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Volume 5 Issue 11“Building Confidence”November 2007



Dan and I would like to welcome you to another newsletter from You'll notice that this one is a bit late. More on that later.

What's New

Dan added a couple of items to the Conversion Calculator - HVAC conversions of BTUs to metric and tons of cooling conversions, also he added linear feet to board feet and vice-versa.

Ask Away!

I'll start with an email we got a few days ago from a loyal member:

Hi Dan -
Just wondering if I missed something - the last newsletter on the
site (and which I received) is October 2007. Are you guys ok?
Mike C. Glen Burnie MD

Hi Mike,

No, everything's okay here.

My wife and I went on an 11 day Hawaii cruise and we found out it was heading for Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia, so we stayed on. The cruise took on biblical proportions lasting 40 days and 40 nights, but we had a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. We wouldn't have been able to come up with the airfare to fly all the way to Australia. We got a deal on extending the cruise.

We just got back last week and I've been flat out handling stuff that's been put on hold for the last 6 weeks.

Dave's been handling a lot of my stuff on our site and now he's taking a well-deserved Christmas-New-Years break.

This was an unplanned thing, so we're trying to get reorganized now. I don't know how Dave wants to do this. My guess is that we'll put out November's newsletter belatedly and then December's a little after that.

Dave's brother and webmaster

Hi Dan -
Great trip! I understand completely - how could you turn down that
opportunity? Glad you had a great time and all made it back safely.
God bless, and happy new year to you and yours (and Dave and his).

Thanks very much, Mike!

God bless you and your family and may the new year bring you guys happiness, fulfillness and accomplishment.

I would like to add my response also to Dan's:

Our members are really the greatest. Thanks, Mike for your concern.

During the Christmas season, I always wonder how many people actually know about God's special gift to us, his son Jesus Christ. If any of you would like to discuss this gift and God's plan of salvation with me, feel free to reply to this newsletter. God bless you all, whatever your religious beliefs and all the best in the new year.


The following are questions and answers from November:

We had custom cabinets built for our bathroom. We chose to install the
drawer knobs and door handles. What is the best way to install knobs and
handles and assure uniformity prior to drilling holes.
Cabinet facing wood is cherry

Hi Jack,

Pick a measurement you want, depending on the stiles and rails, if any.

The upper cabinet pulls or knobs are attached for easier reach near the bottom of the door. The base cabinets are attached near the top of the door. Start at about 2" by 2" in from the edge and down from the top or up from the bottom, for knobs.

Use a center punch to mark the holes. A center punch for wood is like a sharpened screw driver. In fact that is how I made mine, from an old screw driver that I cut off and sharpened to a point.

Use a small wood block, about 3x4x3/4 thick, for backing on the inside of the door or drawer. This prevents the drill from splitting out the inside face. Just hold it tight on the inside surface when drilling the hole.

I've made jigs to mark and drill the holes, but I prefer just measuring and marking and center punching the holes.

Use a 3/16" drill bit, a bit larger than the machine screw.


We are building an oak staircase with a winder and a 90 degree turn
after the fourth step. The floor to floor measurement is 113".
How do we calculate the rise and run in an L shaped staircase?


Hi Kathy,

The rises are the same no matter how many winders or landings you put in. They cannot vary. The runs are the same number but their lengths vary depending on tread, winder or landing width. These can vary. What determines the width of tread, other than the riser run rule, is amount of total run available.

In your example: You have 113" total rise which has to be divided equally into rises. This doesn't vary, each rise must be exactly the same height for a good set of stairs. The rise is simply the number of equal distances divided into your total rise. So this is easy. Pick an ideal size rise for your stairs, in a house it is 7.62. 113 divided by 7.62 = 14.8. We cannot have a partial rise so we divide the total rise by an equal number to get a rise that falls within our safety category between 6.0 and 7.75. Okay divide 113 by 15 to get 7.53 or 7 17/32. This is our rise. If we divide 113 by 14 we get 8.07 which is out of our safety envelope. If we divide 113 by 16 we get 7.06 which is within limits. If we divide 113 by 17 we get 6.64, also within limits. What we are doing when lowering our rises is adding steps. This may be a problem with room to put those extra steps in. Usually, in a house our space is limited so we want to get up the stairs in the shortest space yet stay within our safety margins. When we build a public building, we try for a 6" rise because it is more comfortable for older people and usually we have lots of room, as opposed to a house.

