Saturday, July 10, 2010

In which I fix the roof and get toilet goo in my hair

The past few days have been so full of working on the house that I haven't had the chance to post any news! The roofers started tearing off the old roof on Monday... and the final powerful blast of the nail gun went down on Saturday morning. We had some nasty surprises as we tore off the old roof -- more "what the heck were they thinking HERE" moments to add to the list. After two layers of cedar shake shingles and a layer of asphalt came off and into the giant dumpster that is parked in my driveway, we discovered that the old roof has no plywood decking -- only aging, brittle slats that were 3-4 inches apart and allowed you to look straight down into the giant itchy pillow of insulation that has been blown into my attic. We also discovered that this house was built back in a day when people thought that making an attic complete air-tight was a good idea - there was absolutely no ventilation through the eaves, and only a couple little turtle vents to release air out the top. [This here is a photo of my favorite roofer: Jason Rogers looking cool in what was actually bloody hot, hot Utah desert weather.]

So started a marathon of roof-repair: Jason and I ran off to Home Depot to purchase 40 giant planks of OSB (flat, plywood type stuff) and loaded it into his van (no small feat here). We also got a dozen plastic trough-like looking things that you install inside the attic by nailing them between rafters. They create a channel for the cool air to come in from the eaves (the bottom of the roof) push hot air out the top (from the soon-to-be ridge-line vent). In order to install these plastic vent-things, we had to pry up boards near the base of the roof and knock out the board that was plugging up the airflow from the eaves. Now, when I explain all this, it sounds fairly straight forward. In actuality, there is no photo-documentation of this process, because it was NASTY. It involved me, laying belly-down on the roof, shoving my littler arms in between the slats, mushing down itchy insulation, not dropping the staple gun, and then stapling the plastic vent back UP against the rafter on the correct little part of the plastic lip without warping or twisting it, or being able to see what it was doing. Also, some small amount of demolition, which was fun. It was hot. It was dirty. It was very, very satisfying to be able to say, at the end of the day, that *I* fixed my house! Afterward, I was very, very tired. Who knew that roofing makes you FEET sore? Sore feet, sore thumbs, sore forearms, sore back, sore body, sore self. Big yawn. This photo has been titled by Jason as "Roof-y-ed: After A Long Day."

I should mention at this time that it is pretty much thanks to Jason's help and advice that this whole particular chapter of the roof episode was made possible. The roofer I hired was a friend from Waterford who was AWESOME and did fantastic work, but was also totally open and flexible to our last minute changes in plan, and had faith in our ability to pull off the whole Operation Vent Attic, even though he secretly suspected that it would take us all month. Luckily, he was pleasantly surprised... as was I. Once we figured out the system (and consulted with various physics types, engineers, and fathers across the continent) it went in fairly quickly. Still, as Jason and I scrambled to finish up the venting system, the roofer chased us around the roof installing the plywood. Once the plywood was down, it was tar-paper, shingles, and ridge-line vents. This was also the point in time that the weather started to turn. Big, dark clouds started blowing in across the valley from the west. I'll tell you -- nobody is as in-tune to the weather as a new home-owner who's house has no roof. By the time the storm blew though, we had everything weather-tight except for the ridge-lines. There were a few exciting moments involving me and Jason and some big blue tarps that turned into SAILS as we tried to wrangle them into place and hold them down with bundles of shingles, but all in all, the storm was more bark then bite. A little blowing, some thunder and lightning... and then a few wimpy sprinklers before the sun broke through again.

During this same span of days when the roof is coming off, getting a tune-up and then being replaced, I was also working hard on destroying things inside the house. The toilet was a large success: I have learned how to uninstall an ancient toilet when the bolts that hold it to the floor are so corroded that they can not be turned, pried, or otherwise persuaded with WD-40 and a big old wrench. This is when you take the next step up the Useful Tool ladder and reach for the hammer. That's right, I smacked that toilet 'till it gave up the ghost. Unfortunately, I got mungus from the old wax seal (the thing that seals the toilet to the hole in the floor so you don't get gross stuff on your floor every time you flush) in my HAIR. It kind of served me right, because I was using Jason's Wonder Bar (this awesome crow-bar like thing that has different prying options) to try to lever up the toilet, but then I didn't clean it off afterward, and then we used it on the roof, and he got mungus on his hand (ewwww) and I said "oops" and then he wiped his hand on the roof and then I put my hair in it during Vent Installation (EWWW) and I said "Gross!" and that's how I got toilet goo in my hair. Later, I scrubbed it out with baking soda and Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, because I haven't had the time to buy more shampoo. I call this photo "Victory Dance With Hammer."
Also happening during this time period was the overhaul of the bedroom. The color selection has now gravitated from Moon Mist and Surfer (yellow and blue) to Torchlight and Autumn Harvest (yellow and rusty orange). We put down a base coat of white to cover up the crayon red wall, and discovered upon tearing up nasty old carpet that somebody somewhere along the line thought that linoleum was the right choice for that particular room. YUCK. Now we have to figure out exactly what chemical will make the old glue holding the linoleum to the wood floor underneath gooey enough to peal up. There are photos of this particular variety of mungus forthcoming.

The moral of the story this week has been that even gross things can be fun, but you can't fix anything without getting very, very dirty.


  1. Harmony,
    To say that I am impressed at what you have taken on would be an understatement! Ah, the joys of home ownership...
    Janice Fischel

  2. Your old roof definitely needed replacement. And though it took a week, I'm sure that you are confident now with your new roof. It was a good choice to have professionals install your new roof. This is to ensure that everything is well-placed and sturdy enough to withstand bad weather. Just make sure to do regular maintenance, so that you can check if some parts of your roof need repairs.

    Mariam Freame

  3. You live in Utah, so like you said it's a hot hot desert weather out there. The extreme heat and ultraviolet rays could cause your roofing materials to deteriorate. You might want to consider adding cool roofing products to prolong your roof's lifespan.

    Conner Spear

  4. I know I'm a bit late, but it's such a good relief that you already had your roof replaced. Keeping them hanging may cost you too much energy bills and extensive damage cost.


    Elizabeth Hoffnung @