Feb 9, 2011

Uh Oh - Better call...

It has been an adventurous week for us.  After the crazy snowfall and Blizzard of 2011 we are left with 5 ft snowdrifts (soon to be ice) and limited patience...and then came this...

That's right...Our brand ceiling in the kitchen is leaking.  I honestly did not even know how to react so I just stood there and stared for awhile.  Then I decided to make soup.  I know, not an ordinary reaction for most people but when Italians are worried they eat.  I'll be following this post up with my veggie soup recipe but for now stay tuned for a fabulous appearance by my husband, E. 

First off, getting to our attic is a real pain in the budunkadunk.  I mean, who puts an attic entry at the top of a stair well?  It turns out a lot of builders...shame on them.  If you guys have one of these you know exactly what I mean.  I hate extension ladders - they just feel so rickety like at any moment it will collapse!  E, on the other hand, likes the manliness of pulling out the extension ladder and popping into the attic.  Considering I am normally the go to fix it gal in the house I am happy to let him save the day! :) 

Once he got up there the swearing began.  I knew it wasn't our roof as we just had that replaced but I was not prepared for what happened next.  The picture here is not very good and does not do justice to the actual scene but here it is:

We have mounds of snow stuck in our attic.  Apparently 60 mph winds and turtle vents don't mix.  Of course, I was the one who picked these sleek looking vents for the roofer to install.  I could have gone with the domes vents that would require the snow to go up and over the internal collar (my Dad's description not mine) but instead I got the vents that made it easiest for the snow to penetrate! 

Side note - if you have these vents don't go getting all crazy and changing them out!!  This is not normal - we had a blizzard for Pete's sake! 

Back to the snow mounds.  E's first reaction was to grab the shop vac and vacuum them out.  Only problem is the first picture above, the one that is causing the leak in our kitchen, is a good 15-20 ft from the attic entrance and is not accessible unless you are a toddler size.  That was the addition they original owners put on and they left little to no access for repair men and what not.  Of course, we did not have 15-20 ft of extensions for our shop vac so we had to start gathering from family and neighbors.  Because we waited overnight to do that by the time E got up there again the whole thing had turned to ice.  Perfect.  Here is an action shot of E wrestling with the shop vac attachments:

I suppose the ladder wouldn't be so rickety if it was straight and not sideways...

The good news is the dripping has stopped - the bad news is it will start as soon as the temperatures start to rise. For now, I followed my Dad's advice and drilled a hole in the ceiling where the dripping was coming from.  This will let the water escape a little faster and hopefully do less damage.  The other spots in the house that sit under the vents have yet to start leaking. 

If this happened to you or if you had this kind of weather and these kinds of vents or even if you are just curious - I suggest you go up in the attic and just check around to see what's doin'.  Say hi to the spider and their webs, say hi to the birds, squirrels and possible bats, assess the situation then get your butt out of there!  Attics are creepy! 

For more info on what to do read the following excerpts from UG (his wisdom can also be seen here) and my
Dad - 2 of my go to guys for home repair! 

UG said: 

Roll out some plastic and shovel it the best you can it roll it up and bring it outside. Keep the attic access closed as much as possible so you don't allow any warm air up there which will melt what ever snow is left. Once the snow is removed run some fans up there to dry it out. Call your insurance company and determine your deductible. They may cover it as a natural disaster. 

When everything is dried out you may want to insulate more and also roll out some plastic over the entire attic and drop a few small rocks scattered about to create pools. If your roof or vent leaks again the water will drip on the plastic and find its way to the valleys where the rocks are and eventually evaporate.

Dad said:   

Try to vacuum out the snow and some of the wet insulation.
As long as it doesn't get too wet, the drywall should be patchable.
I would make a nail hole where the drip is to get more water out since that is the low spot.
That will keep it from spreading farther.
I've never seen snow pile up like that under a vent, but I've never seen snow going 60 mph sideways either!
  Not sure of the design of the vents but they should be baffled to prevent any snow or water from driving in from underneath.  What you have is called a "turtle vent".
They are installed with the opening facing Down the roof, right?     
Ill have to check on this!

You could improvise an easy fix for now by mounting plastic buckets on hooks right under the vents.

So that's it!  We have some work to do.  Did anyone else have this problem and if so what did you do?  I think adding baffling will help once we have a chance to get up there.  When I first saw it, and after I made my soup, I googled to see if anyone else had this problem.  In Colorado it seems most people retrofit there vents to include baffling.  Good to know...would have been gooder better to know before we put the vents on!

Thanks for dropping in!
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