Monday, November 3, 2008

Soffit Secret Service - SSS

As I was getting my bike out to get ready to play tennis on Saturday, I noticed some water on the floor in my laundry room and a wet spot on the wall connecting my house to the McCoys. I didn't want to say anything at that time, as I knew it wouldn't be a quick thing to figure out where the water was coming from, and I wanted to play tennis. So I waited til after Bill beat me (I am still defeated, but improving and playing much better) to tell the McCoys about my discovery. I am glad I waited.
We first decided that there wasn't any pipe in that area that should be leaking. Bill went to the attic with the headlamp to find any source of water there, but found nothing. Marsha and I looked under the floor of their laundry room and just found a small area of water, but didn't see anything obviously leaking. We then decided we needed to look in the walls to see if there was something in there that we didn't know about. So using the tools we had - screwdrivers, hammer and saw, we proceeded to remove a piece of plywood that was a wall in my laundry room. Inside, we found mostly dry insulation, but the bottom of the insulation, that was on the ground, was somewhat damp. Still no source of the leak.
Marsha was happy about tearing things down on my side of the house to look for the leak, but wasn't real excited about destroying her side, if she didn't have to. I can fully understand this considering how different our 2 houses are. Although both very nice, hers is much more homey - they have been here since '96 and it is nicely decorated, painted, and redone vs mine. As a result, trying to find the source of the leak was getting more difficult as we now had exhausted most of the possibilities of finding it from my side of the house, and needed to carefully explore from their side if we were going to keep looking.
Our next suspicion of where the water was coming from was the big drainage pipe which takes water from the front gutters to the water tanks in the back. This big pipe had been outside the houses in the car port areas, but when they enclosed the houses this too became enclosed. This is now nicely hidden by the soffit in the McCoys dining room, and then exposed in their laundry room. We attempted to look from the outside of the pipe to see if we saw any water, but the small hole that we had didn't quite allow us to see accurately. Bill mentioned we needed some secret service equipment to look down there better without tearing a huge hole in the soffit. For those who don't know, we aren't the secret service, nor do we know any in PNG, but we are doctors, so we talked about using a colonoscope to look down the pipe. The only problem with this idea is it would only give us about 6 feet, we needed about 12, and we didn't know where it was (minor things).
Our alternative to the colonoscope was an indirect laryngoscope, which we knew where it was and how to use it. The problem with this is it only looks directly down and is only about 12 inches long, so we had to readjust our plan. Instead of going from the outside, we now needed to go into the soffit. A spot behind the Swaziland clock that could easily be covered up was chosen, and Bill proceeded to drill and then saw a small hole through the soffit. He used the indirect laryngoscope and found that the pipe looked dry. We all took the opportunity to look into the soffit and see it was dry and were surprised that we could see the light coming from the outside.
Once we ruled out the big pipe as the source of the leak, we called it enough for the time being - close to 2 hours later (which is why I wanted to play tennis before I said anything). We decided we would wait for a big rain to see if we could identify a source of the water, or wait for more water to come. Apparently, we didn't have to wait too long. Later in the day while I was at the Dooleys, more water came, so they consulted Mike (not part of the SSS, but still very helpful). He decided that maybe it was coming from their kitchen sink downpipe and was running under the dining room to this spot. So it looks like maintenance may need to do some exploring of their kitchen to find the source of the leak. Marsha is hoping they don't do a lot of damage, but is okay with getting new kitchen cabinets if needed as a result of of this.