I found it interesting reading the posts from people saying "he's a
roofer, not a swamp cooler installer." I think this illustrates the
differences in the way things are done in different parts of the
country. I'll bet those posters live in the east where you have your
heating and cooling in your basement.
Out in the west, it is very common (until recently) to have the AC and
heater or swamp cooler on the roof. It is also not only common, but
CODE to have the roofer lift the legs of the units and put the
shingles under them and then put some tar around the legs. This is the
normal and legal practice!
To the OP: Is a 50 percent deposit even legal in your state? Where I
live a contractor can't take more than 10 percent for a deposit. Was
he even a licensed contractor?
Second, did it pass city inspection? He did pull a permit, right?
Don't pay anything until the inspection and ask the inspector about
the cooler. You definitely got a bad job, it's just a matter of if it
was not done to code and he will have to fix it.
Whatever happens, given the obvious lack of attention to detail by
this guy, I would get a reputable roofer to come out and do an
inspection to see if he thinks there is anything that is going to
cause big problems. This shouldn't cost more than 100 bucks and is
well worth it after dealing with bozos like you did (I had a similar
situation and had to do the same thing).
Wow! Thanks for all the great information John. With all the ideas you
suggest, I have a feeling I'm going to win this one. I'll let you
know. I did wonder if some of those other posters were from a
different part of the country and really didn't understand the
I admit it. I have never had a house with any equiment like that on
the roof. Swamp coolers would not be common in MN except to cool
livestock barns during our short but intense summers. I know what
they are like though.
We had a window unit when I was a kid. We lived down south. From what
I know they are essentially cool water misted or dripped over or in
front of a fan. They cool the space but would add a lot of moisture
to what already may be very humid air, depending on your climate.
They are cheap to run though, esp compared to A/C! But as soon as we
had the money, I remember, we got an A/C.
I also admit I am surprised you have a swamp cooler and didn't think
they were common anymore in residential situations. In what general
part of the world are you in? Are swamp coolers common there? Do
other houses in your neighborhood have swamp coolers on the roof?
Never have I seen a swamp cooler in a Minnesota home. In houses up
north, mechanicals like air conditioners will have the compressor
outside, from what I know. Other type of mechanicals are either in a
basement or in a room or closet designed for that purpose. Lots of
people have window units for the dog days. I suppose it all means
that I could have been wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
It doesn't change the situation however. You still need to have the
roof fixed properly under any scenario esp considering it is brand
new. In your case, I think that means hiring someone to come and fix
it. Everthing you have described is fixable so don't get too bent out
of shape. If yu ever have that house roofed again you will know not
to hire them guys and to ask about it with whomever you hire.
Swamp coolers (also called desert coolers) are probably popular
wherever water is cheap and the humidity is low. Cities like Denver,
Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Phoenix are examples. Every once is a
while, in Utah, for instance we have some freak weather where the
humidity does go too high. I would say that happens perhaps once every
5 years or so and lasts maybe a couple of weeks. The rest of the time,
they work really well. The biggest problem with evaporative coolers is
that you have to climb up on the roof and service them twice per year;
once in the spring and then again in the fall. There's a chart at the
following website that provides swamp cooler performance versus
temperature and humidity.
Swamp coolers aren't usually much of a problem for roofers. The legs
come right off with a few screws and it's easy to put the shingles
under them and then put the legs back on. One big problem that roofers
are going to have in future is with Satellite dishes, though. In the
case of DirecTV's new Ka/Ku dish, for example, it's probably
impossible for anyone but an expert with an expensive meter to install
it. That means that roofers are either going to have to become experts
or they're going to have to remove the antenna and be careful not to
damage it and then call a technician to re-install it after the job is
done. DirecTV only charges $49 to do that so it's not really a money
problem, it's just a matter of the roofers learning what needs to be
done and coordinating things with the technician so that the
customer's TV isn't off for too long.
I'm curious why this is. What I gather from their site is that these
dishes have to be adjusted for altitude, azimuth, and tilt, as opposed
to just altitude and azimuth. So, that's one more parameter to fiddle
with, but I don't see why the same techniques wouldn't work that worked
with the dishes that don't care about tilt: point it approximately with
a protractor, and then make small tweaks in each adjustment until you
get the strongest signal. Is there something that makes this method not
work for these?
