Wednesday, 26 September 2012

More rain, more rot, more leaks

The drywall dudes showed up Monday morning and within 2 hours, they had drywalled the new kitchen, and an hour later, the guy was there to start the mud and tape process.
First layer of mud done
The roofer dudes couldn't come Monday, but arrived Tuesday morning -- just as the glorious weather of the last 3 weeks turned south. They peeled off another section of roof, and found one of the roof sheets over the master bedroom was totally rotted out.
Rotted panel removed
We suspected this panel would be rotten. This is where we had the small leak in February. We have confirmed now that this leak was because the bathroom fan ventilated straight into the attic. Moist air froze on the underside of the roof sheeting, and in the right conditions (a sunny February day with temps just below zero) it melted and ran down the roof sheeting to the window, leaking in. Given that this had been going on for at least 40 years, the rot was to be expected.

While the roofer dudes were stripping the roof, the contractors replaced the window header, re-insulated and installed vapour barrier.
Fixed, awaiting drywall
Around here, it started raining. Hard. The roofer dudes quickly put down the water/ice barrier on the stripped section, re-tarped me and left.

And 4 hours later, the roof started leaking at the newly insulated and plasticized stairwell.
Water source circled. Hole cut to get it out 
Puddles on the plastic
I rigged up some drain systems and collected about a gallon of water over the next 4 hours, half from each leak. The leaks continued for about 2 hours after the rain stopped.

Today, it dawned foggy, but became sunny by this afternoon. No more rain is scheduled for several days. The roofer dudes returned, and more stripping is going on as I type this.

The contractor dudes returned this morning and undid all the nice insulation and plastic they did yesterday. On the bright side, the plastic and insulation allowed us to discover that in fact we had 2 leak sources, about 3' apart. One is inside the sunroom roof, at least ten or more years old, probably associated with the skylights. It's the primary cause of all the rotten would and mold that we found. It's also the leak that someone found and covered up in the distant past (covered it up but didn't fix it, as I described here).

The second leak is associated with removing the roof and re-building it in order to fix everything correctly. We tarped to cover the second -- apparently not well enough, though.

We now have to wait several days for the inside of the roof to dry (again) before re-insulating it. And we're also going to wait for the roofers to finish, to stop the leaks permanently. We were premature once. Not again.

Walking into Banff Park, sort of

We tell people that if you walk out our front door, turn right, in 20 minutes you walk into Banff National Park -- but we've never done it. Monday afternoon was 26° and sunny, so we decided to give it a try.

We expected to see lots of deer and elk, and while we saw game trails o'plenty and flattened grasses from laying down areas, no animals. The path is very obvious and well used (we even found horseshoe tracks). Someone even built benches and bridges along the way.
The first bench
A close up 
A bridge 
The second bench, perched on a hillside 
One of the Elk Meadows. Banff Park starts on the ridge
The trail starts in forest, crosses a few dry creekbeds, passes through a stand of monster aspen trees that were in beautiful fall colours...
Big aspens 
Reds and golds
...then enters a series of pretty meadows.
Bench on the hill on the right
Then, after a 30 minute stroll, you arrive at the signs indicating the park boundary.
No firearms. No bikes. No hunting. 
Loosely translated: "Please stay out. Please." 
The boundary signs
Back in the olden days, they cut a line marking the park boundary. I had heard that they were letting it grow in; now I'm no so sure.
The cutline. Looking east
Being good boys and girls, we didn't go into the park on the obvious trail that continued, because it's an ecologically sensitive area set aside to protect the wildlife (and because they asked us not to). Rather, we followed the weaker trail along the park boundary cutline to the east, seeing the boundary signs along the way, some newer, some much older.
Been here a while, I think
We crossed even more meadows, some with piles of burned trees from the controlled burn done there a few years back.
More meadows
At this point, we picked up a pretty solid game trail and followed it about 200 m into the forest away from Banff Park and into Bow Valley Wildland Park, past trees full of Old Man's Beard...
Old Man's Beard, or technically, Usnea
...and found an elk/deer bow hunting tree platform (at least I hope it's for bow hunting, since hunting with firearms isn't allowed in this area).
Climb the tree. Wait and shoot. Stalking them is so boring.
Depressing, that. I mean, I understand that hunting is allowed in a wildland provincial park, like the one that surrounds my hamlet. But it's not allowed in Banff National Park, ~100 m from the blind on the game trail that comes in from the National Park and passes the blind. The animals don't know they're protected in the one park but not in the other. They do this on the border of Yellowstone National Park, too, hunting animals that leave the park. Especially depressing here in that you're asked not to come into the environmentally sensitive area that borders the hunting area in order to not disturb the wildlife. Yeah, don't disturb them, because it makes it harder to shoot them.

