31 May 2013

...pas du tout entre les gouttes

Have you ever lived in a place with a leaky roof? It's not fun (you can ask Martine). Especially when nobody can figure out why it's leaking. That's our situation. In the 1990s, we had at least three similar experiences in San Francisco, by the way.

First you have to find a roofer — un couvreur, or "coverer." A talented, resourceful, and reliable one. Then you have to wait for dry weather. Or so says the roofer. We're on our third. The first one was very good when you could make contact with him and schedule a job, but that was not easy to do. In fact, it eventually became impossible.

Sopping wet towels and a pot to catch the water

He cleaned out the valley (la noue) between the main portion of the roof and the dormer over the kitchen, where there must be a problem with the metal flashing (zinc, zinguerie) under the tiles. Water doesn't flow down the valley the way it's supposed to. It backs up and comes flooding in just above the kitchen ceiling. Cleaning out the valley every spring worked for a few years.

The second roofer tried the same strategy. He didn't know what else to do. Water started leaking again. The second roofer disappeared. He never even charged us for the work he did, including a chimney-sweep. I went to his company's office in Saint-Aignan and tried to pay the bill, or get a bill from them. The woman in the office said she'd look into it and send us an invoice. She never did.

Last fall, the third roofer did a really job of fixing a problem with seepage and moisture around our Velux skylight windows in the new loft, which has started in 2010. Thanks to his ingenuity and his good work, we haven't had any leaking up there this year. He also tried to determine what was causing the leak over the kitchen and to fix it, but he told us that he couldn't guarantee anything as far as that problem went.

In fact, he said we shouldn't do anything about repairing repainting the kitchen ceiling for a year or so, because the leak might very well come back. And it certainly has. Nobody really expected it to rain so much, or to rain so hard the way it did yesterday afternoon and the way it has rained off and on for months now. Most rain in the Loire Valley is of the light, misty variety. What we've been having is hard downpours, repeatedly. Monsoon rains.

I called the third roofer again in March and he said he was very busy right then but he'd pencil us in. He never called back. I called him again last week, and to his credit he did call me back. I explained the problem one more time. He said he understood, and he has another solution he wants to try. But first it has to stop raining, he said.

Last night, as water fairly gushed into the kitchen out of a big crack in the ceiling, I went into pagesjaunes.fr, the on-line yellow pages, and found two new local roofers, ones I've never heard of before. They have e-mail addresses! So I sent e-mails to both of them (nos. 4 and 5), asking for help. (In French, of course. I don't know what you do in these situations if you can't write or speak French.) Please come inspect the problem, I begged. Try to find a solution. I'll pay you.

The good news is that we are supposed to go into a dry spell this coming week. In fact, it's not raining this morning (not yet). Maybe one of the three roofers I'm more or less in contact with will show up. At the very least somebody might put a tarp up on the roof to prevent further damage. The roof is just too high and too steep for me or even Walt to be able to get up there.


  1. I do hope they come and fix it for good.

    I also do hope we'll have sun and dry weather next week, beginning tomorrow actually.

    No news from the Illinois legislature yet! Let's keep our fingers crossed. It’s 1:30 A.M. there and they're still yakking!

  2. We currently have a similar problem with the roof of our building. We've spent thousands to have it fixed and water is still coming in whenever it rains.

  3. I hate to add insult to injury but we had only light rain here yesterday, so I was amazed to read this.
    I do hope someone comes to help you soon. Enough is enough!

  4. You sound absolutely at the end of your tether. I'm sorry I can't make any really helpful suggestion. The place the water comes in looks about the most awkward and annoying place possible. It has to be something to do with wind direction pushing the water in. At least the weather report on the radio this morning has announced the beginning of the end of the printemps pourri (maybe...)

  5. That looks really bad!! The damp problem in my former apartment was serious and the cause was hard to find (they did in the end, or so I heard), but at least the water wasn't gushing out of the ceiling. Hope you find a good roofer who knows what he's doing and who won't let you wait too long to come and solve the problem. Courage et bonne chance! Martine

  6. Really hope you get someone to caome in soon. Leaking roofs are a real pin in the proverbial.

    As far as I can tell on Meteo France the longer range forecast is for good/better weather from Sunday so fingers crossed.

  7. My father ran a business that did roofing. Most roof repairs are fairly simple. But occasionally he would be presented with a roof that had been repeatedly repaired by different people over a period of years. It was often the case he would have to remove all the previous layers, repair the underlying rafters (which were usually rotten from leakage) and then put on a new roof.
    Never pretty and never cheap but roofs didn’t leak after he was through.
    Can you get into the attic space below the leaking roof area and see if the rafters are rotten? If they are rotten, they will flex and sag, damaging any work done from the outside, resulting in a leak.

  8. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you that either Roofer#3, #4, or #5 get in contact with you soon so that the problem can be fixed once and for all.

  9. oh dear, I feel your financial pain & it is so frustrating when people either dont show up or dont even bother to call back....hope you find a willing & smart roofer soon

  10. Bonjour Cousin

    Everyone is pinning his/her hopes on what will happen today .

    It did NOT come up for debate yesterday.

  11. I'm so sorry to hear that you're having to deal with this problem yet again. I feel for you. Is there any chance that an architect or structural engineer could diagnose the problem?

  12. Bonjour Cousine,
    In a few minutes, I'll be glued again to my iPad and hope to be rewarded by a yes vote. Time will tell.

    Those 'explications de vote' are really interesting.

  13. Oh - your kitchen looks so sad.
    I, too, extend my condolences and I will hope for a change in the weather and a quick response from a roofer who can finally solve your problem.

  14. Jean, I'm glad for you and Nick that you didn't get the heavy rains down there in LGP that we got here in the Saint-Aignan area on Thursday. No rain yesterday and the sun shines brightly this a.m.

    Thanks for the comments and empathy, everybody.

  15. Tu as bien choisi ton titre ;-)

    Mais quelle poisse, cette fuite d'eau... Moi, la semaine dernière, j'avais micro-fuites près du compteur d'eau dans le garage. Patrick, le copain plombier, m'a envoyé un de ses gars pour faire le nécessaire, ouf !
    Mais, il a fallu aussi faire venir, la semaine d'avant, 1 camion-citerne spécialisé dans les débouchages des canalisations pour solutionner le reflux qui se produisait entre les 2 bacs de l'évier dans la cuisine et le glou glou qu'on pouvait entrendre à chaque fois que je prenais de l'eau... Plus la chaudière changée pour une à condensation, ça fait beaucoup de factures à payer...


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