11.11.2015

Shingle Repair

I've had a lot of home ownership bad luck lately. I have multiple problems going on concurrently but for the sake of my sanity, let's focus on this monkey wrench.
Our tankless hot water heater went kaput. Like, completely Out of Order. Lame, right? It was only installed in late '07 or early '08. It was no longer under warranty, and my plumber said that something in the circuitry had blown out. Fixing it would be pretty labor intensive and in his experience many units don't make it past 10 years. (So not true that they last 20 years).

The system was behind that copper cover on the top rear deck. So with the heater's death came the great debate about whether to replace it with another tankless one or go with a tank in the garage. You see, I already have a boiler in my garage that runs the radiant heating system which could also heat water for the house's needs if a tank were installed. 

Installing a new tankless would be cheaper (the cost of heater about $1,500 plus labor), but a tank system, although more expensive (about 5K with labor), would last my lifetime. So I might be replacing the tankless one again in 10 years or I could just eat it now and be done with it (at least in theory, but that's another saga and blog post).

Secondly, a tank system is much better for water conservation. It took a considerable amount of time (a couple of minutes) for the hot water created by the tankless system on the deck to reach the faucets throughout the house. It felt super wrong to stand there and wait for hot water while watching gallons flow down the sink. The tank system allows pumps to be installed so that the hot water continuously recycles through the system and comes almost immediately. 

As for energy consumption, the jury is still out on that and I will comment when I get my first PG&E bill. With either system I am using natural gas which is far more economical than electricity.

We decided to go with the tank system and my plumber took the old system away and capped the gas line. I still need to call the electrician to get the electrical capped off. 

Anyhoo, getting back to reason for this post -I needed to patch the shingles where the heater had been attached to the house. Now, despite this blog being titled The Shingled House, I don't know shit about shingling. I only took this on because the patch was over an area that had already been waterproofed with a membrane so I figured I couldn't screw things up too badly. And of course, I had my trusty friend Youtube to teach me how to do anything. I found this video to be particularly useful.

Ok, so the whole premise of shingles is that you build and overlap from the bottom up, so that the water runs off each shingle onto the top of the next, causing water to cascade off and away from the building. This layering, however makes patching sort of a pain in the arse as the nails from the upper layers (not being removed) can interfere with sliding a shingle in from beneath for a lower layer. 

For this reason, I found it easier to remove more shingles, all the way to the roof line, so that I had fewer to weave in under others with nails. This decision was made easier because I had extra shingles stored in my crawlspace from an earlier repair so I didn't need to consider saving them or running out to buy more.

I used a level and chalk to keep the shingles as straight as possible and I tried to follow the guidelines on spacing and overlapping. Because this is a southern exposure and the existing shingles have shrunken quite a bit, I kept my spacing relatively tight in anticipation of there being quite a bit of shrinkage on these new ones too.

Shingles score and cut pretty easily with a box cutter with a fresh blade -even across the grain which was necessary for the topmost shingles.

Not bad! Ben Franklin was right, you can do anything you set your mind to...This took me about 4 or 5 hours total, btw. Too bad the trim needs paint, and asap.

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