As I mentioned, we didn't see much in the way of wildlife (probably because someone shot them all), other than none too friendly Gray Jays.
Very pretty, but keep the distance.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Unearthing unpleasantness

After getting the bad news this week that the install of our kitchen cabinets is delayed a bit, we sat down with our contractor and mapped out what needed to happen prior to our Maui departure. Things then shifted into high gear.

First came the insulation dudes, who finished the insulation, then sprayed foam into my basement.
Foamed. The process terrified my cat.
Then the shingles and drywall got delivered.
Covering at least part of the leak
On Friday, it became Grand Central Station, there were so many people at work on the house. Our painter dude was here doing exterior painting. Our HVAC dude was here replacing a vent fan. The landscaper dude showed up to discuss how to fix the back yard. The dumpster dude took the dumpster away. The roofers started tearing the roof off the garage. At one point, there were 4 pick ups parked in front and two in the rear.

But the trouble came when my contractor and I were discussing the extent of the drywalling that needed doing. I mentioned that we had a leaky wall in the recent rains. Well, it was leaking at a place where we identified last year there had been previous leaks. In fact, in November last year our painter (not our home inspector, whom we paid to find problems like this) noted the bubbling wallboard and said it was water damage. We replaced the wallboard vowing to inspect it when we did the kitchen reno.

So we decided Friday to inspect. We pulled off the drywall we replaced. And we found a moldy, rotten header over the window where the recent leak was. It has been wet a long time, not just from the recent rains.
Bad header. Bad.
We kind of expected that. The wood was wet, as was the insulation, probably from the most recent leak. The window also looks partially damaged. We peeled the drywall off the roof, and found... more drywall. Huh? The farther back we went, the more mold damage we found on the drywall underneath the drywall.
Moldy drywall UNDER the drywall
Correct way to build, top down: insulation, vapour barrier, drywall.
What we found: insulation, vapour barrier, moldy partially finished drywall (in the above photo, the white part was painted, the dull grey part not), another vapour barrier, more moldy drywall.

So its clear that there was a roof leak in the past. The previous repair was to remove the wrecked drywall (the part closest to the window header), put up new drywall without fixing the leak, add vapour barrier over it all, then drywall over top of that.

Fixing the leak would have been better smarter than doing a cosmetic patch.

As a result of the shoddy and inappropriate repair, over time, mold grew in the wet drywall between the two vapour barriers. The leak continued affecting the header over the window, wrecking it. Then the cosmetic covering drywall got wrecked because the leak was never stopped. That's when we entered the picture and bought the problem.

We kept pulling the drywall back all the way to the original cabin edge. And found water damage on the roof sheeting and wet insulation all the way back (and of course more pine cones from the squirrels).
A mix of wet moldy insulation, moldy wood, and pine cones
Somewhere while pulling all this crap down, the contractor dude accidently busted the stairwell railings.
In the end, we decided to pull out the entire ceiling over the stairwell to let it dry out.
Bad stuff gone (mostly)
We have now sprayed it with fungicide to kill the mold. We have to re-insulate it, then re-vapour barrier it (properly), then re-drywall it, then paint it. We're also pulling out the rotten header over the window (which is no longer structural), and will replace that, too. I'd love to replace the window, which is probably shot, too, but windows take weeks to make. Can't do it now.

And (because you never just find one problem in this house)...

The roofers started peeling the cedar shakes off the garage. And found a torched on, bituminous (asphalt shingle) type material under the shakes.
It was green
Ah, well. Leave it be.

