View RSS Feed

Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

When It Rains It Pours. Literally

Rate this Entry
I've had things to note since last time but I wanted to sit in silence for a while. And then the big thing happened and it seemed inappropriate but maybe better to write now than later.
I don't want to talk about my dog yet except for one thing. It was still Summer and it hadn't rained for quite some time. When...the deed was done it rained. heavily but not for too long. It either started just as it was done but I'm pretty sure it was a little after while we were spending some time with.......the remains. Also we've had her cremated and the result is sat on her bed in the living room with us. It just looks like it belongs there.

We noticed nothing amiss on that day.
A day or two later, mum was at work so I'm sure it was a Friday but looking back Wednesday it right. Yes it was Wednesday. "The deed" was done on Monday. Calling it that makes it sound like completely the opposite thing.
Anyway. 2 days after the poignant rain it rained heavily again. And this time water leaked in. Now to be fair we've had a leak for YEARS in the spare room but couldn't get to it without clearing it out and my dad wouldn't have done anything about it anyway (he was still alive then). And the last year or two. or three the guttering I can see from my window has been steadily collapsing and THIS year has buckled to the point that water can't run down it to the drain but sits there. dripping at first and now trickling onto the kitchen window. Last year I tried to seal the window frame with mortar and bathroom sealant (which was not wise to sue but it's all I had at the time and I hoped it would seal the window itself, it's a wooden frame. It's older than I am though) I've been dreading every time it might rain and hoping it stayed off (which is tricky because it's been our driest summer so far and we HAVE desperately needed the rain) and the rain trickle hits the window and seeps into the kitchen (but that part of the kitchen needs clearing so we can't actually get to it)
So we've been needing someone to do the guttering because we don't have a ladder long enough for me to attempt to fix it (not that I could anyway as you will learn) for at least 2 years or so but increasingly so more recently.
Then a leak happened indoors that wasn't the first 2.
It was coming in at the top of the stairs on the dividing wall between us and next door and there was NOTHING we could do to stop it. It came in under the wallpaper but...hang on I'm a little ahead chronologically, just a tiny bit.
It was late afternoon. Raining heavily. It might actually have stopped/been stopping. I went to the toilet and found water on the floor. Odd. Did that overflow pipe thing leak? I don't see how, there's a bucket under it and it only drips ever so slightly when the cistern is full so we don't let it fill by flushing a little more often (before it was only when there was something "solid" to flush/a decent amount of toilet paper that might clog it we let it keep growing, mainly to save water. It's not like anyone comes over to see it, of course if they did then we WOULD flush decent amount of paper or not. The fill valve/ballcock just doesn't completely shut off. I think it's a little stiff/rusted so it doesn't float at the very top and when it doesn't do that the toilet thinks it needs more water so it just keeps filling. It's only a constant drip so it takes a while to fill and there's a little pipe at the top for overflow but there's a tiny crack in the seal of it so when the water is just high enough to reach the overflow it drips out of the side instead. We flush in the evening to be sure and it hasn't leaked again yet (it will of course, in the future))

