How to create and sustain basement life

Last week, we discussed the importance of ensuring your basement space is capable of remaining dry, essentially step one in the creation of a new living area.

Basically, your concrete walls will need to be impermeable to water and moisture entry, or minimally have some type of system in place to deal with water penetration should your foundation be susceptible to such occurrences. Without a dry environment, your basement is best to remain as storage space, and an area to hone one’s slap shot.

With step one secured, let’s move on to step two, making this space livable.

Besides some of the obvious necessities of life (oxygen, nutrition, beer fridge, and the such), living in a basement will be a whole lot more pleasant with two key features— them being headroom, and natural light.

Headroom is especially important, and can present quite the challenge if the original builder had no foresight of this area accommodating life for anybody other than those under the age of eight, or cats. With furnace ductwork and plumbing pipes travelling under the joist system, and/or support beams being spaced at 12- to 14-foot intervals, trying to locate a pool table, or even a safe walking area for those with the option of careers in basketball, can be a problem.

If budgetary constraints are nonexistent, then the answer to mechanical height issues can be simple, either dig the basement down two feet deeper, or raise the home two feet. However, this could cost you in the neighborhood of $100,000, which might be a little much if you’re simply looking for a spot to accommodate your stairmaster and a few dumbbells.

So, let’s look at re-routing the ductwork and plumbing. Our goal will be to remove it completely from the common living area, or minimally push these mechanical systems out towards the walls, creating ample headroom in the middle of the room.

These changes will require the insight of a professional heating/cooling specialist, and a plumber. Air can be pushed up, down, and around, so the re-routing of ductwork is usually possible. Poop and water, on the other hand, rely on gravity, and have to flow downward, at a specific slope, which might make the re-routing of your plumbing pipes a little more challenging.

Regardless, show the mechanical professionals where you’d like your living space to be, and have them work on a strategy.

Next, basements always seem a little less like basements when you have natural light. Plus, if people are going to be hanging out in your basement, or if you have teenagers in the home, who might be having friends over, maybe staying up past your 9:30 p.m. bedtime, and maybe sleeping over, then for all these reasons, and certainly if there’s a planned bedroom in the basement, you’re going to want a basement space that’s egress compliant.

Egress means ‘exit’, which in the case of a finished basement, is explained in the building code as an easy means of exiting a space in the case of emergency.

Most stairways leading up to the homes main floor inevitably direct you towards the kitchen, which unfortunately is the place where most home fires start. After first being awakened by a smoke alarm, then a whole lot of shouting, and while in a state of panic, the basement dweller’s first thoughts of survival should not involve covering themselves with a blanket, climbing up the stairs, making their way through smoke and fire, basically following a route to which only a trained firefighter could survive, until they reach the front door.

What they should be doing is racing towards the egress window, located only seconds away, flipping it up, and safely exiting the home.

Because older homes often have the sliding type of basement window, and are buried in window wells on the exterior that further impede the escape process, the minimum spacing for safe exiting is often not met.

Next week, creating a safe basement environment with proper egress windows.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Thinking of a steel roof?

DEREK RUTTAN/ The London Free Press /Postmedia Network

Upon being asked to relay my thoughts on whether investing in a steel roof is a good thing, I decided to secure an opinion straight from the horse’s mouth, well, actually, Jim Hoarce’s mouth, one of our longtime local professional steel roofers.

“So Jim” I inquired, “after installing steel roofs for the last 30 years, would you recommend steel roofing to the average homeowner?” To which Jim answered, “If the customer is prepared to pay for the proper underlay materials, follow the recommended installation procedures, and use only approved flashings, gaskets, and snow stop brackets, then steel can make for an excellent roof”.

OK, sounds pretty simple, all a homeowner has to do is ensure his roofer follows the installation instructions.

Unfortunately, its human nature not to follow instructions. We purchased a high chair for my grandson recently, and it was my goal to not have to read the instructions, after all, I was looking at maybe 20 parts.

Now, I understand there’s a reason why my chosen profession is in retail, and not engineering, but 20 parts?

Regardless, after 2-3 minutes of assembly frustration, I searched and found the instruction sheets at the bottom of the box. Thankfully, they came with pictured diagrams, which were essential in successfully assembling this unit in under 15 minutes.

