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Your Outside Home Repair Questions
Answered by Beth Hodge

Q. I have one cracked sidewalk square. Is this something I can fix on my own or do we need a company to do it?

A. If the crack is severe you may want to opt for a pro, but if it is minimal, here's a solution. Use a scraper or very stiff wire brush and knock away any loose bits of cement around the inside of the crack. Wash the area well to remove dust, debris and any dirt.

The local home repair warehouses sell special cement called hydraulic cement. This cement is sometimes used to seal and fill cracks in basement floors and will also work well to fill the sidewalk crack.

Following the directions on the package is easy and the end result will be cement that will fill the crack and becomes very durable.

Q. The inspector told us that the tuck points on our porch need to be fixed. What is a tuck-point and what should we do?

A. Tuck points are the mortar spaces between bricks at the corners of a building. These spaces tend to wear over time with weather and settling of the structure and chip away.

Hardware and do-it-yourself suppliers offer products to correct this easily. Mortar, sold in a tube similar to the tube that caulking comes in, can be used to fill the spaces where mortar is lacking. Once applied you can mold the mix with protected hands and then let the mortar set.

Once this cement hardens you have great new corners and a fresh clean look.

Q. We want to put some kind of protection over our patio to keep the sun (and then rain, snow, etc) off the patio deck. What kind of material would you suggest?

A. A permanent structure would be needed to support the weight of snow.

It could be built of lumber and covered with any material that will withstand the weight. I have seen structures built of fiberglass and even sheet metal to keep the outdoor feel on the patio, but even a full blown shingled roof is sometimes used.

Just be sure once again that what ever material is used will withstand the weight of snow.

Q. When should I be thinking about sealing my deck? I put it in last year, but was told to wait and let it get seasoned before sealing it. Is a year enough? Should I wait for a certain outdoor temperature before I do it?

A. Yes, a year is long enough for a deck to season. Anytime you will have dry and warm weather is great. Check the weather to be sure you have enough time to allow your sealer to dry once you've applied it. The best temperature is at least 60 degrees (also check your sealer packaging for recommended temperatures)

Q.Our front screen door has some serious gaps in it. A friend said our house is not square so even a replacement door would not be tight. How do we make a tight seal?

A: My only suggestion would be to try a replacement door that comes with a frame you attach, in other words not a 'pre-hung' frame.

These frames come in 3 pieces, two vertical sides and the top. When attaching each vertical piece use a level to be sure they are square to the top piece.

You may need to build up uneven sides using 'shims' (thin pieces of wood that can be used behind the frame pieces to give a level side). As long as the frame is attached level and square, the door will be tight to the frame when attached.

Q: Would old gas cause a lawnmower to stop working? We had some in a can stored in case of a Y2K problem. Now the lawnmower won't start. Coincidence?

A: The age of the gas is not necessarily the issue. If gas is left to sit, any temperature changes may have created condensation inside the container that added liquid to the gas. This could be the cause of the problem.


Have a question or tip about home repairs? Let us know at Repair@ClevelandSeniors.Com





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Beth Hodge
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