Ask The Expert

Robert,

Remove stucco or not? I have a west facing living/dinning room wall that makes my a/c work o/t. Radiant heat you can feel; it’s a cathedral ceiling to boot. An emblem tract home built in 1964, so insulation is gone no doubt. I want to make this wall thicker, and get the most “R” value I can. If I leave stucco on, I would have insulation blown in first. After that, I would plant-on treated 2×4 flat, lagging through stucco. How does this all add up, vs. removing stucco first? Oh, there is one 6×4 window — dual pain does not cut it. What’s better? Tri-pain? Tinted? What’s out there? Thanks,

Pat G.

Hi Pat,

I agree: With a house that age, I’m sure the insulation is shot.

You don’t want to start running lags through the stucco because it will penetrate the paper underneath, which is keeping the water out of your house.

If you’re willing to go through the expense to give you the results you’re looking for, I would recommend tearing it all out. Remove and replace the stucco, paper and insulation.

Concerning your window, a dual pane is the best option. If you see water condensating between the two panes, this means that the seal has failed, the gas is gone and the window needs to be replaced. Get the window factory tinted if possible. Have them tinted as dark as they can go. They can’t go too dark or the reflectivity will literally cause the window to crack. With too dark of tint, when the sunlight shines through the exterior pane and then hits the reflective tint on the inside pane, it will bounce back and blow out that outside pane. I learned this lesson the hard way. Go with the right tint shade or just purchase factory tinted windows.

If you decide to tint your existing or new window, I recommend using only 3M tint designed for dual pane windows or it’s almost guaranteed they will crack.

You asked what’s better than a dual pane window? A solid wall, but you can’t take the window out. You can make it larger, but you can’t remove it or even minimize it. The amount of window space for that room area has already been calculated based on the square footages of the room. For fire purposes, you have to have windows.

Hi Robert,

We live in the country and don’t have any fire hydrants on our street. Is it possible to have one installed? Does the city do this for free? Sincerely,

Steve R.

Hi Steve,

If you live on a private street or driveway, then maybe there are hydrants on the adjoining streets that would allow for pumper trucks to come in line and fill their tanks, then pump the water on your street.

You would need to contact the city and the water department or purveyor that serves your area. Usually the water department works with the public and the city oversees private domains. You and your community would have to obtain both building and plumbing permits from the city, and adhere to the BMP’s – Best Management Policies — as required. You would also have to cover all fees and design criterion before your request would go to the bidding process.

Submit questions to: robert@imsconstruction.com

Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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