(For dishes that are used for their two-way service, and so transmit to
the satellite in addition to receiving, it is an FCC requirement that
you have a professional installation).
I'm on my third DirecTV dish now and I was able to install
the first two myself. With the first two, my technique was
to use the audible signal strength meter on the TV by
putting the telephone next to the TV and then calling myself
on my cell phone. Another technique I have used is to have
an assistant watch the meter on the TV while talking to him
on the cell phone.
As DirecTV adds more satellites, though, the margin for
error in pointing the dish becomes smaller. Speaking
hypothetically, the very first dish might have allowed for a
margin of error of 3 or 4 degrees in the azimuth setting,
but the new "Ka/Ku" antennas probably only allow an error of
a small fraction of one degree. This antenna, incidentally,
receives signals from 5 different satellites over a
Another problem (obviously) with the new antenna is that it
has to be mounted so that it's very solid and very stable
and it typically requires 2 separate braces to hold it in
place. This means that not only is the pointing of the
antenna critical, but the mechanical installation is also.
In addition, the LNBs are probably relatively delicate and
the dish itself obviously isn't going to work if it's bent
In short, roofers are going to have a significant problem
with these antennas and I'm betting that most of them don't
even know it yet.
Incidentally, the previous generation of DirecTV antennas
also required a tilt adjustment, but that wasn't really a
problem. The problem is with degree of accuracy required and
not the number of adjustments that have to be made.
I installed my dishes myself, until I got HD service (I did NOT need a
5-LNB dish). Then the installer (which I didn't need at all, at least
if they'd send me the receiver) replaced my working 3-dish setup with
a 3-LNB dish (that did NOT improve anything).
Mine was closer, so I didn't need the phones. I just turned up the TV
volume and left the door open.
BTW, I suppose you had a headset for your cell phone.
Actually 5 different satellite locations. There are 4 satellites at
the main (101) location, and there will me multiple satellites at the
new (Ka) locations.
Of the 101-degree satellites, 3 are older ones with 16 transponders
each (since there's a limit of 32 transponder channels, some must not
be in use), and the new spotbeam satellite with more transponders (I'm
not sure of the exact number, although I think that information is
available somewhere). 6 transponder channels (4,12,18,20,26,28) are
used for spotbeams.
When I had my roof replaced, the roofer failed to replace the dish
properly. It's better if you can avoid putting it on the roof.
The "previous generation" being 3-LNB dishes. Tilt is for
multi-satellite dishes (and did not apply to the original 1-sat ones).
BTW, the dish isn't the antenna. It's just a reflector. The antenna is
very small, and located within the LNB housing.
Damn! You know I do have a headset that I use for my
cordless phone that would probably work, but I was too dumb
to think of it. Actually, I just spend an hour or two
yesterday trying to adjust my Ka/Ku antenna with no luck.
I'm not sure if it's broke after the roofers got through
kicking it around or maybe there's a small blip on the
signal strength bar on the TV that I'm not hearing with the
audio. I have a technician coming out Friday morning. It
only costs $49 and I've decided that it's worth it.
I didn't know that. I suppose it makes sense, though.
Yah, I know. My neighbor has a big wall of trees, though,
just south of my house. When I originally signed up for
DirecTV, I build a triangle, with the proper angle on it,
out of some scrap pieces of wood and stuck a level on it
with some tie wraps. Then I aimed along the top of the
triangle to insure that I had clearance. I'm guessing I have
about 20 feet on clearance, but there's no place else to put
That's true. The tilt adjustment on the new Ka/Ku dish, by
the way, is the only adjustment that doesn't use a
fine-threaded screw for the final adjustment. Adjusting the
azimuth and elevation on this new one is a little bit like
adjusting the idling speed on an old carburator.
I'm not sure if I agree although you might be right. With
the well-known Yagi-Uda, VHF antennas, for instance, there
is a reflector on the back and then a bunch of directors on
the front that focus the waves onto the receiving or driven
element. However, the entire assembly is still called an
"antenna". I wonder what the antenna inside looks like and
if it just consists of one element or some sort of an array?
