05 July, 2008

Up on the Roof -- Throwing Stuff Off, Patching it Up

My earliest memory of tossing anything off of a building was at my grandmother's apartment. She lived at Wheaton Center in downtown Wheaton, Illinois, in what I considered a high rise when I was a kid. She was up maybe 10, 12 stories. Along with my cousins Jason and John and my brother Ed, I threw ice cubes off of the balcony to the sidewalk below. I remember having this lengthy conversation about what would happen if we accidentally hit someone--after all, someone at school had just told me that if you threw a penny off the Sears Tower, it could kill a pedestrian below. (It was much, much later that I learned this is not likely.) Despite the risk of embedding an ice cube in someone's head, we did it anyway, and had a blast.

I've always loved to toss objects from heights, whether it's a pebble from the rim of the grand canyon or my teddy bear from my uncle's barn roof. So when Ted and I were standing on the roof of The Box House this afternoon, debating how best to get the old TV antennas to the ground, I said, "Let's toss them off."

We had actually climbed up to check on the roof membrane and to test out our new ladder, (which worked very well--two thumbs up). During our inspection, we found a hole in the membrane, which the previous owners patched for us prior to close. So far, it seems to be holding.

But we discovered a long tear in another spot.

This might explain a soft spot we found in the tenant's dining room ceiling, which is plaster. It wasn't wet, but perhaps was at one point recently. So we decided while we were up there to put on a temporary patch until I can look up the proper way to patch the membrane. We used duct tape and a contractor's garbage bag.

Ugly, but it will work. What you're looking at in this picture is the back side of the brick parapet, which runs the length of the front of the building. Our inspector had indicated the membrane should not have gone up the back like this, because of the possibility of trapping moisture against the brick. Eventually, we need to pull it all off, but we can't do that until we're ready to deal with whatever brick issues we may find behind it. At the moment, we are not. So for now, patching the holes will have to do.

But, while we were up there, we decided it might be a good time to investigate how to get down the old TV antennas. They are big, ugly, and very visible from the street. The wires cascade down the front of the building. This is the photo from the original listing. More than anything, I thought the antennas said, "This building has not been updated," and was one of the reasons why (if only subconsciously) we had written off this house months before finally deciding to go see it.

Up close, we found that the pole of the first antenna was made of several pieces, so it was easy to pull up 90% of it just by lifting. The base is still on the roof, but not visible from below, so I don't care too much.The second one, while it didn't lift up and off, did fold up like an umbrella. The metal shaft is so flimsy that Ted just twisted it once to break it.

After checking all four directions of the intersection to make sure there were not any pedestrians, bikes, kids, or cars...

...we tossed the antennas into the side yard below. It was just as satisfying as when I was kid.

(While you're still up here, look how pretty our elm tree is! I transplanted those hostas from my mom's house, and with all the rain and cool weather we've had, they've taken pretty well.)

We took the antennas to the alley where we leave the trash. They are extremely light, hardly weighing anything at all. I'm not kidding here, they were there all of five minutes before a tinker came and took them away. God bless the tinkers.


Kurtis said...

The wall should have sheet metal flashing that is tucked into the mortar joints about 6" up from the roof. Is your roof EPDM membrane? If so you can purchase a peel-and-stick seam tape that actually does a great job of patching tears on EPDM. If you have small holes, a bicycle tube patch kit works great also, swear to Bob! Good luck, that's a pretty building.

Joanne said...


That's exactly what our inspector pointed out; we don't have the sheet metal flashing. The membrane goes all the way up to the top of the parapet, trapping Bob-knows-what behind it.

I'll have to check the inspection report to see what the exact composition of the membrane is; it feels very rubbery, and it does have this alligator-like crazing across the surface.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by The Box House; we hope to see you again soon!

Jennifer said...

One of the first things WE did was take down the satellite dish! :) It's amazing how getting rid of the random ceiling accrouments will dress a place up.

Joanne said...

Jennifer--I know what you mean! I've deliberately gone outside at least three times today just to look at the house now that it doesn't have the antennas messing up the roof line!

Richard Boles said...

My bro and I used to spit from the roof in our house in Miami when we were little. Whose spit landed first is the winner. What causes tear in our bedroom wall seems to be the moist when it rains. Antennas are the first thing to go when we did our roofing in our house.