September 25, 2006

“Happy” Home Ownership?!

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When I bought my house in May, all of my friends and parents were very congratulatory. They frequently ask how the happy owner is and the happy house? Upon threat of your life, don’t ask me that this week. Not unless you have time to spare and a good set of ear plugs.

September generally sees the onset of fall rains in Tennessee. Normal light, dreery rain, occassional heavy ones. We had several days of very heavy rain, culminating in 4-6 inches of rain on Saturday alone.

This is not a recommended method for finding out how good a supposedly five-year-old roof is. Tuesday evening, after a solid day of rain, I found a water mark on the sun room ceiling when I got home. This was the first time I had seen it, so I figured it had appeared on the Monday night rains. It was supposd to be beautiful all week, so I wasn’t too worried about it. One of the guys at work gave me the number of a local guy who will patch roofs. He agreed to come out on Friday afternoon.

It rained Friday. All day. During a break in the storm, the roofer came out, found the spot, and gave me a reasonable estimate on repair costs. He said he would be out on Saturday to fix it if it was dry. It started raining again before the roofer left. The rain continued through the night and became torrential most of Saturday and Saturday night. The spot on the sunroom ceiling is considerably larger. No water drips, luckily. Friday and Saturday nights I kept waking up and checking the ceiling in the sunroom. The rain didn’t let up until Sunday morning.

In the middle of Saturday night, I heard a loud crash. Figuring the cats had gotten into something, I walked into the back bedroom — and into a puddle of water. The floor was partially flooded. Glancing up, I was relieved/shocked to find no drip-marks in the ceilings. This flood came up through the floor or the walls without leaving any visible water marks. I mopped up the large puddle and tossed the towels in the washer. What in the world was causing this?

I checked the floor several more times during the night. No new puddles. The rain continued. Mid-morning, I walked back into the room and listened very carefully. The laminate flooring was making squishing and sloshing noises. Great. Water under the “floating floor.” This floor was professionally installed in May. It’s tightly fitted to the edges of the room. The trick now was to figure out how the water got into the room in the first place and how to dry out the laminate flooring (preferabloy without having to rip it out).

When the flooring was installed, the carpenters inspected the cement slab in the second bedroom. No cracks or other blemishes. However, they did find an area that was slightly darker than the other areas. Possibly damp, but not that much. I wasn’t too worried about it. Was that the spot that had caused problems? The carptenter had shown me a crack outside next to the window ledge, which is flush with the driveway. When I checked that small crack, I discovered that it had widened and spread along the length of the window sill. The previous owner had sealed that area several times, as well as the area in front of the room.

Okay, so mid-frustration, I called the one person I knew who had dealt with more house-related crap than anyone else: my stepfather. He was stymied. He suggested putting a heater in the room to help pull moisture out. He reminded me about home owner’s insurance.

Next resident expert: Home Depot sales people. The game plan evolved into trying to pull out moisture as much as possible using a dehumidifier or heater and to caulk the area where the wall meets the cement slab. One of the sales guys suggested that if water is getting it, it could happen at the point where the walls sit on the slab, especially if the floor in the room is lower than the outside driveway or flower beds.

Four tubes of caulk later… I was back home scraping dirt away from the walls, cleaning and drying it, and then caulking. There were some large cracks all the way around the base. The flower bed at the front of the second bedroom and along the side where the fish pond did indeed have dirt higher than the slab. After trimming the bushes, I spent all evening moving dirt, cleaning areas, and caulking. I’m not quite done, either. The side where the driveway meets the house has been completely caulked. The front flower bed has been caulked. About a third of the section behind the fish pond is not done. I didn’t have a shovel or hoe to move the dirt there, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Sigh. So tomorrow is the vet-visit, get-grain, meet-the-roofer, walk-the-horse day. Some where in there I’m supposed to work. And did I mention I’ve had an upset stomach most of the weekend from all of this? Joy.

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