Sunday, November 07, 2010


Orlando Diary

It's been a long while since my last substantive post. A lot has happened, from dropping a large wad of cash on the house for a new roof to another wad for an air-conditioner replacement, through the mid-term elections and beyond. I've been busy with work as well, largely successfully.


The re-roofing job came about because of the age of the house's age (25 years) and the fact that the roof was a 15 year roof that was put on when the house was originally built. In spite of it's age the roof survived the big hurricane years of 2004 and 2005, with less than a dozen shingles damaged that needed replaceing. But roofs don't last forever, and one morning when I was headed to work I just happened to look back at the house, with the sunrise hitting it the right way, and saw just about every edge on every shingle curling up. Outside of a major leak, that's a sure sign you need new roof.

I picked Fleming Brothers Roofing to replace the roof. I'd worked with them last year to fix a leak at the back of the house, between the original roof and an extension we'd had added back in 1992. They were called in by the prime contractor, Superior Aluminum, who were fixing the leak in the addition (Superior had originally built the addition). Both contractors performed excellently. I was pleased enough with Fleming to keep them in mind for the full re-roof, which, truth be told, I should have done in 2009, but didn't because financially I couldn't. This year I went on ahead and bit the bullet and had the complete roof replaced, along with a new skylight to brighten up the interior of the house and three new side vents to replace the original roof vent. We also went with a better class of shingle, architectural shingles.

Re-roofing my house at sunset
Re-roofing at sunset.

I went with the CertainTeed shingles with their 30-year warranty, wind-resistance, 10-year algae resistance, and general good looks. Again, it was a matter of finances; I could have purchased shingles with a "lifetime" warranty, but I don't expect to be in this house much beyond 10 years, one way or another, and we were really talking serious costs for the new roof with that type of shingle.

One of the problems we hit, and wound up paying a little more than expected on, was due to water damage to the roof's base plywood. Back in 1985 Florida roof construction code allowed for the use of staples to hold down both plywood and shingles. But all that changed in 1992 when Andrew cut an intense, expensive swath across the souther tip of Florida.

Detail, rotted plywood roof panels
Water damage where a staple held down the roof.

From that point forward one of the building code changes was the banning of staples for roof construction. After replacing 15 panels, the crew replaced every single staple with nails. When the shingles went down they used 5 nails/shingle. The roof was strengthened and brought up to current spec. The crew spent a complete day from sunup to sundown, and part of the following morning because they'd had to replace all the panels from the first day. By the time they'd finished, the whole house looked 110% better.

Air Conditioner

The air conditioner contractor, Dennis from Howard's Repair Service, came in right after the roofers and replaced the air conditioning system, inside and out. We've had the outer compressor replaced several times over the years, but the interior portion has remain essentially unchanged since the day it was originally put in the house. This time we got a SEER 15 Rheem system. Since putting it in, along with the new roof (with its efficient roof venting), heating and cooling have dropped dramatically. Part of it is due to the cooling of the weather, but the power bill dropped by nearly 50% between last month and this month. I'm waiting to see how the power bill settles out after this, but I expect it to continue to be dramatically lower.

Mid-term Elections

I'll get this out of the way; I'm a Florida Democrat, and the mid-terms were not good to us as a party. In spite of that I noticed a tremendous interest in the mid-terms, far greater than I've every remembered.

Dedicated mom and voter
Mother voting with her child.

I voted early at a local library. According to folks who were manning it they were seeing, on average, 800 voters/day since it had opened October 18th. When I went, which was the Friday before election Tuesday, I had to wait about 45 minutes in various lines from start to finish. But that's certainly no imposition, especially to exercise the most important blessing a democracy can give you, the right to vote.

It's going to be interesting how the promises made by many of the winners will be fullfilled. Our governor elect, Rick Scott, promised 700,000 new jobs over the next seven years, which is a kind of interesting promise to make. It's a rather pathetic promise to make in the face of Florida's unemployment numbers for September; unemployment stood at 11.9%, which equates to 1.1 million out of work in a workforce of 9.2 million. Yes, the next two to four years are going to be interesting times, not just for Florida, but for the nation as a whole.

Equipment Used

Olympus E-P2, M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens first two photos, M.Zuiko 17mm last photo.

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