Home Ownership

Owning a home is so much fun…

When we moved in to our current house two years ago, we were warned by our home inspector that our flat roof would probably leak, and our furnace was on its last legs.

Our flat roof had been “repaired” in 1998, so we weren’t too worried about getting to it right away; it was October (almost winter), and so not a good time to be doing roof repairs.

Four months later (in February), we had a brutal snowstorm that turned to rain. the snow blocked all of the downspouts, trapping the rain on the flat roof. There was a dormer sticking out of the flat roof, protecting the stairs to the newly added second floor. The water level rose until it could get under the over the roof lip around the dormer, and then poured into the house, filling the ceiling underneath. WE discovered this when the door-frame nearby started dripping water; by this point the ceiling was full and water was pouring down the insides of the walls. Shortly thereafter the ceiling one floor down started dripping.

We went up on the roof (still in the rain), and shoveled all the snow and ice off to stop the overflow. Then we poked a hole in the ceiling, and pulled out about 60 litres of water. (A wet ceiling sags, creating a significant volume of trapped water :). Alas, shoveling the roof turned out to be the last straw for the roof; it started seeping into the room next door.

This was about when we decided that flat roofs are evil, and needed to be exorcised. Now winter is a bad time to be doing roof work, so we waited until spring. By the time Spring 2001 had rolled around, the stock market had collapsed and my wife had been laid off; suddenly there was no money for major renovations.

So for the next many months, we had two uninhabitable rooms in our house, because every time it rained, the ceilings would drip. We finally scraped together a plan, enough money, a building permit, and a contractor in December 2001. They were wonderful; in 5 days they stripped the old flat roof and built a wonderful peaked roof in its place. As an added benefit, I now have a nice attic storage space where the flat roof used to be.

When stripping the flat roof, we discovered that the previous roof contractor had simply laid insulation and a new (1-ply) rubber membrane on top of the existing gravel, on top of the old flat roof. This meant that the new rubber membrane had no support, which is why it disintegrated in only three years. It also explained some of the strange behaviour we saw; the ceiling would leak a day or two after rain, because it took that long for water to percolate through both roofs and the gravel layer.

Up next? the furnace…

posted at 6:16 pm on Monday, October 21, 2002 in General | Comments Off on Home Ownership

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