Conversely, when an amateur, or your cousin’s buddy, is on your roof, and there’s a cool wind, and it’s getting late, or almost time for a Tim’s run, what are the chances this fellow’s going to take the time to read the instructions should he be faced with an installation dilemma?

Or, might he just plant a few more screws around the issue, and be done with it? According to Jim, the number of calls he receives each year from homeowners asking him to come over and repair, or find the leak, on a roof that was installed by somebody else, indicates how often steel roofs are not installed as per instruction.

A steel roof is great, until it leaks.

Therefore, choose only an accredited steel roofing professional. Next, start with a 5/8” plywood sheeting underlay. Because steel roof sheeting is screwed in position, Jim strongly suggests the heavier 5/8” plywood, as opposed to ½” sheeting, commonly used for asphalt shingles.

A 5/8” plywood offers superior rigidity, and better accepts a screw. Should steel roofing be installed over existing asphalt shingles, thereby saving the dumping fees? Or, can steel be installed over a boarded roof that’s been stripped of its shingles? What about strapping an existing asphalt roof with 1×4 spruce?

No, no, and no.

People regard steel roofing as being relatively lightweight, which it is if you’re handling one 10 ft. sheet at a time. However, stack ten of these sheets together, and steel gets heavy real fast.

So, steel is relatively lightweight when compared to asphalt, but it’s not that light, and if layered upon existing roofing, will provide an unnecessary burden on your trusses.

Plus, an asphalt shingle base is too spongy, which may cause the steel screws to loosen over time. When screws loosen, water gets in.

Boarded roofs and 1×4 strapping underlays are strategies of the past. Why? Because they lack the stability of plywood, with these planks shrinking and warping over time, loosening the screws.

On top of the 5/8” plywood Jim recommends either a UDL50 Titanium underlay, or Lastobond, high heat rubber membrane (similar to an ice and water shield), offering an essential second line of defense.

Next, Jim’s two final recommendations are simple.

One, buy heavy. Heavier gages of steel lay straighter, dent less easily, and just look better.

Two, decapitation is real. Not that the heads of unsuspecting homeowners are found in our snowbanks every February, but snow and ice sliding down a steel roof can be a very destructive weapon. So, invest in heavy duty snow stop brackets. The little polar blocks will do little to stop a weighted avalanche of snow and ice.

Thanks Jim. Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Covering up

Man in a blue shirt does window installation. Model Released GALITSKAYA / GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Week three regarding file  No. 921, titled Meltdown, has us wrapping up the case of cold enticing hot, involving home owner Jack Frosty Snow and his bid to make his drafty home more comfortable for Barb Ma Barker, his new partner.

So far, the suggested plan of attack for making this 1970’s home more energy efficient has been pretty rudimentary, including the sealing of the more notable cracks and areas of air infiltration, and beefing up the attics insulation levels to today’s standards.

However, the next step in making this 50-year-old home more energy efficient, and more Barb appealing, is going to involve a more serious evaluation of Frosty’s situation.

On the one hand, continuing on a course to real home efficiency will involve new windows, ridged foam insulation, and new siding, a pretty significant overhaul requiring a whole lot of time, effort, and of course money.

On the other hand, Barb is a wonderful lady, owns her own swimsuit business, fills a bikini in the same manner sand pours into an hour glass, and to top it off, Barb’s a Habs fan. In other words, this lady’s a keeper.

So, with the decision to move forward likely, Jack is looking for a plan of action. Albeit a costly renovation, replacing the windows and exterior siding within the same time period is as effective a one-two renovation punch as you can get.

The curb value of the home receives a significant bump up, and the homeowner gets an excellent return on their investment.

The suggested course of action will be as follows; step one, choose a style of window, be it casement, guillotine, or slider, and the exterior door models, measure the openings, then place the order.

Because we’ll be increasing the exterior wall thickness, the window jamb depth will need to be ordered accordingly.

The windows and doors may take up to six weeks to arrive, which will allow the renovators to move forward with the balance of the renovation, starting with the removal of the existing vinyl siding.

