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Old 03-09-2008, 08:50 PM   #21
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Yeah Bunny, I've got plenty of half-done projects around my house. Of course you'd have to get through the fire ants, snakes, scorpions, chiggers.....
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Old 03-09-2008, 08:56 PM   #22
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Khan/Moemg - send me a first class airline ticket, and I'm on my way! My rates are low!

W2R - It depends. An awful lot of problems can be caused by excessive amounts of water around the foundation/crawlspace. It can take some time but some foundations can be damaged by the water or by shifting soils resulting from too much water. Molds, mildew, excess humidity, termites (and other bad bugs) and so forth foster in the presence of moist soil/standing water under and around a home.

This is often exacerbated by poor grading of the soil around a home. A lot of homes have soil that slopes towards the house within a 3-4' area around the house, or significant slopes of the lot towards the house without a drain or swale to divert water away from the home.

Gutters perform the function of removing water from the roof and ideally distributing it away from the home. Gutters that dump their water directly next to a foundation all in a couple of spots may be worse than no gutters at all. Plastic diverters, flexible extensions to the end of downspouts, or french drains connected to the ends of the downspouts can be essential to removing water.

The home we're living in now has french drains buried in the ground but I discovered last summer that they were all smashed flat, probably from some contractor driving heavy equipment over them at some point. I spent a lot of time last year digging those up and replacing them. Our crawlspace stayed dry all this past winter, where the concrete showed signs that previously it had held a few inches of standing water. Very no bueno.

My wifes old house had no gutters and poor grading. A good portion of the concrete slab her house was built on was starting to get crumbly, some of the bottom plates were rotted and needed replacing along with some studs, and we had some termite action in the kitchen. It took 40 years to do all that, but if the house had gutters and some landscaping to have all the soil around the house slope away, it may have escaped most of that damage.

The new house also has a fun minor problem. We're on a gently sloping lot, drops about 25' from the back left corner to the front right corner. The builder put in a swale running diagonally across the backyard and around the side of the house to the street. Then the former homeowner dropped a shed right in the middle of the swale next to the house.

The shed has since sunk around 6" into the ground and gets a couple of inches of water on the floor when it rains.

Had they put it a few feet to one side or the other, the shed might have stood for another 20 years. Right now I'd give it another 20 months.

When I watch home inspection/repair shows on hgtv, I'm almost bored at this point by the huge percentage of problems that were originally caused by water, with many of them being gutter/downspout related issues.

I've got a broken and eroding storm drain in the back on a neighbor's unoccupied lot and a covered up storm drain on a semi-abandoned lot now owned by a church; I'm going to call the city to send out an inspector to see who is supposed to maintain/repair the above.
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Old 03-09-2008, 08:56 PM   #23
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I have learned the coolest things on this forum! And now, light has been shed on yet another of life's mysteries - - what possible use gutters have.

Thanks for that answer, CFB.
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:08 PM   #24
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Good grief. A couple of posts by CFB and two more women have their minds in the gutters...
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:13 PM   #25
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Its a curse.

I suspect this thread will go down the drain in no time.

Just water under the bridge...
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:49 PM   #26
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I will readily admit that I am horrible at handymen jobs or even attempting to fix anything on my vehicle. More often than not, I will research how to do something, start it, fail miserably and then call someone in to do it at $50 an hour (it's hard to find handymen where I"m at). Conversely, I'll take a small task, research it to death and convince myself that I'll buy the wrong supplies/take the wrong approach and I'll just call someone to do it. I definitely would not be able to make a living as a tradesmen (and yes I'm a man).

