Q: Our brick steps are pulling away from the house. Can we fix this ourselves?
The brick steps leading to our front porch have begun to lean to one side and pull away from the house. Can we fix this ourselves?
— Marvin Howell, Cohutta, Ga.
Tom Silva replies: That depends on how good your masonry skills are. It looks like the steps are sinking because of an inadequate or nonexistent footing, and that means they should be replaced. I don't know of a way to just push them back into place.
You should take care of this soon. The growing gap between the steps and your porch will eventually make the steps unsafe to use, and the tilt isn't good, either. Rebuilding them with a proper footing will be a substantial job, but think of it as an opportunity to turn a liability into an asset. You could make your entrance safer and more inviting by widening the steps and adding a handrail, which is required by code on any flight with four or more risers. If you do hire a contractor, you might save some money by doing the demolition yourself and cleaning the existing bricks for reuse.