Because the home is of standard two by four construction, the present thermal value of these walls is R-12. Before installing a new siding, we’re recommending Frosty and Bard consider wrapping the home with a two-inch rigid polyiso insulation board, which will add another R-13 of thermal value to the walls, effectively transporting this home into the 21st century, insulation wise anyway.

With a proposed R-60 attic, and R-25 walls, along with new, energy efficient windows, Frosty and Ma will be able to heat this 1200 square foot bungalow with a Bic lighter.

Due to this home being covered in siding it was the perfect subject for receiving a ridged foam wrap.

Brick or stone homes could be wrapped with foam, but you would be of course forfeiting a relatively expensive siding for a vinyl or composite alternative, which may devaluating the home, and affect its curb appeal.

Can homes be insulated from the interior? Yes, but the cost and inconvenience will be an issue, since the exterior wall electrical outlets will all have to be adjusted, with these same exterior walls having to be refinished with drywall.

The nice thing about insulating the exterior is that you get to live comfortably in your home, relatively speaking, while the renovation is taking place. With the existing siding removed, the home will be covered with a 2 inch ridged foam board, then sealed with a house wrap, which effectively cuts off any chance of drafts, and protects the ridged foam from the elements should the siding not be readily available.

Next, the home will be strapped with one by three spruce in preparation for the siding. The one by three strapping is a good idea, providing an air space for moisture to drain or evaporate, should any rain makes its way past the siding.

Composite and cement sidings will especially benefit from this spacing strategy. With this last bit of information rounding up our energy saving recommendations, case No. 921 was closed.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Batts in the attic will heat things up

One type of stone-wool insulation is this Canadian-made Roxul STEVE MAXWELL/OTTAWA CITIZEN/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Today we continue our examination of file No. 921, titled “Meltdown,’’ involving the relationship between our Mr. Jack ‘Frosty’ Snow and Barb ‘Ma’ Barker.

To recap, Jack owns an older home in dire need of improvements related to energy efficiency. Mr. Snow’s home is drafty and lacks the proper insulation levels, resulting in a home that is frightfully cold for six months of the year.

This of course has been of no concern to Jack, because as owner and operator of Jacks Frosty Treats, he spends half his day in a freezer anyway. Then, in comes his new housemate Barb, a lady who doesn’t like the cold, who doesn’t wear sweaters, refuses to layer, and who would never dream of stepping outdoors in January to build a snowman, no matter how perfectly sticky the snow is.

Essentially, when cold meets warm, warm wins. Or more succinctly, when the needs of the woman, or warm individual in a relationship, differ from those of the fellow, changes are likely to occur.

Because warm air rises, a key area to fortify against heat loss will be the attic. In typical 1970’s building mode, our Mr. Snow has about six inches of attic insulation, providing R-20 of heat loss resistance. This level of thermal value was fine when electricity and gas were a fraction of today’s cost, and the Montreal Canadiens were winning Stanley Cups, which at least provided us with a warm feeling in our hearts.

Unfortunately, things haven’t changed so much for Leaf fans since the 70’s, whereby life is as dreary now as it was then, only with present day energy costs lending to times that are even more miserable. Today’s attic standards require R-60 of thermal value, or about 18 inches of insulation. So, in order to be current with today’s standards, since they are minimum requirements, we’re going to need to add at least 12 inches of either a blowing wool, or fiberglass batt material, with this 12 inches of fiberglass offering an additional R-40 of insulation value.

Whether this is to be a do-it-yourself project, or not, relies entirely upon your willingness to squeeze through the 20”x30” attic hatch hole. Before adding insulation, the homeowner should make sure the soffit air space is properly protected with the use of attic vents, installed in between every truss.

Fiberglass batt insulation or fiberglass blowing wool? The advantage to using fiberglass pink insulation, which in this case would require two thicknesses of a six- inch R-20 batt, is that the batts can be fitted tightly together, then cross layered, creating a neatly arranged blanket of pink, along with the peace of mind that you’re indeed getting an extra R-40 of thermal value.

If desired, six-inch batts are also available in R-22 or R-24 formats, which will boost your home’s resistance to attic heat loss another 10-20%. Can a homeowner put too much insulation in their attics? No, provided they maintain a minimum two-inch air space between the insulation and the roofing plywood.