I got distracted. I don't want to give up on this but I'm not sure how much I want to finish it. The flow's interrupted.
Oh. Yeah. Discovering the leak.
So the toilet floor. It would've had to have been quite a severe leak and the bucket was empty anyway. It was dripping from the ceiling. I'd put the light on to see better and it functioned but looked a bit off somehow. Turned it off and went to get absorbent supplies. Thought about it a bit and put the light on again. Flickering. ****ing hell turn it off quick and get the bulb out of the fitting. It's a low ceiling thankfully, the only bulb I can reach without a step of some kind. Yup. Drippy bulb. Not a lot but enough. ANY water and household light fixtures is bad.
Thankfully Mum had flooded the bathroom a bit a few weeks before and we'd left all the kitchen roll there rather than throwing it away because it could still be used for something, like mopping up another leak (good thing too because I couldn't find the fresh roll). It had dried of course. What happened there? Mum had been using the sink to soak some clothes, they'd blocked the overflow and she hadn't turned the tap off properly. You have to turn it REALLY hard. It was trickling while we were playing Mario together and we didn't notice until a while later when we heard a noise (it was water dripping into the kitchen) we went up, turned it off, put down a lot of kitchen roll and left it to dry as it was a hot day and the floor's linoleum anyway, it's just not sealed at the edges (how could it be?) so that's why the drip.
So I used that for the toilet. It had stopped raining or at least eased off. Dried the floor and left the kitchen roll there for later. Coming out of the toilet I noticed it had dripped down the dividing wall and was quite a bright orange (rust and stuff) so put some kitchen roll there and left it for mum to see in some of it's full horror when she got home. It was only an hour or so to go and the rain had stopped.
I showed it to her.
The ceiling up there is sloped so it naturally ran down to the toilet and seeped into the window frame (another one that's wooden and older than me).
It didn't rain for a while.
We called my dad's friend (you might remember him as Boiler Man) to see if he could recommend someone, since we can't call my dad anymore/ I've wondered/worried for years about what we'd do when he died. (How do normal people get work done without encountering scammers? Since he was a builder he could either fix the thing (well enough at least) or knew someone in that trade and him being him he'd probably pay for it because "it's easier that way". About this time (you know when you remember something because there was a trigger but then you wonder if it REALLY is a memory since you don't remember making it and wonder if maybe you imagined it? About that time I suddenly recalled that I mentioned this to my dad over the phone, probably before "the big reveal" when I actually wanted to be talking to him because these memories would be all I had left when he died. And he'd said to call "Boiler Man" and I think about steadily going down a chain of recommendations over time until you get to someone you wouldn't recommend yourself but they were recommended by someone who trusted someone who trusted someone who trusted someone who trusted someone that you trusted)
We called him. He gave us the number of someone. We contacted that someone. I took pictures and texted them to him and we never heard back. To be fair I think we're out of his usual area of operation/at the edge of it at least and he obviously would have had other work to do and human error is always a factor and we didn't want to hound the man so he probably forgot about us.
Oh I forgot to say that we thought we'd pinpointed the leak because a but of flashing (it's actually render) was loose at exactly the same point that the water might have come in (at the dividing wall) and i could see it clearly from my room so I took pictures and there was a piece of something on the roof too (another piece of render that had come off but higher up where I couldn't see)
We waited, anxious ANY time it might rain. Light rain was fine. Heavy rain was not. We thought the angle of the rain made a difference like it did with the spare room drip (Don't get attached to that theory).
I taped bin bags to the wall and piled the used kitchen roll on it so absorb the water before it would escape (you know because water doesn't sit still if there's too much or ANY kind of angle to direct it) that used kitchen roll still proving it's worth for leaks (obviously it had dried again since the last time it was used)
I was angry and frustrated by the whole situation. I'd looked it up. EMERGENCY roofers are a thing. Just call one of those (it was mum's job to do though because she can talk to other humans, she's the home owner and she'd be the judge of the financial situation). But the very nature of EMERGENCY work lets people know your desperate so I did worry that scammage could result. I didn't research too much though because it wasn't my choice to make and I didn't trust myself to make the right choice anyway (quite often with thins like this I seem to make the wrong choice).
Conveniently one of those flyers was put through the door that we've ALWAYS thrown away because we never needed them when we had my dad in existence.
A roofing firm.
How serendipitous. And the recommendation wasn't getting back to us and Summer was ending and the rainy period was getting ever closer and what happens in winter would it freeze? and the timbers will rot and the ceiling will collapse and what if they can't work in the rain? such anxiety please lets just get this done while we can.
So she called them.
A friendly but VERY talkative guy came round. We showed him out main concern, the new leak, spoke about the old ones because might as well get those fixed if someone was going to be on the roof anyway.
Sure we can do that job for you. Replace the guttering, fix that leak and something about felt having probably been folded rather than being done right and replacing it with drip trays. We had explained that when I told my dad about the spare room leak he'd said there was a problem with that bit and he'd done something and folded something and it had worked well enough at the time but he knew it might not last but never did anything about it.

Also ay one point I'd been looking up repairing a roof from the inside (wouldn't work for us but it was nice to know it's possible in some circumstances) but maybe I could crawl through the loft and put some sort of tray to catch the drip before it ran through the ceiling. The whole of the roof is not accessible from the inside. My dad had put wooden panels up to make a good enough room for his trains and things. I figured I could remove a panel, I'd have to crawl/snake and it would be HIDEOUSLY filthy, through to the leak and maybe put a tray there. I could have a look at least. Well I had a look and no. It's impossible. Seems there's kind of 2 parts to the roof. The main bit where you can stand up that is the loft and the bit at the back where it turns out you can't even crawl and there's pipes up there and the roof felt of the main bit comes right down so you couldn't pass it anyway and I sure as heck wasn't going to try and cut a hole that wouldn't even work anyway.

