Chaos Week At Davis Home


Well it has been an interesting week here at the homestead. We’ve had a number of major house projects that we’ve put off. At the beginning of the year we started planning those and by March we were getting quotes.

The reason this week, and really last week was the beginning, has been the most chaotic is because everything happen at once. On Friday we had 4 different trades people working on our house at the same time, and an auto insurance adjuster here at the same time.

Let’s take them in order.


Our house is run on a lot of lore, rumor and hearsay. There have been sprinkler heads in our yard since we moved in. Rumor had it there was a well attached to our house, and there was this idea that the sprinklers, back when they worked, ran off it. But the well doesn’t work anymore.

We had Loren come out from Extreme Exteriors to evaluate the system. I had an idea there where two boxes that might contain the controls, or valves, or something for the sprinkler system. He looks in those boxes and then digs the dirt out of the one in the front yard. Low and behold there are two valves in there. He turns one and water comes shooting out of our yard. The sprinkler system actually is functional.

Well somewhat functional. There were multiple places where the heads were completely missing and we had “gushers”, the technical terms for a column of water. One of the four valves was hard enough to turn Loren didn’t want to force it until he knew he could turn off the water to the whole house if it broke. Now we knew there was a system there and they gave me a quote to get it working and all smartified.

That was in April. It wasn’t until last week that Loren was able to come out and actually start work on it. It took a week and they were just finishing up when the roofers started on Friday.

New Roof

We’ve had leaks off and on since we bought the house. Insurance adujsters have been out and assure us the roof has no hail damage. A few years back we got estimates to replace it, but those 5 figure numbers kept us from doing it, but this year we decided to bite the bullet and get it done.

A note about our house. We have a flat roof and no attic. The roof we had was tar and gravel, which no one uses anymore, even on commercial buildings. So when we got the roof replace we’d be replacing it with something else.

Tar and gravel really is what our roof has on it. Which also mean not only could we have water leaks, we had tar leaks. Specifically in the garage, where you are seeing the actual boards on the bottom of the roof. On top of those – what look like 1×6″s – there should be plywood decking. The on top of that there is tar and gravel. When it gets hot in the summer, that tar turns to a liquid and seeps between the decking boards and the 1x6s. And onto our cars in long thin strings of tar. There is supposed to be some other kind of barrier between the tar and the decking – plastic or at least felt.

“There is supposed to be….” could be our house’s motto.

We told the roofer we wanted to do the roof in March, and they ordered the stuff to do it, but needed 7 days of no rain the forecast. So they were finally able to start last Friday.

Then things really got crazy.

On Friday they are scraping off the tar and gravel over my office with a tool that looks like an old time plow. It is a racket, but I’m still able to work. Got my window unit AC in my office on.

The the AC goes off. I try to turn it back on but there is no power. Muttering to myself, I go out to the breaker box and sure enough it is tripped. I reset it.

There are sparks inside my breaker box.

OK, that’s not good. Talk to them and they had hit the power line running across the roof while working, which did something.

“The line is supposed to be up off the roof, but it’s just laying on it.” Its not up to code, and its dangerous. Call my electrician to come out and look at it.

Then I have a Zoom call with a buddy and near the end of it I hear a bank and a sudden rushing noise. It is coming from the closet that is in my office that holds the hot water heaters.

More cursing, and I go to see if they’ve caused a water leak. No. Worse.

The gas pipe that feeds the hot water heater is broken at a joint. There is much rushing around and the gas to the whole house is turned off. Then windows and doors are opens to get it out of the house.

“The gas line that runs across the roof is supposed to be 6 inches off the roof, and it is supposed to be secured where it goes into the roof and down.” Push or pull on it on the roof and you apply pressure all the way down to where it connects in a weird set of turns and angles near the bottom of the water heater.

Now I’ve got a call into my plumber.

And it is around 10:30am now when the appraiser is supposed to come out and assess the damage to Sweetie from…

Hit and Run

On the previous Saturday the Mrs and I had run away to Ft Worth. We were at a fancy outdoor mall doing a little shopping and eating. She’s moving a little slow still from her hip injury and I offer to go get the car and drive back to where she is.

A few minutes later I send the text, “Walk on down, I’ve been hit.”

