Historic Winter

The panic continues. Yesterday, when I got home, I noticed my neighbor on the top of a ladder, that was too short, with a shovel that was too small, trying to knock some of the snow off his roof. I told him to stop before he killed himself. Our homes, typically have been constructed to take the weight of even a historic winter like the one we’re experiencing this year. There is no need to risk life and limb to shovel off the roof of your house.

The disconcerting part of all the reports of roof collapses,to me, is there are that many owners of buildings that have had alteration work done not in compliance with the codes for this area of the country. As of this morning, it has been reported that approximately 70 buildings have experienced some form of structural damage to their roofs. I would venture a guess that all have had some sort of alteration made to their building, probably since 1996, the last bad winter. These alterations more likely have not been completed correctly, have not been properly inspected for code compliance, and/ or have not been designed or approved by an architect or engineer.

Examples of this are multiple layers of roofing that has been installed. The rule of thumb in the roofing industry had always been that a third layer of roof is a no-no. Two layers maximum. This is still the code in most communities although I have noticed some communities, including Boston, are now allowing a third layer; bad idea. I personally don’t like putting on a second layer, and have always recommended that the old roofing be removed before installing a new roof.

I have also noticed a trend to install a sloped roof over a flat roof in recent years, because “flat roofs are always a problem”. Another bad idea. Large, sweeping sloped roof areas cannot drain off quickly enough, and buildings are not designed to take the weight of roof framing installed over flat roof framing. I believe this is the problem with the school in Georgetown, and the one in Hingham. Also, large metal buildings of the type that caved in at Plymouth Airport are a problem. They are not designed to take snow loads, in fact I question whether they should be allowed at all in this part of the country.

I watched WBZ last night interview Tom Silva from “This Old House”. He offered great advice. Ice dams are a major problem, and a very misunderstood problem, and a problem that cannot be solved during the winter. The best thing to do, is minimize any damage to the interior of your home (because of the water leaking in), by clearing the ice dam. Mr. Silva had some fantastic ideas for doing this by filling a paper bag, or panty hose with ice melt and throwing it, or placing it (if it can be done safely) in the area of the dam. The best part of that ingenious method is that you don’t have to get up on the roof to do it. I did disagree with Mr. Silva’s comments that the entire roof should be cleared off. In my experience, cutting channels through the dams, and spreading the ice melt will immediately alleviate the leaking caused from the ice dam. There is no need to shovel the entire roof. Will the ice dam re-occur? Yes, until it is permanently corrected, in the better weather, by adding ventilation. My opinion is that more harm than good will result in a roof being completely shoveled off, even by supposed professionals.

The good news is that no one has gotten seriously hurt because of a roof failure. What I expect to hear next are reports that people are getting hurt because they are trying to shovel off their roofs. Inexperienced people on the roof is trouble. Even professionals can get hurt. If you consider the weight that a crew of roofers puts on an already overloaded roof with altered framing members, then you can expect at some point that a roof has collapsed with roofers on it. And then of couse there will be those reports of homeowners feeling the need to hire anybody to clear there roof and getting ripped off.

Be safe, be smart, don’t panic. Spring is coming.


Roof Collapse Hysteria

Roofs don’t need to be shoveled off. Take it from someone who has been in the business for 35 years. The media is making it sound as if roofs are collapsing all over New England. I haven’t done a survey but there have been probably 10 partial roof collapses that I have seen reported by news outlets during this winter. All of them, I’m sure can be attributed to poor design or renovations that were completed incorrectly. Don’t get me wrong, if it makes you feel better, then by all means, pay someone to shovel it off. It will put roofers to work that may otherwise be out of work. As far as doing it yourself, or having someone without roofing experience do it, don’t, because it’s dangerous work.

Ice dams are a completely different problem and do not require the roof to be shoveled off. Ice dams can be complicated, and contrary to popular belief, are not a roof problem but a ventilation issue.

