Ask the Experts

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One reader asks, "I’m sick and tired of my gutters. They leak, they are rotting out my trim, they’re a maintenance headache, and on top of all that, I don’t like how they look. Without them, however, I’m concerned that my stone foundation will leak even worse than it does now. What should I do?" Read the answer - Fine Homebuilding
Although we know how to build healthy, comfortable, durable homes, mostly we don’t … but not because it’s too expensive - Fine Homebuilding
Venting a roof on a single-story section of the house that dies into the wall of a second floor is challenging, and your porch roof makes it even more so. - Fine Homebuilding

Expert Construction Advice

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Ice dams form when a home’s escaping heat warms the roof sheathing and melts the underside of the snow layer on the roof. - Fine Homebuilding
If you know the limit of acceptable deflection and how much weight a beam needs to carry—both of which are provided by building codes—then the type, species, grade, length, width, and depth of the beam all can be selected.
The stakes are high, because an improper DWV setup can lead to slow drains, gurgling fixtures, sewer gas entering the living space, recurring clogs, and potentially hazardous overflows. When installed well, a DWV system will go unnoticed, with solids, liquids, and gases flowing smoothly. Here’s how it works.

How It Works

31 Pins
a man working on the roof of a house that has been gutted with shingles
New Shingles on an Older House
A homeowner planning to shingle a roof sheathed with solid planks is getting conflicting advice on whether he should add a layer of OSB over the boards before applying the shingles. Photo credit: Daniel S. Morrison.
the components of a roof that are labeled
Moisture-Managed Roof
Roof assemblies using spray foam or rigid-foam insulation should be constructed to dry in at least one direction to prevent seasonal moisture accumulation from rotting the sheathing. Assemblies under metal roofing should also be detailed to drain water from condensation that occurs on the underside of the roofing. Drawing by Dan Thornton.
an image of a window with instructions on how to install the trim and sealing
Flashing for Old Windows
It’s not uncommon for old windows to have the exterior casing keyed into the jamb with a lap joint and glue. In this case, they probably can’t be removed without damaging the jamb and/or the casing. In the past, I’ve had good luck with a workaround, though. Read how.
an advertisement for the homebuilding e - learning course
A Path to Better Indoor Air Quality
Learn how to define healthy indoor air quality. Understand the cause and effect of common indoor air pollutants Debunk common myths about indoor air quality. Learn effective strategies for indoor air quality control over the life of the building.
a magazine cover with an image of a kitchen and dining room in the back ground
How to Improve the Health and Indoor Air Quality of Homes
We spend 90% of our lives indoors, much of that in our homes. Even if well-known dangers like radon or carbon dioxide are not present, there are many other things that can make indoor air quality unhealthy. The good news is that with a systems-based method, we can achieve the conditions that result in healthy indoor air quality. Learn how to approach design, construction, and maintenance in new homes and remodels, and how to consider existing homes, with indoor air quality in mind. This course includes nearly six hours of in-depth how-to video instruction, and downloadable learning resources.
a man working on the side of a house with windows and sidings attached to it
Create a Successful Drained Siding System
A drained and fully ventilated rainscreen gap behind your siding is one of the best ways to minimize damage by allowing water to drain away and allowing for air movement behind the cladding to promote drying of the wall assembly.
an advertisement with the words receptacles for a kitchen island in black and white
Receptacles for a Kitchen Island
With a ban on below-counter receptacles in the latest National Electrical Code, there are a few other ways to incorporate receptacle outlets on a peninsula or island. Pop-up receptacles can be an attractive alternative. Prices range from $60 to $600.
a man in red shirt and grey hat working on a concrete wall with cement pavers
Protect Foundation Foam
A great choice for exterior foam on foundations is a borate-treated expanded polystyrene (EPS) that performs at a similar R-value to extruded polystyrene (XPS) but is much less environmentally unfriendly.
Paint spray rig applying paint to surface Mindfulness, Fluid, Knutselen, Spray, Manufacturing, Projects, Keep In Mind, Wall Finishes
Thinning Finishes for Spraying Paint
If you're exceeding the paint manufacturer's guidelines, there are a few things to keep in mind. In order for the fluid to pass through the needle/spray-cap assembly and become atomized, thinning is almost always essential, and is standard operating procedure when using HVLP systems.
the diagram shows how to build a concrete slab with different types of insulation and materials
Setting Bases for Porch Posts
The best way to prevent structural posts from cracking stone is to ensure there are no voids in the mortar bed, drill a larger anchor hole in the stone, and keep anchor bolts away from the edges.
an old door with the words replace rotten boards in a roof overhang
Replace Rotten Boards in a Roof Overhang
This reader is repairing/renovating a historic Craftsman-era house and asks, “Is it possible to replace rotten overhang boards … without removing the roofing? I believe the boards are tongue-and-groove, but am not certain yet.”
a measuring tape is hanging on the side of a door
Close the Gap Between the Wall and Flush Built-Ins
Readers and an expert weigh in, considering options such as corner bead, caulking, and leaving a shadow line.
an image of a diagram showing how to install a drainage system in a basement area
Directing Drainage Under a Driveway
A properly installed 4-in. corrugated drainage pipe running under a driveway can withstand the pressure of a 40,000-lb. truck.
Subpanel
Why Do You Have To Separate Grounds and Neutrals?
One of these wires is meant to complete a circuit and the other is there just for safety. Different wires, different jobs. Beginning with the 2008 National Electrical Code, residential subpanels are required to be wired with a four-wire feed (two hots, a neutral, and a ground), and the grounds and neutrals must be isolated from one another. Here, they connect to different bars in the subpanel.
a brick fireplace with the words ashes to ashes, brick to dust written below
Are Stains on Brick and Mortar a Sign of Water Damage?
.When brick and mortar is saturated with water, compounds in the masonry dissolve and show up as a powdery white stain. Some can be cleaned with water; some require chemicals.