Winter Storms Wreak Havoc on Liberary's Roof

By Larry Guyette

Library staff employed unusual methods to combat it's enemy: water. Yvonne Sligh inspects a rain catcher protecting the Mindocino College Libarary Periodical room forom water damage

El Niño-enhanced storms that slammed Mendocino County have taken a toll on the roof of the Lowery Library Building. The building has suffered perennial leaks since 1994, but nothing like this year.

After years of patch work, stained ceiling tiles and buckets catching water, the college is spending $17,000 on a roof repair Physical Facilities director Mike Adams hopes will be the solution that works.

However, some employees say, the fix doesn't address the root of the problem, "the sagging valleys between the roof rafters which are plainly visible from the outside," according to a college employee who preferred his name not be used.
"I'm not an architect but it seems to me," the employee continued, "that a river of water runs down those valleys and into the joints where the steep part of the library's roof meets the shallower shed roof ."

It is under the shed-like roof that all the leaks have occurred over the past few years; first over Learning Disabilities Specialist Kathleen Daigle's office, later the hallways and the periodicals section of the library, and most recently Oscar De Haro's office, which was inundated after a recent severe storm.

Daigle, who has worked amid the problem the longest, hopes the fix will work.
"A roof should keep water out, not direct it in," she said. Recalling previous efforts to correct a worsening situation, Daigle noted this was the biggest effort, by far.

"Obviously this building is worth the investment a permanent resolution requires."
Some say a permanent solution is a new roof support system with rafters spaced closer together that will support the heavy tiles that keep the rain out. Not so, according to Adams, who acknowledged that the library roof looks like it sags between rafters. "The wood purlins that support the tiles settled only about 3/4"-1" between the glue laminated spans. The straight lines of the tiles make the difference appear more pronounced," he explained. Adams said, "The slight settling between the laminated rafters is an expected occurrence and is strictly aesthetic."

The cause of the leaking according to Adams is water retained by moss which grows on the clay tiles of many of the shaded and northface roofs on campus causing water to get under the tiles and then under the water proof membrane and into the buildings.

"Recent storms have been severe with one hard rain following another. Without a chance to dry between rains the situation worsened and water was getting in everywhere," said Adams.
"We are certain that the moss is responsible for the leaks." He added, "the leaks in the library building are on the north the side where the moss grows."

Adams is trying to develop a plan to combat the moss so the problem won't reoccur. A possible technique used at other places is killing the moss with bleach water. "We need to assess the impact of that on the environment," said Adams.

He also admitted he could be wrong despite of the best efforts of his staff and himself. "I hope we have the fix that will work permanently. That is certainly our goal."

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