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bofusmosby 01-27-2008 09:51 PM

To vent a column?
 
OK guys, I have a question from you.

Background
The avitar photo shows my house, with these 6 columns going across the front porch. The colomns are 13/16" thick boards, about 12" wide. All four boards are end-joined (butt joint?) forming the square shape. The joints held tight with bar-clamps while they were glued and screwed with 3 " deck screws (pre-drilled). The colomns are about 23 feet tall. About 6 years ago, I originally had removed all the paint (many many layers), there were a lot of splts in the wood that had been filled with caulk over the many years, causing the paint to fail, so I used a small saw-blade on my drill, removed all the old caulk, cutting into the good clean wook for a good "bite" for the glue. I then epoxy'd all splits, prepped the wood, gave it 2 coats of oil-base primer, and 2 coats of Acrylic Laytex top coat. I have just noticed that there are a few places, where either the epoxy has failed, or there were some splits that either I had missed before, and now, they are opening up, causing the paint and primer to split, or new splits may be occuring. Of course, once that happens, its only a matter of time before there will be some rot starting.

When I bought this house, the colomns were litterally coming apart at the seams. Instead of hammering them back together, people over the years had just been applying a thicker layer of caulk where the boards were seperating, and re-painted. The colomns go into concrete, and they have been in this same concrete over 80 years. All water is deverted away from the wood going into the concrete bases. Most of them have repairs I made, re-inforcing the base with 2" X 6"'s inside. There are also horiz 2" x 4"'s (old) inside keeping the boards from bowing. Other than that, they're hollow.

Question

These columns are as air-tight as I could get them, but I am thinking maybe I have made a mistake. Do these columns have to be vented, and if so, would it have to be an opening in the top AND bottom, or would a small vent on top suffice? I live in Florida, and we get a lot of rain at times, with temps (highs) in the 70's-90's most of the year. Very high Humidity most of the time. We get 1-2 freezes every couple of years or so. Just in case that matters. Could the fact that they WERE not vented have caused these splits? I also know that it could be paint failure, but it only seems to be where the splits are. As the boards expand and contract, if there is a split in the wood, this split will have a tendancy to really open up......I think.

I am one of these "perfectionists", I always go to the extreme. I am doing a complete restoration, and if I have to keep going back to what I have already done.....Well, I doubt I'll ever finish!:laughing:

If you have any other ideas as to why the failure occured, please, I'd like to know. Thank you!

redline 01-28-2008 01:10 PM

If they are hollow then they should be vented both top and bottom.

can you post a photo of the base?

bofusmosby 01-28-2008 06:30 PM

Redline, I have tons of photos, but I can not down-load these photos from my computer to this site. I guess I would have to get a URL, and I have tried this before,,,,with no success.

If I have to vent them top AND bottom, this is not something I really want to do. They were never vented before, and I would hate to put a vent hole at the bottom, it would stick out like a sore thumb. The top would be no problem. It wouldn't even be seen. Exactly what is needed to vent these things? Just a hole? If I put a hole up top, I would have to come up with some sort of screening, to try to keep the bugs (termites, ants etc) out. I would also have to do the same for the bottom. Do they make small registers with screening for this purpose? I guess when they were coming apart at the seams, they didn't need venting. I try to make everything as air-tight as possible. During the termite season, this will slow those suckers a little bit, so I have time for the old bug spray. I have watched swarmers land on my house, and I run around like an idiot, spraying everywhere. I have had this house tinted 3 times in the last 9 years. A ton of old termite damage.

Is there any way that venting them in the top only, would do any good?

Thank you for your response. What to do?

troubleseeker 01-28-2008 09:05 PM

There are little plastic vents made for this, from about 1' dia up to 3 ". You just drill a hole in the column and stick it in with some adhesive caulking. They even used to be available at HD in the section with the soffit and gable vents, don't know if they still are.

Lack of venting is a sure fire demise for wood columns.

bofusmosby 01-28-2008 09:20 PM

Thanks troubleaeeker for your response. Do you think that the small ones will do on these? Also, is there a wire mesh or something there to keep the various bugs out?

Also, do you think this will prevent further splitting? It just seems to me, that if the outside of the boards are painted, but the inside unpainted, this would lead to further problems. I guess thats why I fix TVs for a living, and not home repairs.:laughing:

troubleseeker 01-30-2008 08:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bofusmosby (Post 93050)
Thanks troubleaeeker for your response. Do you think that the small ones will do on these? Also, is there a wire mesh or something there to keep the various bugs out?

Also, do you think this will prevent further splitting? It just seems to me, that if the outside of the boards are painted, but the inside unpainted, this would lead to further problems. I guess thats why I fix TVs for a living, and not home repairs.:laughing:

The smaller ones will probably suffice, the key being to vent at the top and bottom to establish a natural convection of air inside the shaft.

Yes they are manufactured with an insect barrier on the rear side.

Coating the insides before installation would have definatley helped, but it it too late for that now.

bofusmosby 01-30-2008 11:12 PM

Thanks for the feedback troubleseeker. Yea, I'm at least 85 years too late for painting the insides of the boards.:laughing: I am going to Home Depot tomorrow morning, and will look into these. Thanks again!

Potomac101 01-31-2008 04:58 AM

Is venting necessary even if the wood is treated?
potomac101

troubleseeker 02-04-2008 09:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Potomac101 (Post 93749)
Is venting necessary even if the wood is treated?
potomac101

Yes. Any wood column should be vented top and bottom.


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