The Cross House





My plan for today was to prime and paint this last bit of the Great North Wall!

My plan however was thwarted.

For, see the siding under the window? Well, on the left side, I noticed that the bottom two feet of siding was loose where it met the vertical corner trim.

No problem! I would just pound in some nails!

Which I did.

But the nails did not, as became obvious, hit anything behind the siding.



No matter how many nails I pounded in, the siding did not become, you know, stable. And only one reason could explain this.

There was no there there behind the siding.

Oh. Oh shit.

This meant that whatever HAD been behind the siding had rotted away. And this, I knew, had been caused by the lower part of the downspout which had gone missing many decades previously. Even though I had cobbled on a mismatched downspout to correct this issue shortly after buying the house, the truncated downspout had been pouring water onto the bottom edge of the house rather than onto the ground.

Water + wood = rot.

I could have ignored the siding-not-connected problem. I mean, all looked perfectly fine. I could have just caulked the left side of the siding and that, kinda sorta, would have held it in place.

But I am, sigh, not a kinda sorta kinda guy.


Me being me, I had no choice but to remove the siding. My mind raced with two vital questions. WHAT was going on? WHAT horrors would be revealed? But, after removing some siding, all looked, initially…OK. The underlying sheathing boards were fine. But then…


…missing sheathing was revealed, the result of rot. Whoopsidaisies!


Whoopsidaisies then quickly progressed to EEK!


And EEK became EEK EEK!!!!!!!! And all this was caused because because the green downspout lost its lower section at some point. (The reason why my brown cobbled-on downspout is not the same size as the original is because nobody makes 2-inch round downspout anymore.)


After removing all the rot I felt a sudden return of ground beneath me. Whew, what a rush!


All new pressure-treated lumber replaced the rot, as well as copious spray foam. After the foam is dry, I will saw off the excess. Then new sheathing (easy!) and the original siding will be reinstalled!


So, while my day did not go as planned, I had a pretty good day!

The moral of the story?


Oh, and…make sure your sound is on…





21 Responses to Whoopsidaisies!

  1. Nevertheless, A sound and complete home, lacking of rot, is a more beautiful , safe and long lasting home. I would have easily done the same.

    • You probably couldn’t because of galvanic action. I am sure there is a metal shop that could fabricate the downspouts or Classic Gutters could probably do it.

      • I’d forgotten about that, but you could probably separate the two metals with a thin piece of mylar, or it could be that the existing downpipe is copper.

      • A long winded, but true, story for those who don’t know what happens to pipes when galvanic action occurs. I am describing this from my memory of being on my condos board in the late nineties, so the details may not be entirely accurate.

        I had a condo in a high rise building designed by world famous architect Mies van der Rohe. There was some debate as to whether he designed the interiors, but the point is that the building was heated and cooled by water that went through a unit called a convector. There was one in every room throughout the building. They are similar to a car radiator with a fan to blow through the fin covered coils which have either hot water or chilled running through them depending on the season. The building reached an age where it started having leaks, I mean big ones in the large riser pipes. There were multi-floor floods which are not a quick repair. By the time it had happened repeatedly, it came to the attention of the board that the risers were galvanized pipe and the smaller pipes feeding the convectors were copper. The designs for the building called for something called a dielectric union. That would have prevented any floods.

        The condo buildings in the area were their own little community. Residents of the building and neighbors started jokingly calling it “Falling Waters”.

        The original plumbing contractor, of whom the condo had no record, had just not installed the dielectric unions. The point is that the water flow between the different metal pipes which were in contact with each other created an electric current , which slowly, over thirty some years, dissolved the galvanized riser pipes near the junctions on EVERY riser to every unit. The board had to replace all of them from the basement to the sixteenth floor. That is what results from galvanic action as described above.

  2. Ross, this will sound funny but have you tried going to a muffler shop? I can almost guarantee they would have in stock 2″ galvanized metal piping.

  3. Are the wall cavities under your siding not insulated then? You are lucky though you have sheathing. I opened up my wall cavities to find the wood siding nailed directly to the framing. My home is nowhere near as old as yours (1920), and not magnificent either, and built by a common man providing for his family,…when the wind blew you felt it inside.

    • The Cross House is not insulated.

      And I do not plan to insulate.

      Much more important is getting the house sealed. And this I have been working on.

      • You keep saying that, but insulating your walls will keep it a lot cooler in the summer. You are already insulating the top of your house, right?

          • No it hasn’t. I had my 1874 house insulated from the inside, dense packed cellulose through the plaster walls. The contractor did an excellent job patching – you can’t even tell. There are a lot of ways to approach it.

  4. At the start of the post I was looking at the stained glass & the jewels. It reminded me of the Tiffany windows of my church in Rochester (oldest parish & church cornerstone laid in 1862); almost all the stained glass dates from 1890’s to about 1915 the Cross House stained glass & workmanship are of the same caliber. Tiffany glass is in the Metropolitan museum NYC. Cross House windows also of museum quality and artisanal skill. Sorry folks! Totally off the subject of rotted siding????

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