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There's more than one way to fix a squeak

Dear Jim: My present home has squeaky floors, especially during winter. How can I fix these annoying squeaks? Also I am planning to build an energy efficient home in two years. How can I avoid squeaks there? — Edward K.

Dear Edward: Squeaky floors can be particularly annoying at night and are generally worse in the winter. During summer, if you do not air-condition, squeaks may totally disappear. Drier winter air makes flooring lumber shrink which may create small gaps. When you put weight on these spots, the lumber moves and you hear a squeak.

Squeaks may also indicate your house has settled which can create the same gaps in the structure. You may also notice that some interior doors no longer fit squarely in their door frames. This situation often also results in external gaps allowing air leakage and increasing your utility bills.

If you have access to the floor joists below the squeaks, it is not difficult to fix them even if the cause is general settling. Fixing the inefficient air leakage is a much larger project which would require a column dedicated solely to that problem.

Your goal is to securely connect the subflooring to the floor joists. A “Squeak-Relief” repair kit is the easiest to use. It is an aluminum bracket with two holes and a 90-degree corner. One short screw goes into the subflooring. A longer screw goes through the bottom of the bracket into the floor joist. As you tighten the longer screw, it draws the subflooring snugly against the joist.

Another device, “Squeak-Ender,” has a long threaded screw which is attached to the subflooring with short screws. A sheet metal bracket fits over the bottom of the floor joist. The long screw extends downward through the end of this bracket. When you tighten a nut over the long screw, it pulls the subflooring and joist tightly together.

If you do not have access to the underside of the floor, you will have to fix the squeak through the carpeting with a “Squeeeeek No More” kit. It consists of an alignment fixture and special notched screws.

Locate the joist below the squeak. Using the fixture, drive a screw through the carpet, subflooring and into the joist. Turn the fixture on its side, hook the screw into it and twist. The head of the screw will break off at the notch slightly below the top of the subflooring. Kits are also available for wood floors.

As for your future energy efficient house, use engineered lumber products. They are more stable, require less virgin wood and produce a more efficient house. There are several types, such as I-joists, glulams, laminated veneer lumber, and rim board for specific uses.

The following companies offer floor stabilizers: ATCI Consumer Products, (800) 343-6129, www.worksavers.com; E&E Engineering, (800) 854-3577, www.squeakender.com; O’Berry Enterprises, (800) 459-8428, www.oberry-enterprises.com; and engineered lumber: Boise Cascade, (800) 232-0788, www.bcewp.com; and Georgia Pacific, (800) 284-5347, www.gp.com.

Dear Jim: We have excessive moisture problems. When it is just slightly cold outdoors, water condenses on the windows and some walls and it feels musty. I don’t use a humidifier. What type of expert should I call? — Phyllis A.

Dear Phyllis: If you have single-pane windows, condensation can occur in mild temperatures, but should not on the walls. Have your furnace and water heater flues checked. If they are clogged, there may be excess indoor moisture.

If all the mechanical equipment is running properly, contact a ventilation contractor. Your house may be extremely efficient and airtight and need additional mechanical ventilation with fresh outdoor air.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Decatur Daily, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.

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