Carpentry Question

Old 04-17-2018, 06:59 AM
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Default Carpentry Question

Some government agency contracted a guy to put a deck and handicapped ramp on my sister-in-law's house last summer. The deck is pressure-treated decking but he left no spaces between the boards and they might even be tongue-and-groove, IDK I wasn't there. The problem is water doesn't drain off and it freezes, getting moldy. Should I drill some holes in the deck and should they be in between the boards or centered on the boards? The boards are about as wide as hardwood flooring. What size holes would you recommend? Maybe I should run some saw kerfs on the joints.

The whole thing is a poor design because water drains off the second floor roof directly onto the ramp and there's no rain gutter there either. There's only about 1/2 inch step at the threshold from the deck and snow won't allow the storm door to be opened very far before it packs up and stops. I've taken the seal off the bottom so she can at least open it enough to shovel a little. The porch area should have a roof on it, but the house is owned by her niece who lives in Atlanta GA and couldn't care less. She won't let me spend any money on it. I told her not to buy that house because it has problems but she didn't listen. It's just an investment to her. She's only charging her aunt $100 a month + utilities to live there.

OH...and the back deck and door is the same. If it snows a lot, I have to go over there and shovel the porch so she can get out! God help her if there's a fire!

Last edited by dave1123; 04-17-2018 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:19 PM
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I would just drill holes. Space them evenly so they look nice. probably at least 1/4 inch. if that doesnt work then make them bigger or add more
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:29 PM
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Let's start with a few painful facts:
  1. There are no good options. It's been done wrong. Anything you do will be a royal pain, and a lot of work.
  2. If you drill holes, you will be exposing the core of the wood, where the treatment doesn't penetrate very well, thus inviting rot.
  3. You will never get them all spaced evenly and in a straight line, and it will look like crap.
  4. If you pull up the board and re-do them, you will get a far better result, but it will be a lot of work.
I presume this was done due to some regulations about handicapped access. If so, look up those regulations for yourself. Read them carefully. If there is any wording in there about "workmanship" or anything having to do with the slipperiness of the surface, you might be able to get the gummit agency to pay to redo it correctly. This, too, will be a pain, but if you can pull it off, it will be the best route.

And remember, the squeaky wheel.... Even if the regs don't directly address the issue, if you complain loudly enough, and throw in comments about it being unsafe for use, you might just win.

Worst case, pull it up and re-do it. There's no way you are going to be happy with drilling.
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Old 04-18-2018, 11:05 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I agree pulling it up is the best approach, but that will require removing the side railing skirts as well. I'm thinking some saw kerfs just in the area by the door and on the ramp where the water drips off the roof would be the easiest way to do something. I can not work on my knees, but I know a guy who would be happy to earn a few bucks. The wood needs to be bleached and stained anyway because it's 6 years old and not stained or finished beyond the original installation. The deck wasn't pitched right either. Water collects in front of the door. The rear door deck is built the same way and is 8'x16' with steps and a long ramp but no roof runoff problem.

You're right about the reason it was done. It was to qualify for Section 8 requirements for handicapped habitation. These rules also required smoke and monoxide detectors be installed. She also installed a high efficiency NG furnace. I helped her remove the chimney and fix the roof because that was the only place to install the furnace above the crawl space. That's the last time I was capable of that kind of work. 8 years ago.

This whole house is a disaster. It's about 20'x35' two stories built on a crawl space with a gravel floor. The entire neighborhood is in a flood plane where the backyards get standing water in the spring melt. If the sump pump quits, it'll get about a foot of water in the crawl space. The garage was converted to living space and is built on a slab. It had a wood stove that her niece removed because of the potential fire hazard. The entire neighborhood smells nicely of wood smoke in the winter and stinky diesel in the summer. These houses were built to house railyard workers for the largest rail complex in the central New York area. The siding is ceramic tiles where you have to drill a hole to put in a nail or screw or it will crack. I hate that stuff!

The owner was an investment banker looking to hide some money besides the stock market. I told her this was not a good house to waste her money on, but she wouldn't listen. She was looking for a place for her aunt to live after a divorce. She assumed I would keep up the maintenance, then wouldn't pay for it. I do what is necessary to keep my sister-in-law warm and comfortable as best I can.

Last edited by dave1123; 04-18-2018 at 11:35 AM.
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