If you are talking about putting in winders, obviously your total run is limited. Nobody in their right mind would put in winders if they had lots of room. People trip on winders, they are more time consuming to build, use more material, time and material is more costly, etc.

A landing is the best bet, with a change of direction. Yes, you can marry a winder with a landing and gain two steps instead of one. I presume that is what you are doing.

When in doubt, draw a picture.

Drawing numbering the stairs for a member.The numbers shown depict the 14 steps or runs, the 15 lines are the rises. The winder is a run and the landing is a run, just different lengths than the steps. The run of a landing is the width of the stairs. The landing should be square. If the stairs are to be inspected, the winders must not come to a point as shown to the left. Checkout my article on Stair Winders for more information.

Another thing you have to watch for is your headroom. You have to be careful where you put in your landing if you have limited headroom, under a beam or low ceiling on the bottom floor.

Hope this helps,


Hi Dave,
We live in Vernon BC. We recently had two floods in our house due to two
faulty 1/2 " PEX elbow fittings with the following lettering:
1/2 PEX
Korea, AH-U

Both fittings split at the joint connection.

I have several questions:
- Have you heard of these plumbing fittings and any other problems with them?
- would you recommend that we replace all of these fittings in our house?
(probably over 50 of them and most are concealed under finished ceilings
and walls)

Thank you for your interest and it's great to find some western Canadian
content on the Internet!!

Hi Ingrid,

Pex fittings are quite commonly used in house construction in BC and Canada. They are the new replacements for the old quest fittings. I have the older fittings in my house with no problems.

I just checked my Pex fitting supplies that I still have in stock. They are made in Canada by BOW with NSF and CSA on them. You have an import brand which may not be certified by CSA (Canadian Standards Association). I've seen copper fittings split from freezing, could that be the problem? I would not change all the fittings at this time. You are now aware of a possible problem in these fittings so I recommend to shut the main water off when ever you go on an extended trip, over a week in length, as well as the hot water tank breaker. I do this myself. Hopefully, you have a main shut off easily accessible on your water supply line coming into the house.

On these PEX fittings, there is a ring that is crimped over the plastic tubing, with a special tool. Is this what broke or did the actual fitting itself split?


Hi Dave,

Thank you for the immediate and helpful reply.

To answer your questions and provide more clarification:

No, the fittings did not freeze. Both broken fittings were located
in the middle of our house and the temperatures were above freezing.

The actual fittings snapped at the joint, leaving the ring that is
crimped over the plastic tubing intact. The plumber who replaced
the broken fitting claimed that the installation was done correctly.
It was the elbow fitting that snapped at the joint. The remaining
broken piece is still connected inside the pipe.

In the photos you can see the remaining broken piece inside the pipe
on the left.
Photo of a pipe fitting.

Photo of a pipe fitting inside.

A month after the first flood, another 1/2 inch PEX elbow fitting
broke in a different location in our home. The fitting snapped in
the same location at the joint, leaving the remaining piece in
the pipe. Again, the ring that is crimped over the plastic tubing
remained intact.

The broken fitting was attached to another 1/2 PEX elbow fitting
which did not break. It appears that two different types of elbow
fittings were used in our house, however only the square shaped
elbow fitting with the markings "1/2 PEX NSF-PW korea AH-U" are

Our home was built in the Fall of 2004 by a professional home
builder and the plumbing was done by a professional licensed

Our home builder is in the process of contacting the supplier and
subsequently the manufacturer. Our builder is recommending that we
replace all of these fittings, as it appears they are faulty and
another one could break at any time. We have over 50 of them to
replace, located behind walls, ceilings. etc!!

I have taken your advice and am turning off the main water shut
off when I leave our house for extended periods of time.

Thank you kindly,

Wow! This is unbelievable! Usually, plumbers go to a wholesaler, like Andrew Sheret, etc., who purchase CSA products. Somehow these inferior fittings got into the chain, either from the plumber trying to go cheap or the wholesaler. Sounds like your building contractor is trying to do the right thing for you. I hope he can succeed. Your home should be covered with a 5 year home warranty. Please let me know if it is worth the paper it is written on. To replace these 50 fittings is going to be expensive, time consuming and messy. I hope you get compensation for this.


