Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The roof/floor saga begins! - Episode 1

I have been so busy lately.

My main project over the past month or so has been replacing our floor. There have been other things going on. This feels like my capstone [home-improvement] project, though. Like, I keep telling my Homies* about it, and they just can't believe all this. It's pretty hard core. I'll blog about it, but if you're going to read this, you should probably take a break to go grab some safety glasses, ear protection, and a ventilator mask. You will probably need all that, just to read this post. It's pretty intense.**

SO, here we go.

J has been allergic to our house*** ever since he moved in. It's a mold allergy. Sometimes it's been better and sometimes it's been worse. Before we got married, he sometimes moved into his parents' house for a little while, until he got better. When he's having an allergic reaction, he just can't do much of anything. He feels blah, and just not really great.

Right before he closed on the house (last summer), the bathroom ceiling fell in. There was mold everywhere.

It was a problem with the roof. On the How-the-House-Works DVD, the previous owner talks about getting on the roof to re-tar it.

We had the bathroom ceiling replaced. We had our [not-very-]handyman replace the sheetrock, and I told him to also replace all of the insulation that had mold on it, please. So he did. The "handy"man also patched the tar on the roof for us.

J did well for a while. We patched the tar on the roof a couple more times in September, and during the fall. When the bathroom ceiling kept getting moist, we had a roofer come out to replace the flashing around the chimney. He did a pretty good job, we thought, but we kept having problems.

We called him out, as part of the warranty on it (because he said we wouldn't have any more problems with it getting wet), and he confirmed that it was done correctly, and told us we could pay more to have them look for another problem. They started talking about re-sloping the roof (because it's a pretty flat roof.)

J and I applied more tar.

I realized that the sheets of metal on our part of the roof moved around a lot. So we got silicone caulking stuff and lots of screws, and we fastened the heck out of our metal sheeting that was on our part of the roof. We sealed the seams like crazy! The problems magically stopped.

And then it became winter. And then a few months later, we started having more problems. I forget what happened first, but basically, we wondered if maybe the rest of the ceiling/insulation in the problem area was moldy. We determined that I would demolish part of our ceiling so that we could just see what it looked like (without having to hire someone and pay a few hundred dollars if we didn't need to). So I did that (March 8-9th). It turned out that the part I pulled down was moldy, so I kept removing sheetrock and insulation until the parts I was pulling down were not water-damaged.

We had a guy replace it. (A handier-man.) He sprayed bleach and painted KILZ to take care of the mold. He also put a plastic barrier in some places. He reminded us that he is NOT a roof guy, but he said he thought it would keep the mold from being a problem. He repainted the area so that it matched the rest of our alcove.

A few weeks later, on April 1st**** it snowed again. I happened to go into our alcove to grab some cleaning stuff, and about 4-5 ft from the wall, my socks got all wet. I was walking into a giant carpet-puddle. It was not fixed. In fact, there were pools of water under the paint, and spots where water was dripping from the ceiling. OH, no.

We tore the sheetrock down, pulled the carpet up, and set up a fan to dry things out, but about a week later, J was seriously allergic to the house again. He was mostly living at his parents' house.

I called real roofers. We wanted to know what the cheap, quick-fix would be, and then what the lasting solution needed to be. We had heard before that we may need a cricket (a built-in thing to re-slope part of the roof), but we didn't want to spend $2-3000 to fix the roof.

One guy suggested water and ice tape. We tried this, actually. On Easter, between sessions of General Conference, J and I got up on the roof. I re-tarred it, and J was going to put snow & ice tape along the seams, and along the rain gutter. What a joke! It didn't stick to anything very well. It no-way would have solved the problem. Even a lot of it wouldn't have. J just kept laughing because the whole thing was so ridiculous.

Another guy told me with great confidence that we needed a membrane. I liked him because he called me "ma'am" and took off his boots before he came inside, and he had a nice accent (he was from South Africa). He also seemed like he REALLY knew what was going on. He kept explaining things to me, and giving me metaphors, and showing me things on the roof, and he seemed very genuine.

He showed me that our roof was basically rolled roofing (not sure what that is even usually for, but it's very cheap, very flimsy, not-at-all durable stuff), with sheets of metal attached to it. During the summer and winter, metal contracts and expands. So it was impossible for the metal roof to do much of anything. Basically, a 20 year old rolled-roof was all that was protecting us! NO WONDER J was having problems. The worker told me we needed to pull up all of the old roofing, replace all of the plywood, and put a TPO membrane down. (Because after years of getting wet, there wasn't much chance that our plywood would be good anymore.)

A TPO membrane is what they use for really flat roofs. The stuff was originally formulated to line ponds--water can pool on it and just stay there, and it doesn't go through the membrane. I don't know how they got started using it in roofing, but nowadays, it's very common for commercial and industrial buildings. Most people just don't build houses with flat (or very low pitched) roofs.

Another company verified that we needed a membrane, but they were willing to just do the junction between our back portion of the house and the front portion of the house. That was going to be quite a bit cheaper. We liked them until we Googled them to see reviews--and it looked like they had written their own fake reviews. It seemed really weird and dishonest, so we left them alone. We called the second company to see if they would be willing to do just the junction between the roofs.

