Furious, frustrated, fuming...confused! Yep, that about sums up how I'm feeling at the ineptitude of "professionals" after seeing something that I discovered last week while painting our bay window. You know what the strangest thing is? It's not even on our house.
Last week, while up on our lower back copper roof, I was talking to my neighbor about some painting she recently had done (by a good contractor that I had a chance to chat with). During the conversation with my neighbor she said, "Should I be concerned about the nails coming up through the roof?" Puzzled, I asked her which nails she was worried about, and she mentioned that she had seen some coming up while looking our from her back bedroom window.
Both our upper and lower roofs are one large shared area, so I walked over to her roof to see what she was talking about, and I was simply blown away by what I saw.
It's a little difficult to discern from the photo, but yes, your eyes do not deceive you. What you're looking at are sheet metal screws put right through the copper standing seam roof material and screwed right into the wood sheathing beneath. I was FLOORED!
After stammering for a second or two, I got my words together and let her know that someone, likely through a complex combination of stupidity, ignorance, and sheer laziness, has more or less sabotaged her (which is actually "our") roof.
I quickly worked through what had likely happened and came up with a logical (well, logically stupid) and probably correct reasoning for the recent appearance of these screws.
This wasn't always a copper roof, it was actually shingles when we moved in. When it was shingles, it was easy to climb up on this single story roof, place a ladder from the shingles to the upper roof ridge, then climb onto the upper roof from there. Here's a view from our bay window that shows the shingles we once had.
We thought this all worked great until we noticed a significant amount of water working its way up and under the shingles. The slope of this lower roof is too low for shingles to properly shed water during snowy conditions, so the water was damming and backing up under the shingles and into the ceiling of the sun porch. This was actually part of the problem that ended up in our massive kitchen disaster.
Back in 2007, we coordinated with the owners of the house next door to have a new roof installed. I really wanted to do the job myself, but after breaking my collar bone, I was reduced to a sideline role of watching people work on my house and doing something I felt completely confident that I could do. It was not easy, I assure you, especially as I watched the contractors make a mess of the project (I'll fill you in on that another time).
Shortly after having the copper roof installed, and after my wing had completely healed and I was allowed to fly again, I setup the ladder to get up onto the upper roof, as I had always done. What I didn't take into consideration was the new, smooth copper surface.
In physics terms, the coefficient of friction on the copper is far lower than that of asphalt shingles. In English, the copper is WAY more slippery than the shingles. As I ventured onto the upper roof, and when I was nearly at the top of the ladder about 10 feet off of the copper roof and about 20 feet off of the ground below, the ladder started to slide out from under me.
Let me tell you, this is one of the most helpless and horrible feelings in the world. I felt the ladder start to go and I made a split second decision to scamper onto the roof. As the ladder fell I lunged forward to grab the edge of the gutter. Somehow getting my right foot on the bay window roof, and then using the gutter I had installed as something of a pull-up bar (if it had been the old gutter it would have just pulled off of the house), I somehow hooked the falling ladder with my right foot, spun myself around, found my way onto the upper roof, and grabbed the ladder in time to catch it before it fell all the way down. I wish I had it on video, because I still don't know how it all happened. I just know I had a moment where things could have gone very very wrong...but luckily didn't.
That heart attack inducing event occurred about five years ago, and neither I, nor Wendy who was inside and heard the calamity, have forgotten that incident or how much worse it could have been. I got lucky, I know this and I don't take it for granted.
After that slip and near fall, I put together a brace of sorts that I assemble each time I need to get into the roof. The brace attaches a platform to a few 2x4s that wrap under the roof's eave. It's a great system, very sturdy, and has secured my venture onto the roof dozens of times since my life-flash-before-your-eyes experience of a few years ago.
Alright, back to the original point of this post. It seems the person my neighbor hired to service her AC (which is up on the roof) may have had a similar slipping experience as mine. About a year or two ago I noticed that her gutter had been bent with the crease going away from the house. I've always wondered how that happened, since things like that don't often happen on their own. My guess is that her contractor had a similar fall and ended up hanging on the gutter and bent it. After that incident, I'm willing to bet that he decided on a more wreckless and destructive approach to securing his ladder, and rather than building a brace, getting someone to hold it while he climbed up, or just getting a longer ladder and going up from the side of the house, the contractor decided he'd just screw six sheet metal screws through the roofing.
Can you think of a worse "solution"? I can't. I told my neighbor that I was simply shocked, and if I had seen the idiot doing this, I would have probably flipped out on them. This roof was several thousand dollars to have installed, and it would last 100 years or more with proper maintenance. Yet this moron puts six screws through it at just a few years after it was installed because he didn't bring the right ladder or didn't have a helper to hold the ladder for him?
For a few reasons, I'm blaming the anonymous AC guy. Other than a roofer (and I highly doubt a roofer would ever do something this stupid), the AC guy is the only person I believe she had up on her roof. Beyond this, the guy used sheet metal screws. Who else would have used sheet metal screws other than an HVAC guy? Makes sense to me.
This right here is a prime example of why I don't like to hire people to work on my house. If it's not their trade, they often don't care, and you're left to put the pieces back together when they leave a mess.
So now I'm doing a bit of research for my neighbor to figure out the best way to repair the issue. I contacted a roofer friend to get some advice, and did a little bit of searching on the Internet. Though she could use a little bit of sealant, it's only going to last so long before it starts leaking, and she won't know it's leaking until water is in the house. The best thing will probably involve soldering two small patches directly to the roof, making a fully water tight patch that will last as long as the roof. A more agressive approach would actually be to unhook and completely replace the affected panels, but that's an expensive approach and one not entirely necessary.
Our neighbor will ultimately hire someone to fix it and ensure water isn't seeping into the house, but if she hadn't said anything to me, who knows how much damage it could have done and how long it would have gone undiagnosed? Though a roofer will correct it, and our neighbor will pay for it, the fact that anyone has to spend time or money on investigating and fixing this issue is basically criminal.
What do you think about this ridiculousness? Have you ever hired someone to take care of your house in some way, only to have them damage something unrelated? Or do you think I'm totally overreacting? Let me know how you would handle a similar situation.