Q: My house was custom-built four years ago and I truly love it, but I'm very concerned about the garage-door framing; the bottoms of the studs get wet every time it rains. Contractors I've talked to tell me to leave it alone, but I don't want to have extensive repairs when I'm 80 and can't afford to deal with them.

— Geraldine, Charlestown, RI

A: Tom Silva replies: Don't worry, Geraldine. That wood will easily last until you're 80, as long as you're at least 78 right now. If you're not, then I'd say you're right to be concerned.

I can see by the stains in your photo that the studs have been sucking up water regularly, which is a great way to encourage rot. What you can't see — yet — are problems with the wall sheathing, which is much too close to the driveway. It should be 8 inches above the pavement at least.

At this point, you can't do much about the studs except cut the bottom of the garage door framing off just enough to slip pieces of pressure-treated stock underneath. (You'll need to take the load off the studs first.) Just slipping a piece of foam sill sealer or plastic or even 30-pound felt paper under the ends of the studs would add to their life.

The sheathing will eventually be a trouble spot too. So if you want to tackle the problem now, you'll have to remove a few courses of siding, then cut out the existing sheathing and replace it with pressure-treated plywood held with stainless steel nails. Then reinstall the siding using stainless nails.

That metal column is going to rust out eventually too. If you want to squeeze more life out of it, sand off the rust, apply a metal primer, then paint it.
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