Each summer, it’s a good idea to inspect the condition of your porch – a part of your house that is particularly vulnerable to attack from moisture and insects. Small problems, if not corrected, can soon lead to more expensive repairs.
The first part of your inspection is likely to be the least pleasant, as you‘ll need to crawl beneath the porch to check out the supporting structure. Look first at the piers that hold the weight of the porch. These piers can be made from wood, brick, stone, or concrete. Ideally, they should be supported by concrete footers that extend below the frost line, but in all too many older homes you’ll find them resting directly on the ground. Especially in these cases, you may see signs of rot and water damage.
Wooden piers are in need of repair if you can push a nail by hand more than 1/4” into the wood. If the damage is not too extensive, you can reinforce the original piece by “sistering” two pieces of sturdy lumber alongside it, bolting them in place. If you are dealing with a severely deteriorated wooden pier, replace it with a new piece of pressure-treated lumber of the same size. Be sure to install a concrete footer beneath the new pier, to keep it from coming into contact with the ground.
With piers made from brick or stone, you’ll need to check the masonry joints. (Read the rest….)