I suppose it's mounted on a small circuit board.
That's true. Leviticus 15:19-30 comes to mind for instance.
If it was my roof, I wouldn't allow any unnecessary holes. Any tenant
of mine will face a bit of wrath if they contract a screw-it-to-the-
roof cable/dish installation, and so will the company that forgot to
ask the homeowner for permission to screw-it-to-the-roof. Attach that
sucker to the chimney or rake/fascia. Tom
I've traveled and worked around the country, and I'm familiar with
swamp coolers and roof mount antennae of various sorts. It's not a
technical question, it's a liability question. Even if the work is
fairly simple, an owner would be shooting themselves in the foot to
have untrained people messing with the equipment. A contractor
receives no benefit, and exposes themselves to substantially increased
liability by touching other systems.
Whether they were the owner's or the contractor's, the assumptions
caused the trouble. The OP assumed one thing and the contractor
assumed another. There's plenty of blame to go around.
A code violation is not "illegal". It's a code violation. I'm also
passably proficient in the major codes, considering that I work with
them daily, and know of no requirement that specifies in detail how
flashing is to be installed with regards to rooftop structures.
Please cite the code you are referring to.
The majority of the country does not require permits for reroofing
work. The following is fairly typical:
When Do I Need a Building Permit?
Common Procedures that Require a Building Permit:
Above & Below Ground Swimming Pools
Oil & Gas Heating Units and Tanks
Decks & Patios
Demolition of Structures
Radio & Television Disk Antennas
Fireplaces & Chimneys
Large Tool Sheds
Lawn Sprinkler Systems
New Additions & Interior Alterations
New Homes & Buildings
Again, you're assuming a permit and inspections. If the roofer or OP
had pulled a permit, and the work was indeed against the still-to-be-
cited code, then the work would have been flagged, and the OP wouldn't
be writing about the cooler's legs. It's probably safe to assume that
no permit was pulled.
What exactly will that accomplish? The only time that an independent
report would be of use is if the OP decided to sue and an
unknowledgeable person, like a judge, needed an expert's report to
hang their hat on. For the amount of money we're talking about, it's
extremely unlikely that a lawsuit will come out of this.
All I can tell you is that in my area (where AC units are generally on
the roof), this is the standard way of doing it. I have never seen it
done as he described.
Again, all I know is from personal experience, I am not a tradesman.
In my city, this is the way it has always been done and it will not
pass inspection if done like what the OP said.
I don't know the definition of "re-roofing", but that is not the term
he used. He said he had to have the old roofs torn off and a new one
installed. Again, I can just tell you in my location, a permit is
required for that.
Now you are assuming. We don't know if the work was completed
yesterday and the inspector can't get there until the end of the week.
It will accomplish not having a leaky roof! Let met clarify my
original statement,though. I meant AFTER all was said and done with
this current roofer. My point was not about lawsuits, I was just
saying that after this guy finishes, I would have a reputable roofer
look at it to see if there are any problems that should be addressed.
Assuming it is not a huge amount, I would not bother with legal
action. I would just take it as a learning experience and pay a more
skilled roofer to fix it. I did the exact same thing last summer.
In the case of swamp coolers, the legs remove with a few screws. So,
it's easy to lay shingles underneath them and then replace the legs.
In addition, swamp cooler parts are extremely cheap and it's hard to
imagine any liability issues.
In the case of satellite antennas, especially the latest Ka/Ku antenna
from DirecTV, installation is highly technical and requires an
expensive meter. So, roofers are going to have to learn to coordinate
their work with a dish antenna technician in the future.
Actually we both assumed the same thing. The contractor admitted it
was a huge mistake on the part of one of the workmen and apologized
profusely and he has now fixed everything.
As it turned out the guy apologized profusely and he did correct
everything. In fact, he was even good enough to patiently endure my
little temper tantrum.
Here's an interesting little side-note to the story. As a result of my
complaints he brought an industrial magnet with him to clean up the
nails. Then believe it or not, I got a nail clear through my shoe (no
blood) before he even got the magnet out of the truck.
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