Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Me and Mike

We rented this house before we bought it. While renters, we spent a lot of time discouraging would be buyers by pointing out that there weren't a lot of level or parallel lines in the house and "why yes, those were water stains around the skylights" so it wasn't as if we didn't know what we were getting into. We knew and we bought it anyway figuring the house was only five years old, that some things (unlevel drywall) could be lived with and others (leaking skylights) could be fixed in time. Hey! after living on the Coast in houses built pre- and post-WW II, it was a pleasure not to have to lay out a schwack of $$$ for insulation first thing and have the floors refinished second thing.

We took our time about the skylights: good old silicone sealant and The Sr Boy's fearlessness on roofs were a good (and inexpensive) combination but after the 2003 fire across the lake, it was definitely time to replace the cedar shingles (have I mentioned we live in an interface area??) and new skylights were installed to great delight and refinishing of the ceiling. (Ironical aside: the roofers did a rather poor tarp job before quitting for the weekend. Up came the black clouds and we had a torrential downpour: right through the tarp over the leaky old skylight. Sigh.....)

Those were the skylights on the north side of the house. We weren't really thinking about the south side because we didn't really have any. Well, except for the sunroom.

If you have visited us, you know the sunroom. It's the space at the end of the kitchen with the little table and rattan loveseat and chair where two or three (very cosily) can have coffee, read, knit (yeah, I'll get on to that in here one of these days....), do the crossword, nap, yack on the phone and, when it rains or snows then thaws, mop up water. I don't really know what the builder/owner was thinking when he put the "skylights" in over the sunroom. I do know that the designer/owner (aka his wife) was only in here two months before she was designing the next place. I've been in the next place: NO skylights, NO sunroom!!

The problems are, I think, that he used "windows" instead of real skylights and that he didn't know what he was doing. There are things one has to do to keep the rain from running into the house and I believe it is called caulking. This is an interesting process by which one applies some sort of caulking or sealant to the exterior so the rain cannot run through the 1/16" - 1/4" gaps caused by the inability of the builder to measure anything with any accuracy. After the first winter where in we discovered that there was some problem with the caulking (but it wasn't our problem because we were renting) not to mention with the lack of a cover over the vent in the sunroom (which was our problem because the snow fell through it onto The Jr Girl in her high chair), we bought the house.

Then we discovered the purpose of the framework over the deck outside the sunroom and the vent. This house faces due south. In the Okanagan Valley. Which gets (as they say in Newfoundland) right some jeezly hot in the summer. We were so busy hanging bamboo screens over all the windows and trying to sleep in the basement and bath the brand-new Jr Boy in the bathroom sink because it was Too Stinking Hot to sleep in our own beds, that we sort of forgot about the leaking sunroom. I think we really actually didn't believe winter would ever come again. Wrongo, as they say.

So, The Sr Boy got quite adept at patching up the caulking on the sunroom windows and I never paid any attention to how he did it or how often. I just knew that when I had to start mopping, there would be sighing, bundling up (if we'd missed the fall rain warning drips), getting out the ladder, the caulking gun and the scraper? exacto knife? magic wand?

And that's my problem: I can do the sighing, the bundling, the ladder, the gun (although we have one fewer as of 1755h this evening when even China's best couldn't withstand my mighty Pilates strength. Dammit) but I can't figure out how to get the old caulking all out of where it is no longer supposed to be because it ain't working anymore. So far, I have used a paring knife, an elderly exacto knife which lacked the 'exact' part, a wicked looking curved knife I found in TSB's tool belt, and my fingers. A lot of it is off/out but there is some that simply won't budge and the new caulking says "All surfaces must be clean, dry, and completely free of old caulking especially silicone." Well the dry is not a problem at the moment (stay tuned for the weather report...), clean is a bit problematic but manageable but what do I do about the old caulking??? The interwebs has been only moderately helpful, The Jr Boy is busy with other things, and I've got the window washer arriving at 0800h tomorrow!!! (Now you all know why the rush to get the caulking done, right?) Where is Mike Holmes when I need him???

Here's the plan: (1) the window washer gets a break: all the windows except the sunroom roof. (2) ask The Neighbour Who Knows About Stuff Like This to take a look. (3) listen to TNWKASLT's advice. (4) act on advice (if I like it). (5) continue to pry old caulking out while finishing the book-on-tape that I was listening to when Agnes and I had flying practice. (6) pray for continued good weather. (7) practice with caulking gun. (8) caulk up the dodgasted gaps. (9) rethink plan of buying an older place and consider designing and building a new house that looks old. (10) keep breathing.

Yeah.... that's manageable.....

Still breathing.

This Just In: Wayne the Dead Metal Guy is coming for the engine block tomorrow, too. Clean windows and gone engine block. O frabjous day!!


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