Q. Last winter, one of our windows leaked for the third year in a row. We tried caulking and even installed an awning over the window: all to no avail. Each time it rains, water drips from the upper edge of the window frame, damaging the paint on the sill and wall. The handymen we've called give no guarantee that they can solve the problem. How can we identify the origin of this leak and get it to stop?
A. Sources of window leakage can confound the most dogged house detectives, but for every problem there is a solution awaiting discovery by those of unyielding determination. So let's consider three possible causes:
• Some windows leak as a result of faulty design. These can usually be identified by a qualified window installer. If you know of an experienced and knowledgeable glazier in your area, have that person take a look.
• Some windows leak because of faulty installation, usually with regard to the flashing. Flashing is the waterproof membrane that is applied to the window frame prior to installing the exterior siding. When this is the problem, repair can be costly, because some of the siding may need to be removed.
• With stucco houses, leaking can occur because of direct water penetration through the stucco itself, especially if the flashing is not properly installed. A common solution for this type of leakage is the application of elastomeric paint. This is a rubberized finish that will thoroughly seal the wall surface with an impermeable membrane.
Before proceeding with attempted repairs, try water-testing the area around your window with a garden hose. This may help to identify precisely where the leakage is taking place.
Q. I'm planning to install insulation in the floor framing beneath my house but am afraid of black widow spiders that might try to bite me. Are there some precautions I should take, or would I be better off to let someone else do the work?
A. Subareas beneath houses are generally regarded as creepy places and are therefore not recommended for the squeamish. In the course of crawling beneath a building, you're likely to get dusty, or possibly even muddy, and you're also bound to find vast networks of old dusty webs -- but not necessarily those of black widows.
Although black widow spiders do inhabit many subareas, they are usually easy to avoid.
Generally, they are found near the crawl space entrances, especially at the upper corners, and at the vent openings, where the chances of catching flies are most promising to an enterprising arachnid.
If you maintain a well-lighted work area, wear gloves, and keep your eyes alert for unfriendly company, you shouldn't have any unwelcome incidents.
In any event, subareas are not the most pleasant of places. If you decide to do the work yourself, get someone to work with you.
The job will go a lot faster, you'll have someone there in case of an emergency, and you might think of some good spider jokes while hacking your way through the webs.
Example: What did one spider say to another? Answer: Time's fun when you're having flies.
• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at www.housedetective.com, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.
© 2018, Action Coast Publishing