Q: I am planning to build a raised, wood deck outside. Can I get away with placing the wood supporting posts on top of almost-buried cinder blocks, with a metal spacer between the wood post (to percent rotting)? Or should I build concrete footings for each post?
A: I advise concrete footings, or at least footings of cement block (not cinder block). The footings should be at least 12 inches deep, and the bottom of each footing should be deep enough to go down below the frost line in the Washington area, where you live. Check with your local building inspection department for this information.
The footing for each post should be about 12 inches square. A metal spacer between the footing and the bottom of the post will be of little help in preventing rot. You should use pressure-treated lumber, or redwood heart wood. These posts will be truly rott-resistant.
Q: I have insulated the attic of my house with blown-in cellulose that is thick enough to provide a rating of R-30 for that ceiling. Since then we have noticed cracks in the ceiling and walls of our house, which I assume are due to the inability of moisture to dissipate. Can you suggest a solution to this problem?
A: You don't say whether or not you put a separate vapor barrier down on the attic floor before you had the insulation blown in (on top of the barrier). tIf not, condensation problems may be developing up there or in the adjacent walls (near the top of each outside wall). Aside from this, I cannot see how the insulation could be causing cracks. I think it is coincidence, or the cracking is due to something entirely different.
Q: Some of the faucets in my apartment make a loud vibrating noise when turned partly on. This noise ceases when the faucet is turned all the way on, or when it is turned off. Can you tell me what causes this, and what can be done to repair it?
A: In most cases this is a sign that either the washers are badly worn, they are loose, or they are the wrong size or shape for that particular faucet. tIf you will take the faucets apart and replace the washers, I think your problem will be solved.
When you replace the washers make sure you use the right ones by taking apart one of the faucets that does not make noise. Chances are these faucets will have the proper washer. If changing washerss doesn't do the trick, it means the stem is loose in the body of the faucet because the threads are worn. You can buy new stems from a plumbing supply house. If new stems don't work, the whole faucet will have to be changed.
Q: We recently replaced our solid-core front door with a new one and would like to finish it with something that will last more than 10 years (the finish on the old one lasted that long). The old one was varnished and did not stand up well. How should the new one be treated?
A: I am not sure if you mean you want a finish that will stand up of 10 years. If so, forget it. Varnish will not last as long as paint, and often needs renewing every six to 12 months. Paint will last longer -- four to five years is not unusual.