I’d gotten to the car and eased back out enough to get the rear view camera where I could see traffic. Not clear so I stop. Then I hear crashing as a large fast moving silver pickup clips the back corner of Sweetie.

And keeps on going, never to be seen again.

This is getting long, but I filed a report online with the FWPD, but am never going to hear anything back from them. File a claim with GEICO.

On the good news side, GEICO calls on Monday and says since it was a hit and run, it can be covered under my uninsured motorist instead of my collision insurance. This means I have a smaller deductible, it doesn’t count against my insurance, and they will give me a rental car which isn’t in my collision insurance.

Sweetie is going to Tesla to get fixed July 7.

Finishing up Friday.

Really it is amazing I’m not even through the first day of this story.

Electrician says the wire is actually bare in the breaker box. This is because it was pulled and scraped where it enters the box. But it also points out the whole thing needs to be redone. But he can patch the wire for now and we can do it when the roof is finished.

Plumber comes out and explains how the piping in the closet is weird. While there the plumber shows him the roof line and they agree to add some pipe at the other end to raise the gas line up over the roof. A few hours later the pipes are fixes. The whole system leak tested. Carbon Monoxide detectors are given – turns out both the plumber and the roofer have to insure I have them according to code.

By Friday evening the new roof is on the office part of my house. They plan to comeback the next day and work some on Saturday.

Of course it rains Friday night.

The Week Begins

A few more things about the house. It has two parts/roofs, on slightly higher than the other. The lower, what I’ll refer to as The Addition, is where our garage, utility room and my office are. The rest I’ll refer to as the Main House. The Main house has central heat and air and it has a pier and beam foundation. The Addition has gas heaters built into the walls, and a old, but powerful window AC unit in the office. The AC unit isn’t in a window, not it is in a custom hole in the wall.

It is very loud and it was suggested to me that I get a mini-split to replace that AC. So I asked my VA to get some AC people to come out and bid it. There are 5 appointments this week. Not including the AC guy who is moving the central unit on the Main House so they can roof under it.

The Central AC Unit

In the center of the Main House there is a large wooden box about four feet high, ten feet long, and 6 feet wide. The AC Unit sits at one end and the ducts go into this box.

But what is in this box? Well the roofers need to redo the ‘roofing’ on the top of the box and reflash around it so water won’t get inside. So they had to open it up.

I’m really starting to dread the words, “have to open it up”. Wen’t not finding anything good when we do that.

This box had a plywood top that covered most of it, but along one side they had just stretched the base layer for the roofing and added tar and gravel on top of it. Sigh.

When they open it up they find at least 10′ for ducts for the AC with multiple corners in it. The actual AC Unit is at one end of the box, and the entrances to the house for the main duct and the return are at the other. The ducts themselves are covered in tar and not actually metal on the inside. The whole box has spray insulation blown into it.

We call the AC guy back out when we discover all of this has no purpose. After a lot of discussion we decide just to remove that whole box and place the actual AC Unit right at the openings, which will hopefully make the AC Unit a lot more efficient. So the roofers start tearing it down and cutting off the pseudo duct work.

Then there is a crash inside the house.

The internal ductwork where the cool air enters is in a closet in our hallway. Appearatly the only thing holding it to the other ducts – both on the roof and in the house – were cloth straps. There were no screws holding anything together. Not tape or sticky anything. When they removed enough of the upper duct work it just fell off.

When the roofers started working near these new openings they found a powerline for the AC coming out of the house. It was held in place with a block of caulk about two inches deep and four inches square. When they cut that off they found the actual line had bare copper exposed to the outside. We also couldn’t figure out which break was powering it either.

So another emergency trip for the electricians to make sure the power was off to this bare wire on our roof and in our walls.

That turned out to be a Federate breaker-box I’d never know did anything. I mention the brand name because if you mention it to an electrician they will immediately tell you to remove it. It’s disconnected now and we’ll have to rewire from the modern main breaker-boxes when we reconnect the AC Unit.

So we have no AC. That was expected for a day or so while they roofed under the unit. Now it will be at least till next week when the AC people can get back out to create new custom duct work for the new placement of the unit.

Well at least we don’t live in Arizona where the temps are 120. Only 98 or so in Abilene. Also the house has handled it pretty well, and I’m sleeping in my office which is cold at night.

When all this is over we should have a better roof, better AC, a cool sprinkler system, and all around a better house.