It seems every week we hear of another extreme weather event somewhere in the world: a cyclone in India; a heat wave in Europe; a 1,000-year flood in Colorado. Imagine what a 1,000-year flood would do to Whanganui!
Whanganui River at 30-year flood stage.
Closer to home, New Zealand has experienced gale southerlies and gale northerlies in the course of about a week. Canterbury was hammered and the Wellington airport closed. In Castlecliff, sand has overtopped the barriers just weeks after Council hired a giant digger to clear them.
Earlier this month I watched the digger off and on over a couple of days moving sand scoop by scoop as far as its arm could reach from the barrier toward the sea. The repetitive process, powered by diesel, went on hour after hour: scoop and dump, scoop and dump, scoop and dump.
It was all undone by two storms over a fortnight – all that diesel and all those rates gone. Up in smoke. Blown away. There is no indication the work was ever done.
The obvious paradox here is that we use diesel fuel for a job that is made more difficult to do because we’ve burned diesel fuel. In other words, climate scientists tell us that extreme weather events are occurring more often because we’ve burned such a large quantity of fossil fuels already. And then to clean up after the extreme weather events we burn more fossil fuels. Some people would describe this as a vicious cycle or a downward spiral.
It’s interesting that the global dialogue around climate change have shifted from prevention to adaptation. Put another way, “We can’t agree to efforts to stop it, so we better brace ourselves.” This is sad in a way because it appears to indicate an inability of nations to work together toward a common goal. Instead, it’s everyone for themselves.
From this perspective, it’s important that home-owners do their best to prevent damage from wind and rain on their properties. Last week I wrote about protecting wooden structures from water damage, and particularly wind-blown rain that can find its way into walls due to inadequate flashing and detailing. I’ve spent many hours making scribers for our home, as shown in last week’s pictures. You may or may not recall that I also emphasized priming the backside of each scriber as well as the end grain top and bottom.
End grain exposed to rain.
The end grain of timber is vulnerable to penetration by water because that it is what it is meant to do. Xylem and phloem – remember biology class? – facilitate the movement of water and nutrients up and down through a living tree. When that tree is felled and turned into lumber, the xylem and phloem make it vulnerable to water damage. This is particularly evident with timber fences where the end grain is exposed directly to falling rain.
Fence without capping.
Capping is used to cover the end grain and to extend the life of timber fences. It is reasonably priced and highly recommended.
Fence with capping.
Because I made fences from a former deck, I was not able to buy capping. I had to make my own.
Using vintage 4-by-2s, I ripped five grooves down the middle of each one. Watch out for nails! I wrecked one saw blade in the process. Then I used a two-inch chisel to clear out the channel.
The job took longer than I expected, but the result looks tidy and will extend the life of our fences for many years to come...so long as they don’t get toppled in the next big blow!