Monday, December 27, 2004

The Old Man is Snoring

Christmas, in its chaotic and joyful way, has been and gone. Driving north on that day from San Francisco to Sonoma County, to have Christmas dinner with my sister in law and her family, I foolishly commented to my husband that the winter rains had not really started yet. On the one hand, this is a good thing, since we have a hole somewhere in our roof that has not yet been addressed (other people having jumped the line with the roofer, damn them!) and no rain means no leaks. On the other, it might auger ill for next summer: San Francisco appears to get most of its water during November, December, January and February, leaving the other eight months for fog and intermittent sunshine. I shoulda kept my mouth shut.

Of course, yesterday it began to rain. Thunder and lightning during the night. And the nice, well controlled little leak in the front hallway has now sprouted cousins and nephews, creeping in two directions up and down over the stairway and leaving ugly glue-colored spots on the already ugly carpet. I do not want to think what this means for the interior of the walls where the leak is appearing...I keep imagining structural damage, mold, thousands of dollars in repairs. Eew.

Until we moved west, we owned an apartment in New York. An apartment is a different thing. You may not have as much room for upward and downward expansion, but when the roof leaks, it is the building and not the apartment dweller who must fix it. It's nice to own your home. Except when it isn't.


Blogger claire said...

May the rains come but not damage the roof. The city needs the rain but you need warm and dry. It sounds like you had a swell time.

And congrats on the blog!


7:18 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Water, the homeowner's enemy.

I live on the uphill side of a development. My downhill neighbor gets water in his basement. The water comes out of the culvert in my yard that drains the seventy acre dairy farm behind me. Of course, water flows downhill.

There's a development near me and when we were looking at houses, I checked out the lots available to build in that development. On of the lots had been graded but next to it and on hadn't. Next to it was a stand of cat tails. And someone bought that house.

7:28 PM  
Blogger claire said...

As a native New Yorker, I am fascinated by home ownership.

I am a handy person (as the daughter of a Jack of All Trades, I have several tool boxes) but the idea of being responsible for an entire house scares me silly.

But as a said apartment dweller I must admit that I have had a lustful longing for a house.

With a pantry. And a wraparound porch.

Sigh. In another lifetime. Meanwhile having a large 1 bedroom on the upper west side of Manhattan isn't too bad...


7:35 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

When we checked out the house last year before we bought it, we noted the signs of a leak in the closet in the front bedroom (future home of Emphatic Girl!) and made fixing it a condition of purchase. I'm afraid that the former owner's contractor decided that good enough was good enough; he caulked around a drain and re-plasterboarded the closet that had the water sign. We tried to have the same guy come back and tell us what was going on when the leak reappeared this fall, but he avoided it--most likely because he knew he'd done a half-assed job.

Rain is predicted for the next week. I wonder if I can Saran Wrap the roof in the meantime?

9:21 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

When we first looked at this house it was on a day of pouring rain. No leak that day--but we made a point of checking out the garage (which runs the length of the house, give or take, in lieu of a cellar. California is not big on cellars). And sure enough, the garage has remained dry as a bone, which is a good thing. Better, I guess, to have dry foundation and leaky roof, than vice versa.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Tucson, we have no storm drains: runoff is channeled into washes by streets (many of them former washes themselves). We're on a ridge between two streets that are listed as FEMA floodplains a half mile north of us; here, they're merely city-listed as flooding. We're okay, but between them and the occasional lake in the street across from the school, travel during thunderstorms can be a bit loggy.


12:09 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I can imagine. We overlook a row of trees planted between our house and the feeder-road of a freeway: the worst of the water flows down and occasionally swamps the feeder-road, which is nightmarish. However, our basement stays dry. It's the damned walls that are problematical. As of this morning the closet of that front bedroom is distinctly swampish.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Postscript: At risk of life and limb, spouse went up on a ladder, inspected the likely site of the leak, and slathered roof cement all over it. If this works, it means the roofer who wanted to redo all the gutters was wrong, and we save Big Bucks (which can then be spent fixing the interior damage. Big sigh).

4:37 PM  
Blogger claire said...

I am so glad that The Man made it onto the roof...and then got down.

May the structural damage be minimal and that the rainy season treats you well!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

From your ears to those of the Roof God.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Well, the leak has shifted--obviously the work we did helped some. But now one of the walls in the hall has a large, ominous wet patch on it. We were hoping to redo the ancient kitchen (and put in a dishwasher!) this year. I'd hate to think we'd have to spend that money fixing structural damage. Feh.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Dave Smeds:

Is there a window anywhere in the vicinity of the upper part of the stairwell. I've been the president of my condo association's Board of Directors for the past three years. I've had the chance to talk with roofers and plumbers quite a few times about various sorts of leaks. Seems like window frames are a culprit far more times than you would think.

You came up to Sonoma County Christmas Day? I was doing the opposite. Driving down _from_ Sonoma County.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

We finally got up in the ceiling over Younger Girl's closet and found the approximate locus of the problem, Dave: it's the roof. Alas and alack. Roofer coming this afternoon to assess the mess. Meanwhile, the kid's room smells like feet. Feh.

1:18 PM  

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