Challenges to layering your attic space with fiberglass batts? Only one, avoiding your scrotum being jammed up into your body cavity should you slip off one of the truss joists. As a result, and in order to avoid such mishaps, blowing wool is generally the preferred method of insulating an attic.

Challenges to blowing wool? Only one, which is that this method absolutely requires two people, one feeding the machine with wool from below, and a second person directing the placement of the wool while positioned up in the attic. Although the act of blowing wool requires minimal movement, since the power of the blower will allow wool to be blown a distance of about 12-16 feet, the installer will have to risk some venturing about the truss joists beforehand as they stake the area with paper rulers.

The paper rulers, hung from various truss positions, will help guide the installer in how deep to spread the wool. Next week, case No. 921 continues.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Moving to keep the heat in

File No. 921, titled Meltdown, has us examining the case of a Mr. Jack Snow, aka ‘Frosty’ to the business community, due to Mr. Snow being the proprietor of Jack’s Cool Treats, a company that distributes snow-cones, ice cream sandwiches, and other freezer-type goodies.

A single man in his mid-40s, up until most recently that is, when a chancy meeting at a local fundraiser had him chatting with a Miss Barb Barker. Miss Barker, aka ‘Ma,’ a nickname she picked up as proprietor of Barb’s Bad Ass Bikinis and swimwear, along with Barb’s propensity to use camouflage type patterns, as well as dated photographs of badass gangsters Al Capone and Bugsy Malone, on all her custom garments.

Jack owns an older home, which during the winter months displays all the charm of a Hallmark Christmas card, complete with icicles hanging from the roof edges, and windows panes so completely frosted up, it requires a heavy breath, followed by the persistent rubbing of the side of one’s fist, in order to create a porthole of sight.

With an average indoor temperature of about 15 C, our Mr. Snow was true to his name, and lived quite comfortably in his inefficiently cold house by simply adding a sweater, and tossing another log in the woodstove, should things get really chilly outside.

However, with Barb looking to move in with Jack, these frosty living conditions were all about to change.

Unbeknownst to Mr. Snow, tropical- or bathing suit-type individuals aren’t big on layering, and are somewhat unfamiliar with the habit of donning a sweater when temperatures drop outside. Conversely, when challenged by a cool draft, sun people are more likely to simply reach for the thermostat, where temperatures can be magically bumped up to a more agreeable climate range.

Understanding that earning and keeping Ma Barker’s love is going to require a little more than simply lavishing her with Eskimo pies, and if there’s to be any chance of a future Mrs. Snow, these present living conditions are going to ironically require more heat.

In an older, drafty home, keeping things toasty warm is like trying to preserve water in a colander.

So, how is Jack to transform a home that has all the heating efficiency of a 100-year-old barn, into a tropical climate zone, without dedicating 90 per cent of his present housing budget towards heating fuel?

One, Jack’s going to have to seal up the cracks and draft areas.

And two, this home is going to require some attic insulation.

As we approach the winter months, the opportunity to caulk around windows and doors becomes a little more challenging because caulkings and paints are best applied when temperatures are at least 10 C. So, when that 12 C to 15 C day pops up in October/November, have a case of caulking at the ready.

Where to caulk? Any crack or seam where one product, such as your window and door casings, meets another, such as your vinyl or brick siding.

Next, an area notorious for heat loss is the space around your exterior doors. So, check the flexible, rubber strips attached to the base of your steel slab. If these pliable fins are worn, or perhaps even non-existent if the door is 10 to 15 years old, then this is an easy fix to a real draft problem.

Best bet, remove the door sweep altogether, then bring it to your local building supply dealer in order to assure yourself that you’re buying a comparable sweep. The same strategy applies to the weather stripping around the door frame. If it’s worn, remove a small piece, then bring this sample with you to show the salesperson.

Next, seal your exterior wall outlets and ceiling fixtures. The exterior wall outlets can be sealed with pre-cut plug and switch foam gaskets, while any gaps around ceiling fixtures or pot lights can be filled with the appropriate-sized foam baker rod.

Next week, file No. 921 continues as we insulate the attic.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Maximizing that attic breeze

Caulking a continuous ridge vent. TINABELLE / GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

File No. 989 has us examining the case of a Mr. Victor MacLaren, aka “ventilation Vic,” due to Mr. MacLaren operating his own heating and cooling company.

