My roof has gotten the best of me twice. I’m no spring chicken. I know falling off my roof will lead to an injury of some type and it could be serious or even fatal. I walked on, cleared debris, repaired, cleaned out gutters from the roof of my old house all the time because its pitch made it possible. The pitch of my house now is steep! I can get to the gutter level, but not much further. Once I did make it to the top, but it took every once of arm strength doing the crab crawl to do it. Once there I got scared and slid back down without even attempting the task.
I wish I had pictures, but I didn’t see what was going to transpire coming. Thursday Lyle set up a very elaborate ladder system, again, to allow him to finish scraping paint from the large rear dormer. There was one broken asbestos tile on the left side, so I asked him to take it down, since he was working in that area, I’d cut a new one and give it to him to reinstall. That seemed like perfect teamwork since he was already on the roof and I can easily cut the tile saving him the ups and downs. Early on he said he’d replace the broken tiles, but I had already done most of it just trying to be supportive as clearly he needs help. I’ve replaced cases of this tile, so when I handed him the new piece I tried to talk him through the process including letting him know I may need to give him the drill to make a hole. We (my father and I) discovered that the new replacement fiber cement boards sometimes extended higher than the hole already in the asbestos tile, if it overlapped. We learned the hard way; we broke the new tile trying to nail through it.
Lyle wanted to attach the tile with screws and I said no, so he said then you come up here and do it. Oh no he didn’t, I am not the female you challenge like that. I promptly climbed up his ladder and put in the nails. The piece was the last piece on that side, so with my reach I never had to climb on the roof. When I asked him to take down the piece I didn’t have my work clothes on, so by the time I got back outside he had not only removed that piece, but three broken tiles from the opposite side and four broken tiles from the other rear dormer. The other locations would require me getting on the roof, so I asked him if he was going to have a problem nailing them. He showed hesitancy and reluctance, so I said forget it, I’ll do it myself. I need to figure out how to work on the roof, anyway. I really wanted him to finish scraping, so we can finally get to the paint. Since he was all set up on the large dormer I decided to work on the other.
Lyle has a ladder that he leans on the gutter that allows him to easily maneuver the pitch around the dormers. It has an odd design. Early on he told me they don’t make ladders like that anymore, so I asked can a regular ladder (A-frame) work. He said no, so I went in my basement and made what I hoped would work out of a pallet. No pictures of it on the roof, but I carried it upstairs, put it out of the window onto the gutter and then went back outside to cut the tiles. When Lyle saw my makeshift ladder he immediately said that’s not going to work its going to kick-back and fall. He stopped working on the large dormer and brought over his ladder. Now people that know me, know at this point I’m annoyed and there is no way I will use his ladder. I told him to take it back, if I fall I fall, I got this. Instead of taking it back he starts scraping the paint from that dormer.
Of course I turn my sights on the large dormer, it’s closer to the gutter than the other three. It seemed to me that if I could reach the gutter I could plant my feet in it and with my height just lean on the roof to replace those three tiles. I went and got the Gorilla Ladder I bought and used when I replaced the tiles on the side of the house (see end of Exceeding Expectations post). My previous two attempts to get on the roof I did from the front porch using my 8′ A frame ladder. I never tried it from the back because I had an old, dicey extension ladder and I was scared it would shift left or right when I took the step onto the roof. I’ve actually given it to Lyle who seems real comfortable on it. I was able to set it up right against the rear portico, so I only had to worry about it shifting to the right. Both ends of that ladder extend out wide and it never shifted, not even when I took the first step up onto the gutter. Just as I thought, I could reach those tiles by just leaning on the roof. Replacing them was a piece of cake and I had to go up and down a few times with no issues.
By the time I finished, Lyle had finished the left side of the small dormer and had moved to the right where he pushed my makeshift ladder to the end of the gutter and placed his ladder where I’d plan to work. I used my Gorilla Ladder to retrieve it. Doing so allowed me to get a close up look at how Lyle’s ladder was hitting the gutter and I thought a regular A-frame ladder could do that. I didn’t want to work on the same dormer as Lyle, so I decided to work on replacing some more tiles on the rear of the house, which is how I discovered the rotten crown moulding Fusion Roofing caulked and concealed. Lyle left Thursday leaving his ladder set up on the smaller dormer, but sadly took his elaborate system from the larger dormer down without finishing it. So little was left and if he had just focused on that while I focused on the tile it would be done. That night after he left I got my 4′ A-frame ladder and placed it on the gutter from the bathroom window on the opposite side of his. I felt certain it would work, so I left it there. Friday he took his down.
Saturday I psyched myself out. I thought perhaps I shouldn’t tackle this at home while alone, so I cut the grass and went to Vineyard Church evening service, the first since Covid-19 hit. Sunday I went for it. I didn’t have the luxury of the portico on one side for support, but I didn’t need it. That wide stance of the Gorilla ladder made it very stable. The first time up I carried my shop vac to vacuum up the paint chips Lyle left. I had to go up and down several times to get all the tiles cut and replaced. I couple of the holes needed drilling, so I had to retrieve my drill. I was so comfortable getting up and down that I even took up my pump sprayer with the insecticide and sprayed the areas exposed by Lyle’s removal of the crown moulding. Good thing as on the right side a couple of bees flew out. On the right side I did manage to put a couple of cracks in two of the new tiles by hammering the nail too tight. If it were the lower part of the house I may have taken it out and done it over, but for the roof I decided to mix up a small batch of 2-part Epoxy and brush it over the crack. Once it gets paint you’ll never know.
I now know I can use this method with longer A-frame ladders if I need to get even higher on the roof. Now let me share this word of caution. The ONLY reason this method works is because I have box gutters on my house. Box gutters are structural parts of the house. This would NOT work with modern house gutters, you’d rip the nails right out and crash to the ground. You’ve been warned.
With that great sense of accomplishment I decided to lend Lyle a hand. Friday he finally put primer on a few of the lower windows and some of the moulding he had taken down. I’ll elaborate more on that in the next post, but before putting the primer on the moulding he treated the pieces with PC-Petrifier Wood Hardener. I decided to treat the remaining pieces for him, which I’m glad I decided to do as I found pieces with cracks that needed to be glued. The instructions read a lot like the LiquidWood product I used on the window sills. You’re supposed to drill 1/8″ holes, which get filled with some epoxy they promote. I did take it one step further than Lyle by applying the product to the front and back of the pieces. Doing the back meant scrubbing the burn soot off first. Although not as severe as the window sills, the backs were more dried out than the fronts and had dryness cracks throughout. I felt they were enough to justify not drilling the holes.
The clouds opened up just as I was cleaning up, so I stuck the pieces in my she shed, since I knew they weren’t close to being dry. Hopefully he’ll appreciate the help.