Still Roofing. Yes, really.

The roof isn’t done yet.

That’s right.

And this is Vancouver, also known as Rain City or Raincouver.

According to the roofer we were watertight as of Wednesday evening. (Ahem. Remember the “foreshadowing” comment from last week?)

As if to test that assurance, it rained for something like five hours on Thursday morning, and it was not just a summer drizzle. It poured for much of that time.

We wound up with two minor leaks (one by the skylight over the kitchen and one by the fireplace). In addition, a downspout backed up and dumped a whole lot of water into the eave on the back of the house, but not into the house. Repairs were made quickly, and things are now fine.

On rereading, that’s way too nonchalant. It doesn’t convey the weight of events properly. Let me try again:

  • The roofer left at about 8 pm on Wednesday evening. It had been a long and frustrating day for him. Someone that was supposed to help out with the work was missing, and then he needed a specific material and couldn’t find it at two different supply places. The result was three lost hours, at least.
  • We knew rain was coming, so he worked to get everything buttoned up. But it was a lot of work thanks to the skylights and chimney, which complicate roofing in a lot of ways. That’s why he was here so late.
  • The forecast said the rain would start around 1 am. Probably as a result, my sleep was particularly poor and I woke up at 12:15 am, 1:15 am, 2 am, 3:15 am, 4:15 am and 5 am. Finally it started raining, and after about 15 minutes I got up to check for leaks.
  • I stumbled downstairs and started looking around. At first everything seemed fine, but I noted an odd noise coming from outside the back door: the sound of water falling where it should not be. I turned on the porch light and saw a huge amount of water coming out the underside of the eave. This was very bad.
  • Still in my bathrobe — and in the pouring rain — I put up the ladder and looked at the opening on the top of the roof. No obvious plug. I grabbed a long handled tool and stuffed the handle down the downspout. No change, and no resistance, so the problem was farther down.
  • I went back inside — now sopping wet — and grabbed a screwdriver to remove the straps holding the downspout to the wall. As I wrestled it loose a huge amount of water flooded out all over the back patio, and the downspout began working properly again.
  • I spent the next half hour jury-rigging something keep the downspout in place so it would send as much water as possible into an in-ground drain to be carried away appropriately. I also had to redirect another downspout so its output would flow more rationally in this unexpectedly extreme — it was still pouring — situation. It will eventually be connected to the same pipe, but it is being moved and the connection is not yet complete.
  • Finally I went back inside to dry off, only to have Anne tell me the skylight in the kitchen was leaking. By then it was 6 am, give or take. I looked at the leak from the inside but couldn’t make out a source. So I went back on the roof with a tarp to cover it.
  • Then back inside — to dry off again — and call the roofer. He didn’t answer, so I left him a message and went back out to be sure no additional issues were present.
  • While I was out the roofer called and said he was on his way. Anne told him about the first two issues and the new (to me, at least) leak in the fireplace. I only found out about this when I came back in. It was a minor drip coming from inside of the fireplace.
  • The roofer arrived a while later, looked at things inside to get a sense of the issues, and then got up on the roof. A few minutes later I heard his torch going, and after maybe 30 minutes in total he came down.Two seams had not been properly “buttered” — that is, heated up to the melting point and sealed together with a hot trowel. In the chaos of trying to get done at the end of a long day, they’d simply been missed. To be clear, these were not big seams, just little ones where things overlapped.
  • The roofer left for the local Tim Horton’s for breakfast. He called us half an hour later for an update. By that time both leaks had stopped dripping, so I told him to go home. Given the rain, no additional roofing work was going to be done anyway.
  • Later — in better light — I found the things that plugged up the downspout. It turns out it had contained a foam insert to deaden the noise of dripping water. That dramatically narrowed the pipe all by itself. In addition I found a piece of wood that had fallen down the downspout and onto the foam. Those objects pretty much sealed up the entire downspout so all it could do was back up and overflow into the eave, which the downspout goes through rather than around.

And there you have it. I’d be upset except that there are already so many drywall repairs to be made and so much painting to do that adding the kitchen leak to the list is a spit in the ocean. It will get fixed when I get around to it. And the leaks appear to be gone. Given the additional rain we’d know if they were still around, or if there were others.

I’d rather we hadn’t had a trial by water (a wet version of a trial by fire) but we did.

When the roof will be finished is still uncertain. We had drizzle off and on later on Thursday and on Friday. At the moment the roofer should be back on Monday, but the forecast has a 40% chance of rain on Tuesday. Murphy is having a good laugh, it seems.

Update from Editing Jeff: The roofer called on Friday evening to let us know that the work he was supposed to do on Friday — a one day job in a covered space — had been pushed out, and now he’s due back on Tuesday, when the rain chances are higher. We’ll see what really happens.

Here are more photos of the roof in progress. None of these show the roof as it was when the rain arrived. They are all from the days before. In the state you see here, the rain we had would have done enormous damage, and thankfully that did not happen.

