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Mon, Sept. 16

Doors, windows must meet code in Wildland Urban Interface homes

Q: We are building a new home off Williamson Valley Road and we selected windows from a national brand company. We recently heard discussion about the Wildland Urban Interface codes for windows and doors. What is this about? Are there special windows and doors?-Ed and Margaret, Prescott

A: The danger posed by wildfires to populated areas is always on the minds of our fire protection officials. There has been a heightened concern as to what can be done to protect homes located in what is known as the "wildland-urban interface" area. This is where residential developments meet fire-prone open grasslands, forests or brushy areas.

That awareness has spurred careful examination of building practices, ranging from landscaping guidelines to the performance of building components (including windows) when subjected to exterior fires.

Windows in particular are considered to be one of the most vulnerable portions of a structure when it is exposed to fire. This vulnerability is due to several factors. The thermal shock of direct exposure to flames or the impact of airborne debris could shatter the glass, permitting burning brands or flames to enter the building, virtually assuring its destruction. Conventional wisdom holds that the window frame is also susceptible to burn-through under direct flame exposure. Radiant or convective heating, such as from adjacent burning shrubbery, might not break the glass but could ignite or deform the window frame, allowing the glass to fall out and again exposing the building to subsequent entry of flames.

If you are building your home in the Wildland Urban Interface Area, there is an applied building code for windows and doors. Per Section 504.8 of the WUIAC, exterior windows, window walls and glazed doors, windows within exterior doors, and skylights shall be tempered glass, multilayered glazed panels, glass block or have a fire protection rating of not less than 20 minutes. Windows must be double pane or laminate construction. Section 504.9 exterior doors shall be approved non-combustible construction, solid core wood not less than 1 3/4 inches thick or have a fire protection rating of not less than 20 minutes.

The City of Prescott is implementing the 2012 WUIAC along with other 2012 codes on January 1, 2015. The 2012 WUIAC contains provisions addressing fire spread, accessibility, defensible space, water supply and more for buildings constructed in our wildland areas. YCCA does have a copy of the 2012 code books if anyone would like to use them for reference.

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Winter weather has begun, and it can take a toll on more than just our cars and our attitudes. Concrete walks, driveways and steps all take a pounding from the elements and the deicing chemicals that we apply.

The most common winter damage to concrete is scaling - that is, the flaking or peeling away of the surface mortar. Scaling can leave the concrete looking pock-marked and will expose the stones in the concrete mix. Minor scaling can be merely a cosmetic flaw, but if left unchecked, it can turn a smooth concrete walk into a rustic gravel path.

Scaling is caused by cycles of freezing and thawing. Water is absorbed into very fine capillary spaces in the concrete. When the temperature drops, this absorbed water freezes and expands. Such expansion creates pressure that forces flakes or mortar loose from the surface, and you can often see where mortar has "popped," leaving holes.

Winter hazards to concrete come from chemicals used to melt snow and ice. Deicers can increase scaling by increasing freeze-thaw cycles. But a few deicers attack concrete chemically. Deicers sold as safe for grass and shrubs can chemically attack concrete. These products usually contain ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate. They are fine for landscaping but can destroy concrete.

Removal of compacted snow and ice with shovels or snow blowers isn't always easy or effective. The use of a chemical deicer may be needed to facilitate removal. In order to be effective, deicers must first attract or come into contact with sufficient moisture to form a liquid brine. The brine has a lower freezing point than water, which causes ice and snow to dissolve on contact. Deicing agents penetrate downward through the ice and snow layer until they reach pavement. Once on the pavement, the brine spreads outward to break the bond between the ice and snow and the pavement. After sufficient loosening, the ice and snow can be removed by shoveling or plowing.

Calcium magnesium acetate, or CMA, is a salt-free deicing agent made from acetic acid and dolomitic lime. Although this deicing compound is more expensive than most salts or combination deicers, it is less damaging to the driveway surface and plants, making it suitable for use in environmentally sensitive areas.

There is a terrific product on the market that is sold in a few specialized stores only. In order to help you maintain your concrete this winter, YCCA has a pallet (49 bags) of this great de-ice that is safe for all concrete, not harmful to vegetation or pets, and is environmentally safe. It normally retails for $12 per bag. If you would like to come to the YCCA office and pay with check or cash, we have a special price of $9.25 per bag. This is for residential use only.

Remember to tune in to YCCA's "Hammer Time" every Saturday or Sunday morning 7:00 am on KQNA 1130 am/99.9 FM or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners.

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