Shoveling the roof can do more harm than good. If you are worried about your roof, then hire a roofer to clear away the drainage paths of your roof. Typically, clear snow away from gutters, downspouts and most especially interior drains on flat roof surfaces and spread some ice melt material around them to enhance the melting.

I have never seen a typical residential home’s roof collapse, and in all the cases where a flat roof has collapsed, other factors have contributed to causing sections of these roofs to be over-loaded.

Ninety Nine

When my son was preparing for the end of his high school days and hedging on whether to go on to college because “four years is a long time”, I told him to go ask his then 96 year old great-grandmother if she thought 4 years was a long time. When my then 75 year old father took a spill on his Harley and wound up in the hospital, the first words he spoke were, “don’t tell my mother”. Obviously, I had to, and with much trepidation, I said to my grandmother, “Gram, I have some bad news about Stan”. Her reply was, “is he in jail again?” That broke the ice and as she so often did, my grandmother made a difficult situation easier, and we actually had a laugh over it, despite its seriousness. Of course my father fully recovered, and is looking at new Harleys as I write this. His mother, my grandmother, Cora Spain, passed away on December 22 at the age of 99 years. So, this last month of the year was a bit sad for me but certainly there is some consolation in that she lived a long good life. I’m sure she is happy to be reunited with her husband, another Stanley Spain, who passed away in 2002 at the age of 96.

Do Tell, Don’t Comment

WBZ recently made changes to their web site. Actually, it’s been a few weeks so all the kinks should be worked out by now and those of us who don’t handle change well should be used to it. In the past couple of years I have often commented on articles there, Jon Keller’s in particular. I like the new site and in fact started this little blog of my own as a result of accessing WordPress there.

I’m still trying to get used to the new site but it’s all good because I’m learning as I go. I’m thinking there must be a computerized comment moderator that has a list of words that are not allowed. I like to call it the “Comment Nazi”. I commented the other day on Jon’s blog about the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, using the word “homosexual” and the comment did not go through. This has happened before with other words and thus entire comments are automatically trashed by the Nazi as a result.

The comment was “it’s good to know that our government has finally come to accept that homosexuals can be trained to kill just as readily as heterosexuals”.

I just tried to submit the comment again by starring a couple of letters in the word ho**osexual and it still did not appear. I now notice, in the same blog posting, that Mr. Keller did not use that word; we’ll call it the “H” word. I know I’m getting old but is homosexual a bad word? Is “gay” more politically correct? I may need to update my PC dictionary.

I notice in Dr. Cindi Love’s article here, that she uses the “H” word. It’s all very confusing. I’m just glad that the military is no longer confused, even if John McCain and David Bahati are.


I’d never heard of a waterball until a young girl almost died in one recently. Now maybe it’s me, but as soon as I saw a picture of one I could hear my mother’s voice telling me to never, ever, ever put a plastic bag over your head. Makes sense. Of course, I understand that everyone has good common sense and would be sure that their child could breathe before climbing inside a waterball, and like all good parents, I assumed there was a way to breath inside one. FAIL, there’s not. I went to this site and discovered on the FAQ page that there is enough air inside the ball to breath “for a long time”. Ha, ha, ha! There’s no way I get into one of those things and thusly not my kid.

On a lighter darker note, the web site also mentions the “Loveball”, in which two people can enter and float around the pool in, at night. NOT.

I’ll stay with my good ole rubber tube.

3-D TV

I tend to be overly nostalgic, having a penchant for history and all. It seems like only yesterday I was one of the last of my friends to get a Sony Walkman and now I hear they are phasing them out. I had my first television for about 20 years and it was still working fine when I got the urge to “invest” in one of the new big screen TV’s. The thing took up half the room. I invited all three of my friends over to watch the Patriots lose to the Packers in the 1996 Super Bowl. That lasted about 10 years before the picture started getting lousy, and while visiting one of my three friends with a “high-definition” television, I decided to make another investment in one of those.

