When it Rains, it Pours.

I had been saying for the past week that we needed the rain. The lawn had been turning brown, which is something that shouldn’t happen in the Spring. We had gone weeks without rain, and when it was finally forecasted, my wife and I were elated. We had just planted a vegetable garden, as well as fruit trees in the very rear of our 1.9 acre property which we intended to turn into a small orchard. We needed the rain desperately.

When the rains did finally come, so did my problems. The rains started last night with a thunderstorm, and the winds whipped up by this storm sheared several shingles off the upper roof of the house. I discovered this in the middle of the night, as I was awoken by the “drip-drip” sound of water splashing onto the carpet lining my bedroom floor. And it wasn’t just coming down from the ceiling  in one location. Water was raining down in several locations, cracking the plaster ceiling as it did so. Capturing the water required two large plastic storage tubs and several pots. As the rain subsided, so did the dripping. By morning, everything was again quiet. Unfortunately, the rain picked up again the this evening and the dripping has resumed. With the forecast calling for raining continuing for the next five hours, getting heavier as the night passes, I’m not looking forward to the mess in the morning.

Granted, I should have seen this coming. The roof on the house was installed in 1986, making it 29 years old and certainly past its prime. With the replacement of the roofs on both the Mason Lodge and the Servant House, both of which were leaking, earlier this winter, I was hoping to spread out my financial resources by postponing the installation of a new roof on the main house for at least another year. As they say, best laid plans…. well, you know how it goes.

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The two-tier roof of the Neebor Lee house seen from the rear yard. The upper tier is a gambrel-style roof while the lower tier is a low pitched rubber membrane system that covers what was the rear porch, which is now enclosed to form the an office and family room. The Servant House, to the left of the main house, received a new roof in February if this year as did the Mason Lodge (which is hidden in the photo behind the Servant House).

A old roof systems can be complicated, and it is certainly complicated in this house. In our case, we’re dealing with two tiers of roof. The upper tier is a gambrel-style roof covered with asphalt shingles. The gutters  on this upper tier are built into the roof. These internal gutters are formed by a rubber membrane that extends down from the asphalt shingles which then drape over a wooden trough that is attached to the lower steeper section of the roof. From what I understand, internal gutters are not common on steeply pitched roofs. But in our case, there they are.

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The lower tier of the roof revealing the trough that forms the “internal gutter” (on right edge of the roof). The Mason Lodge is in the background.

The lower tier is formed on top of the porch, which wraps around three-fourths of the house. This lower tier consists of a low-pitched roof that is composed of a rubber membrane that has been painted over with a silver metallic paint that is intended to protect the rubber from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This roof is also lined with internal gutters, over which the rubber membrane drapes. The internal gutters on this lower tier are difficult to maintain due to the small openings allowed for the downspouts. These openings are constantly getting clogged with leaf litter and need cleaning every four to five weeks. When the leaf litter builds up to the degree in which it obstructs the downspouts, water backs up in the gutters and, more often that I would like, finds its way inside the porch or, in one area of the house, inside our sun room. I only recently repaired the rotted wood window frame inside the sun room caused by years of overflowing gutters.

It’s quite a bit of roof to maintain, with a higher than normal likelihood for things going wrong. And, so, I’ve thrown in the white flag and called a local roofer for advice on making improvements as well as for a quote for replacing the shingles on the upper roof tier. The expense for the replacement of the upper roof was one that I was hoping to make only after selling our prior home in northwestern New Jersey, which is currently on the market. The sale of the old New Jersey home will have to wait, however; I can’t have it raining in my bedroom. The roofer arrives on Wednesday morning to inspect the roof and to provide a quote. I will keep everyone informed on the progress.

In the meantime, pray for sunshine.

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