Deck improvements

17 01 2015

We’ve been living at this house for just over a year. Something I needed to do soon after we move in was to stain the deck which was completely untreated. However there are two problems with the deck that will require it to be re-laid.

Picture of deck before work

The deck before remedial work begins.

  • The warm sunlight (the deck faces NW) of New Zealand has caused all the boards to shrink and there is now a 7-8mm gap between each board.
  • A heavy concrete garden table sits  at this end of the deck (where the camera is), and its weight has caused the deck to dip slightly which you can see by the lopsided puddling on the table top when it rains.

The strategy is to, from the side of the house outwards, creating a gap of about 4 boards to give room to manoeuvre, and then re-fix one row of board, this time with screws instead of nails.

Four boards out to create room to manoeuvre.

Four boards out to create room to manoeuvre.

The approach is partly defeated by two issues:

  1. The butt joints of boards in a single row are an angled overlap with the boards at the house end being the upper boards. Access to lift the first boards against the house is poor.
  2. The supporting framework at the end furthest from the house has to be re-levelled before boards can be re-laid. In fact at the end closest to the camera the entire width of boards will have to removed.

A numbering system is required to facilitate fitting the boards back together again. I named rows ‘A’ to ‘R’ as I lifted them right to left, and within a row boards were numbered ‘1’ to ‘6’ as they got closer to the house.

Board showing its unique number.

A numbering system is required.


Each board was marked on the underside in chalk, and I tried to stack them in such a way that I could re-lay those that I had least recently lifted.
I show some of the tools used in the picture to the right. As time went on I found I could use the claw-hammer as a sort of wrecking bar and managed to lift entire lengths of board using just the hammer.
Demonstrating improved nail extraction

Adding padding under the claw-hammer to improve leverage on long nails.


As an aside. When a nail is already pulled most of the way out of a board it can be almost impossible to use the lever of the claw-hammer to finish the job. Any hard padding (like a block of wood) can act as a base of the hammer reducing the relative length of the nail and improving leverage.
Rain stopped play.

Rain stopped play.


Needless to say it started to rain about 2 hours after I started.
(To be continued.)

Leftover nails from previous deck

A lazy deck constructor?

Getting there

Getting there

Looking back on a day's work

Looking back on a day’s work

The problem with the supporting piles

The problem with the supporting piles

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When the pump is just the start….

8 02 2009

This post all started from an evening when I was changing the light fitting above my desk (something that you are still allowed to do under EU regulations). Suddenly there was a squawk from downstairs. The TV had gone off. I trouped out to the garage to look at the consumer unit and sure enough the residual current device (RCD) had tripped. (RCD’s are the more modern replacement of ELCB’s.) I didn’t think it had anything to do with me (I had my lighting circuit off), so I reset the switch and everything came back to life.

The next morning I awoke to ominous quiet and cold. Why wasn’t the heating on. I went out to the garage (-1C) in my pyjames and sure enough the RCD had tripped again. It’s amazing how an illogical hunch can throw you off the scent. The RCD was being tripped by the garage and heating circuit, and more specifically, if I turned off the master switch to the heating, I was able to reset the RCD.

I decided the only approach I could take was to disconnect each component in turn (pump, zone valve, boiler, programmer) and after each disconnection, turn on the heating circuit to see if it would go on without tripping the RCD. First was the pump, and bingo. A double check by connecting the pump to a 13amp mains plug and plugging into the upstairs ring main confirmed the diagnosis by instantly tripping the entire circuit. There were telltale signs of damp on the casing. Electricity and moisture are not good bed-fellows.

Having been snowed-in for 2 days (our main car could not get up the icy hill), I got on my bike to a local plumbers’ merchant who was beating the internet prices for an identical replacement pump. Safely home it then took the entire evening to remove the old pump (which was seized on) and fit the new one. ( I used WD 40 then heated up the offending joints with a blow lamp, taking care to distribute the flame all round the joint.  Against the fitting instructions the threads had been liberally coated with something that had dried hard.)

That evening the heating fired up, the programmer turned it off for the night and the following morning it was on when I got up………………..for about 50 minutes. Then it died. For good.

to be continued….