Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hey Santa! Where Do I Send The Bill?

Worst place ever!!
A bit of a leak in a steel barn with a concrete floor is nothing to get too excited about, unless that leak happens to be right over your workbench. You know, the place where you carefully cut, trim, fit, and assemble complex masterpieces of woodworking art, (Yep, maybe a bit of exaggeration there.) where you apply museum-quality finishes that take days to complete, and where you painstakingly place 1000 different puzzle pieces made of paper and ink into cohesive wholes.

When that's where the leak is it becomes a big friggin deal!

Because of the sprayed foam insulation where the water comes out in the inside, just off the end of that light fixture in this case, doesn't always correspond to where it went in on the outside.

OK, I'm not saying I have definitive proof. No CCTV, no eye witnesses, no forensics,  no smoking gun, not even little reindeer footprints, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty dang strong.

I mean who else would be stomping around on our roof creating leaks on Christmas Eve?? And I don't care if it was the fat man in the velour suit or the pointy little hooves of his ride, a leak is a leak.

There are a trabazillion bolts in our barn. That might sound like an exaggeration
but ask me how I know what the actual count is. Go ahead, ask!

In the 15 years since the barn was assembled, bolt by bolt and section by section, we've had one other leak. It was in a non-threatening location, doing nothing more than creating a temporary damp spot on the concrete floor during rains, but a leak is a leak so I tracked down the source and put a stop to it.

Because of that previous experience I had a pretty good idea what I needed to tackle this second leak.

With my bucket full of potential tools at the ready and my trusty ladder firmly in place (I know, it looks scary as hell leaning over like that, but it's propped securely against the AC platform and is more stable than if I blocked up the right-hand legs to level it out.) I headed up to correct the situation.

Our barn is made up of a number of 30' X 14' arches, 25 of them to be exact, and before I went wheels (feet) up and climbed on top, I stood under the leak and counted valleys from the front of the building to the inside location of the leak - five. I knew from my previous experience that the source of the leak was either the 5th or 6th peak, the peaks on either side of the 5th valley.

And once I got up there the culprit was obvious. This bolt at the top of the barn right were two of the angle-supports come together. Those supports are used during the assembly process. (The whole 30' X 50' building was delivered to us on a single pallet and just adding water does not turn it into a building.)

They help hold things together during the process of standing the next flimsy, twisty, floppy arch up and getting it bolted to the one already standing. (It takes about 5 arches before the whole mess stops feeling like it is on the verge of coming down. Scary shit!) You could use just three (one on each side and one on top) of the 10' angle sections, moving them along as you go, or you can buy some extras and just leave them on the building as additional bracing. We chose to do the latter.

But the previous leak was also at one of these overlapping joints.

The bolts are about an inch long with a neoprene washer under the head and a square nut on the inside of the barn.

One thing you do NOT want to do with neoprened bolts is over-tighten them, squishing the washer until it can't do its job anymore, but that does create the risk, especially for an amateur, of leaving a bolt loose enough that over time it backs off to the point where the washer isn't doing its job for a whole 'nother reason.

But no big deal, just come back and tighten the bolt down a little bit. Except that with the nut now being inaccessible under the spray-foam insulation, that can be problematic, as was the case with my first leak several years ago. The nut just turned right along with me as I tried to tighten the bolt, so I ended up calking the area instead. (Yes, I could have dug through the foam and gotten to the nut to tighten the bolt properly but that just didn't sound like a lot of fun. Besides, having the guy come out and spray the foam was one of the few things we actually paid good money to have done and tearing it up just doesn't seem right.)

This time the nut stayed put and the bolt tightened just fine, bringing back memories (flashbacks?) of tightening all trabazillion of these bolts 15 years ago as I tried to judge just the right degree of tightness.

OK, so the calk is clear which makes this photo pretty much useless.
And I really hate opening a fresh tube of calk for a tiny job since I know the leftovers aren't going to last long, but I also really don't like climbing around up here a trabazillion feet up in the air, so I went ahead and calked the whole damn thing as well.

And now I'm back to puzzling without fear, but Santa - you owe me for a tube of calk. . .

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