The roofer dudes are fast when it comes to putting shingles down. It took me a full day to do the shed roof last year. He shingled the entire garage in about an hour, though ti took them almost 4 hours to remove the old rotten shakes (they kept breaking apart and the nail heads would pull through).
Hard at work
The weather remains perfect for roofing, so today (Saturday) they're banging away on the main roof. Interesting roofer dudes. It's a family from Quebec. Dad (lead shingle putter-downer), mom (lead roof tearer-upper) and ~14 year old daughter (lead junk-tosser into the dumpster).

More Legacy Trail?

You would think that by my posts (here and heredissing the Legacy Trail the two times we have ridden it that it would be a while before we rode it again. But it turns out the Legacy trail does have a really good use.

On Thursday, we drove the bikes up Whiteman's Gap, and rode the Goat Creek mountain bike trail down into Banff (a ride we did in 2009), then came home via the Legacy Trail. Aha! This was a 42 km circuit, virtually all downhill dropping 300 m from the start to our house, on a mix of old gravel fire roads and the paved trail. The car shuttle to pick up the car at the end of the day is only about 15 minutes for us. As I mentioned in my last post on the trail, there's even a shuttle that will take you up to the trailhead.

This is a ride pretty much anyone can do on any bike that has something fatter than road tires. There's only one small hill climb of 60 m on the Goat Creek trail, coming out of the Spray River crossing. It's too steep for me to ride the whole way, so I pushed my bike for at total of about 200 m.

As usual, the downside of mountain biking is that you don't stop for photos that often.
The Goat Creek bridge 
Mt. Rundle from the first Spray River crossing 
The new Spray River bridge at the first crossing 
The second Spray River crossing
Last time we rode this, we stayed on the south side of the river and rode to the Banff Springs Hotel. This time, we used the last bridge in the above photo and took the trail on the north side. The travel is pretty flat, and ends up 100+ m above the river, offering good views at the odd lookout...
Looking downriver
...and the occasional pretty cool view of the Banff Springs.
The castle in the woods
It does cross three totally washed out creekbeds where I recommended getting off and walking your bike. This trail ends at the golf course, just a spit from Bow Falls.
The falls at typical to low water flow
A short way up the road here, you can pick up the off road bike path to the bridge in town, cross into downtown Banff, then turn left on to the river path towards Vermilion Lakes. A right turn before crossing the railroad tracks puts you on quiet roads and the bike path that takes you to within a block of the western terminus of the Legacy Trail (note: the crosswalk lights across Banff Avenue close to the Legacy Trail start have been turned off, for some reason). Voila, easy, low traffic access to Canmore.

I'm not going to become a lover of the Legacy Trail any time soon. But riding it as an end to the Goat Creek ride means that it at least has some use. Give it a try some time.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Not so good reno news

Originally, our project was to be finished around now. "Canmore time" and other issues got in the way, and the timeline was updated so that we would be finished in early October. Knowing this, we planned our annual pilgrimage to Maui for Oct 22 to Nov 16, back in time for ski season.

Today, we found out the cabinet delivery has been delayed, and we can't install until just before we go to Maui. Lots must be done to complete the project after the cabinets arrive -- likely 2 weeks worth or work, most of which requires our input.

This creates several challenges, foremost of which is that it's tough to ask someone to house sit for you when your kitchen consists of a spare bathroom, a Coleman stove, a fridge in a hallway, and a BBQ that requires walking a lap of the outside of the house to access.

So we made the tough decision today that we will freeze the kitchen project in its entirety while in Maui. This means the kitchen should be finished just in time for Christmas.

But knowing Canmore time, it could be Easter.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

And the reno keeps plodding along

Progress since the last updates:

  • The electrical and plumbing rough-ins were completed;
  • The ceiling was dropped 3" on the one side to make it level throughout
The light boxes are at the old level
  • Rough-ins for the dryer vent and the hood fan were put in;
  • The siding has now basically been finished, as have the soffits and facia;
Siding on the kitchen wall replaced 
Back wall, too. And note the roof
  • While the roofing hasn't really started as yet, they came and applied the waterproofing sheets that go underneath it. Supposedly, it shouldn't leak if it rains again. It hasn't, so we trust that it won't. The latest is that the roofers are supposed to be here this week. For sure. Maybe. We hope. Probably.
  • Given that all of the rough-ins were done, we were supposed to have an inspection of the framing prior to insulation and vapour barrier. But the inspector only comes one day a week, and on the day he was supposed to show, he was sick. We therefore got a verbal go-ahead for the insulation, which started Friday.
More pinkness 
Pinkness left to do
It's eerily quiet in there now.

