Q: Our house is only 4 years old. Within months of closing our builder went under, so we have no warranty. Also within months, our covered back porch started to crack. The crack now extends all the way across — about 25 feet — and several additional cracks are starting to appear.
Although my husband and I are knowledgeable about remodeling and repair, we are wondering whom to contact about this problem. We do not believe the issue to be structural and can remember that there were haunches extending from the foundation and columns.
So do we just have the concrete replaced making sure the ground underneath is properly prepared this time? Rather than replace the concrete which I’m sure will be expensive, should we contact a company that can pump stuff under the slab on grade, thus reducing the damage to our landscaping nearby?
A: I’m going to make a couple of assumptions here. From what you describe, I’m assuming that the house was built on a standard concrete foundation, and then concrete piers or footings of some sort were poured that independently support the framework of the covered porch. Then, concrete was poured to create the patio slab. From what you’re saying, the house foundation is fine, and the covered patio structure is fine. Where you’re seeing the cracking is in the patio slab.
If I have all that correct, then my recommendation is to remove the old slab, prep the ground underneath, and install a new patio. You might consider something other than concrete for the new patio, such as interlocking paving stones. Pavers look nicer than concrete, and are much more forgiving if your ground shifts at all, or if you experience freeze/thaw cycles that will damage concrete.
You mentioned that you and your husband are both handy, so if you don’t mind some hard work, then the removal of the old concrete, the preparation of the site, and the installation of the new pavers are all great do-it-yourself projects (or you can hire the removal of the concrete and just do the pavers).
There are lots of sites on the Internet where you can watch videos of paver installations. If you don’t want to do it yourself, check with your local home center for recommendations of licensed contractors who do paver installations, or if you decide to go with concrete again, your local ready-mix concrete company will have recommendations for good licensed concrete contractors.
Q: I have a fiberglass tub in my washroom. One day I used acid to open up its clogged drain. The acid has caused damage to its coating around the tub drain leaving white stains that look chalky. Could you please tell me how to remove the stains. Please please please.
A: To be honest, I don't think I can help you on this one. It depends on what type of acid you used, and what type of coating is on the tub. But it sounds like whatever acid you used may have damaged the surface layer and exposed the fiberglass mat underneath.
There are kits you can buy for do-it-yourself fiberglass repair, but they're tough to use. I'd recommend that you contact a fiberglass refinishing company and have someone come out and take a look. Check with your local home center or any retailer of plumbing fixtures for names.
In the future, never use any type of drain cleaner that doesn't specifically say that it's safe for use around fiberglass.
Have a home repair or remodeling question for Paul? He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.