September 1993 Edition

Fungus On The Roof?

I've noticed black stains on my fiberglass roof shingles. What is causing the stains and how do I prevent them?     

The stains are a fungus. There isn't much you can do to remove the fungus without damaging the shingles themselves. You can try scrubbing the shingles with a mild bleach solution (one part chlorine bleach to five parts water). But keep in mind that scrubbing your shingles will remove some of their protective granules. It is best to spray the solution on the stained area and let it soak. Then go back and rinse the area with plain water. This way you will not damage the surface. The fungus probably will grow back.

Some roofing contractors said they have had success preventing fungal growth by nailing 6 inch wide strips of galvanized metal every 3 to 4 feet across the entire length of the roof. I guess you have to decide which looks worse, metal strips or black fungus.

The other alternative is to replace the shingles with ones that are fungus resistant. Buy shingles that are labeled fungus resistant or "FS".

Copper And Galvanized Mixed?

Several years ago I did some remodeling to an upstairs bathroom. I used copper pipes to extend some existing galvanized pipes. Now the copper has greenish "pit holes" in it and is starting to leak. A friend of mine says this is caused by electrolysis. He said you can't connect copper pipes to galvanized. What do I do 

Your friend is right. Copper and galvanized pipe should not be connected directly together. Because your copper pipes are starting to leak, you should replace all of the piping that is showing signs of deterioration or where there is a direct copper-to-galvanized connection.

When you replace the pipes, connect the copper to galvanized using dielectric fittings. These can be couplings, unions or nipples. Dielectric fittings separate the two metals preventing the electrolysis that corrodes the pipe. Nipples that are at least 4 inches long do the best job of stopping electrolysis. You may have to go to a plumbing supply house to find these fittings. Check in the phone directory under "Plumbing and Plumbing Supplies".

Storm Windows Over Double Pane

We would like to make our house as energy efficient as possible and would like to know if it is a good idea to add storm windows over our existing insulated glass windows?

Even in the northern states with high heating costs, it is not always cost-effective to install storm windows over double-pane windows. The cost of adding the storm windows will only reduce your utilities a small amount resulting in a payback that might take many years to recoup. Storm windows are excellent for single pane or un-insulated windows but do little for insulated windows.           

In the Atlanta area, where cooling is the major expense, the storm windows will not do much to reduce solar heat gain. A better choice would be to install solar film on the existing insulated glass windows.          

Another solution is to plant trees to shield the hot sun's rays from entering the windows. These may take years to grow enough to be effective but eventually they will make a big difference           

On many of the older homes in Atlanta, you still find the aluminum awnings over the windows. These may not be in style now but they are effective.  

Wood Floor In The Kitchen?

We're remodeling our kitchen and can't decide if we should install wood floors or not. Will a wood floor hold up to the we

Don't worry, plenty of people are perfectly happy with a wood floor in their kitchen. Floor finishes are much tougher now and they will hold up well under kitchen traffic and spills as long as you take reasonable care of them.

When you choose a wood floor for a kitchen, stay away from ones where the boards have beveled edges. They collect dirt and are hard to clean. Also, avoid a dark-stained floor because excess wear will be very noticeable.

To keep your kitchen floor looking good, wipe up any spills immediately. You can also place throw rugs in front of the sink, dishwasher and refrigerator, or wherever spills are likely. The biggest enemy of a wood floor, anywhere, is sand and dirt from outdoors. You will get the most life from your floor finish if you vacuum frequently, use dirt trapping mats inside all doors and  put soft protectors on the bottom of all pieces of furniture.

You will need to refinish the floor from time to time. As long as you do not let the finish wear down to bare wood, you can lightly sand to rough up the finish and then apply one or two coats of new polyurethane right on top of the old. Never use wax on a varnished or polyurethane wood floor because it will prevent any new finish from sticking forcing you to sand the floor down to bare wood. Expect to refinish the wood floor every three to ten years depending on the wear. The cost to have the floor professionally refinished is around $1.25 to $2.00 per square foot.

Workshop Smoke Detector?

I have a bi-level house with two smoke detectors. However there is no detector in the garage. I want to add one in the garage but I'm afraid we'd never hear them upstairs. Are there any detectors I can install that would set off an alarm upstairs?           

The item you're looking for is called a multi-station smoke detector. If you replace your present detectors with multi-station ones, you can wire them all together. Then if one goes off, they all will. Multi-station detectors cost around $40.00 each and are available from hardware stores and fire alarm dealers. They must be wired together with 12-3 or 14-3 cable in accordance with the electrical code.         

It's not a good idea, however, to put a smoke detector inside

the garage. The dust and fumes can make the smoke detector set off so many false alarms you'll end up disconnecting it. Instead, put your smoke alarm just outside the door.           

If you're concerned about the possibility of a fire starting in the garage, I recommend you install a self-closing door that is either metal or wood that has a one-hour fire rating. Also install a "fire" detector and not a smoke detector. Also, it is a very good idea to have a fire extinguisher that is rated for all types of fires.

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

Joke of the Day

Definition: Optimist
A happychondriac.

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Beverly Jones
Interstate Realty, Inc
**** Thank You****