What’s of interest to Vic, and a general rule of thumb that guides his professional manner and lifestyle, are the benefits of air flow. Vic drives a convertible in the summer, cranks down the windows when driving in the winter, always installs a supplementary fan or venting mechanism when installing his ductwork, and wears a kilt most days, in true Scottish fashion, having foregone the use of underwear since the turn of the century.

So, be it lifestyle, mechanics, or personal hygiene, the chances of condensation or moisture affecting the comfort levels in Mr. MacLaren’s life are truly minimal.

Which brings us to Victor’s latest challenge: putting a new asphalt roof on a recently purchased 100-year-old home. The home presently has two layers of shingles installed over a boarded roof.

So, the immediate strategy would be to remove both layers of shingles, replace any deteriorated planks, and then cover the entire roof with 3/8-inch plywood sheeting.

The next challenge will be how to solve the lack of attic ventilation.

Why worry about ventilation when roofing issues have seemingly been fine over the past 100 years?

Well, by looking a little closer, we find things with the home haven’t been so fine. First, the shingles have been in a curled-up state for almost a decade, which luckily up to this point hasn’t led to any severe leakage issues. Plus, the plaster on the ceiling is soft and cracked in several areas.

Upon inspection of the attic, signs of black mould and rot can be found on the underside of the roof planking.

The aged asphalt shingles might not be allowing any significant amounts of rain or snow melt to pass through, but the condensation resulting from warm attic air meeting a cold roof plank is creating a shower of water dripping down on the insulation, with this moisture further infiltrating the plastered ceiling.

Solving attic moisture issues means creating an atmosphere where the air temperature inside the attic matches that of the outside. This can be achieved by naturally encouraging air to draft in and out of the attic.

Where to start?

First we measure the attic space, which is basically the home’s width x the length, or in the case of this standard 30’x40’ stone home, about 1,200 square feet.

The exhaust venting in this case can be satisfied by two No. 303 Maxivents (the popular chimney-like structures), five No. 65 slant-back vents, or 30 feet of ridge-cap venting.

I like the Maxivent option for two reasons. One, it means fewer holes and less cutting for the roofer. With fewer holes, the chance of leakage is minimized. And two, of the three options, the Maxivent is the most efficient mechanism to draw air out of your attic.

Air intake is usually done through the soffit. However in Mr. MacLaren’s case, the soffit area on his century home is sealed with beautiful wood planking, with decorative corbels placed at every four feet along the perimeter of the roof.

Due to the lack of soffit, the previous owner had installed a series of three-inch-round vents in between the corbels, a poor substitute which clearly wasn’t performing the task of drawing outside air into the attic.

So, we know how air is moving out of the attic, but how are we to effectively draw air into the attic, without of course taking the drastic measure of removing those century old corbels and installing regular soffit panels?

The suggested solution will involve installing four Vmax intake vents (two per side) on the lower edge of the roofline. The Vmax vents effectively replace the need for soffit, and are part of the Maxivent series of products, working in perfect co-ordination with the two Maxi No. 303s situated near the peak of the roof.

With those options presented, file No. 989 was closed.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Making your shingles last

What can a homeowner do to have their asphalt shingles last at least long enough to see their children through college, thereby avoiding the financial double whammy of tuition and having to pay for three pallets of roofing products?

Let’s start with the installer.

Besides getting references from their previous customers and your local building supply centre, look for a few minimum standards, like someone who has his own vehicle, and a trailer for handling scrapped materials. Plus, their pickup should have permanent lettering on the door, prominently displaying the company name or logo.

Avoid the guy whose accreditation required him properly levelling one of those 12”x18” magnetic mats on the driver’s side door. These guys are most easily recognized by a “Frank’s Roofing-free estimates” type of mat, stuck to the door panel of a vehicle that looks like it just escaped the wrecking yard cruncher.

Upon inspection of this fellow’s vehicle, it wouldn’t be surprising to find other magnetic-mat specialties, such as “Frank’s Pizza Delivery,”, or “Frank’s no-leak plumbing,” which to his credit, demonstrates a work ethic and versatility, but may be further proof of this fellow’s homeschooled level of accreditation.