Hi Dave,
Let's see if I can explain my conundrum...I'm renovating the old
utility room in my house to be my office and have gotten to the
point where I need to replace the windows. I've already replaced
the door with a pre-hung that had a 5 3/4" jamb. This includes
the stud depth and the wall paneling. So when I went to buy the
new windows, I told them that the jam size was 5 3/4".
When I just received the windows, they were 7" deep. 1/2" will
extend into the interior of the room that I can butt the 1/2"
drywall up to flush. That leaves about 3/4" sticking out on the
exterior beyond the stucco. My stucco is so roughly applied,
that I think I have to cut all the stucco away and apply a
layer of paneling and then the molding to the paneling so it's
flush and flat. My question, is it normal that aluminum clad
windows extend this far out on the exterior? Or do I have it
backwards? Do I need to push the window flush with the exterior
and have it extend farther into the interior? molding on this
type of window doesn't usually overlap the aluminum, it just
butts up against it, correct?

2nd question: To build out the rough opening on a window,
is it O.K. to use 1/2" plywood? I can't seem to find 1/2" pine
or similar and I need to build it out 1" (not 1 1/2").


Hi Brian,

Windows should project out past the exterior finish by about 3/4 to 1". Usually on alum. clad windows the alum is just on the outside and the interior remains wood. If yours is alum on the inside, as well, I would treat it in the same way. That is the inside jamb is flush with the paneling or drywall and the casing goes over the jamb and the paneling or drywall. The exterior is left protruding past the finish which is caulked between the frame and the finish - in your case stucco. If yours is alum. on the inside don't nail into the jamb just the stud beside it and lay a bead of caulking around the jamb at the casing. Alex Plus comes in various colors including clear.

When I install windows after the house is finished, I install 1x4 casing on the outside to cover over the stucco or siding. This gives a nice finish around the windows and a smooth surface to caulk. For caulk I use a latex caulking with silicon, such as Alex Plus. This enables the 1x4 and caulk to be painted.

There is no problem using plywood for a window or door jamb or for packing on the outside as long as the plywood is not exposed to the weather and covered by finish or casing.


Thanks Dave. Any idea how to get the casings to sit flush on a
roughly designed stucco finish, or am I going to have to cut the
stucco out and apply the casing to the paneling under the stucco?

Hi Brian,

The idea is to install the 1x4 casing over the stucco to prevent water entering. Try to knock off the high spots with an old chisel or grind it off with a 4" angle grinder. After the casing is on fill in with caulking on the outside edge against and under the stucco.

By the way there is a correct order in cutting and applying the casing for an outside window.

Bottom first, flush with frame, sides next, flush with top of frame and bottom of existing casing. Then the top piece goes on flush or 1 1/2" overhang on each end for effect. Caulk all trim joints, as well. Checkout this pic:

Drawing of typical window trim when constructing a window.

Don't forget the drip cap. It should be on top of the window frame, under the 1x4. Then caulk all the way around on both sides of the trim.


Hi Dave:
Well, our house is coming along nicely, albeit slowly, but all
the finish floors are done (I know, my priorities may be a little
out of whack) and now all I have to do is trim out the 48 windows!
The windows are Anderson double-hung and casement, and it seems as
though the process may be a little different for each. I also want
to install a sill, not just picture frame them. How do I attach
the extension jambs to the frame?
The extension jambs I have DO NOT have that "groove" that the
window frame has. What are the steps for trimming windows?
What about windows that are mulled together? Looking forward to
your advice!

All you have to do is trim out 48 windows, eh?

Let's start with a drawing:

Diagram of inside window trim showing casing, stool and apron.

Notice the sill or stool and apron under it. The sill is actually an extension of the bottom jamb which projects out past the face of the wall by at least 3/4". The casing comes to the sill on each side.

Here is another option. This is how I finished my windows. They have drywall liners instead of wood, but you can do the same as I did here with a wood liner. The wood liner is installed against the window frame and shimmed against the stud, just as is a door jamb. The casing covers this gap. Wood framed windows should be installed flush to the inside of the drywall or wall paneling. The sill is then glued and fastened to the bottom of the jamb forming a protrusion.

Photo of a window sill.

The following is how I mitered my upper casing on the doors and windows. My windows are circle head so I chose to follow that theme with the casing. Each miter is 22 1/2 degrees instead of one at 45.

Photo of the mitre in the corner of a  window casing.

Hope this helps,


Well, that's it for another month. Remember what I said about the true meaning of Christmas and discussing it together.

I hope 2008 will be your best year yet.


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