was grateful. We filled up three boxes of kids’ shoes and she took photos and listed them on Craigslist. Also filled more of the garbage bags and recycle bags. The “East Room”, where you enter the basement, is the planned living space, and it’s almost entirely cleared out. We found a lot of boxes of interesting things that had been brought down the stairs and set down in the first open space. We even found a few board books that had been missing for a long time. Tomorrow I hope to move the work benches out of the East Room and put down some carpet rolls there.

Operation Basement Cleanup: Day 1

aka The Great Sorting Ceremony

The bulk of today’s effort was spent clearing some space in the back of the basement, which will be used for long-term storage. But before I can store anything there, I need to get things consolidated. So a lot of today was putting the clothes boxes with the clothes boxes, the papers with the papers, the electronics with the electronics, etc. The one real bit of progress was to get the dog crates, the rabbit hutch, a few Habitrails and the fish tanks all in the same place in the back of the room. I’m anxious to get some more things into place tomorrow. It’s hard putting in so much work and not having much to show for it yet.

Nothing really to show with pictures as everything is still pretty much as crowded as before, it’s just sorted. But I will show this, from a box of G.I. Joes that my son found and we had a blast playing with. It’s “me” as a G.I. Joe. They had a special send-in promotion where you could order a custom figure with your own information sheet. My codename was “Tornado”.

Operation Basement Cleanup: Day 0

When my boss stopped by and said I had some vacation time to use up, I had an idea. This idea is either a great one or a horribly painful one, I’m not yet sure. Instead of using all of the time for a family vacation (I did take some time for a “staycation” during spring break), I would use it to take a week off from work when the kids were in school and use the time to CLEAN THE BASEMENT.

So this week I’ve got 5 days scheduled where I plan to get up like usual, get lunches ready like usual, and drive the kids to school like usual, but instead of heading to the office after dropping them off, I’ll head back home and to the basement. The hope is that at least one half of the space will be usable living space for the kids to play or anyone can spend time in the coolness during the warm days of summer. I also want to consolidate a lot of the random “stuff” and get rid of whatever I can.

Here’s how it looks before I start. I’ve got my work cut out for me.