So expected this week:
  • Finish the insulation;
  • Install the vapour barrier;
  • Replacing the roof;
  • We might get some exterior painting done (window trims, doors, that kind of thing)
  • Inspection on Thursday;
  • Drywall starts on Friday.
After the drywall and painting, the actual kitchen cabinets get installed. We're looking at being finished just in time to go to Maui...

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pikas, marmots, ptarmigans and more wow in Sparrowhawk Tarns

It's getting to be an annual event to get up to Sparrowhawk Tarns (the basin of wow) in September. Three years in a row now (2010, 2011 and now) we have headed up at this time. It's still a wow.

Thirty minutes up the trail, we saw our first pikas, and concluded it would be a good day.
Fuzzy and cute
The views up the back side of Read's Tower (and the descent to the circuit we did in 2009) were nice, with lots of fall colour.
The last descent pitch 
Most of the descent route
The route up when the trail hits the rockpile is getting more and more obvious, which is good. The instructions I posted in 2010 remain valid. As soon as we started up the rockpile, we saw more pikas, including this little goober whio just sat and watched us (from a safe distance).
Puffy on a rock
In fact, I spent a lot of time standing staring at rocks looking for movement.
Studying the rocks
The larches up near the lip of the basin are starting to turn. In fact, if my eyes did not deceive me, there were several that were green on the way up in the morning and yellow on the way down in the afternoon.
Okay, the trail kinda peters out in the last push up the rocks. But it's only the last 100 m of trail that's a bit of guesswork.
KC on the last bit 
Looking the other direction
Like last year, we did a big lap of the basin, climbing high up past one of the tarns...
First tarn (and the only one with consequential water) a little waterfall, which in fact was covered in ice.
Ice climbing, anyone?
Looking back. The waterfall is in the little cliff centre left
From here, we worked our way along the east side of the basin, finding fossils...
...a family of ptarmigan...
Very cute. Very friendly
...and more pikas.
Hangin' in the rocks
Looking back. About 1.5 km to the basin's lip
By skirting the basin, we avoid climbing up to the tarns via the waterfall which was dry. The waterfall was dry because the tarns in the back of the basin are dry.
Tarn 1 empty 
Tarn 3 high water mark visible. Scree route up Red Ridge, too
In the photo above, you can tell that the Stonehenge table and chairs that we first found last year are still there, this time with a present.
Note the lower left
That's a baggie of dog food. An ideal thing to leave in the wild, I say.

We skirted the back of the basin, and went high up on the flanking cliffs on the west side under Red Ridge.
Looking back at our route to the east side of the basin 
Back towards the basin lip
Alas, it was time to head down. But the first thing we did was disturb a marmot. We didn't disturb him too much. He saw us...
...ran under a little rock overhang...
...and tried to nap.
Eyes closed
Realizing we wouldn't leave by him boring us to death, after a few minutes, he decided to get up and snack on the grasses.
Post nap snack time
We let him be and within 100 m found another baby marmot, sunning himself and surveying his territory.
Checking me out 
Checking everything else out
From his perch, we saw three Bighorn Sheep running across the basin way below us.
In a hurry. This is huntin' country
It never was very warm Friday, starting at 5° and probably never breaking 15°, and it was windy, too. Still the sun was nice and warm when you were in it. Unfortunately, the descent puts you in the shadow of Red Ridge, making it cool.
Oh, that the trail were 30 m to the right in the warm sun
Just as we got to the base of the rockfall and were about to re-enter the forest, yet another pika yelled at us. He posed for a moment...
Looking cute, but...
..then darted off.
...gotta run!
I ran into some folks today who tried to get up into the basin on Wednesday in the sun, cold and snow. They got only part the way up between the start of the rockfall and the basin's lip since the rocks were so slippery with snow (that and they had trouble finding the trail in the rocks). There was virtually no snow left in the basin Friday.

We took lots of photos of fossils for an upcoming Friends of Kananaskis newsletter so I won't post them here. But it meant we spent a little over 7 hrs to hike the 15.3 km and climb the 835 m. A day well spent, I say.