Years ago, I discovered how professionals clean acres of glass. I called the presidents of two of the largest window-washing companies in the country. These are the companies that clean windows on skyscrapers. The answers from both were identical, and I hung up the phone thinking: “There’s no way it can be that simple.”
Both men said the secret is to use regular water with a small amount of liquid dish soap in it. You can purchase special window-washing soaps for this purpose if you want. The second most important thing is to use the correct tool to clean the glass. Pros use a lambswool tool that they rub across the glass. This tool is soaked in the water solution, and the sweeping motion the pros use gets the dirt off the glass.
The brass squeegee you see the pros use is not a magic tool that’s cleaning the glass. It’s just removing the left-behind water. The pros will also use a rag to wipe any excess water from the edges of the glass. I use this method, and my glass here at my house is spotless.
The blue liquid, ammonia and all those other home methods are just a waste of time. If they worked, don’t you think you’d see the pros use them? After all, the faster and better they can clean glass, the more money they make. There’s a reason you never see a pro use blue liquid and paper towels or rags.
Q: Tim, I need your help. I contracted with a large home center to have a deck built. I came home from work and saw that the carpenters had toenailed an outer joist to the side of my home. Many of the nails are close to the edge, and I can already see some splitting of the wood. The deck railing post is connected to this joist, and I’m worried about its strength. What’s the right way to make this connection? How would you have done it?
— Amber T., Memphis
A: Amber sent me a photograph of the flawed workmanship. It shook me to the core. I also saw serious errors made in how the ledger board was attached to the house and how the flashing was applied.
The Internet is littered with stories of deck collapses. Just a year ago, a friend of my daughter almost died because of a deck collapse. She broke her neck and ruptured her spleen.
Here’s what I see in Amber’s photo. First, there are two joists at the end of the deck. The first one, no doubt, is nailed into the end grain of the ledger board. This is the weakest of all connections, because the holding power of end grain is far lower than the holding power of a fastener installed 90 degrees to the end grain.
The visible nails used were installed by a nail gun. They may have a thin coating of galvanizing on them. Newer treated lumber has a higher copper content, and it requires very special fasteners that have a much thicker coating of galvanizing to resist corrosion. When you purchase fasteners, most have an exposure rating on the label. Always purchase ones with the highest level of corrosion resistance.
Toenailing a horizontal beam to a wall is simply unacceptable. The nails shot by the nail gun were probably no longer than three inches. When you do the math, maybe just ¾ of an inch of the nail passed through the outer-oriented strand board of the house into who knows what. There are all sorts of approved ways to connect this double joist at the end of the deck. The ledger board could have extended another six inches and then a double joist hanger could have supported the two joists. Special structural screws should be used to attach the joist hanger to the ledger, not nails.
See my website for information about flashing details, fire cuts and how you can employ those to keep water out of your house when you flash up from a deck ledger board, over it and down the face of it.
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