Right now in my bathroom I have a small bit of grout that has come off between one of the tiles. I've left this unattended for maybe a couple of months because of my work schedule. I bought all the regrouting supplies and I"m confident I could regrout. However, before I do that I'm thinking I should take off the tile that is there to make sure there is nothing nasty like mold on the drywall or cement board. I've pushed hard on the tile and in my mind it does not seem as hard as the other tiles so it might be wet, but I'm probably just being paranoid. This probably is not a monumental task, but in researching this, I need to know what kind of surface is back there to determine what kind of adhesive I need. I have no idea what is behind the tile, so I'd end up just buying the wrong supplies I'm sure. Also, it's possible I'll crack some good tiles in doing this (I do have alot of spare tiles though). Also, if there is a problem back there, it would definitely be way over my head to tackle that. Is this something I should even attempt, or should I just call someone in and fork over my money?
there are some really great DIY books out there. reader's digest put out a great one years ago, maybe they still do. these books assume no knowledge on the part of the reader.
invest in a copy, or library loaner, and take a look. you might surprise yourself. if it's still all greek to you, call in a pro. or find a handy friend and buy many cases of beer and pizza.
i'm a woman, but extremely mechanically inclined. i don't even think about touching plumbing or AC power. no no no. one is wet and damaging and the other kills.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:10 PM   #27
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It's amazing how much imperfection exists in a perfectly adequate completion of a home project. Being unable to accept what (to me) appear to be huge mistakes and errors when working on these projects, has always been a big stumbling block for me, making a two day project last an eternity. When I can say to myself, "so what? at least I'll be done with it", and finish, then often I find that it really looks just fine. That's especially true if I squint. Sometimes I don't even need to squint.

I hung a bathroom towel bar that isn't quite level, on the other hand, and that bothers me to this day. (Never, ever actually attempt to use one of those tiny levels that you get as a freebie at a conference, by the way.) If I hang more towels on the end of the towel bar that looks lower, it looks a lot better. Sometimes I think about fixing it, but it is hung on wallpaper so maybe I'll just leave it alone.
My gal can spot an out of level window or door frame or anything from 20' away - and its cost us time and money on many occasions to get the offending thing straightened. Finally had one respected carpenter come up with the right answer: "do you want it to be level or look level"? We mostly are dealing with old places and the floors, ceilings, and walls are normally neither square nor level - so more time and money gets spent discussing how to make something look as good as can be short of rebuilding the home from scratch. As for me, my gold standard when doing a project is that when i'm done you can't tell i've been there - it's just that there are electric outlets or lights or walls where there didn't used to be any.
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Old 03-10-2008, 06:34 AM   #28
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This is often exacerbated by poor grading of the soil around a home. A lot of homes have soil that slopes towards the house within a 3-4' area around the house, or significant slopes of the lot towards the house without a drain or swale to divert water away from the home.
I had that issue to deal with at my mother's house years ago. During heavy rain she was getting water in the basement. Fixed it with three bags of topsoil and a handful of grass seed, enough to keep the water from pooling next to the foundation wall.
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:41 AM   #29
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I had that issue to deal with at my mother's house years ago. During heavy rain she was getting water in the basement. Fixed it with three bags of topsoil and a handful of grass seed, enough to keep the water from pooling next to the foundation wall.
good solution...the group of houses where i live all have basement water prooblems. they were all built by the same contractor in the late 70s. for some strange reason, mine is the only one that has sloped dirt grading next to the house. makes it interesting to mow the lawn, but it is enough to prevent water problems. i have gutters also. instead of a roll out rain disperser, i use a nice flat rock at the base of the vertical gutter drain to spread out the water flow. no lawn erosion. the rock is developing a nice little well in the middle.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:25 AM   #30
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Yep, one of the best home improvement projects anyone can do is have 3-4 yards of topsoil dumped in their driveway and spread it around their foundation to get a slope of about 4-6 inches over the 3 feet. Just keep the siding or any other wood clear of the dirt. Walk around the yard with whatever dirt is left over and fill in any divots or small low spots.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:39 AM   #31
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Yep, one of the best home improvement projects anyone can do is have 3-4 yards of topsoil dumped in their driveway and spread it around their foundation to get a slope of about 4-6 inches over the 3 feet. ............
The backfill around the foundation settles over the years and creates a negative slope. This has kept the basement waterproofing business going for decades.
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:48 AM   #32
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Sure does, and the problem gets worse with time. As water passes through concrete, it carries minerals away from it, which is what causes efflorescence on the surface of concrete. Add 20 years and your concrete is substantially more porous than it was when it was poured.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:32 AM   #33
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As a result, I learned long ago to call in a professional.
We learned most of our home-improvement skills AFTER calling the professionals.

