Homeowner seeks alternative to replacing brick stairway

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Q: I have brick stairs with a landing leading to my entry door in my San Francisco home. The brick and mortar is original (about 1928), and during the recent rains, I have noticed that the wood beneath the stairs gets wet. I have power-washed the bricks and mortar and the edge of the stairs where the mortar and the stucco meet. How can I make repairs or will I need to replace the stairs in the next several years? A: With any luck you've caught the problem in time, and with some attentive preventative maintenance, you can avoid replacing your brick stairway. We think it's likely the source of the seepage is failing mortar joints between the bricks. It's less likely that the seam where the brick meets the stucco is the source of the leak. In any case you would be wise to address both areas. Brick stairs like yours are constructed by first building a wooden ramp as a form for the staircase. Treads and risers are then built from the bottom to the top of the staircase. The tread is the part...