Roof repairs (by alaric)
For some time, I have been spending much of my free time trying to make my workshop more habitable.
Back in April last year, I started putting up shelves and putting things away; when we moved in, I had been able to set the furniture up and put things away on them, but without shelves up, much remained in boxes on the floor.
I've since made another shelf and installed that, meaning that everything is finally put away to my satisfaction, but most of my effort has been going into fixing the leaking, draughty, and ivy-penetrated roof. This has involved two parallel jobs: sealing the eaves - now all done, and air vents installed for controlled air flow to avoid condensation - and repairing the leaking roof itself.
I started the latter by building a wall-mounted ladder, to make it practical to actually get up on the roof to work on it. This was four days of work (1 2 3 4). With that in place, I've been able to nip up onto the roof and - more importantly - get down again easily. This is no mean feat, as I'm not at all happy about heights; and the plastic sheet that had been stapled to the roof by the previous folks in an attempt to fix the leaks was quite slippery when wet. Being on a slippery surface sloping down to a drop of several meters suddenly made me remember a series of recurring childhood nightmares I had about having to escape terrible peril by climbing up steep, slippery, slopes, which wasn't much fun...
The intolerably wet weather of last summer (and this one is starting off little better) had caused lots of damage in the workshop. Water came in through the roof by the pint; I tried to position buckets underneath the places where it dripped, but on several occasions these overflowed and I had to move furniture to mop up the huge resulting puddles. Where water had splashed its way onto tools and furniture and supplies, there was rusting and water stains, that I have done my best to clear up; and the high humidity in the building from all the pools of standing water led to fungus problems.
Clearly, something had to be done. The problem was that most flat roofing processes seemed to require a period of dry weather to execute them, and generally required that the wooden deck underneath the roof surface was dry to begin with. With gaps in the rain being unpredictable and short, this didn't seem to be an option for my roof, so I used the ladder to keep performing temporary repairs to the plastic sheet (with little success), and nailing it back down whenever the wind caught it and tore it up at one end or the other.
However, I recently found out about a roof repair material by the name of Acrypol+, which advertises as a feature that it can be applied to damp surfaces; it's able to adhere and cure in a wet environment, being a thick oily liquid when applied. Basically, it's a form of thick acrylic paint, with fine fibres mixed into it that provide structural integrity to the coating once it has dried. It's not recommended to apply it to wood, but my roof is still covered by the (cracked, single layer of) felt underneath the plastic sheeting, so it would be fine to pull the plastic sheet off and apply Acrypol+ to the felt. In effect, the felt would just become the backing for a new sheet of waterproof material covering my roof.
One end of the plastic sheet was easily pulled up, so I applied the first can of Acrypol+:
You can see the exposed felt towards the bottom; it's in pretty poor shape, and has many small tears and holes in it. Also, the rate at which bits fall out of the trees is quite something.
From a little further away (and in more typical weather), you can see that in comparison to the rest of the roof:
I couldn't get all that junk (particularly the large yellow bag, which is full of trimmings from the trees above) down single-handedly, so I had to wait for a friend to come and visit. Andy is a confident rock climber so is much less worried about heights than I am, so was able to be a lot bolder! Together, we made short work of removing all the weights and junk on the roof, and removing the plastic sheeting.
Underneath, I could finally see that various routes by which water had been getting into the workshop. There were a few places where the gaps between the boards comprising the roof coincided with tears in the felt; water made its way under the plastic sheet through rips in it, or through the join where the two halves of the plastic sheet met in the middle (which was not sealed at all, just slightly overlapped and stapled down), and then run along to these places and dripped through. We nailed spare bits of felt over all the major tears, then set about painting the entire roof with Acrypol+. Before long it was done, shining brilliantly in the sun:
There's still a gap at the far right (look near to where the TV antenna is mounted); the edge of the roof has a sizeable gap between it and the upright board that forms the rim around the roof (which is called a "soffit board" if you want to get technical). I couldn't get the Acrypol+ to bridge across this yawning chasm, so I waited several days to let it cure enough to walk on, then went and squirted a load of roof-repair sealant along the gap.
When I get a chance, I'll paint Acrypol+ across that sealant (it's not a perfect seal, as I found when it rained a few days later, and some water still oozed down through that route). I will also paint more along the seams between the overlapping sheets of felt and around the felt patches we added, as they are the most likely points of failure; thermal expansion or other movements on the roof may cause the sheets to try and pull apart, so they could do with reinforcement.
Acrypol+ is sold as a repair system for leaking flat roofs, rather than as a coating for new ones; that, and the fact that it's a lot cheaper than a whole new roof, tells me that this is to be considered a temporary repair rather than a whole new roof. But if it works for a few years, it will give me time to save up for a proper re-surfacing with something like Sealoflex 10, and will hopefully mean that the wooden deck beneath is nice and dry!
With that out of the way, there's a few more things I want to do to the workshop itself - but they can wait; with the water kept out, there's fun projects to work on. First of all will be resurrecting my furnace, and getting some aluminium melting again!