QUESTION: I just bought a new house and I’m remodeling my backyard. I want to know if I should use concrete blocks or metal studs to frame the patio island that will have my barbecue on top of it. Which would you recommend?
ANSWER: A barbecue framed with masonry or concrete blocks will last a lot longer and wear better than one created using metal studs. If you use metal studs for the frame, it can create a lot of spaces for dust and dirt and insects to hang out inside the framing. But with concrete blocks, you can often clean out the space under the barbecue and hose it down with water.
Q: There is a roof covering the patio in my backyard. But apparently, that patio roof wasn’t fastened properly to the wall of the house when the structure was built. Now, during rainstorms, it starts leaking where the conventional rolled roofing meets the stucco wall of the house. The house is about 15 years old. How do I correct this problem?
A: It sounds as if the rim joist was not flashed properly when the house was built. You may have to have a roofer lift the roof slightly to put in flashing and then have it sealed. It’s actually not a difficult problem to fix.
Q: I have French doors that are about 8 years old; they open onto my patio. Now one of the doors has started creaking and squeaking so badly that I can hardly stand to open the door. It only happens when I open or close the door. I have oiled the hinges and put graphite powder in the hinges, but it doesn’t make any difference. After a few days, they start creaking again. How can I fix this problem?
A: You should take out the pin from one hinge at a time to find out which pin produces the squeaky sounds. One of them is probably in a bind and is causing the noise. Start with the middle hinge and try the door with only two hinges in it. Then try it with just one hinge. Actually, you may have to replace all three hinges to get rid of the sound. You can also try using silicon spray or you can use steel wool to rub down the hinge pins before you reinstall them.
Q: I bought my house in 1995. Right after buying it, I replaced the flooring in much of the house and discovered a crack on the floor running from one side of the house to another. Recently, I noticed a hairline crack on a wall in my kitchen that runs up to meet the ceiling. Can I paint and patch the cracks or do I have a more serious problem? There are no other spots with cracks inside or outside the house. It’s a frame home with stucco covering.
A: You should probably have some foundation experts inspect your home. They can assess whether you need a manometer test to take some measurements so they can verify whether the home is level or not. It’s possible that the floor is heaving or settling. There could be problems with your foundation or with moisture under the slab. But be assured that they have lots of techniques for repairing any problems in your house.