The Roof Leak

I was lying in bed one day when i began to hear a noise. I thought it was the rain tapping against the window. However, when i got up to walk across the room i stepped in something wet. At first i thought a dog had peed but it was clear and had no odor. I laid a paper towel over it and lifted it up. It was definitely not pee. It was water. But…their water bowl was across the room. Suddenly something wet hit my head. I looked up. Sure enough, the roof was leaking. It began to rain harder and the water started to drip faster. I hurried to the kitchen and grabbed a pasta pot. I placed the pasta pot beneath the leak and stood back. For the most part, it was catching the water. The first thing i did was to call a roofer. They said they would have to charge me 500 dollars even though my roof was that of a tiny home because that was the minimum amount they were allowed to charge for any roofing jobs. They hadn’t even seen the house and had no idea what was wrong with the roof but it was already going to be at least a 500 dollar job. I called around and nobody in the area felt that they could say for certain they could beat that price. I wasn’t taking a day off work for a “maybe”. So i stuck with the second company i called; the one who assured me they would show up. You see, the first roofer i tried said they would show and never did. They did not return any of my phone calls after that. The second company assured me they would show and then didn’t. So i kept taking time off work and requesting a half day for nothing. Then i tried a different tactic. They said if i left the gate open i didn’t even have to be there. They would just let themselves onto the property, climb on the roof, assess the problem, and i could come by the office to pay and schedule the intervention day. They didn’t show. So, my gate remained open all day for nothing. The third time we attempted to meet he called and told me truthfully that he had more job offers in a nearby city than my tiny town and if he received more job offers in a city than he did in my quiet little town, he was going to stay where the work was and just keep rescheduling me. He wasn’t too sorry to see me go as a customer. It didn’t seem to phase him that i was taking my business elsewhere. I asked one of the maintenance staff if they could tell me what was leaking so i knew what to tell a repair guy if needed. He said he’d help me diagnose and fix the problem. I was delighted. He came out and had a look at the roof. After a while he said he thought he knew what was causing the problem. He said, “your house is not level.” There was a white pvc pipe sticking up out of the metal roof. Around it was a circular mound with a flap of rubber on top of it. It appeared to have some sort of residue where an adhesive had once held the rubber flap to the metal but it was all gone now. The maintenance man said there was once tar on the roof holding the flap down but it had cracked and fallen away and there was nothing left holding the flap in place. Rain was getting down inside the rubber part and running the length of the sheets of metal in the ceiling. He said that because my house wasn’t level the water droplet was traveling from the front of the house to the back to fall into the pasta pot on the floor. It made sense. The roof had never leaked before. All of a sudden it did. It made sense that it would have something to do with worn out glue on a rubber flap. So the maintenance man agreed to go with me to home depot, gather supplies, and fix the roof for a reasonable fee. But, something came up and he couldn’t make the appointment. Due to unforseen circumstances, the guy wouldn’t be able to help me for a month. It was a very wet spring for texas. There was historic flooding. It was raining nearly every day. I was having trouble finding windows in the weather to hang my laundry. I couldn’t wait a month. It was then that i decided i was going to fix my own roof. I marched myself into home depot and began picking out an adjustable ladder. I tried to buy tar from several employees but they either didn’t know what i was talking about or they knew what i was talking about but they weren’t sure where to find it. Eventually i stumbled upon a guy in an orange smock who would at least hear me out. I told him i wanted to buy tar because i was going to get a ladder, put it up to the roof, don my rubber water shoes, and tar my roof. He looked at me with an amused smile on his face. He said, “you’re going to tar your roof?” When i answered that i was he paused for a minute as if to take it all in and then began asking me a series of legitimate questions. How steep was the roof? What material was it made out of? Did the shoes have good tread? Did i want a bucket of tar or tubes? Did i already have a caulk gun or did i need one of those too? He gave me 2 tubes of tar for the caulk gun and told me multiple times to wear gloves because if i got it on my hands i would have to buy something to get it off. I thanked him for his help. He said, “Good luck” and watched me head towards the cash register with my ladder, my box cutter, and my tubes of tar. Doug proved to be most helpful for all of my later projects in that he could decipher my specifications and measurements such as “this much” “a tad” “anything remotely close to this cell phone photo” and “thinnish”. So i took my ladder and my tar home and began to plan out how i was going to execute the project the following morning at dawn. I had to plan it ahead of time because the metal roof would only be bearably cool around dawn and again around dusk. I set the ladder up and made sure it would sit well against the house without bending the sheet of metal hanging off the edge of the roof. I put my water shoes on and made sure the rubber gave me enough traction on the smooth roof. All systems were go. With everything ready and the sky darkening by the minute i put the ladder in the shed and went inside the house to sleep and wait for morning.

10 minutes before dawn the alarm clock woke me up. I yanked on my boots and headed to the shed to get the water shoes and the ladder. I laid the ladder against the side of the house and up i went. I used the rubber water shoes to climb to the top of the roof toting the caulk gun and a tube of tar. There i straddled the highest point of the metal roof. I cut the tip off the tube of tar and used an old nail to puncture it. Immediately i recognized the smell. It was tar alright. I examined the area in question. There was the pvc pipe above the kitchen. Around it was a square piece of metal bolted down to the bigger sheet of metal underneath. In the center of that was a rubber flap placed around a mound surrounding the pvc pipe. The flap had pulled away from the mound. So i took the caulk gun and placed tar everywhere i felt it should be to seal off the areas where water might find an opportunity to enter. I made a ring around the mound, securing the flap against it. I put tar over all the bolts and edges of the square piece of metal. There was also a little spot where there appeared to be an indentation in the metal where it had split. I put tar there. I smoothed it out a bit with a gloved finger. Then i climbed down and waited for the sun to dry it. For the next couple days i kept placing the ladder against the house and climbing onto the roof to check if the tar was dry. One thing i realized right away was that morning or evening, there was a great view of the property to be had from the roof. I liked being up there.

In an ironic twist it stopped raining the day i tarred the roof. It didn’t rain again for months. It had been so rainy and then all of a sudden it disappeared and texas became dry again. I wouldn’t get a chance to test the roof patch until late summer. Everyone kept asking me if i had fixed it but truthfully, i didn’t know if i had. Then one day i was lying in bed when i heard it; the most beautiful sound in the world, the sound of rain on a tin roof. I hurried over to the pot placed on the floor beneath the edge of the metal ceiling sheet. It was bone dry. Not a drop of water was in it. It stayed dry all the rest of that day, though it poured cats and dogs outside. I had done it. I had fixed the roof leak. The tiny house would live to see another day.

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