Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hola Louvers!

Not long after we moved into our house (almost 2 1/2 years ago), Mother Nature gave us some lessons on what kind of rain and wind we could expect during the wet season.

The front of our house faces east, which just happens to be the direction prevailing winds come from. And along with those winds comes the rain. On a regular basis our screened porch would take the brunt of the storms, leaving our floor a sopping mess. A squeegee and mop were always on hand. And on top of that if it rained during the night, which happens frequently, it's not like we could let the clean up go until the morning. We did that once and ended up having water seep into our living room. What a joy that was.

When we saw that we would be in the crosshairs of Tropical Storm Ernesto, we knew we had to come up with some solution. David struck on the idea of installing a tarp.

Was it pretty? Nope. Did it keep the rain out? Heck yeah. After that year's rainy season was over, we modified the tarp a bit.

We cut it into three sections and had grommets placed around the edges. Carabiner hooks go through the grommets and get attached to the eye bolts on the walls. That made it easy to get in and out of the door, plus raise/lower any piece as we needed. David even attached some PVC pipe to the large tarps, to make rolling up the tarps easier. After adding some Velcro straps, we had a quick release system as well. 

This worked great for the longest time. But there were a few drawbacks. During those times when it rained for days at a time, like last year, we felt we were living in a cave. The air flow into the house was also greatly restricted. And it was no fun for David to have to get up in the middle of the night to drop the tarps during unexpected squalls. [As an aside, there were occasions where I would drop them. But after being whacked in the face with the PVC pipe a few times, it was decided that David was better suited for the job.]

We tossed around a few ideas on what we should do, knowing we either had to find an alternate solution or get new tarp material and keep doing what we had been.

Inspiration struck when we visited our friends, Colleen and Bruce. They had just had all their wooden louvers replaced with metal ones. While sitting on our porch one afternoon after visiting their house, the thought came to me, "Why not put louvers out here? We could open and close them from the inside, still get air flow, and it wouldn't be so dark on rainy days."

After running the idea past David, we agreed it seemed like the sensible thing to do and decided to put louvers on the north side of the porch, as we would sometimes get storms from that direction too. He took precise measurements and went to Capital Metal here in Corozal. He was told the louvers would be done in two weeks or less. 

Truth be told, we didn't put much faith on the delivery time frame. There haven't been many instances when contractors we or friends have used ever delivered on time. So imagine our surprise when the following Thursday the call came that they were ready!

When David placed the order he told me that each opening would have three louvers. I thought that meant three individual units. Nope. Each opening had one panel comprised of three louvers bolted together.

The next day we got started on installing the first of two panels on the east side. I had already mentally prepared myself that at least one of the three panels wouldn't fit and we would either have a bigger gap at the bottom than we originally figured or we would have to chisel through filled block to make the openings bigger.  

Each of the east side panels are about 7 1/2' wide and while a bit ungainly to hoist into the openings, the install went pretty smoothly. 

Can I just say that I don't know where we would be if not for our hammer drill. Seriously, if anyone is thinking of buying or building a concrete house here, be sure to bring your drill!

On Saturday we tackled the north side panel. This one is about 9' wide. You wouldn't think that little bit of extra width would be a big deal, but as it was an awkward maneuvering process and it was really windy that day, keeping it steady in the opening (my job) was a challenge. It felt like it was taking David forever to drill in enough screws before I could release the death grip I had on these babies. But finally, the louvers were bolted in and blood flow could return to my fingers. I really shouldn't complain, because David's arms and hands had started going numb from drilling through the concrete. It's really fun when you have to wield that particular power tool over your head.

Turns out our installation was done just in time. On Sunday night, a doozy of a storm came through with lots and lots of rain, along with very gusty winds. And guess what? Not one drop of rain hit the porch. YAY!

One of the features we really like is that we can open or close the tops and/or the bottoms. This makes it great during rainy days and helps to reduce glare on sunny ones. Of course, it also makes a fun exercise for someone who has an OCD tendency or two. Best of all, we no longer feel like we're in a cave.

There's still some finish work to do, but we're very pleased with the result. Capital Metal did an outstanding job making the louvers and we would definitely recommend them.

Coming up: Marauding Sheep!