Next, today’s Fiberglas shingles require stability, which means following a pretty straight forward set of directives regarding shingle installation, shingle underlayment, and attic ventilation.

Installation?

There are basically two ways or manner of pose, regarding asphalt shingles. One is the regular four-nail per tab installation, where four nails are placed at the top of the shingle tab, with the bottom of the tab being held down by means of a sticky glue-strip (found under each shingle) that gets engaged by heat generated from the sun. The second method is the six-nail-per-tab/plastic cement installation strategy, used in high wind areas, or during cold-weather (below 0 C) installations.

Windy areas generate dust, with this dust getting underneath the shingle tabs as they’re being installed, adhering to sticky glue-strips. When the sticky strips get covered with dust, the shingle tabs forfeit the bottom sticking mechanism that prevents them from lifting up. Other than dust, cold temperatures will also prevent the sticky strips from properly engaging. The six top nails, as opposed to four, and the dabs of plastic cement placed under each shingle tab, are just extra insurance against shingle lift.

So, if looking out your window has you seeing open field, or river. Or, the frost on the window is preventing you from seeing clearly outdoors regardless, you would be wise to request installation manner No. 2 from your roofer.

Next, shingle underlayment.

Although the installation procedures for Fiberglas shingles do permit you to install your shingles over an existing shingle roof (to a max of three layers) and/or over a boarded roof of 1×6 planks, these are not good ideas.

An average roof requires about 60 bundles of shingles, which weighs about 4,200 pounds, equivalent to one 1986 Pontiac Parisienne, or the combined weight of the Montreal Canadiens playing personnel.

Your home requires one layer of shingles, with every layer underneath unnecessarily burdening your trusses with the equivalent of one automobile parked on your roof. So, removing your old shingles may cost you a few hundred bucks in dumping fees, but it’ll lessen the stress load on your trusses, allow you to fix or remedy any roof underlay issues, and make for a better install overall.

Boarded roofs were popular about 40-50 years ago when contractors were forming their own foundations with 1×6 spruce, then removing these planks once the cement dried and installing them on the roof, an efficient use of materials which worked fine as an underlay for the very flexible, organic (paper felt based) shingles of the day.
However, today’s fiberglass shingles are much more rigid, especially during the colder months, and will better survive the test of time if installed over plywood.

So, if you own a plank roof, be sure to install a 3/8-inch spruce plywood over the planking.

Next week: ventilating your attic.

Good Building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Now, about those shingles…

Today’s asphalt shingles, aka Fiberglas shingles, due to the substrate having been changed from the original paper felt, to a Fiberglas mating some 20 years ago, offer the consumer the choice of a 25-year warranty for a basic three-tab shingle, to a 40-year/lifetime warranty for the architectural, or laminated shingle.

The “lifetime” appendage that accompanies the 40-year warranty label is supposed to signify that if by adding 40 years to your present status, your age approaches anything near three-digit territory, the longevity statistics suggest this is most likely the last roof you’ll ever have to pay for.

The up-front coverage period for these lifetime-warranty shingles is 15 years. This means that for the first 15 years of the life of the shingle, the homeowner will be financially reimbursed for both product and labour to install, should the shingles somehow fail.

The 25 years following, or years 16-40 of your laminated shingle life, will have you subject to the conditions of the term, “pro-rated.” Pro-rate; to divide, distribute, or assess proportionately, essentially lets you know that in year 15 of your shingles’ life, most of the costs related to the installation of new shingles will be covered by warranty, but that in years 16-plus, once a few numbers related to wear and depreciation are factored in, the remuneration dollars might buy you a bowl of soup and a coffee.

So, if you’re 50 years of age today, and hoped your newly installed laminated shingle might last you until the age of 90, which by then thoughts of replacing your shingles will likely rank a distant second to simply escaping the grips of the Grim Reaper, you could be facing disappointment.

Essentially, if you’re 50, you can expect to replace your shingles at age 65, 80, and if you’re really fortunate, be part of the colour-choosing process at 90-plus.

Can a Fiberglas shingle last 40 years? It’s possible, but not bloody likely.

