Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

“Dear PoPville,

I recently had the 3-foot high crawl space of our row home/3-unit condo building conditioned, with spray foam used on all perimeter walls, and then sealed the crawl space entrance as well as any vents, and added vapor barrier to floor. It was recommended that I add a heat source to the crawl space so that my floors are not freezing cold (I am in first floor unit above crawl space). Can anyone recommend a person to evaluation my situation and make a recommendation on how to safely provide heat to the crawl space?”


“Dear PoPville,

I’m emailing you by chance one of your readers that live in the CH/Petworth area recently had a scooter stolen. Fortunately or unfortunately my roommate woke up last Friday morning to having had his beloved Vespa stolen at some point during Thursday night. The reason why I say fortunately or unfortunately is because he and his girlfriend took to reddit to start a please help find my Vespa thread and sure enough the great people of Petworth came through in the clutch. Shortly after the response, my roommate and I decided that we would head up to the 900 block of Quincy to check out and see if it was in fact his Vespa and sure enough it was. Long story short, the cops questioned a few of the teens living at the house and end the end they were able to confirm (due to some damage to the front end he had a picture of) that it was my roommates.

No one was arrested — mother was called out of the house etc, but the police officer was speaking Spanish to her, so we weren’t entirely sure what the officer was saying. Before the mom came out the first responding officer was speaking to the younger of the two teens…probably about 13 and you could tell in his voice he was terrified. Officer raised his voice asking why was it outside of their house if they’re saying they don’t know who’s it is etc., but deny, deny, deny.

But as for the real reason why I’m emailing, there was also another scooter parked at this location. I may be jumping to conclusions that the other scooter parked at the house is stolen, but when you get away with once, what’s to stop you from doing it again. I’ve attached a picture of a scooter, although generic, that looked like the one at the residence.

This may have been a shot in the dark, but a post similar to this one worked for him, so who knows, may be the other scooter fallen into the wrong person’s hands.”


“Dear PoPville,

I just got our Pepco bill for Dec-January and it is $245, over $100 more than last month. I have NEVER had an electric bill this high. My place is a 2 bed, 1 bath condo. That is higher than my friend’s bill for her 6 person row house in Columbia heights. The weirdest thing of all is that when I checked the daily usage in my bill, my highest daily use for reported for the day in January when we had an over 24 hour power outage. How can my bill possibly be accurate? Are they just making this stuff up as they go along?

What are my recourses for disputing this bill?

P.S. We only moved in about 2 months ago (mid October), and the place was empty for about 6 months before that, so there is no historic data.”


“Dear PoPville,

I live in Park View on Columbia Rd and share and alleyway with Irving St. Over the past few months our alleyway is being restored in small sections. Right now it’s the section right behind my house, and a few homes/buildings to the left and right of me.

The signage telling us of this pending construction said “No Parking M-Sat 7am-5pm.” Right now it’s 9:30pm on Friday and not only is the area still blocked off with cones and caution tape but there’s also metal rods sticking up from the ground. This means that we are all unable to move our cars.

I recognize that having a vehicle is a luxury but I also feel the city should effectively and accurately inform residents if they won’t be able to access their vehicle.

A neighbor has removed the tarp and spikes so we can get in and out. Vigilantism aside, DC DOT still wasn’t helpful. They told me, via Twitter, that the construction permit for the alley was for a tree company and it had expired 1/22. They have no solutions for what I could do. So I guess the city privatized alley restoration and therefore doesn’t have control over it?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Jordan Barab

“Dear PoPville,

TLDR; you are not required to sign with Direct Energy as a Pepco customer. You have many choices on how to source your energy as a Pepco customer. If they come to your door, hopefully you won’t feel obligated to sign with them.

I just wanted to write in and warn the rest of your readers about Direct Energy, who came to our door last night. Direct Energy is a legitimate provider of energy to Pepco, and due to energy deregulation in DC, is one of the many providers Pepco customers have the option of choosing to purchase their energy from. If you choose to sign on with one of these providers, your bill will still come from Pepco, but Pepco will purchase energy from the provider you selected instead of whomever they choose. The benefit of purchasing from a provider is often being locked into a fixed rate, and the ability to factor in environmental considerations (by purchasing only solar, or from a clean energy provider such as Ethical Electric).

The salespeople who came to our door from Direct Energy made several misrepresentations, which made the customer feel like they were required to sign up for their service:

-First, they cited the reason for coming to our home was that we had not responded to a notification in our Pepco bill within 6 months. We were unable to locate this notification, and they made it seem that there would be an issue with Pepco if we didn’t respond. They said that by responding to this notification we would stop our rates from rising.

-Second, they spoke about the deregulation as something that had recently occurred and warranted a change in our service. DC Pepco customers have had provider options for quite some time, and to my knowledge, nothing about that has changed recently. (Please let me know if I’m mistaken and there was a recent change!)