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The middle picture in the bottom row shows the chimney and the skylight (just to the right of the chimney) where the problems were. The downspout is not readily seen in these photos, but it’s in the centre of the roof edge along the north side of the house. If you click and enlarge those pictures you can just make out the opening to it on the left side of the top left photo, and the right side of the top right photo.

At this point the narrative style changes. The rest of this week’s news comes in short sections. Please forgive me.

I am beginning to gather the items needed to redo the electrical connection to the pump for the water feature in the backyard. The current setup involves an old coffee can. Yes, really. It desperately needs to be redone. I’ll share photos when I get around to doing the work. It will be a while, but getting the parts lets me plan the rest of the job. I intend to build a nice looking enclosure for a waterproof power outlet and switch, and knowing how big those things are matters to the design.

I took two of our three dogs to the vet. You may recall Tinkerbelle went to the vet before we moved as she was due for a rabies vaccine, so she didn’t go this time. It turns out that Skookie is just fine for a dog of her advanced age. Some muscle wasting and some tooth decay, but nothing out of the ordinary for a 15-year-old Shepherd cross who had a rough start to life. Cruzer, on the other hand, is a problem. They had to sedate him to trim his nails, and a blood test reveals he has a low thyroid level. We’re now doing more tests to see if it’s just hypothyroidism or something else, and then (probably) he gets put on thyroid meds. Getting him to take pills twice a day is not exactly simple, so that will be a treat.

Another update from Editing Jeff: The second round of blood work is back and Cruzer appears to have simple hypothyroidism, not some strange disease. Now we get to pick up and start his meds. With luck he loses some weight after a while taking them. He will be upset as his only significant desire in life is to become a sphere.

I ordered a set of storage cabinets for the garage — to put my tools in as I unpack them — and they arrived four days later. However, the castors for them on are still a week off so I can’t fill them yet. That means there is more stuff in the garage, getting in the way, rather than less. Oh joy!

Here’s another new house thing: the fridge in the house has ice & water in the door, and the water there tastes awful, despite the tap water tasting fine. I’d ignored it so far, but a couple of days ago a light on the fridge door turned red, indicating the water filter cartridge needs to be replaced. But this is not simple, and I dislike those filters if the water supply is good. We don’t have a manual for the fridge, but we have the internet. How hard could this be? The first task was to search the internet for a manual. I spent a couple of hours at this and had no luck. No one — and I mean no one — had it online, not even the KitchenAid website, and they made the fridge!

Searching on various appliance parts websites for a water filter bypass plug — past experience has taught me that the thing you put into the fridge instead of a filter is called a “bypass plug” — got me to at least two different part numbers but no clear answer. Eventually I called KitchenAid in desperation. The very nice rep I spoke with found a manual and parts list she could email me — yay! — but there was no mention of a bypass plug in them. She went off to ask others about it while I searched for it again and just as she came back I found a possible answer that agreed with what she proceeded to tell me: this model of fridge doesn’t need a bypass plug. Just remove the filter and you’re done. Half an hour later — after figuring out how to remove the old filter which was not explained in the manual at all — and flushing the water line — another job was off the list.

The house came mostly without window screens, and the screens it needs are kind of strange. Here’s one of the two that we have:

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We need nine more either exactly like that one, or slightly larger. The only supplier I have talked to so far charges $89.60 per screen for them. That’s $50 for the screen, $15 each for the wickets (those let you access the latches to open the window), and tax. In addition to those, we need screens for two doors (which are probably Phantom screens that roll up and disappear when not in use), some really odd custom screens for tiny windows in the master bath, and one “normal” screen for the laundry room window. I did not go ahead with the screen purchase just yet as a result of the crazy cost involved. Instead I plan to call other shops to see if prices vary. The bugs coming in the open windows are annoying, but I don’t know if they are that annoying.

And the real fun — in Covid times, at any rate — is that if I have the supplier make screens to my measurements and they don’t work, it’s on me. To avoid that I have to let their guys come into the house and measure things. That feels wrong, but there isn’t much I can do about it.

Good news! I made some progress on the CNC machine for Xwalacktun. It turns out the manufacturer sold the brand to another company a while back, and the technical guys responsible for that entire product line went with the sale. I had to make contact with this new company, thinking the odds on them supporting an old machine like this were nil. Happily I was wrong, and I got a call back less than two hours later. There is new software (which he’ll have to purchase, but it isn’t too expensive) but they otherwise tell me they will support that machine for its entire lifetime. They even have parts in stock if needed. I plan on downloading a trial version of the software soon to see if I can figure it out. Assuming I can, I will set about getting Xwalacktun up and running with it ASAP. This is a good thing.

I think that about wraps it up for this week. The rest of the stuff I got done was so trivial I won’t bore you with it.

Keep our roof in your thoughts in the coming days. I really want that job to be over and done before I write up next week’s post, though with each passing day — and weather forecast — that seems less likely.

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