Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Roof notes

(with links I want to save)

Because the solar companies told us we need to deal with our roof, we started learning about roofs. They’re much more complicated than I thought. The big problem for us is the chimney flashing, which is not in great shape. We don’t want more lead on the house, but lead flashing is the standard choice in these parts. The roofer we were going to use won’t consider any alternatives. Lead flashing stays much more intact than lead paint, but it can have some runoff, and installation and removal both are much more problematic than commonly acknowledged. And where our chimney is, any lead dust running off from around the chimney (from cutting the lead, deburring it, grinding it out, or just continued degradation from environmental exposure) will go straight into a very small garden that we want to be working in.

The other good choices seem to be removing the chimney entirely or using copper flashing. (Copper isn’t great to ingest, but it’s not as bad as lead, and there’s a lot of copper in roofing shingles anyway to reduce algae growth.) I’m not sure why nobody considers zinc. We can’t remove the chimney until we change out the furnace (planned for the next few years), the water heater (as soon as feasible), and the fireplace (need to learn more). But it would make a lot of sense to remove it: it’s usefulness is declining, maintenance is a giant expensive headache, and it’s an enormous roof penetration that coincidentally makes house fires worse.

We might talk to GF Sprague, Ranch Roofing, or someone else recommended on the Arlington List. We have three quotes from other roofers, only one of which seems sufficiently detailed.

I’d love to rebuild the front porch and dormer over it at the same time, but we can’t live through that kind of construction with a toddler. And we still won’t be able to make our house look like this one.

For solar reflectivity, asphalt shingles vary from terrible to bad. Medium gray is pretty close to light gray in reflectivity, and is not as terrible as very dark gray or black.

If we ever do more work on the inside of the house, there’s some ideas at aMortonDesign, Clarke Carpentry, and Second Life. Or we could do more ourselves with help from Mr. Pete. We’re adding some shelving to my office, but I don’t really want to do more interior work anytime soon.

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