However, there aren’t a lot of products in this world that’ll give you 15 years full coverage, then offer you a Tim Hortons gift card down the road should you really want to pursue a settlement in year 30 of your shingle contract.

Plus, it should be noted the upfront warranty is transferable once, should you sell your home within that first 15-year period, provided of course you register this transfer with the roofing company within 30 days of the sale. Otherwise, the warranty unfortunately becomes null and void.

With the list of those persons who I know who have actually gone through the process of warranty transfer, and the required $100 transfer fee, holding steady at zero, there are a lot of un-warrantied roofs out there.

So, my recommendation would be to avoid warranty issues altogether by following a pretty short list of asphalt roofing do’s and don’ts.

First, do hire a certified roofer to shingle your roof. Certified roofers have an in-depth knowledge of the product and required substrate materials, and are properly equipped, and insured, to be on your roof.

Don’t hire a fly-by-night, weekend warrior. They may be somewhat experienced, but they’re not certified, and are most likely not covered.

So, if there are issues after the installation, don’t bother calling. Weekend ‘hire-for-cash’ type carpenters tend to change their phone numbers monthly, and you’ll find yourself chasing a ghost. Plus, should one of these fellows should fall off your roof, roll em’ up in a tarp and bury him under the back deck with his hammer and pouch, otherwise the impending lawsuit is going to be a doozer.

How do you find an accredited roofer? By contacting your local building supply centre. We’ve seen the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to home renovations, and can certainly steer you towards the area’s most capable and respected roofers.

When’s the best time to install shingles? With fall offering slightly cooler, more moderate temperatures, there’s no time like the present.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Getting rid of that G-Mag

Due to our most favourable, welcoming, and extremely nurturing Canadian environment, we’ve all become familiar with Gloeocapsa Magma.

Is Gloeocapsa Magma, “G-Mag” for short, another one of our budding young tennis stars to hit the ATP circuit? Probably not.

Perhaps Gloeocapsa Magma is an international soccer star, who after fleeing persecution in his own country, became a Canadian citizen, and while looking to star as our leading striker, could also enlighten us hockey players into the how’s of playing a sport that doesn’t offer you the option of cross-checking your opponent with a piece of hickory?

Perhaps, but not yet to be confirmed.

Unfortunately, the Gloeocapsa Magma we’re most familiar with is an algae, commonly recognized as the black streaking type of stain we see on our asphalt shingle roofs. Where does the G-Mag come from?

Like most fungi and moulds, algae are airborne spores common to our ecosystem. When Gloeocapsa Magma lands on something, and this something happens to have a food source, along with moisture and some protection from the sun, it settles, sticks around for as long as the food source continues, and multiplies.

Essentially, Gloeocapsa Magma is like a party crasher who texts his buddies he’s found a home where the beer fridge is full, with the added bonus of pretzels and corn chips on the kitchen table.

Getting rid of Gloeocapsa Magma? Not so easy, kind of like these same party guests who at 1 a.m. are annoyingly sticking around, looking to begin another round of shots by cracking open a new bottle of tequila.

Although most laminated or lifetime-warranty shingles contain copper particles, which should provide a lethal remedy to mould, moss, and algae, the Gloeocapsa Magma is extremely stubborn, clinging to your roof like it was the last barstool available at a packed Oktoberfest celebration. Plus, today’s fiberglass shingles contain less tar, and more natural products, such as limestone, which have components in them that are attractive to algae.

So, regardless of the copper content of fiberglass shingles, the Gloeocapsa Magma seem to be sticking around.

What can be done about the G-Mag? Like any mould type of organism, algae can be effectively removed with various bleach-and-water solutions, or bottled, spray-on type, mould and algae cleaners. One source recommends a one cup of TSP (trisodium phosphate), a gallon of bleach, and five gallons of water mixture.

The only issue with using TSP and bleaches is that they are of course toxic, requiring the user being completely covered in protective clothing, hand, and eyewear. And, these solutions will be slippery until they’re rinsed off, which on a roof will be a serious handicap if the Gloeocapsa Magma is going to require a little soft scrubbing. Plus, whatever bleach gets sprayed on your roof, inevitably ends up on the plants and lawn below. So, plant life will have to be hosed down with water and covered beforehand.

