Roof Eave Prologue

I have to say at first this was a daunting repair. All repairs are daunting when you are not trained as a carpenter, roofer, electrician, plumber. You first spend lots of time ‘staring’ at the thing that’s broken trying to figure out first what’s broken then subsequently the minimum number of steps to achieve the desired result: a fixed house. You lose so much time in the early stages of a repair figuring things out, everything winds up taking twice as long to fix. For you impatient go, go, go A-type personalities this becomes a sore point and can only be rectified by hiring a ‘professional’. Everyone else who has no interest in ever learning anything about how homes are put together, you too can hire a professional. For dopes like me whose most valuable asset is their excess of free time, you can launch into a home repair safari. For me this particular repair started somewhat slowly when I noticed some ‘stains’ underneath a roof eave in a shady corner between the sun room and a short section of roof connecting the garage and our laundry room. A total of 79″ not quite 7 feet and not quite 6 feet long. It was noticeable that no soffit vents were cut into that little section of roof and I wondered a lot about what that was. The stains made me wonder what was going on inside that roof eave. And I worried a lot about it due to some problems in the sun room previously during the winter when leaks occurred over the top of a sliding glass door. That door sat right next to the roof eave in that section of roof. I knew there were leaks in places in the eaves as I had also seen this near our front door, again in the roof eave. So when the brown stains showed up in the eave, I knew I need to pull open the roof eave and take a look. But I hesitated due to my ignorance about how the roof eave was put together. Which part needs to be pulled off first? Once that’s been removed what then? So you look around and might find something wrong, then what do you do. The cascade of problems (a personal foible of mine) led me to take a what I felt was a safer course of action and ignore the stains for the time being.

Going into the Summer and Fall of 2007 the stains were there but nothing to worry about. Then a little way into the Fall, the next time I looked at the roof eave, there was a huge hole where the stain had been. It was big enough to see something had catastrophically failed in the plywood closing the bottom of the eave. So, the question was what to do? Do I try to fix it in October knowing it could snow before I finished, or wait ’til Spring and do it when the weather would be more favorable? I had no interest in going into a repair blindly without considering all possible options. I needed to buy some time so I nailed a patch of luan plywood over the hole and waited. My wife decided getting a professional to repair the problem was a better choice and I acquiesced. A roof repair contractor came out to look at the problem, figuring a roof leak was the cause of the problem. For two weeks no work was done, and the first snow was coming in November. Just after Thanksgiving we got a bill for $800 claiming all the roof work was done. Both of us were stunned the bill came as no one ever contacted us to notify the work was being scheduled. Magically some workman had come and gone and we never noticed. The reason we never noticed was he never opened up the roof eave to look at it. Instead, he ‘fixed’ the leak as he saw fit. His biggest discovery was that the edge where the shingles were installed was done incorrectly. He figured that water was pushing up under the very edge of the shingles. He cut the shingles back flush to the eave of the roof installed a much longer drip edge to keep any ice from pushing under the shingles and caulked EVERYWHERE he could find.

I discovered all the work that was done by first shoveling 8 inches of snow off that roof. When we got the bill it was the same week the first snows came. He got his work done just under the wire it seems when it came to the weather, lucky for him I guess. I on the other hand had to inspect his work before paying the bill because I was unconvinced any work had been done. Once the snow was gone I had to remove 1 inch of solid ice from a sleet storm that proceeded the snows. I sat for an hour on a ladder with a hair dryer melting that layer of ice to see what he had done. Mr. Fixit had cut the shingles back. He shoved a 4″ piece of drip edge under the lip of the shingles and had to move the rain gutter spikes down 1 inch to accommodate the much longer drip edge. I also saw two shiny bright roofing nails pounded right into the roof lip itself. Not Cool. Exposed nails in my view is the sign of a bad job. They rust and leak, this was an attempt to cosmetically keep the shingles as flat as possible. So there things sat for the remainder of the Winter, hopefully not leaking any more than usual.

Spring time came, the snow and ice receded and my once new patch of luan plywood was now also staining too. It wasn’t as noticeable as the original leak in the roof eave, but it had turned color and my wife was worried enough that I knew I had to do something. And I knew it too because of my disappointment with what I thought the repairman might try to fix. He only worked on the leaks, not on the cosmetic repair of the roof eave below. If he had done that work, I would have felt it was money well spent. However he ignored all that and tried to fix the source of the problem, water leaking into the roof eave. In fact the problem as much bigger than just water leaking around some edges of the shingles. All through April and May I worried about the coming repair. I ignored the living daylights out of it, figuring there was no use in doing anything until I could do ALL the work at one time. Because everything takes twice as long for me to fix I have to account for that time when I decide to do the repair myself. I figured the first guaranteed date of adequate length would be Memorial Day weekend. I scheduled the week off for that holiday knowing the weather would be sufficiently warm enough to do any repairs and to complete them, hopefully.

If I had been very pro-active I would have slowly submerged myself into the repair. Any amount of exposure to the repair prior to that week would have allowed me to start making purchases for the final work to be done. Instead, I sat back and figured I would get it all done in a week. There were at least two weekends I could have started work maybe initially pulling off the luan plywood, and opening the eave once and for all. Had I done that I would have gained a whole day on the final repair. Secondly, if I had been very bold I would have torn off the rain gutter and not worried about any possible consequences. I worried so much about doing too much damage before closing up the repair that I took baby steps the week of Memorial Day. That slowed things down too. But I’m jumping ahead, let’s back up to that weekend where I finally started my holiday.

Saturday, I ignored the repair (my fault) and did housework instead and goofed off the rest of the day. That marked my slow start into doing the work on the roof eave. Saturday would have given me the extra day needed to ‘figure’ things out. Instead Sunday was the day work began and it was a battle royale from the beginning.

Thoughts? Questions? Feel free to respond...

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