No Daddy With Deep Pockets
Regarding the ongoing debate over Hispanic labor in the market, here in my area of coastal South Carolina, I have tried for many years, through family, friends, and business contacts, to hire part-time unskilled labor. No experience necessary, just a body to tote material up the stairs, hold the other end of the board, and maybe learn something in the process.
The fact is the Anglo kids just aren't dependable. They'd rather party than work. Hispanic workers, however, are dependable and honest, and the only problem is they'll work in the heat way too long if you don't tell them to take a break. They don't have a mommy and daddy with deep pockets to feed them. They're just happy to find a job.
These workers are filling an employment niche nobody else wants. Are they going to dominate the trades of the future? Probably, but who cares? When was the last time you heard of anybody — other than the children of builders — actively pursuing construction as a career choice after high school?
Lonestar Home Improvement
Little River, S.C.
How can we, as building craftsmen who are aging, encourage our society to bring back trade schools and a guildlike system to train the next generation? I haven't found a young person who wants to work with his or her hands for the last 10 years; we need replacements.
Yucca Valley, Calif.
I appreciated the article "Building a Strong Cathedral Hip Roof" (11/04), by David West, which drove home the importance of resisting the outward thrust generated by sloping roof members without horizontal ties. After 25 years of structural engineering, I would say that in residential construction, roof behavior is by far the most misunderstood concept among contractors and framers. Without a vertical support at both ends of a sloping member, there are outward thrusting forces that must be considered. And collar ties near the top of rafters will not resist — and are not intended to resist — this thrust.
My own designs for roofs like the one shown in the article are very similar to the design presented by Mr. West. It seemed to be a good solution and design. The question I would pose, however, is why should the contractor take on the time — and, more important, the responsibility — of designing the structure and opening himself up to potential liability? I would have sent the drawings back to the architects and had their engineer complete the design.
Arthur LeBrasseur, P.E.
Newton Centre, Mass.
After reading the Q&A regarding attic mold (11/04), I thought about two other causes I have run into more than once. One is bath fans vented directly into the attic, and the other is a plumbing vent pipe not extended through the roof. Both will cause the growth of mold in an attic.
More on Tandem Compressors
Years ago, I tried to double up my compressors the way Carl Hagstrom showed (Letters, 11/04), but I had a problem with "feedback" from one compressor into the other one and usually ended up with one compressor running continuously. So I fitted a cross-T with check valves on the compressor sides to prevent backflow and ran a hose from each compressor to the T. I also power my compressors on separate electrical circuits. I am able to run my four roofing guns with no problem.
Stevens Point, Wis.
The article on twin water heaters (Kitchen & Bath, 10/04) suggests that standard efficiency for domestic hot-water heaters is around 80 percent. But according to the GAMA directory (an independent testing agency), standard water heaters start at about EF (energy factor) 0.49, or 49 percent efficiency. Power-vented and oil-fired units average around EF 0.60, or 60 percent. Indirect tanks do use the connected boiler efficiency, which can be from 80 percent up to 98 percent. And electric versions are around EF 0.90, or 90 percent, but the fuel cost is high, so the efficiency is moot.
I would not give your readers the impression that average efficiency of domestic water heaters is 80 percent.
Christopher T. Trolle, P.E.
WallShield Price Correction