Wednesday, April 20, 2016

We Interrupt this Column to Roof in a Drawl

I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to write this column this week. I have to be up on my roof.

Have you ever been dumb enough to start a project? Yeah, me too.

The whole thing started when my wife said she wanted to put ceiling fans up under our patio roof.

That shouldn’t take me too long to do, I foolishly thought.

Then over this winter we noticed that a considerable amount of water actually makes its way through the patio roof and down onto the patio when it rains. We hadn’t noticed it before, because prior to this winter it hadn’t rained in California in twenty-eight years.

Now, I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I know very little about how electricity works, but I am confident that water leaking down into a ceiling fan is bad for both the fan and the electricity inside the fan. And the electrons connected to my inside house wires from the outside fan wires. It could all end up being bad for my toaster and my refrigerator. It’s very technical.

All I know is life without toast is one thing, but warm beer is completely uncalled for. I needed to get that leak under control.

So, last week I was dumb enough to go up and tear off the old shingles. Once I was up there a thought occurred to me. The leaking might have something to do with the fact that the patio roof has almost no slope at all. That might also be why (at least as of this writing) I haven’t fallen off of it yet – a fact that my wife points out, rightfully, is amazing. Fingers crossed for more of that success!

Right after I was done removing the old roof, the full realization of the fact that I now had to install a new one hit me. As with so many other things in my life, I’m great with the demolition, but unfortunately, a little light in the rebuilding skills department. (Food, cars, etc.)

This should be no problem, though. I’m fairly confident that I know almost enough of the basic principles behind roofing to be ninety percent sure I’m going to get most of it right. I’m a little under the gun, however, since we have rain forecasted for Friday. So I need to put this column on hold this week and get to work.

(By the way... Does anyone out there know a lot about installing asphalt shingles on a low-slope roof? Please PM me. Asking for a friend.)

There has been a lot of measuring, calculations, research, and purchasing so far. For instance I know that to roof a 30’x14’ patio cover with Owens Corning Desert Tan asphalt three-tab shingles, you’ll need to buy approximately 420 square feet of shingles, or in terms of weight, 28,000 pounds worth. My back hurts.

And I’ve watched a number of YouTube videos, but they’re mostly Southern good ol’ boys up on a roof filming a how-to video with a cell phone about drip edge flashing and shingle starter rows. Between the thick drawls and the phones picking up the wind noise, not all of them were helpful, but I did end up with a lot of good info on what’s hot in camouflage baseball hats these days.

And I have a lot of new words in my vocabulary now, most of which I can say in both Standard English and Southern-American English, thanks to the YouTube videos.

Drip edge, hips, valleys, gables, eave edge flashing, rake edge flashing, asphalt underlayment, standard and increased overlap, ice dams, wind lift, wind-lifting dam ice flashing rake underlayment, etc. I have no idea what any of it means, but I really sound like I know what I’m talking about now, especially when I say it in my Southern drawl while wearing my new camo baseball cap.

So I should be all set. Sorry about the column this week, but the rain’s a’ comin’, y’all.

If you need me, I’ll be on the roof, probably swearing in my new drawl. By the way, don’t tell anyone about this in case I’m supposed to have a permit or something.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Love this blog! You manage to actually impart some information while making me laugh. Couldn't agree more about warm beer, I'm not sure I wouldn't rather be rained on! Did you seriously have to lug 28,000 pounds worth of shingles? By yourself? I'm surprised you can still stand up.

    Ferdinand @ CCR and D

  2. Thanks Ferdinand,
    I know I'd rather be rained on than drink warm beer. No contest. And no, I really didn't have to haul 28,000 pounds of shingles. I tend to exaggerate. It was only 25,000 pounds, but it felt like 28,000.
    Thanks for reading!

  3. Yes, you are right on the money. Water leaking through the roof can be very bad news. I would have to say that water leaking through an electrical outlet is disastrous. If you haven't called a roofer yet, you might want to get on that process before your house burns crispy.

  4. Thank you Pleasance,
    The roof is secure and probably leak-proof, but we haven't had a drop of rain since the new one went on, so I really don't know. Looks great, though!