New Q&A’s: Welding, Gutters, Joists & Plaster


What’s the difference between MIG and TIG welding? And what’s the best choice for a DIY’er?

Most professionals consider TIG (tungsten inert gas) to be the “elite” of all welding processes. A TIG weld is typically neater, usually stronger and easier to control than with welding other processes. The least expensive TIG machines make a gas-protected weld puddle, but heat is not adjustable. Foot-pedal TIG machines allow the welder to start the weld puddle and adjust the heat with the pedal. However, a TIG unit can be the most expensive of all welders, so consider how much you’ll be using the machine before investing.
            Whereas a TIG setup works with a torch (electrode) to melt a welding rod with pinpoint accuracy, MIG (metal inert gas) welds utilize a wire-feed system. These machines are easy to learn but tricky to master. For $300 you can find a MIG welder at the hardware store, plug into a 110-volt outlet and begin welding immediately. These are great for building a grill or shop equipment. The MIG gun feeds flux-cored welding wire into the weld, and the weld begins as soon as you squeeze the trigger. However, due to all the smoke and sparks, the impeded visibility makes it difficult to achieve a truly clean weld. Plus, the smaller MIG machines are limited to thinner metals, and you’ll probably have to deal with a lot of weld spatter.

Falling Gutter
My daughter recently moved into a new house, and I noticed the gutter had pulled away from the exposed roof framing (no fascia board was in place). Upon closer inspection, I notice the rafter ends were rotted, which is why the gutter pulled away. Can I fix this by sistering new lumber to the rafter and re-fastening the gutter?

If the rafter tails are getting wet and staying wet, then you have to address that issue first or the problem will recur. Pull off the entire gutter and inspect all the rafter ends. The problem may be an improper drip edge or that the downspouts were clogged. After addressing that issue, cut out the rotted wood until you reach good wood. Sister on some new rafter tails, nail on a fascia board and wrap it in sofffit. Then reinstall the gutter.

Reinforce Sagging Joists
I’m remodeling a “fix ‘er upper” and have some sagging joists in the subfloor. Is this a problem I can repair myself?

You should add blocking to the joist to support the subfloor and stop movement in the floor. Measure and cut a 2-by-4 block that is at least 2 feet longer than the sagging joist area. Liberally apply construction adhesive to the top and side of the 2-by-4 and install it lengthwise against the joist, flush with the underside of the subfloor. Every 12 inches along the 2-by-4, predrill screw holes to prevent splitting. Then drive 2-1/2-inch wood screws at a slightly upward angle through the blocking and into the joist, securing it tightly against the subfloor.

Repair Damaged Plaster
We have some water damage in a plaster ceiling. Any advice on how to repair it?

Plaster can be messy to work with, because it is embedded in lath over studs or joists. First things first: Fix the leak. Next, secure the solid, stable plaster around the damaged area by using plaster washers. Then, outline the damage by marking off a square perimeter using a masonry bit to drill a series of holes around the area. Connect the holes with a chisel, and then remove the damage by carefully chipping the plaster away from the lath. Replace the removed square with a drywall patch of appropriate thickness cut to fit the void. Fasten drywall screws every 6 inches along the edges of the patch, and every 8 inches along a joist. Then finish with joint tape and drywall mud as you would with any drywall installation.

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