Archive for the ‘structural’ category

Quick Tip #6 – Finding Studs

March 18th, 2014

M052If you think “finding studs” is something gals do in a singles bar, you’ve come to the wrong column. We’re talking wall framing studs. Every once in a while, you need to locate studs in a wall, like when you want to hang something heavy or cut into a wall for access. You could use an electronic stud finder, if you have one, and you may strike it rich. But electronic stud finders are not always accurate. They also don’t work on thicker drywall or where there are obstructions on or behind the wall.

To find studs or confirm the reading of a stud finder, think about how a wall is assembled. The illustration provides various clues to finding studs. First, most studs are placed 16 inches apart — so if you find one, you can find others. Studs are also found next to electrical switches and outlets, and often they surround heating return grills.

Look at the wood base trim of the wall; often you’ll find nail holes filled near the top of the trim. These nails will be driven into wood studs. Also, look for any imperfections or nail pops in the drywall surface — you can shine a flashlight over the surface at a flat angle to see little bumps or depressions. This technique reveals drywall nails or screws that will be placed into studs.

By Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It

Fixing Squeaky Floors

March 17th, 2013


I read your article about squeaky floors. My floors in the upstairs master bedroom squeak terribly. They don’t squeak below your feet – you will hear the squeak elsewhere in the room. The house was built in 2003. I’ve talked to the builder, and he immediately knew about the problem. They used floor-joists that were not large enough for the size of the room. He told me that it will be a costly endeavor to fix, requiring tearing up the floor and strengthening the floor joists. Would that be your assessment, as well?



There certainly could be a structural problem that causes floor squeaks. Undersized floor framing will result in a bouncy floor, squeaks, and potential angle cracks at wall openings. All floors bounce and move under load, but they are typically designed to limit the bouncy movement. Movement does not always indicate structural failure.

See if the builder is willing to do the repair for free or at a reduced cost – apparently it was his mistake. A typical repair could involve:

  • Doubling up on the floor joists
  • Bolting a steel plate to the joists
  • Gluing and screwing plywood to the underside of the joists
  • Adding a beam and post in the center of the span
  • A variety of combinations

S013 - Floor Framing Squeak Fix

The fix is expensive because the floor above or ceiling below needs to be removed. Furniture in the area needs to be removed and there will be a big mess. Fitting the new joists or any repair is also time consuming.


Foundation Cracks

March 10th, 2010

We have a 1100-square-foot 1950’s ranch. The interior basement walls look good, but we have several hairline cracks visible on the one-foot exterior block that we can see. Is urethane caulking a good idea? Thanks!!


If the cracks are vertical and next to an outside corner, it could indicate some wall movement. When a block wall moves inward, a crack often appears near the corner in the vertical mortar joint. You can check the walls for movement with a plumb bob or a long level. The walls should be within 1/2 inch of plumb when compared to the corners.

Minor cracks on the outside of the block wall could be filled with a urethane or polyurethane caulk but this is not a structural repair – just cosmetic. If you are considering selling your home soon, caulk may not be a good idea because it raises the question of what the caulk is hiding.

Check for movement and other cracks inside. If you do have cracks or movement over 1/2 inch, consider a review by an independent basement consultant.