I got one with a flat screen, that you could buy a special attachment to, for 150 bucks, to hang it on the wall like a picture and I got a special surround sound system that the salesman said I really needed to complete the “experience” of watching television. I did my homework and wisely stayed away from the “plasma” TV’s. Besides, they were way too expensive.

All in all, it cost me more than the first three cars I owned. It took me a couple of weeks to realize that there were special channels you had to watch in order to take advantage of the high-definition appearance and not long after that the cable television company came out with a new pricing scheme to take advantage of everybody with high-definition. I also couldn’t figure out how to get the surround sound to work with the regular channels. I’m still working on that. It is quite effective when I rent a movie, in fact it’s so effective I sometimes have to keep the clicker in hand and constantly adjust the volume or I’ll get a headache. A while back I noticed this new concept called “Blu-ray”. Well, I guess it’s not that new. Then I was reading today that 3-D television is the big thing this Christmas season. I think if I want to see a movie in 3-D, I’ll spend $8 $15 on a movie. Oh how I long for that 20-year-old TV with the rabbit ears and three channels.

The Weymouth News

The Weymouth News newspaper is the only news I get in hard print anymore. All other forms of media I receive via web access, including Wicked Local Weymouth, which is the on-line version of the Weymouth News, or at least should be. As more and more newspapers become extinct, their web sites will be the only way to get the news, in its various forms, and eventually their respective outlets, in this case Gatehouse Media, will be forced to charge a fee for on-line access. The reason I continue to get the printed version of the Weymouth News is because they do not post all the articles found in print, on the web site. I have submitted some articles over the past couple of years that appeared in print but not on-line. The on-line version of news opinion allow for immediate comments, whereas the print versions require a “letter to the editor” that, if it appears at all, won’t be seen for at least a week after the initial opinion was read. I have also submitted this blog site, through an invitation to do so, that has yet to be linked to on the Wicked Local site. What I’m alluding to here is that I don’t understand the policy of the Weymouth News, when it comes to what gets posted on-line, what gets printed and what doesn’t.

Today I read a letter to the editor written by Kevin Borth. I have several issues with the letter, some that apply to Gatehouse Media, and some with Mr. Borth. First off, it has always been  Gatehouse’s policy to limit outside opinion to a certain number of words. I know that this policy is probably flexible, but Mr. Borth’s opinion appeared alongside another letter to the editor that was also beyond the word count limit. Not a big deal I suppose, so long as all letters and opinions are published, which they are not. Of course that would be costly in the print form, although not so much in the on-line form. Mr. Borth’s opinion also was available in print and on-line. He must be related to someone in the front office. In fairness, the other letter was available in both forms of media as well, so perhaps the policy has changed. It’s just a tad frustrating that a simple link to my blog, which is Weymouth related, is ignored while off subject opinions that go against policy find their way into everyone’s home.

As far as the content of Mr. Borth’s opinion goes, it is sensationalism, which is probably why it was published; to get comments and feedback. Unfortunately, most of the comments were by the same two people, and a third that clearly needs therapy, but that is nothing new. It’s easy to write sensationalized popular opinions, ones that call for all illegal immigrants to be deported for example, or as in this case, being critical of one’s freedom of speech under the guise of patriotism. The point is, Mr. Borth’s opinion had nothing to do with the “editor”, the “Weymouth” news, or the original opinion by Jean York.

I went back several weeks to try and find an article by Ms. York that was critical of the military. I didn’t find it, although it may have been written months ago. Perhaps a reference or link to it in Mr. Borth’s letter would have helped. Truth be told, I never read Ms. York’s column. Not because I disagree, but because it never has anything to do with “Weymouth” news. The same can be said of other weekly columns in the Weymouth News.

Lastly, my personal opinion of Mr. Borth’s letter is that, for someone who spent 27 years in the military, he should be ashamed to write an opinion that so blatantly separates the United States military duty from the rights and freedom of its citizens. He uses words such as “we” and “us” when referring to the military, and “you” when speaking of following orders. When last I checked “we” were the United States Of America, and “we” just might be of the opinion that Iraq and Afghanistan are not where “our” military should be.