We called over 20 plumbers when we needed a bathtub replaced and a leak fixed. Only two returned our calls, only one actually visited and made an underwhelming impression with a $5500 quote. We decided to start on the demolition while we kept trying to find a plumber, and little by little the job got done for about $3500 in parts (Jacuzzi whirlpool tubs in Hawaii were really expensive in 1990).

When the professionals can make more money building new neighborhoods than working on your home, you learn a lot of self-help techniques. Especially when the guys who aren't building new neighborhoods are hardly worthy of the sobriquet "professional"...

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Do gutters really have an important function?
We had an extremely annoying roof leak along the flashing of the first-story roof. It's been leaking at least since the new shingles were put on in the late 1990s and the old flashing was "re-used". (Yes, the former owner hired a "professional".) We caulked, we sealed, we waterproofed the "waterproof" roof, we even tore off the 2nd-story siding and replaced the flashing. No joy.

Out of desperation, we installed second-story gutters to redirect that water away from the first-story roof directly into the first-story gutters. Problem solved.

Now we have to replace the familyroom ceiling, but first there's some other work to be done. The room (an enclosed lanai) was "built" by laying the wall's baseplates directly on top of the lanai's Futurastone coating (instead of on the concrete) and moisture is persistently coming up under the carpet & padding. (Maybe this room was built by a "professional" too.) I'm afraid that when we finally renovate the familyroom we'll learn that it's cheaper to demolish it, pour a new slab, and start over. But, hey, at least we'll know that it gets done right.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:12 PM   #34
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Ah, they didnt pour a footer for the bottom plates. You can fix it without demolishing, but its not pretty. Remove the siding and inner wall, support the wall structurally, cut the studs at about 8" up and remove the old bottom plate, pour a 6" footer, bolt a new bottom plate to it and then reattach the original studs to the new bottom plate. Rinse and repeat on the other sides. Reattach the siding and interior walls.

We had to do this at one corner of my wifes old house. Butthead who owned it before her liked to pour concrete and he poured a driveway and carport right up to the same level as the slab rather than tearing our some of the dirt and pouring it below slab grade like you're supposed to.

I'm guessing that was done without a permit...

Only problem with a job like this is that its pretty challenging for a regular homeowner who hasnt done it, yet it'd probably only be a 3 day job for a real pro with very low materials cost. But someone would try to charge you $8-10k to do whats really a $3000 job.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:03 PM   #35
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Ah, they didnt pour a footer for the bottom plates. You can fix it without demolishing, but its not pretty. Remove the siding and inner wall, support the wall structurally, cut the studs at about 8" up and remove the old bottom plate, pour a 6" footer, bolt a new bottom plate to it and then reattach the original studs to the new bottom plate. Rinse and repeat on the other sides. Reattach the siding and interior walls.
Yup. Nasty job, not looking forward to it. Luckily we don't have to tackle it until the bunny goes to his great reward.

The "builders" were considerate enough to run a line of caulk along the Futurastone outside below the exterior sheathing. I guess they wanted to stop the cold winter winds from whistling through the room.

The house is surrounded by lava-rock walls but I think we could get a concrete mixer through one of the gates. As long as the walls are torn apart we'll insulate them with radiant foil or some acoustic blocker. And, shucks, it's getting hard to find parts for these 18-year-old windows.

Then there's the "built-in shelves/ultimate computer desk" that spouse wants to add on to what would otherwise be the only remaining unmolested wall of the room.

And once we finish with the floor & walls then we'll finally be ready to tackle the cosmetic ceiling repairs!
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:53 PM   #36
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I'd suggest using silicon caulk to replace any grout that cracked severely. The cracking does indicate problems with the underlying structure, but replacing tile backerboard is really only practical on large areas. The two times I've called in professionals for small tile repairs they both talked me out of it and suggested living with cracked tiles and grout, using caulk to keep the water from making things worse.
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Old 03-10-2008, 08:04 PM   #37
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until the bunny goes to his great reward.
Please. I beg you. Quit doing that!
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Old 03-10-2008, 09:06 PM   #38
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Please. I beg you. Quit doing that!
Didn't mean to make you nervous, I was referring to another extremely hyperactive and destructive force of nature!
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