Thursday, December 20, 2012
NOVEMBER 30, 2012 is a legal holiday. I may have to take time off from my day job and enjoy the day. No, my wife asked me instead to repair the the upper floor bathroom of her daughter which had been leaking through floor and ceiling into the ground level bathroom. Since I know something about waterproofing, she requested me. Bye bye day off.
Waterproofing is a trade skill that I learned during my warrior pilgrimage days and that was more than a decade ago. I used to work as a free-lance waterproofing applicator together with a neighbor and it was another source of income for me during those days. You toil under the heat of the sun with a fire torch and melting asphalt sheets on the roof deck. While working, you either sit on your ankles, you kneel or you crouch. It was such a reprieve then to just stand after 15 minutes or more of bending your knees .
Well, I may have to re-visit that situation again with arthritic knees now and then prepare the materials and equipment needed for this waterproofing job. The surface that I am working on is just small: two meters by two meters. It is indoors, so no sun to torment me but it is windowless. In a small confined area, it will be very very hot, I tell you.
I searched the local yellow pages the day before for “waterproofing” and all items found are waterproofing contractors except one who supply asphalt membranes. I phoned Ritebuild Systems in Mandaue City and they were able to sell me a roll of Sika BituSeal asphalt sheet that is 10 meters long, one meter wide and 3mm thin. Yes. So thin indeed. Back then, we used to work on membranes that are 5mm thick!
In the morning, I proceed to the Cebu Home & Builders Center in Consolacion and buy the other stuff like a gallon of Shell Flintkote bituminous primer, a Kessler gas torch, a 75ml bottle of butane, two cheap brushes, a bottle of paint thinner, a cutter, a pair of work gloves, safety glasses, disposable masks and a spatula. I complement the butane fuel with three used bottles which are leftovers from my camping sorties.
I start the work right after lunch. So, that leaves me just five hours of daylight. I had the bathroom floor thoroughly cleaned after it was removed of floor tiles two days ago. A row of tiles all around the wall that is located at the bottom layer were also rid of to free the spaces intended for waterproofing.
Fine dust were the last to be taken away before a thin coat of bitumen primer were to be applied. I paint black on all the bare spaces devoid of tiles including the upper part of the inside surfaces of PVC pipes which are used as drain. I re-section the floor in imaginary segments so I would not waste my supply of bitumen membrane.
The bathroom do not have lighting and the only source of light comes from the door and from my small LED torch. Since it is cramped and hot, I directed an electric fan to the bathroom door. I need a lot of air flow to disperse the vapor resulting from the melting of asphalt and so I use another electric fan to suck air coming from outside the window into the living room from where the other fan is located near the bathroom.
The heat from the flame torch and the melted asphalt goes back at you as it bounce off from tiled walls. The tiles are a perfect convector of heat as it possess a shiny sheen. What made matters worse is that the heat are carried by the air blown off by the electric fan once I change position facing it. From time to time, I turn off the appliance.
I am sweating profusely, drops of sweat fall from my eyebrows into the softened asphalt, my knees, my feet, my forearms, the bare floor, my eyeglasses and into my eyes which cause a sting. My t-shirt, my briefs and shorts are all wet including my pair of cotton work gloves.
The gloves are smeared with tar which adhere when I position the hot membrane to the floor sections. If liquified asphalt is accidentally touched, I would quickly remove glove as it is very hot. I would stop every thirty minutes to stretch my legs and to cool down my body and the gas torch. I would do that by going downstairs (where the refrigerated water is) and inhale fresh air outside. A fifteen-minute break is all I need every hour. Fair enough.
You have to overlap each sheet over the other by at least two inches and seal it by pressing down the spatula going from left to right or reverse or up going down. You cut small square pieces of membrane to patch areas where you are short of measurement and seal it all around. That is painstaking work since you need both gloved hands for torch and spatula and nothing for the flashlight. Fortunately for me, I have an extra hand from a carpenter.
The most delicate one is sealing the drain edges. Possessed with a very good imagination, I hurdle it in a breeze and finish the entirety of the waterproofing job at 6:20 PM. Before I say it is over, I may have to test the efficacy of the waterproofing by temporarily sealing the drain holes and open the water tap to create a water pool then wait for three hours for a leak.
Got rid of the wet clothes and change into dry ones. Dinner comes and, after that, a good seat infront of a TV set to watch the Philippine Azkals beat the Myanmar White Angels, 2-0, in the Suzuki Cup. What a day!
Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer