Ask an Archtect

Q I'm told that my house originally had a skylight in the ceiling. I should like to install a new one, but I've heard so many negatives about leaking, drafts, etc., that I'm not sure what to do. Can you tell me if the pros outweigh the cons? E. D. Valavanis Brooklyn, N.Y. Leaks and drafts should not be a problem with today's better-quality skylights. Leaks are more frequently the result of improper installation and the tie-in with the roof, rather than with the skylight itself.

In cold-winter areas, such as yours, I suggest using a triple-domed unit to slow the heat loss.

Q A roof leak in my house has resulted in paint damage to the bathroom below as well as water stains in the attic. So far no one has been able to find the leak. After repainting, I now have water damage again. How can I locate the source of the water? John R. Jordan Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Since the water seems to be coming in above the bathroom, check all roof penetrations and vents above that area. Often the tar sealer between the flashing collar and the vent pipe will dry out and shrink, leaving a gap for the moisture to penetrate.

Remember, of course, that the drips could be a long way from the actual leak, because the path of water is often the result of capillary action.

If all else fails, put on your ``sleuth hat'' during a rainstorm and take your flashlight to the scene of the crime. Q Would you recommend an inexpensive way to soundproof the common wall between the Sunday school and the auditorium of our church? There are two doors in the wall which need to be soundproofed as well. Mary Bender Roseville, Calif.

As I said in my response to an earlier question on this subject, US Gypsum (101 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Ill. 60606) has a book entitled ``Sound Control Construction'' that has a wide variety of solutions to the problem. It is difficult to recommend the easiest and most inexpensive solution, not having seen the building.

The doors should have a solid core to dampen some of the noise. Be sure to thoroughly weatherstrip all around the doors, including the bottom. You may have to install a low-profile aluminum threshold.

Remember, the slightest air leak can transmit a lot of sound.

If you have a question about designing, improving, or maintaining your home, school, church, or place of business, send it to the Real Estate Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Richard A. Kent is an architect and general contractor in southern California.

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