Still Not Washed Away

Yes, we’re still here.

That’s something of a surprise, I know. And while I might be wrong, it definitely feels like the planet is trying to get rid of us. Just in the weather this year in the Vancouver area we’ve had a heat dome, at least two “bomb cyclones”, at least one tornado, and three (or perhaps four, depending on your sources) atmospheric rivers that caused extensive flooding and infrastructure damage. Of course that’s not all. Omicron is ramping up and there is a threat of snow this weekend.

I’m glad I’m not in the life insurance business.

Let me catch you up on the rain since last time. Atmospheric river #3 (or maybe it was just a storm… news articles seem to vary on that point) dumped 3.71" of rain on us. That ended last weekend, a day or two after I published the last post. Then we had a brief respite before the next atmospheric river dropped another 4.12" of rain on us. That one ended on Wednesday.

It’s been a bit damp.

All that rain provided a chance to see if I had finally understood and solved the chimney leak situation. Short answer: no.

Water continued to drip down the inside of the chimney, and I cannot explain it. Here are some photos of the mess I made on Thursday, in yet another attempt to keep that from happening:

See the chimney opening in the second photo above? For water to get into that requires one of three things:

  • Wind driven rain that comes in at an angle from the west or east (the open sides of the chimney)
  • Condensation on the cover that used to be over it, or on the interior of the chimney vent itself
  • Teleportation

In the absence of those, water should not be able to get to the inside the chimney and drip down onto the damper. Any other leak path requires the water to go through the brick that makes up the chimney. If that is possible then smoke and flame could get out the same way, spreading a chimney fire to the house (assuming the fireplace was used and a chimney fire happened).

I’ve tarped this thing completely in the very recent past, such that the tarp hangs over the flashing (the white metal now partially covered with roofing cement you see in the photos above) all the way around. That definitely prevented wind driven rain from getting into the chimney opening, and even if water condensed on the tarp it would have run down the tarp itself and landed on the flashing.

But, water drips on the damper both with and without the tarp. And in the absence of wind.

Imagine water is getting through the flashing somehow. That flashing is on the outside of the chimney, and water should not be able to get to the interior of the chimney in any case. Instead it would be staining drywall in the house somewhere below. But that doesn’t happen.

The same would be true if there was an actual roof leak. Any water that got past the roofing membrane would be on the outside of the chimney, not the inside.

So how does water drip down inside the chimney? I have no idea.

What you see above is the next iteration in figuring it out. I’ve slathered roofing cement over every place in the flashing that either comes in contact with the brick or is a seam in the metal. I saw no evidence for water getting in via those routes before, but I have completely cut them off now.

We’ll try it this way through another storm or two and keep an eye out for more drips. If they continue, I will apply more roofing cement around the base of the chimney, to seal the gap between the flashing and the roof. That’s the only place left that I can think of, and a visual inspection shows no issues in it that I can see. None at all.

Should we finally get this to stop leaking, I will get up there with some black spray paint in the spring or summer and make it prettier. But if it continues to leak and no fix is found, then I don’t know what happens.

Ultimately I think we’re going to remove the fireplace entirely. We don’t want it, and the floor space it takes up could better be used for other things. It might get removed as part of a kitchen remodel, but we need to solve the leak long before it goes away.

In happier news, the valance is now back up in the kitchen. Or rather, a new valance is up:

You can’t see the ugly fluorescent light bulbs anymore. That’s an improvement.

In other news, the weird weather (very wet and a bit warm) also brought an odd fungus to the back yard:

Those white speckles washed away in the rain a day later, but they sure looked strange while they were around.

Finally, I managed to take most of Thursday off from working on the house (other than applying roofing cement) and went into Vancouver to see a friend and attempt a walk. We were beaten back by the wind — it was cold and nasty — but we had a good time.

We saw the barge on the beach — a now infamous local landmark. (Note that “barge on the beach” is a play on “Bard on the beach”, a local Shakespeare festival.) During one of the atmospheric rivers the barge broke loose from wherever it had been moored and drifted around False Creek, seriously threatening the Burrard Street bridge, among other things. Eventually it washed up on the beach — as seen in the distance below — and despite multiple claims that it was going to be towed away, it’s still there.

The sculpture immediately behind me is titled Arcos, and it was put up as part of the 2009–2011 Vancouver Biennale. You can find it here on a map. The barge is a few hundred metres northwest of where the photo was taken.

When the wind forced the walk to end, I rode the SeaBus home, which I had not done in quite some time. Here’s a photo of West Vancouver taken from the middle of the harbour:

You can see snow on the Lions, but much of it has melted over the last couple of weeks, likely making flooding worse in various places.

Other than painting doors and the conservatory (both of which continue, but are not done) that is the extent of my activities this week. Not all that exciting, I know, but such is life. At least I got out!





Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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