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Stories tagged: Ask the Builder

All you need to clean hard water stains is vinegar and time

The hard water deposits are alkaline in nature. This means they have a pH greater than 7. If you pour an acid which has a pH less than 7 onto …

Ask the Builder: Impact driver is more than just a fancy drill

My husband has been hinting about wanting an impact driver. He claims there are many uses for it around the house. I wonder if he’s trying to pull the wool …

Ask the builder: Sealing brick can help stop flaking problem

Flaking brick more often than not is a cosmetic issue, but it’s serious because it affects the look of your home. The bad news is that there’s no easy way …

Are you prepared for a disaster to strike your home?

A big disaster is going to strike where you live. It could be a hurricane, a huge flood, an epic blizzard or a terrorist attack. You do not know when …

Ask the Builder: Best to keep foundation above grade

DEAR TIM: I recently moved into a neglected house. While working on the landscaping in the front yard, I discovered that the top of the foundation was below grade. Two …

Don’t mistake caulk for an acceptable deck flashing material

In the case of decks, a flashing is often required where deck lumber contacts the side of a house. The flashing’s job is to prevent water from entering behind the …

Weep holes under patio door protect house from rot and mold

Brick walls leak water. They have always leaked water. Builders and masons from hundreds of years ago knew this and developed a set of best practices to ensure their brick …

Replacing toilet is all about having the right tools, techniques

My guess is you have an adjustable wrench, a putty knife, a 2-foot level, a screwdriver and a hacksaw. This is often all you need to replace a toilet.

Bearing wall footing is key to a house’s structural integrity

DEAR TIM: My wife and I are building our new home, and we stopped by to see the progress just after the foundation was poured. We saw a massive long …

Hiring the right builder requires time, effort on client’s part

This is a special column about trust. It was inspired by no fewer than three emails and a phone call from visitors to my website,, and readers of this …

Spalling concrete driveway can be repaired with cement stucco

Concrete spalling seems to be a growing epidemic if my email inbox is any sort of trusted indicator. Years ago, reports of these failures were primarily from parts of the …

Ask the Builder: Key to French door installation is good flashing

I’ve got a walkout basement garage door I want to convert to French doors. I realize I need to shrink the size of the opening to create the correct rough …

Creating a doorway in a concrete block wall

I live in a very common home here in Florida. Most are built from concrete block. Twenty years ago, a room was added to the home and the rear exterior …

Hammer drill makes removing old shower pan much easier

DEAR TIM: I’ve decided to do a major bathroom remodel job. One thing that needs to be demolished is a full ceramic tile shower with a seat and a concrete …

Before committing to a remodel, know the cost in detail

Break renovation work into its components to determine cost.

Poorly installed bath fan vents can cause serious problems

I don’t like our current exhaust bath fan and am going to install a new one. I’ve done all sorts of online research, and lots of the information is conflicting. …

House wrap may trap water if improperly installed

DEAR TIM: I have a house wrap installed on my house over plywood sheathing. No clapboards are in place yet. I’m getting moisture behind the house wrap that is of …

Building to eliminate bouncy floors

I’m in the planning stages of building a new home, and I don’t want bounce in my floors.

Save expense of electrician service calls with a digital multimeter

I’m about to buy a digital multimeter to troubleshoot all sorts of electrical issues around my home. I’ll be blunt. Do you own one? If so, which one? What do …

What to do when ivy mars brick wall

I removed ivy from my brick home and the brick is now splotchy. The brick has a slight sanded texture and a light color – except where the ivy was …

Ask the Builder: Settling soil causes bizarre porch problem

We have a problem with the front porch of our 44-year-old home. The outside corner of the poured concrete porch is curving up, lifting the post that’s supporting the roof.

Small metal roof could benefit from use of treated wood

When you have questions about a job involving construction material – in this case, the metal roofing – always remember to read the written installation instructions that come with it.

Plenty of options to improve drainage in yard

Use landscaping, pipes to divert stormwater around home.

As new house’s framing timber dries, grout lines crack

Here’s what you need to know about wood. It’s a hygroscopic material. That means its shape and size change in response to changes in moisture content. Granite, steel, copper, plastics …

Builder columnist will answer storm repair questions in live chat Friday

Tim Carter, author of the “Ask the Builder” column that appears in the Sunday Today section, will answer readers questions in an online chat.

Why are our roof shingles failing?

Carter looking into what seems to be widespread problems with asphalt roofing

Granite tile can be reaffixed to countertop edge

Repairing countertop can be done in less than 72 hours

Ask the Builder: Tiles don’t look like the one in the showroom

Your complaint is pretty common based on the email I’ve received over the years. One would think that tile store employees, managers and store owners would have heard thousands of …

Residential structural engineer can troubleshoot sagging porch columns

Get expert advice before working on what may be load-bearing ironwork

Old concrete laundry sink will clean up nicely

Combination of steel and concrete make for long lasting sinks