Subject: Rotten door sill

Hi Bruce,

I went to patch a hole in the driveway on our new house under the side door when I came to find out that the sill was all rotted. I had to remove the entire sill there by exposing hte top of the cinder block foundation. This is an old house, and I'm not sure if there is supposed to be a layer of cement on top of the cinder blocks? I assumer there is becuase there were large screws that went through the door sill, but the concrete must have broken down over time from water exposure.

Now I'm left with no door sill and I can look straight down in to the foundation...

Thoughts, comments, instructions?


Hi Matt, if there is no concrete in the top of the masonry then there probably should be. You can stuff some broken blocks or pack the top of the block and leave it down about four inches and then fill it with cement grout or sacrete. When it dries good then you can tapcon (concrete screw) some pressure treated wood to the top of the masonry and then install a proper threshold for the door.I hope this information helps feel free to write again regarding this or other matters, sincerely bruce e johnson..bejohnsonconsulting.com

Thank you very much for your help. I'm sure I'll be contacting you again in the near future!

All the best,

Subject: foundation
Question -
What are the pros and cons of building a home on slab or with crawl space?
Thank you, Gabe

Answer -
I prefer a slab foundation (monolithic slab) over a crawl space (stem
wall) myself. It gives you a floor and foundation in one shot. With a
crawl space you have to create a foundation for the perimeter and also
intermediate supports for the floor system, then build the floor system.
With a monolithic slab your plumbing underground needs to be in place
before you pour the concrete and any electrical underground also. With a
stem wall foundation, you need to build your floor structure first, then
do your plumbing rough in before you add your floor decking. Ground
conditions might warrant a stem wall foundation over a mono slab. If you
live in an area where the soils have a lot of clay and expand when wet,
you might want to ask a local civil engineer if a mono slab is suitable.
Flood zones might make a stem wall foundation more desirable if you are
borderline flood prone because the stem wall elevates you a little more
with less fill dirt required. With a stem wall foundation you also need
to insulate your floor and have the underside of the house treated for
pests on a regular basis. A mono slab doesn't need to be insulated and
you pretreat the soil under it for termites and bingo you are ready to go.
So again I prefer the mono slab..I hope this information is helpful, feel
free to write again regarding this or other matters, sincerely bruce e

Subject: Support Beam
Question -
I have a steel I beam (in the basement) running the length of my house.It has 3 support posts set aprox. 8 ft apart. I wanted to move 1 of the
support posts about 4ft. causing one of the spans to be 12ft., would this be a problem?
My house is about 50 yrs old, 1 1/2 story cape. Foundation is in great shape basement is dry and walls are poured concrete.

Answer -
Hi Edward, chances are the beam will be ok with such a minor shift in
support. See if you have any major weight from above bearing on the spot
where the post sits that you want to move..such as a roof bearing wall or
a bathtub or something heavy like that. One thing you need to consider
though: Usually in a basement floor where posts are located you have a
large chunk of concrete poured under the slab to reinforce where the
concentrated loads will be placed. So before moving your post you may
need to cut a square out of your slab and pour a new post footing in the
new location. Otherwise your post may just punch through the thinner
unreinforced portion of your floor..As always I recommend that in
structural situations, contact a structural engineer in your area before
altering supporting elements in your house..I hope this information helps,
feel free to write again regarding this or other matters, sincerely bruce
e johnson

Subject: Foundation rods
Question -
I have some problems with my poured foundation walls leaking when it rains
hard. I'm not really sure what they are called but the water is coming
from the 3/8 inch holes that they bore into the walls when they build the
foundation. The holes go back about 10 inches into the wall. Apparently
they don't patch the holes properly like they should. It's like they take
a putty knife and just cover the front of the hole and then the other nine
inches of the hole remains unsealed. I think the holes need repaired with
hydraulic cement to stop the leaking but I'm not sure if the proper
technique is to try to force the cement all the way back as far as I can
or not. The hydraulic cement sets quickly and so I'm not sure if I could
force it all the way back into the hole before it sets up. As I mentioned,
these holes are about 3/8 of an inch in diameter and go back into the wall
about 10 inches. I need to get these plugged up properly because I'm tired
of worrying every time it rains hard. Any suggestions would be most
appreciated. Thank you
Answer -
Hi Woody, the problem is less with the "snap tie holes" than with your
exterior foudation drain. Your foundation wall should have a drain around
it to keep water from building up and creating seepage problems. Normally
a basement foundation should have a layer of rocks around it at the
footing level with a perforated drain pipe. Water building up around the
foundation percolates into the rock and the pipe takes it away to either a
sump where a pump evacuates it or to a lower elevation where gravity
removes it. Your exterior foundation wall should have been waterproofed
from the outside also. The snap tie holes patched and a thick mastic
coating applied before backfilling the dirt up against the basement.
Trying to patch these holes from the inside will have little value if the
outside isn't prepared properly..I hope this information helps feel free
to write again regarding this or other matters, sincerely bruce e johnson

Subject: Creaky Floors
Question -
Hi Bruce, we just bought a 3yr old house that has creaky floors in the
kitchen/dining room. The floor is covered with linoleum and it doesn't
appear that there is anything underneath it besides the plywood. We have
a 4ft crawl space so we can access the floor above. How do we stop the
Thanks for your help!

Answer -
Hi Denise, sounds like you have some loose plywood. Maybe the plywood was
damp or wet when installed and when it dried out it shrank a bit and the
nails are slightly loose. Try this, go to your local building supply
store and get some "Liquid Nail" sub floor adhesive. It comes in a
cartridge that fits most standard caulking guns. Get underneath your
floor where it seems to be squeaking the most and up where your plywood
meets the floor joist try to force the liquid nail, using the pressure of
the caulking gun, in between the plywood and the joist. This will fill
the gap when it hardens and keep the plywood from flexing. Plan a day out
of the house after that to keep traffic off of the floor for as long as
you can to give the liquid nail a chance to harden and this should reduce
your squeaking immensely. Then as squeaks arise you can treat them the
same way, just remember to isolate the living area above the repair until
the adhesive has a chance to harden. I hope this information helps, feel
free to write again regarding this or other matters, sincerely bruce e

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