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New York Times

Ask the Contractor
Some tiles on my roof need to be replaced. Can I do it myself?
By EDWARD LEWINE
Published: October 14, 2011
 


SLOVAK: This is an easy fix. The terra-cotta tiles aren't even nailed down — they are hooked onto small boards in the roof. You need a replacement tile and a small pry bar. Slip the bar under the tile above the broken tile and raise it up. Then lift the broken tile off and slide another one in. Asphalt shingles are nailed down, so you will need to pry up the nails and then slide the shingle out to put in a new one.

WAHAB: Of the two main kinds of tiling people have on their roofs, asphalt shingles are more feasible to work with. Terra-cotta tiles have to be handled quite delicately. You can break them just by walking on the roof.

GIOVANNITTI: It isn't a great idea to replace a tile yourself for two reasons. One, people fall off roofs all the time. Two, you need to understand how the tiles fit together, and you have to know how to line one tile up and place a new tile underneath it.


Why do I have ice dams in my rain gutters, and what can I do about it?

DARDICK: The heat from your house melts the snow on the roof. The snow then freezes, and you get ice buildup. When ice expands, it lifts the shingles. When the ice dam melts again, water can leak into your house. One way to stop this is to insulate your attic better. Another thing you can do is add a waterproof layer under the shingles.

MARELLI: The best thing you can do is to clean your gutters. You can also install grills that go over your gutters, which allows water in and keeps detritus out.

DISALVO: The gutter may not be pitched correctly, allowing it to collect water at a low point.The easy fix is to get up on a ladder and reattach the gutter.


How can I go about incorporating solar power in my home?

GROSSWENDT: There are two types of solar: one heats your water, the other generates electricity. You can buythe systems outright, and for the type that generates electricity, there are companies that will lease you the equipment.

SLOVAK: To make a whole house solar, you are talking tens of thousands of dollars. Start small, maybe with your water heaters, or a small solar panel for the TV or computer.

MARELLI: Within a short amount of time, solar panels will be efficient enough to compete with municipal energy. Installing them now lets you take advantage of the more efficient panels as they are made. You are ready to upgrade at your own convenience as the technology advances.

WIENER: You should bring in a solar-energy person to tell you how much amperage you need. What you are looking to do is purchase just enough solar panels to generate the electricity you need. It isn't cost-effective to generate extra power, because the power company buys your electricity at wholesale prices.


What exactly is laminate flooring?

PASTER: It's basically plywood that is cut to the shape of wood planks with a veneer on top. It doesn't move as much as hardwood flooring with changes in humidity and temperature, it's more resistant to minor water damage and it can be less expensive, because the basic flooring is made out of something cheap, with a thin layer of the expensive stuff on top.

WIENER: Laminate flooring can now mean a number of things. It can be linoleum; it can be cork, rubber; it can be real wood.

DISALVO: It has become very popular over the years because it can be inexpensive, easily installed and usually prefinished, which eliminates the need for messy sanding and staining.


How do you clean a flooded basement?

MARELLI: A basement is like a huge sponge — it will hold onto water really easily, and you have a risk of mold growth. The primary focus needs to be getting the standing water out of the basement. You might be using a pump or buckets and a mop. Then you want to increase the airflow.

DARDICK: If you have a finished basement, you'll need to remove the carpeting, cut out the drywall above the waterline and remove any insulation behind the wall. Then you'll clean and disinfect the entire area and place fans and dehumidifiers there.

REETZ: There could be water damageto the mechanical systems. A flood can damage a boiler or a water heater. It could do enough damage that you would need to replace the boiler or at least elements of it.


What can I do to hurricane-proof my house?

WAHAB: Replace all your doors and windows with products code-approved for hurricanes. If you do that, you don't have to worry about shutters, and you will get a big savings on your insurance policies. But it creates a lot of hassle, because you have to reinforce the walls where the windows sit. The window can be wonderful, but if the wall isn't solid, the window will fly into the house.

DISALVO: Keeping a portable gasoline- powered generator on hand can be invaluable if your home has a sump pump and you are in an area that loses power easily.

GIOVANNITTI: Thereare metal straps and ties you can use to secure your roof. They are very effective, and if they are installed while the house is being built, very cheap.

SLOVAK: A lot of the time the windwill get into your house through the garage door. If you can afford a new one, get a heavy, solid garage door. If not, what you want to do is put weather stripping along the sides of the garage door tracking to prevent air intrusion.

MARELLI: Actual shutters have a purpose — people use them all over the world, and Americans were dumb to have eliminated then. When you get hit with a storm, the ability to close wood over the glass window is worth every penny.


THE PANEL:JERRY DARDICK J.M.D. BUILDERS INC., Chicago VINCENT DISALVO DISALVO CONTRACTING, Brooklyn DAVID GIOVANNITTI GIOVANNITTI  L.L.C., New York MICHAEL GROSSWENDT ALL COAST CONSTRUCTION, Los Angeles DOUGlas REETZ R.D. WRIGHT INC., New York DIANE SLOVAK THE CONSTRUCTION QUEEN, Weston, Conn. WALID WAHAB WAHAB CONSTRUCTION, Miami JOSH WIENER SILVERLINING INTERIORS INC., New York.

 
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