Working With The Weather

We hear it every year around this time:  Oh My Goodness, I’ve got a job started and the rain’s coming down… What do I do?  Quit! Stop what you’re doing. Clean up what you can and go home. Pressure wash an upcoming job or go run an estimate. Those are your choices.

Honestly guys, the best defense is a good offense.  You’re not only a business owner/operator, you have to be a weatherman as well… and a little common sense goes along way, too. For you guys and gals that have done this for a while, you already know what I’m talking about. Other than tropical areas, weather is fairly predictable because rain travels with a frontal system across the US and your local weather stations (or, can show you where it’s at on an hourly basis. Even at the job site, if weather is a consideration, I will ask the customer if I can watch the weather station every now and then. Might sound silly to some of you, but it sure saved my butt a few times.

During the summer months here in Florida, we know we have to contend with a daily rain pattern. It’s going to rain somewhere every day, we just don’t know where. So, we’ve learned to adjust to it.  Florida’s east coast gets rain mostly in the mornings and the west coast gets rain in the afternoon. We adjust to whatever comes our way. You become aware of and more in tune with the weather the more you do this type work, because it’s part of what you do. Believe me, you do get better at dealing with weather. However , every once and awhile you’ll get caught, it’s a given.

We all have jobs to be completed in a specified time frame and there are going to be many variables you will have to contend with, like: Is this going to be a one, two or three day job? Is rain forecasted on the third day? Can I get the job started and the skim coat down and dry in time so it won’t wash away? If the skim coat survives the rain, will I have to skim over again? Etc, etc. There are many decisions to be made, some of which you’re not even conscious of… you just make them as your experience grows.

Several Suggestions:

1.  If you have a job scheduled and you know without a doubt it’s going to rain early that day, don’t start the job. Even if the customer is pressuring you or you’re putting pressure on yourself because of cash flow, scheduling, etc., don’t start the job. No excuses… don’t do it! It will cost you more in the long run if you concede and do it. Talk to your clients and negotiate a new start date. After you’ve convinced them you want the job done right the first time and you care about what you’re doing for them, they will understand.

2.  If you have a two-day job in progress and you get caught in a surprise rain storm: As long as your skim coat is dry, shut down everything until it stops. You can then blow all puddles and standing water off the job so it will dry evenly. (If you do leave standing water in various places, those places could be discolored and would have to be re-skimmed.

3.  If you’re halfway through shooting a job and the rain pushes in and ruins what you’ve just accomplished, your going to see the following: It will look like milk running off your job everywhere. What this is, is the modifier separating from the grout. That is what bonds your hopper-shot mix to the skim coat. Do yourself a favor and don’t try to save anything you’ve shot. Scrape and wash all ruined material off and clean it up, and start over after everything is dry.

Remember; cutting corners to deal with weather may save you today, but it will cost you tomorrow… either time, money or referrals. In general, do not let your customers dictate how or when you should do your job, and watch the weather reports day and night religiously, until it’s second nature. Sometimes you’re just plane going to get caught in the rain, but common sense will handle most of the problems you’ll face because of it. Have a great summer, stay dry and make some money.