Roof Venting Unnecessary
Thanks for an intelligent and informative article about
unvented attics and the use of closed-cell spray foam
("Insulating Unvented Attics With Spray Foam," 3/07). After
mentioning the common misconception that code-required venting
significantly lowers the surface temperature of asphalt
shingles, the article goes on to state that a properly
constructed unvented roof assembly "is immune to the moisture
problems that occur in vented assemblies and is much more
likely to be energy-efficient."
The article also points out that several major shingle
manufacturers now guarantee shingles installed over properly
constructed unvented roofs.
Why, then, is there an item in the Products section (on page
125) for venting a shed roof where it meets a vertical wall?
Not only does the "solution" directly ignore all the
information in one of your main articles, but it also defies
the laws of physics. Hot air will not rise, then conveniently
travel downward through lots of smallish grids, then
conveniently rise again. It will rise and remain at the highest
point unless it can go directly up and out or be actively blown
out by a different route.
It seems to me that a lot of wasted expense has gone into the
building of vented roofs.
Potter Valley, Calif.Editor Don Jackson responds: We don't necessarily endorse
every product we run. Keep in mind that there are still plenty
of jurisdictions where the building official will require a
venting product like the one you mention, whether it does any
good or not. So we try to keep our readers aware of what's
Dangers of Thin Plywood
The article on skim-coating paneling ("A New Look for Old
Paneling," 4/07) implies that the material is worth saving and
is safe (not a fire hazard). In my experience, the type of
paneling shown is extremely flammable and should not be kept or
I recommend that you obtain some of this material and perform
a simple flame-spread test. Compare it with any kind of drywall
and any type of dry nominal lumber. Make sure the paneling is
made of wood veneer, like that shown in the article.
I will never recommend that a client or friend keep or install
this kind of panel product in his home.
R&J Construction Services
Port Orchard, Wash
Gable Overhang: Strong
George Neuwirt's detail for a strong gable overhang (On the
Job, 3/07) raises the question of how strong is strong enough.
We hired a structural engineer to review the roof framing plan
for a Maine ski cabin with a 36-inch overhang on a 4/12 roof
slope, and he insisted that we start the "ladder" lookout
rafters inside the exterior bearing wall — half within
the cathedral ceiling and half cantilevered over the raked top
Neuwirt's detail is easier to build, but as the overhang gets
larger and the snow loads heavier, what is the limit of a
tacked-on lookout ladder?
Also, as Neuwirt showed, the first rafter inside of the stud
has to be full-sized to create a fire block. Anyone trying to
save a 2x12 and scrap in a smaller 2-by drywall nailer along
the wall studs would fail framing inspection.
Alan Ruesch, GC
Mercer Island, Wash.
Sticky Weep Holes
The discussion of weep holes (Q&A, 3/07) overlooks a
potential problem: Honeybees. I've run into them only once, but
they were behind brick veneer. I don't know how far they
extended, but there were a lot of them. I would saturate the
entrance with wasp spray, and five minutes later they would be
coming and going again. The homeowner decided not to do
anything further, but I could imagine a large section of wall
gradually becoming saturated with honey, with unpleasant
Take Care Before Cutting
Regarding the article "Installing a ScapeWel" (3/07):
ScapeWels are good products and I have installed them in new
construction. Installing one in an existing wall should be done
only after careful examination of the structural issues,
including the presence of rebar in the concrete, the connection
of the floor above to the plate and band joist, and the
potential inward force of the soil outside the wall.
In new construction, I've left a concrete beam at the top,
with reinforcing steel wrapping the opening to help transfer
the loads around the window.
More on Lithium-Ion Tools
I read "Lithium-Ion Cordless Kits" (4/07) with interest. In
the specification chart, the box listing compatible tools is
inaccurate with regard to Ridgid's lithium-ion tools. Ridgid
actually has four compatible tools: an adhesive/caulk gun, a
hand planer, an orbital jigsaw, and an impact driver. All of
these tools, known as MaxSelect Dual Voltage tools, can run on
a 24-volt lithium-ion battery or a nicad 18-volt battery.
Fixing Discolored Plaster
Here's an additional tip regarding stained plaster
(Q&A, 3/07): Even after textured plaster has been
bleached, there can be a slight color variation. Rather than
painting (and losing some of the texture), I dust the remaining
discolored spot and the area around it with white talcum
powder, using a powder puff. The talcum sticks to the texture
without filling it. I used the trick in my own house after a
sink overflow on the second floor, and eight years later I
can't find the spot.
East Greenwich, R.I.
You nailed it with your article "End of the Free Estimate"
(Business, 3/07). I never understood why contractors offered
this service. I can remember scheduling three to seven
estimates on a Saturday, wasting all day and a half-tank of
gas, and maybe getting one or two jobs. Homeowners would say
they just bought the house and were curious how much it would
cost to remodel the kitchen. Or if it was an insurance job,
they would often take my written proposal, submit it to the
insurance company, then have "Uncle Bob" do the repair and
pocket the difference.
I now give an hourly rate with a price range over the phone
before I ever visit a site.