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Renovation & Design

Wooden structural floors can come with unique problems

Question: We have wooden structural basement floors in our home, which was built in 1999. We also had the home built on piles. We have noticed in one area, against the back of the house, that the floor has heaved, and also some lower spots in one area, only. I looked under the floor in the crawl space and all is dry. My next step is to pull back the carpet and replace the warped plywood. I am curious as to how this might happen.

— Linda R Burndorfer

Answer: Problems with wooden structural floors in homes are fairly common, and may be because of either workmanship or moisture related issues. Pulling up the carpet may be the next step in diagnosing your problem, but hiring a registered home inspector (RHI) or structural engineer to physically inspect the crawl space will also likely be required.

Wooden structural floors are a fairly recent method used in our area to prevent common cracking and heaving of concrete basement floor slabs. These work well to allow a warm, straight floor for the lower level of the home, below grade, but may also be subject to unique issues. Some early versions of these floor systems had crawl spaces which were too shallow, and the joists or manufactured I-joists were too close to the soil in the crawl space. These were subject to moisture damage, with some sustaining minimal rot, while others had major issues with damage and crushing. Most builders have found solutions to these issues, but if your bumps are around the perimeter of the floor, then that is the likely cause. Partial tearing up the subfloor may be needed for a complete diagnosis and repair, but crawling under the floor may yield some answers.

Since your home was built almost 20 years ago, the joists in your floor may be manufactured I-joists. This excellent product works well for many applications, but is not well suited to damp crawl spaces. I have seen several situations where they crush or buckle from moisture damage, because of their design with a thin middle of OSB. It would be a good idea to look into your access hatch and see if you have I-joists, which may increase the urgency for inspection and repair.

Diagnosing a problem with the heaving floor sheathing in your structural wood floor may be possible by pulling up the floor coverings if it is minor, but will likely require further inspection from the crawl space to fully see the extent of the issue. Calling an RHI for this more detailed look may be warranted before committing to any costly repairs.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba (cahpi.mb.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at trainedeye.ca.

trainedeye@iname.com

It can be difficult to determine whether a report and quote for repairs from a contractor is fair or not. Unfortunately, there are also a limited number professional engineers that even want to do these types of inspections. For that reason, calling an experienced RHI may be your first course of action to figure out whether you have a serious problem, or a more minor one.

The best-case scenario for your buckled floor is telegraphing of the subfloor sheathing. That complex sounding issue is simply a lifting of the sheathing at the joints or seams. This can happen at the interlocking tongue and groove edges of the sheathing, or between square cut joints. This may occur from shrinkage or movement in the joists, loosening of the fasteners holding down the plywood or OSB or high moisture levels. If you have any moisture leaking into the lower level crawl space or foundation, for any reason, it could cause these joints to swell, creating the heaving you are seeing.

At the other end of the spectrum is rot and moisture damage to the joists themselves, below the sheathing. If the joists have rotted enough to lose some of their structural integrity, they may start to sag or crush, leaving other areas higher and giving the illusion of heaving. This may only be fully evaluated by pulling up the carpet and portions of the subfloor and probing the framing, but may also be identified by probing the wood from the crawl space below. Unfortunately, this often occurs because the soil is too close to the bottom of the joists, leaving little space for an inspector to crawl into and reach. Inspection from the hatch, or further into the crawl space, will determine whether this evaluation is possible, or not.

Since your home was built almost 20 years ago, the joists in your floor may be manufactured I-joists. This excellent product works well for many applications, but is not well suited to damp crawl spaces. I have seen several situations where they crush or buckle due to moisture damage, due to their design with a thin middle of OSB. Many builders have gone back to using real wood joists, or even pressure treated wood, in crawl spaces to avoid structural damage if the crawl space gets wet. It would be a good idea to look into your access hatch and see if you have I-joists, which may increase the urgency for inspection and repair, if they are present.

Diagnosing a problem with the heaving floor sheathing in your structural wood floor may be possible by pulling up the floor coverings if it is minor, but will likely require further inspection from the crawl space to fully see the extent of the issue. Calling an RHI for this more detailed look may be warranted to get a truly independent viewpoint, before committing to any costly repairs.

Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home Inspection Ltd. and the past president of the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors — Manitoba (cahpi.mb.ca). Questions can be emailed to the address below. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his website at trainedeye.ca.

trainedeye@iname.com

Ari Marantzask the INSPECTOR
July 14

Renovation & Design

Getting rid of ants with kitchen favourites

Question: How do I get ants to leave my yard? They seem to take over a different area each summer, and they bite. — Roberta

Answer: There are many solutions for tackling ants. What works for one will not necessarily work for another since there is such a large variety of ant species; but here are a few ideas that are safe for children and animals.

To begin with, seal all doors and windows. Next, many ants will stay away if they smell an odor unpleasant to them such as: cinnamon, garlic, tea leaves or coffee grounds. You can also sprinkle ant hills with dry oatmeal, cornmeal or corn flake cereal.

Another option is to make what I like to call ‘rhubarb tea’. In a stainless-steel pot boil rhubarb leaves with water. Pour the cooled liquid onto ant hills. This helps get rid of ants and because of the oxalic acid in rhubarb, your pots will come out sparkly clean!

Another suggestion: outside, pile the dirt from one ant hill onto the dirt of another ant hill. Or push a metal pipe into ant hills and pour hot water and tea tree oil into the pipe.

 

Question: I was painting and forgot to remove my wedding ring. Now I have dried latex paint all over my ring. What is the best homemade way to clean the ring? — Macey

Answer: Soak the ring in 50/50 household ammonia and 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Brush the ring with an Ultra Soft toothbrush and polish. Keep in mind that many jewelers offer free jewelry cleaning.

 

Household Superstar: Avocado

  • Avocados never ripe when you need them? Solution: Buy them well in advance, ripen, mash, and then freeze them with a little lime/lemon juice and a little salt. Just thaw and serve or incorporate into your favorite recipes.
  • It is common to purchase avocados with brown spots; this can happen because of a few different reasons: exposure to cold temperatures for a long period of time, or bruising during transport or handling. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine if an avocado has bruising by looking at the outside peel. The good news is that brown spots are not harmful and can be removed by slicing them out.
  • I found a way to liven up devilled eggs by adding one mushed up avocado. For 12 boiled egg yolks I add, 3 tbsp. mayonnaise, the juice of half a lime and salt and pepper to taste. Delicious and healthy! Submitted by: Belinda
  • Chocolate Avocado Pudding: Into a food processor: Combine three avocados, one third cup cocoa powder, half cup milk, one third cup maple syrup and half a tsp. vanilla. Process and refrigerate. Submitted by: Cynthia
  • Avocado Makeover: Into a food processor combine: One avocado, one egg, 1 tbsp. olive oil. Massage onto face and hair. Heat with a hair dryer and let sit 15 minutes. Wash as usual. Submitted by: Cynthia
  • The fastest way to remove an avocado pit from its skin. Cut around the lengthwise circumference of the skin; twist the avocado to open it. Tap the pit with the blade of your knife, twist and pull the pit out of the skin, the pit will stay attached to the blade. Submitted by: Darren

Everyday Hacks

  • Polish stainless-steel cutlery by rubbing it with the cut side of a raw potato. Wipe and polish with water.
  • Vinegar is the best for cleaning calcium deposits and scum in humidifiers.
  • Store cut raw onions in an airtight screw top glass jar. A cut onion will remain fresh for up to one week.

 

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Need a presenter on the topic: Effective Speaking or The Power of Words? Check out: Reena.ca

 

Reena Nerbas 
July 7

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