-Third, they had us sign a form that authorized the company to contact us and make the change to their service. After signing this form, the salesperson immediately entered our contact info into his iPad and had corporate call us IMMEDIATELY following our conversation. This gave you no time to do alternate research, or even substantiate their claims of deregulation and rising rates.

Interested in hearing if any of your readers had a similar experience with Direct Energy, and if so, if they felt that in the sales interaction that they were required to make the switch.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

“Dear PoPville,

I’m on the Condo Board for a small multi-unit building in DC – and we’re having a crisis with our fire suppression (sprinkler) system and the contractor who conducts the routine inspections of that system that are required by the DC Fire Code. I was wondering if any other readers have had similar experiences and/or could offer any advice.

Earlier this week, one of the contractor’s technicians was in the room housing the sprinkler system (fire) pump motor while conducting the quarterly inspection of our sprinkler system. Somehow, the pump motor caught on fire and was irreparably damaged. The technician claims that the motor spontaneously caught fire while his back was turned – and that he did nothing to precipitate the fire. Now, we have to purchase a new motor (at great expense) and while we’re waiting for delivery/installation (6+ days) – we have to pay over $2000 a day to another contractor to provide multiple 24/7 “fire watch” personnel for our building (as required by the DC Fire Code).

It defies logic and probability that a normally very reliable pump motor would just spontaneously fail and burn while a technician was inspecting the system AND that the technician did nothing to cause the fire. Another contractor took a quick look at the damaged motor and they were not able to determine an obvious cause of the fire. This incident is going to devastate our Condo Association’s budget; we need to figure out how to pass these costs to the responsible party. We have insurance (obviously) but we’re still left with the significant fire watch costs and a steep deductible.

Any ideas?”


“Dear PoPville,

Most row houses in Petworth have these front attic windows that you see in the picture, but it seems all the new renovations going on these days don’t utilize this space. Most likely this attic area is just insulated up and no access points are left. Is that the work of developers who just want to flip the house without putting money into this space or what? It seems there should be some good space up there though judging from the window sizes, and with the houses not renovated I sometimes see lights on and/or a ceiling fan moving around so there must be some options here.

I don’t have access to this space via stairs or a crawl space, but maybe some of you do. For us with no access, Is there room for anything up there? Pics?? Thanks!”

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

“Dear PoPville,

A friend and I were enjoying dinner and coffee around 8:15pm last night when everyone inside Tryst started coughing heavily. Within the next few moments everyone rushed out of the restaurant for fresh air. Obviously people were concerned considering the recent events in Paris and the smoke incident on the Metro this week. Someone from the crowd shouted that it might have been pepper spray, but I didn’t see or hear anyone get into a scuffle inside the coffee shop. Luckily, we had already paid our bill, so we made a quick exit, but when we drove by after leaving our parking space it looked like police and an ambulance were on the scene. Is this a common occurrence that people use pepper spray in a small public place?”

Ed. Note: Apparently it was an accidental discharge and all are ok. I think I’ve heard about a couple accidents like this in the past but it’s definitely not a common occurrence. Glad all are from last night!

Photo by PoPville flickr user  p a b l o r a w p h o t o . c o m

“Dear PoPville,

Recently moved to Petworth from downtown and we love it here. Question to you is about raccoons in the neighborhood. We have had two instances where they have torn apart our trash, and now are tearing apart the insulation under our neighbors deck. Is this a common issue in this area? Do you know if the city will trap and relocate/release them to a park or another less urban space?”

pain sculpture

“Dear PoPville,

I ordered a new iphone from Verizon, but the FedEx driver claims that he accidentally delivered it to We R Wireless, a store in Adams Morgan that sells Verizon products (but is not owned by Verizon). When the FedEx driver went to the store to try and retrieve the package, he was told that any phones received had already been taken out of the boxes and added to the inventory. However, the people I have spoke with at We R Wireless now insist that they have checked their inventory for the phone and that no phone with that device number was ever at the store. The way I see it, either the driver is lying about having delivered it to the store in the first place, or the store is lying about not having the phone. When I tracked the package online, it says that the phone was signed for by C. Colbert, which is the name of the Assistant Manager of We R Wireless, so I am guessing that it is the store who is lying, and not the driver.

I called We R Wireless to see if they found the phone based on the device number. The person I spoke with claims that they did inventory and the phone was not there, and that he does not believe they ever had it. I told him how is that possible, since C. Colbert, who it turns out is an Assistant Manager at We R Wireless, signed for the package. He responded that FedEx doesn’t actually get their signatures, they just put the name of the Assistant Manager. So, in sum, We R Wireless claims they never had the phone.

Would love to get some thoughts on any recourse I might have!”