Boots on the Roof

Something happened that totally befuddled my plans on Friday to pick up my mother-in-law at her house and bring her back all on the same day.

After I arrived at her house, I went to her bedroom to pick up her luggage and she pointed to the ceiling and said, “it seems like water is leaking somewhere. I didn’t want to upset my son, so I didn’t tell him. Will you replace the water faucet before we go?”

Oh cripes…

…she has no idea that a water faucet in a bathroom has nothing to do with a roof leak. I gently explained that, then found a flashlight and opened the attic to see if I could find out where the source of the leak was.

Turns out that flashing had come loose around a penetration from a vent pipe. I extracted myself from her attic (which is no easy feat) and explained that I had to get some roofing caulk and go up on the roof to fix it since the repair could only be done from the outside. Since lots of rain was forecast for the next several days, this problem could not wait until we brought her back home after her visit with us. Plus, it was relatively mild weather-wise. It would undoubtedly be colder and perhaps icy a week from now.

I made a quick trip to a home supplies retailer, found the roofer’s caulk, then returned to her house. I found a caulking gun and some other small tools and put them on a tool belt that my father-in-law used to use. I unlocked the chain around the ladder, and managed to get it up against the house despite how heavy it is.

I stood back… “only” two stories looks much higher when a ladder is the means of access.

I carefully and slowly climbed the ladder and got onto the roof. The pitch of the roof is steep, so I crawled, literally, on my stomach to the offending pipe coming through the roof. I was wearing Chippewa cowboy-boot styled work boots, which thankfully have Vibram soles so they gave traction on the rungs of the ladder and on the roof shingles.

Darned enough, the flashing had come loose. I returned it to its correct place, banged it flat again with a hammer, then lifted it a little while I forced roofing caulk under it to form a good seal. I then re-sealed the shingles over the flashing, caulked a little more, and was done.

I carefully crawled back to the ladder. This is the tricky part that I hate about roof work most — getting onto a ladder backwards. After a few minutes of very careful wiggling and movement, I managed to plant both of my boots on the rung of the ladder and carefully made my way down.

I put the ladder away and locked it up, then returned the tools. By the time I had finished this job, it was getting dark. I was tired after driving all day and doing that repair job, so I decided to stay overnight and drive my mother-in-law back the next day.

I called three senior pals to ask if they would check in on my spouse, so I would not have to worry. Then I called my spouse and told him what I was up to, ruining a surprise but comforting him by knowing that I had fixed his Mom’s roof. I told him, “three spirits will visit this night and you will welcome them.” A veiled, poor attempt at humor to let him know that three of my friends would be checking in on him and he will be happy about it! (He better be — no grumping!)

Saturday morning, I awoke a bit sore, but happy to know that I was able to fix what would have become a major problem if left unattended. When Mom-in-law got up, I checked the ceiling in her room and was grateful that it was dry, despite it raining cats-and-dogs all night.

I drove home through a lot of rain, but uneventfully. Mom-in-law is at her chosen place in our house — at the kitchen table — and has begun eating and eating and eating… let the festivities begin!

Life is short: fix stuff before it causes a major problem!