Friday, November 6, 2009

Loft Story

It all started with stains on the ceiling & it finished with…
…well, ask me again in 20 years.

The damp stains on the landing ceiling, just after an exceptional downpour, obviously implied a leaking roof, so I climbed up into the loft space above & saw the leak where a chimney goes through the tiles, but couldn't work out why there was a leak.
Even a little roof leak makes you feel terribly weak & vulnerable these days, so I called out the nearest roof specialist, who quickly diagnosed & fixed some badly-fitting cut-away tiles round the chimney & some zinc flashing which needed re-shaping.
Seems to be OK so far, but it had seemed OK for 20 years before the big downpour too…

While they were looking, they also persuaded me I should have all the moss & lichen removed, which had just looked picturesque before, but apparently was a grave danger for my tiles and a potential cause of leaks.
Who knows?

Good salesmen anyway…
They even noticed I had a decent bit of roof just crying out for photovoltaic panels.
Which they also install.

Dubious at first, I dug a lot deeper into that one, found that current tax rules are very favourable & eventually did decide to go for a 3 kW installation.
But after consulting 20 specialists, I gave the job to somebody else, not the ones who first suggested it.
Officially kicked off last week, there are still a lot of hurdles to clear, or hoops to jump through, before the project is accepted.
Particularly the Historic Monuments Authority.
If all goes well, it could be installed early next year & in production late spring.
And paying back the initial outlay after 8 years.
And continuing to feed the grid & provide income for 20 years total.
I will cover this in separate posts.

While I was up in the loft looking at the initial leaks, I was reminded of something I already knew, but didn't want to think about.
The roof insulation was a disaster.
The original owner had insulated all the roof space with rolls of fibreglass on tarred-paper backing sheets, stapled up under the 45° rafters.
In the part of the loft above the landing & bedrooms, quite a lot of that insulation was either torn, or hanging uselessly, or already fallen onto the joists & plasterboard ceilings below.
Moving about up there was very hazardous, with fibreglass hanging down and with no floor to walk on – just hidden joists with plasterboard ceiling between, waiting for unwary feet to pass through.
We also have 3 huge walk-in storage areas, beside the first-floor bedrooms, under the lower half of the rafters, and these areas were also insulated with the same fibreglass stapled to the rafters.
Although that insulation had not fallen off, it was extremely delicate & meant that any activity in the storage spaces had to avoid tearing the paper.
So we got several quotes for removing the old insulation & putting in something more effective & less fragile.
To cut a long story short, we now have thick insulation above the bedrooms & landing ceilings, under walkable boarding on the joists.
And robust boarding supporting & protecting the insulation under the rafters in the walk-in storage areas.
It is probably more effective & certainly a lot more convenient than before.

It did involve emptying all the storage areas though.
20 years of accumulated junk…
A perfect illustration of a variant of Parkinson's law: "Stuff expands to fill the space available".
As we pulled all that stuff out & stacked it to the ceiling in nearby fortunately-now-little-used bedrooms, we resolved to not, under any circumstances, put it all back afterwards!
So we have spent the last several weeks sifting through a mountain of old stuff and separating it into 3 fairly equal lots – keep, give, scrap.

"Keep" was supposed to be only what we thought we really were likely to want to use some time, but we soon realized there were useless things of sentimental value we definitely did want to keep.
But not too many…
"Give" included everything which could be of any value to anybody.
After our previous disappointing experience with Emmaus Strasbourg, we found another Emmaus at Mundolsheim, who took our Espace-full of bric-a-brac quite happily, without ostensibly throwing any of it away, not while we were there anyway.
"Scrap" was not as simple as that.
It involved dismantling as much as possible, to separate all the various categories of recyclable material, then a couple of runs with Espace & trailer to the dechetterie.

The results of that tidying-up are so satisfactory, that we are now attacking all the other, numerous, stacks of "might come in useful one day" stuff we have everywhere.
This will take some time.
And partly explains the paucity of recent posts here.

Parting thot: "Junk is something you throw away three weeks before you need it." - Anon

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