So we waited.
Scaffolding was delayed.
Then scaffolding went up. We assumed the roofers would start right away. No. It was a Friday. They started Monday. Fair enough. You don't start a new job Friday, leave it for the weekend then pick it up (that's another one of those memories I forgot but triggered by the event. I'm sure I've heard my dad say something like that before)
They were delayed Monday but that whole thing did give me time to get the back gate to work (it's so terribly warped that it was IMPOSSIBLE to open. I had to chisel, sand and SAW bits off to get it to open let alone close again. Oh I also hit it with a hammer to force it open (the door was kind of in front of the frame and warped so that's why it was impossible) I also oiled the hinges, not that it helped much since the bottom one was rusted shut and the screws so rusted I couldn't undo it all. But I got it functional). I cleared Fox Alley of debris and with the extra day I swept it too so it was better underfoot. Of course out of Fox Alley was not so nice. It's a tight corner with debris I can't move and a VERY overgrown climbing rose. I cut some of it back but if I take too much I'm worried that would kill it. It's my mum's and it's the last rose we have (we used to have all different roses lining the garden when I was little but due to steadily decreasing gardening and VERY determined blackberries that we didn't even plant they just sprang up. the roses steadily died and the last one was finished off after paving slabs were dumped on it and it got shaded out by trees, that we also didn't plant).

So when they did cone they were up there a couple of hours then needed to speak to us. I was offered the chance to go and inspect myself. I took it (it's 2 floors, ground and first but I've been on first floor scaffolding painting windowsills for my dad and I really liked it up there. It all felt very secure because the ladder was bolted on. I didn't like the first ladder because it was just a step ladder (the first ladder should ALWAYS either be removable or covered when not in use for safety but the second couldn't be accessed without the first so it could be firmly bolted in place. I felt completely unfazed knowing that I was safe. If it had been flimsy I would not have been comfortable at all)). As long as I know I'm safe I have no problem with heights. The structure is sturdy or someone's holding it (who can't pull some kind of dumb prank) or at least watching to make sure I'm safe/offer advice/ try to help if there's a problem or call for help if I do fall, then I'm perfectly happy.
They did try to assure me that I didn't have to go up and it was fine and they could take pictures. But I assured them that as long as i was safe I wasn't bothered and I've been trained on ladders pretty much as soon as I could walk (well a bit after). As soon as I was able I would go in the loft with my dad on weekends. Originally he'd have me go up first and he's be right behind me to protect me or he'd go down first for the same reason and he's tell me to hold the ladder and when I was old enough not to need him to protect me he'd still instruct me to hold the ladder properly. So yeah. In my mind this was just a much bigger version of that. The guy at the bottom held it and the guy at the top held it and he instructed me to hold the scaffolding when I could reach at the top for security and going down to do the same thing. They showed me some of the issues and he took my phone to take pictured of the back for us because while I'm fine with secure ladders I was not confident nor trained to walk on a sloped roof. And also the reason they stopped and wanted to show us is because it's rotten. And the ridge tiles were out of sorts too.
The guttering bit (called facias) was rotten (they're wood) some of the tiles were cracked/loose the felt had been damaged (with both time and leaks) and the thing we thought was causing the leak wasn't the actual problem, it was just a symptom. Basically the water got in though various little points and channeled/pooled. Also a bit on the dividing bit at the front should have been waterproofed accordingly but was just spare roof felt painted with bitumen which had worn off over time making the felt degrade and it was crumbling. THIS was, at least part of, the problem with the spare room. And THAT was what my dad had spoken of. AND it triggered ANOTHER memory. A couple of years ago there was a thing on the roof. I say thing because we didn't know what it was. It looked like a flopped over scrap of carpet. It was still there one time my dad was here and I showed it to him and he said it was a bit of felt (but I forgot that bit because I didn't have context for it) that had come off. and he NEVER did anything about it nor did he even seem remotely concerned. Typical. That felt eventually came off the roof at some point.

So this was all a HUGE problem. Basically to be done right the whole roof needs replacing. I tried to look it up. Estimates $5000-6000 but it's more for London but I don't know when that was written or what kind of roof it was for.
They gave us a new quote.
We can't afford that.
What with prices of everything going up, up ever up maybe it would have been cheaper a year ago, who knows.
But no. Can't afford that. Also that's a BIG job and the rain is coming. But then again how rotten is the roof? Could it collapse on us? Who knows.
They could kind of patch it up for considerably less but that is only guaranteed for 5 years so let's hope the prices of everything goes down considerably by then because that's the option we picked.

Why so long? *sigh* This will be part 1