They were willing to do that. So we had them do it on April 18-19th. And we felt pretty good about their work.

EXCEPT, even though the plywood wasn't in great shape, and there was obviously a lot of water damage in some places, there really wasn't much mold. So we were kind of confused.

Within a couple months weeks, it rained again, and J became sick again. Summer kind of started, and as J got sicker, I arranged to have another [cheaper, but still good] guy replace the rest of our roof with membrane (on June 22nd). Obviously since J was so allergic, it must have been a collective problem, right?


The rest of the plywood was still in decent shape. We replaced it anyway. None of the insulation had mold on it. Our roof looks nicer, and our makeshift-skylight was transformed into a pair of very pretty, real skylights. But J didn't get better. He only got worse. J kept wanting to sleep outside (which I really, really didn't like), and he did for a week. Then we began sleeping at J's parents' house. J started moving his stuff over there, because he didn't even want to come home to get ready in the mornings.

We wondered...what could J possibly still be allergic to?

It didn't make any sense.

We guessed that it might be the carpet. Although we had new carpet "installed"***** when J first bought the place, we left the carpet that was in the main room, because it didn't look bad. We also left the carpet in one of the bedrooms. But J thought it was more likely a problem with the main room carpet, because he didn't spend a lot of time in our office and when he did, it didn't make him extra sick.

And then I remembered something very important!


* aka. my friends at Home Depot. I mean, the workers.
** I was so tempted to put something like this (for while you were getting your stuff):









*** One way he knows it's the house is because he wakes up feeling like he is having an allergic reaction, and he doesn't do too well at the beginning of work, but then by the afternoon he is feeling much better.
**** Now, remember, J and I were married March 20th. So, I was tearing down sheetrock two weeks before our wedding (the day after my bridal pictures!), and hiring roofers, etc., was just a couple weeks after we got back from our honeymoon. Hey.
***** By the "handy"man. WORST Carpet Installation EVER.


The Sarmiento Family said...

What?! WHAT DID YOU REMEMBER!?! I'm SO enthralled by your blaga!! You MUST continue the story! (Which reminds me of when Mom would read bedtime stories and at the end of the chapter we'd all be like, "PLEEEEEASE!! ONE MORE CHAPTER!!! JUST ONNNNNE!!")

Becky said...

I love your blog! My favorite part is the footnotes at the end. I was giggling at the chain letter ending. I really am excited to see how this roofing/flooring adventure turns out.

Thomas said...

Hi, Emily! I enjoyed reading your story and to be honest, I can't wait to hear the next part. I've actually have had the same roof problems as yours for years. I insisted on fixing it by myself with very little success. At some point it became worse, that's when I decided to call our neighboring roofing contractor, Boston based to check out the roof. He then gave me a surprisingly low estimate, which I happily accepted. Anyway, it's been months since the roof was fixed and we haven't had a problem with it. I must say, I'm really very impressed with those skilled roofers, Boston area.

Just like Becky, I'm also excited to see how your roofing adventure turns out.

Darryl said...

That's a huge project. Thank goodness you've made progress on your roof. I used to have a situation like that when my family moved to a new home, but thankfully, we know of a suitable roofers in Denver who can do the job, and within a day or two, our roof was all new. Also every year, we also check if the roof is still fine, so we can be prepared for the rainy season.

Brian said...

Roof problems? Yes, I've also experienced that in our house. I've needed to fix our roof all by my self since my son, Dave, is busy with school assignments. Before I'll start the task, I find ways to prevent accidents. Thankfully, our neighbor told me about one of the best safety services company offering fall arrest lifeline and fall arrest roof anchors. It's really a huge help for me since our house is a three-story building. Thanks for sharing the nice roof-fixing story, Emily! It's definitely awesome!

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Max Boughner said...

I had the same problem with our roof. It turned out that it was really old and we had to replace it with a new one. Good thing it was fixed faster than I thought. It saved us a lot of time.

Son Lakhani said...

I think that How-the-House-Works DVD is cool! And it would be great if we can even have it as a requirement for every seller, so as to avoid undisclosed problems. That thing about the roof could have been more troublesome if you weren’t informed. The molds could eat up the roof space underneath the ceiling without you knowing.

Maggio Roofing said...

It's good to know that the previous owner of the house informed you about the roof issue. At least you know about it and that you weren’t caught off-guard when you discovered it. Although you encountered problems the first time you tried to fix your roof, I'm glad that you had fun working with the real expert afterwards.

Roofing Contractors Queens said...

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Garrett Dollar said...

Great and interesting story!Thanks you a lot!
I'm going to make roofing service in this summer,can you please tell me how I can do it better?Can I do it by myself or I need hire any roofing service?I find only this company in my town
Do you know any information about this company?

Sophia James said...

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Jana Jani said...

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Jessica Jessi said...

Nice post. I see the pics. Nice style of your work. I want to know about Roofing. Are you know any roof design.
Thank you