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Rotten Porch Posts: How to Repair

We bought a rustic style home in a wooded environment last year.  We have been fixing issues that stem from years of neglect including issues that were caused by moisture, including rotten porch posts.Our front porch is poured concrete and has 6x6 wooden beams supporting the porch roof.  Over time, some of those beams have sustained wood rot at the base and are no longer touching the concrete in places.  How can we safely fix or replace those beams and try to avoid the same wood rot issues in the future? Thanks!!

Our Answer

Hi Christina! This is a very typical problem and really just mother nature's way of disposing of dead trees.  Unfortunately, one of those trees happens to be holding up your house!  Wood which stays damp and moist develops decay.  The post sitting directly on the concrete accelerates this process because both the wood post and the concrete are very hydroscopic, meaning they can soak up a heck of a lot of water!

While in some cases you can cut away and rebuild the bottom of the porch column, most commonly these posts need to be replaced.  The process involves installing temporary supports under the porch roof to support the structure while you repair or completely replace the wood post. You can reduce the chances of reoccurrence in a couple of ways.  First, use a pressure treated wood post.  These may not look very attractive, but they can be wrapped after they are installed with a wood trim of aluminum cladding to improve their appearance.

Second, you should make sure that the new post is siting on a post base, which is a metal plate designed to keep the wood off the concrete, thereby allowing it to stay dry.  There are many available, from a simples aluminum plate that is nailed to the bottom of the post to one that can be bolted to the post and the foundation to prevent uplift.

Finally, you might consider replacing the posts with fiberglass columns.  These can be both beautiful and sturdy -- plus you'l never have to worry about rot again!

Good luck with the project and post your pics here when you're done!. 

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Laminate Floor Separating at Joints

I recently renovated my basement. The concrete floor slants toward a drain in the floor. We installed laminate flooring, and in order to have the laminate flooring leveled - we had to place several sheets of underlayment around the drain so that it would "build" the concrete up so that it was level. I then installed the laminate flooring on top. Unfortunately in that area, laminate floor separating has happened as the boards have come apart. I had two questions:
  1. Is it okay that I covered the drain with the laminate flooring?
  2. What's an easy way to reattach laminate flooring that has become disconnected without having to remove the trim and disassemble the laminate flooring and connect it again.
thank you!

Our Answer

The problem you've described is not likely to have been caused by having built up the basement floor and covered the drain.  It more likely the result of exceeding the laminate floor manufactures specifications for moisture levels in that space.  

The solution is two-fold. First, its critical you take steps to reduce basement moisture.  Even without seeing visible water, high humidity can be just a damaging to a laminate floor installation and result in the separating of the boards you describe.  We're talking about things like cleaning gutters, extending downspouts, improving the grade at the foundation perimeter so it  that slopes away from the house and a good quality dehumidifier.

To repair the separated boards, you'll need to replace them with new flooring pieces.  Since most modern laminate flooring is glueless, I'll assume this is what you have. Here are the steps you'll need to repair laminate floor separating boards that are near a wall, as well as those that may be separated in the middle of a room.  

To replace boards that are situated close to walls or moldings, follow these steps:

1. Start by removing the baseboard or molding. Do this carefully so as not to damage the molding.

2. Remove the boards starting from the molding until the damaged board is accessible.

3. Replace the damaged board and then the rest of the boards you removed, by clicking them back in place.

4. Replace the molding.

The process of repairing a laminate floorboard closer to the center of the room is more detailed and time consuming. The process involves removing the damaged board utilizing a saw or router, then replacing the board utilizing a sufficient water resistant adhesive. Contact a professional installer or follow these steps.

1) Mark the damaged board 1-1/2″ from ends and side. Drill 3/16″ holes at corners of marked area.

2) Cut along lines between the drilled holes and remove the center section. Then cut remaining piece in the center on both sides and remove.

Repair 1

3) Prepare a replacement board by cutting and removing the factory tongue along the long and short end of the board. The figure below represents the two common types of locking systems available.

Repair 2
4) Apply a resinous (PVA) adhesive to the cut edges and replace the board by aligning the groove on the replacement board with the tongue of the abutting board, and snap back into place.

5) Make sure all edges are even on either side of the joints. Utilize a heavy object to apply pressure for at least 24 hours. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed across the new piece.

Prevention is better than cure.  So be sure to keep the basement space as dry as possible to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Mold in Basement Walls

Hello, I live in Canada and we had mold in the basement. We had the exterior of the house graded away from the house, and had a spray foam insulation company come by and spray foamed our basement walls. I have since finished the basement to use as a rental property.Last year, due to the gutters not being properly attached, we had some water fill up a window well during a heavy rain fall and come in through the basement window to the finished basement. This occurred in August -- our tenants have stated that they smell mold in that room now (they didn't smell anything before).Upon inspection, there is no mold on the finished drywall and I personally don't smell anything. I'm just wondering if it is possible that there could be mold behind the walls that they're smelling -- and if so, wouldn't the mold make it's way to the interior walls by now?Any help would be appreciated. I know that the tenants never open the windows/blinds and kept the door closed for that specific room for awhile - so there was limited circulation.

Our Answer

John, the answer to your question is yes -- mold could be growing behind the drywall but I'm not hearing anything that tells me a major destructive investigation is warranted.  You could pull off some outlet covers, or registers or anywhere else you can get a peak behind but I would not recommend a major mold witch hunt.  First, a one-off leak like you've described doesn't usually cause a major mold problem.  Sure, it can happen but if you have a leak, fix it and then move on, you often dont have the sustained moisture necessary for a major mold infestation.  Also, I'm always suspicious when people say the "smell" mold.  Its not like mold has a distinctive odor.  They could just as likely be sensing the dampness since they dont ever ventilate the space. 

I will point out however, that drywall wasn't the best choice for basement walls.  There's a product called DensArmor which is a wall board with a fiberglass face, instead of paper.  Since the fiberglass is not organic, it can't grow mold.

Before you go any further, I'd suggest that you install a good quality dehumidifier in that area to really dry things out. Check out those from Santa Fe. Products.  I have one on my basement and it makes a bug difference, even though we also have all the exterior drainage set up correctly.  I'm attaching the video I did with them recently.  Hope this helps!

Tom Kraeutler