Cooling a Third Floor Level / Odor From Evaporating Water in Floor Drain / Replacing Old Floor Tiles

In Asbestos Tile, Crawl Space, HVAC on May 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

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I need advice on summer cooling of the third level in my 3100 square foot home. The finished basement is cold, (all vents closed) the eight rooms on the main floor are chilly (most vents closed) and the upstairs is warm with all vents open.

I have heard about mini fans that are installed in ductwork to move along cool air. Is this a reasonably priced alternative that you would recommend?


Fact, hot air rises. The third floor will always be warmer especially in the summer. To make the third floor more comfortable you should start by bringing your attic insulation up to at least R-49 and making sure the attic is adequately and properly vented. You should immediately notice a difference in comfort. Doing so will also save you money on heating and cooling costs.


The water in the drain of my basement floor evaporates periodically, causing really an unpleasant odor in my house. How can it be avoided?


The floor drain does the same thing as the traps in plumbing fixtures. They’re designed to hold water, which blocks the passage of sewer gas from the sewer or septic tank from entering your home. That is a good thing!

Every time we use a plumbing fixture we replenish any water that has evaporated. But unless the basement floods frequently it’s a good idea to occasionally go down to the basement or laundry room and pour water into the floor drain, since that water also evaporates. When it does evaporate, as you know, you’ll smell an awful sewer gas odor.

If you’re one of those people who don’t like the idea of another periodic task, then you’ll love this tip. Remove the floor drain cover (there may be only a couple of corroded screws holding it in place) and pry up the cover. Now, remove and clean out any debris that you can see. Next, take a ping-pong or tennis ball and place it in the drain opening and replace the cover plate. Measure the opening before you drop in a ping-pong ball. If the hole is too big, use the tennis ball.

The ball should sit perfectly on the drain hole and block any sewer gas trying to work its way into the house. If any water gets onto the basement floor from an overflowing laundry tub, burst pipe or one of those 100-year storms that seem to happen every other year now, the ball will float and the water should still drain. Just remember to test this first by pouring some water into the drain and making sure the ball rises to the occasion.


I was thinking about replacing my old shabby basement floor tiles. Do you have any suggestions on how I go about doing this?


If you have a house built prior to 1982 and especially if it’s older than that, the floor tiles in the basement, hallways, kitchen or wherever there is tile, may contain asbestos.

Now, we’ve all heard that asbestos is hazardous, but generally those tiles are not hazardous as long as you basically leave them alone. They’re not friable, which is the “catch word” for hazardous asbestos. Friable means the product can easily be broken up and disturbed with hand pressure. If it can be, the invisible asbestos fibers become airborne and we inhale them increasing our risk of lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.

Keep in mind that not all floor tiles contain asbestos and if you need to know if it does, take a broken or loose tile, place it in a zip-lock bag and take it to one of the numerous testing laboratories that you can find in the yellow pages or on the internet.

In my experience, all 9”x9” floor tiles, as well as the adhesive used to lay them, contain asbestos. If your tiles do indeed contain asbestos, wetting them down lightly so there is no dust disturbance allows you to safely pick up those old crumbling floor tiles. Then use an ice chopper or long-handled scraper to gently pry all the rest of the tiles loose.

Check your municipality, I think you are allowed to double-bag them and dispose of them with your regular garbage.

  1. Lon, as usual, I always read your info. So smart, you are!!

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