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Old 07-29-2007, 05:21 AM   #1
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Stair problems

We have got squeaky stairs and have just checked the level on the treads and find they are sloping forwards by around 5mm. We were hoping to fix the squeak ourselves but are now a little concerned about the overall structure. The house is around 100 years old and there has been some movement in the property but it seems to have settled some time before we moved in. Do you think this is a job we can tackle ourselves and what advice can you give us? Thanks

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Old 07-29-2007, 06:33 PM   #2
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Stair problems

You may be able to stop the squeeking, caused by the tread flexing under a person's weight and rubbing against either another piece of wood, or usually a nail. First try to locate the offending nail by walking the stairs and looking for wood movement and a nail head that appears to rise and fall. It is unlikely that you can get enough bite on the head to pull it out without damaging the tread so you want to drive it completely through the wood tread. Get a 1/8" diameter "pin punch" from hardware store, big box retailer or any place that sell mechanics tools. It looks like a nail set, but the end of it extends about 2 inches without any taper, so it will not make the hole progressively bigger like a standard nail set. After this get some carpenters glue down the hole and hopefully into any gap that may be between the tread and supporting stringer. The best thing for this is a glue syringe or fill the hole and use a straw to try to blow the glue down.
If there is movement along the nose of the tread , you will want to carefully remove the scotia moulding to reveal the slight gap between the bottom of the tread and the top of the riser. Cut a few wedges about 5 or 6 inches long and tap them into this gap to enlarge it slightly if possible. Then take a tube of construction adhesive and squeeze a bead into this gap, remove the wedges so the tread comes back to its natural position. try not to walk on the stair for 12 hours so the adhesive can dry. You can do every other tread at a time, if you need the stairs, using a piece of tape to identify the repaired ones to avoid stepping on. Be sure to "tool" the adhesive flat so that it does not interfere when you reinstall the scotia, use mineral spirits to clean up any smears.

Now for the possible bad news. A stair case this old may be built with stringers and risers that are housed in dadoes (grooves) that are cut into the side stringers.As the stairs were assembled wedges were glued and driven in these grooves to hold everything in place. This was obviously done before the bottom of the stairs were closed in, so now you can't access this area without damaging plaster.

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Old 07-30-2007, 03:33 AM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Stair problems

Staircases are generally built for the life of a home, but they can be damaged, repaired and even replaced like any other part of the house. Because many of the accidents that occur in homes typically include falls on stairs, you want to be sure your stairs are in sound condition. Loose treads and handrails are an invitation to a fall. Lesser, but still significant, problems include wear, settling, and wood deterioration.

Once you find the source of the noise, you can usually fix it relatively easily. If the noise comes from the spot where your foot meets the tread, concentrate your repair efforts there. If the noise comes from one side when you step in the center or if it comes from the rear of the tread when you step at the front, the chances are pretty good that the entire tread is moving or deflecting.
If you're worried about the noises, start by investigating the source of the sound. Stairs with open undersides (such as when basement stairs or closets are built below) make this job easier. Where the underside is not accessible, you may have to pull down a finished ceiling underneath to get a good look. Before making any repairs, try lubricating the parts with talcum powder or powdered graphite to reduce the friction where they rub together. Forcefully blow the powder into the joints, especially where the backs of the treads meet the risers. If this doesn't help, you'll need to take on a little carpentry work.
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:28 PM   #4
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Stair problems

Thanks for all your help, we'll let you know how we get on.
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