What about pressure washing? Probably the only idea that is worse than a bleach/water solution.

A pressure washer will absolutely eliminate the G-Mag presence, but will unfortunately loosen and remove your shingles’ granular surface as well.

The challenge to eliminating the Gloeocapsa Magma yourself is that it’s on the roof, a place I don’t recommend any homeowner – without the roof-climbing experience and proper harnessing – ever visit. So, look to hire a reputable person to clean your roof, and be sure to ask them about the type of chemicals that will be used, and the cleaning procedure.

Stopping the G-Mag? Consider installing zinc strips along the roof’s ridge, fastened under the last row of capping, a relatively simple procedure for a professional roofer.

If a new shingled roof is in the future, and your former roof experienced algae, regardless of the algae inhibitors likely found in your new shingles, installing the zinc strips will be an effective second line of defence, saving you from the big disappointment of seeing stains on your beautiful new roof.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Take the ‘opportunity of silence’

One type of stone-wool insulation is this Canadian-made Roxul STEVE MAXWELL/OTTAWA CITIZEN/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

If you’re planning a renovation this winter, then don’t pass up the opportunity to make your home a little quieter.

The ‘opportunity of silence’ refers to the fact most renovations involve the total gutting of the room needing attention.

Gutting a bathroom or kitchen means removing not only the existing cabinetry, but the flooring, light fixtures, and the drywall, thereby exposing the studs— essentially bringing the room back to its original state of framing.

Gutting a room becomes necessary when basically every component in the room is being replaced.

Replacing fixtures often results in having to re-direct the electrical wiring and plumbing pipes, or updating them to today’s codes and standards.

The error homeowners make, is after all the electrical and mechanical changes have been made, the wall simply gets closed up again with drywall in preparation for the cabinetry. That’s what’s referred to as a missed opportunity of silence.

The thing about rooms, especially kitchens and bathrooms, is they create noise, noises that in most cases need not be leaked or transmitted into neighbouring rooms. So, if you were lucky enough to score tickets to the Habs game, yet unlucky in your choice of the burrito special at Senor Rodriguez’s take out Tacos, the continued tooting of your horn after arriving home need not be advertised any further than your washroom.

How to make a wall increasingly more sound proof means first understanding a few terms.

A wall assembly will have a STC (sound transmission class) rating, based on how effectively the wall prevents sound from moving from one room to the next. So, the higher the STC rating, the better that wall will be at blocking sound.

Decibels (db) are simply a measurement of how loud something is, based on a sound pressure scale. For example, a casual conversation will register at 40 db, a large truck driving by at 80 db, and your home’s fire alarm at 100 db.

Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz), and relates to the tone, or time cycle of a sound. So, the low sound created by a tuba would register 30 Hz, whereby the clashing of two cymbals might register 10,000 Hz. Humans can only hear sounds that occur between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, with the capability of registering and effectively translating sound frequencies, and range of frequency, declining with age.

This might explain why after 25 years of marriage, men can still effectively receive and translate the low frequency sounds being emitted from the television, yet have difficulty registering the higher-pitched sound of their wife’s voice when asking them to take out the garbage.

With the wall cavity opened up, now’s the time to make your soon-to-be renovated bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen, a little more sound proof.

A standard 2×4 wall with half-inch drywall on both sides has a STC rating of about 30. If casual conversation creates about 40 db, a standard wall assembly will somewhat muffle the room-to-room sounds of regular conversation passing through, but will do little to impede the decibel frequencies created by any loud music or television sounds.

Muffling this noise transmission, or creating a transmission loss, will mean having to slightly modify and beef up our regular wall assembly with a number of sound-absorbing products.

The easiest modification one can make to a wall assembly is the addition of Roxul Safe n’ Sound insulation. At 3.5 inches thick, the Safe n’ Sound batts conveniently fit into any 2×4 or 2×6 wall, and bump up the STC rating by 10 to 12 points. Now you’ve got a wall assembly that’ll at least muffle out most regular low sounds.

Bonus to the Safe n’ Sound’s ability to block sound, is its ability to limit the spread of flames, somewhat creating a safe room, at least for a few key minutes.

So we’ve managed to block the sound of casual conversation, now what about the clash of cymbals? That’ll be next week.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard