Monday, June 25, 2007

The Master Blaster

Friday. Looking down the barrel of a big weekend. The weather promises to be mostly sunny. The plan: pressure-wash and prep the roof for priming, and prime it.

I used my lunch break at work to make one more trip to the roofing supplies place and make the big purchase: 5 gallons of red primer, 8 gallons of paint. Left work at three to rent the pickup truck and pressure washer. Pickup truck? It dawned on me the day before, when I learned that a 3,000psi pressure washer is powered by gasoline, that this thing wasn't going to fit in the Rabbit. And, the van is sitting in the yard awaiting a spare moment to replace the water pump. So, we rented a pickup truck to pickup the rented washer.

We woke up early Saturday morning and visited with our friendly local farmers down at the market where we stocked up on veggies and goat cheese. Picked up our mild detergent at the hardware store for the pressure washer, and by 9:30ish we were planning our attack on the roof.

The pressure washer was left in the bed of the truck since the 50' hose seemed long enough to reach all points on the front side of the house. I crawled out the attic window and onto the roof and Erika passed the wand and hose up to me. We went over a few safety and procedure details such as when to hit the kill switch on the machine and keep an eye out in case I come tumbling down.

Erika yanked the pull string a couple of times and the machine fired up. The first step was to spray the soap onto the roof. Easy enough. After I had sufficiently soaped up the first quarter of the roof, I switched tips to the zero degree oscillating tip. Makes swirlies, acts like an orbital sander. Machine restarted, trigger pulled. Whoa! Heavy. Blasted many years of dirt away. Blasted chipping paint. Blasted away a layer of paint. Wow. I continued blasting (sometimes just sticking one hand up into the air and blasting the thing skyward, just for fun) until I figured that was enough. At some point I thought to myself that we could've used the 3,500psi model since 3,000psi isn't as powerful as I thought. I changed my tune after I fired it at the wooded ladder and watched the water cut deep circular grooves into the plank. Good thing I didn't test this on my foot!

Next we had to employ the chicken ladder so that I could get up on top of the dormer. The chicken ladder (you'll hear more about this in the Sunday story) is a 2x6 plank with several small 2x4 steps and a few longer ones at one end which you use to hook over the ridge of the house. You use this to climb the steep pitch of the roof. I was a little shaky on this thing at first, and a little uneasy way up at the top of the house on the dormer, but it was really nice. The top of the dormer is the rustiest part of the roof. Soaped 'er up, blasted 'er down. I was soaked by this point. The wand had a worn o-ring and I was as wet as if I had been swimming with all my clothes on.

All in all, it took about four hours to pressure wash the front half of the house. Oh yeah, I might add here that I was doing all the washing because Erika was still recovering from a fevery cold, which is the same reason why the other night when I patched the roof, she wasn't up there with me. That was the worst night of her cold I think. Anyway, four hours for the front.

Took a quick break for some water and then drove the truck around back and began work on the rear of the house. The roof at the rear of the house is in worse shape than the front. First, there's the major patch that I made. Second, there is tar at pretty much every standing seam where the roof makes the transition from pitched to relatively flat. Third, there is a sick amount of tar and leak where the roof transitions from metal to shingles, over the back porch. I had to be careful not to blast this all away. I missed a few times though, and did blast away some old maintanance, but it's nothing I can't fix better than whatever madmen worked on this house in the past.

After I was done up there, the first thing I did (after pounding a couple pints of water) was inspect the kitchen under the old major leak to see if my patch work held. It certainly did. No leaking!

Dried off and trucked north of Charlottesville (a 50 minute drive) to return the equipment. Picked up the rest of our groceries on the way home, I decided to treat myself to a nice steak. There would be no priming this evening. Back home, I got a fire going, cracked a beer, and sat on the grass while Toes (our cat) explored some more. We made salads with all the stuff from the farm and Gale's goat cheese, roasted up some fresh whole beets and onions, pulled the steak off the grill (an old oven rack balanced atop a few bricks and a cinder block in the fire pit), had a nice dinner, and thought about our shiny roof.

Tomorrow, it will be red.

- John

No comments: