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Archive for February, 2015|Monthly archive page

Winterizing Your House While Away / Why Does My Washerless Faucet Leak?

In Plumbing, Winter Tips For Your Home on February 26, 2015 at 9:50 am

Q:

I follow your blog every week and you wrote an article about closing up a house for the season. We are going away for a month and I will be leaving the thermostat set at 55 degrees. I will shut off the water from the main shut off in the basement, which will leave the sump pump and the back up sump pump running. Do I have to do anything with the water heater? There is a dial on mine that says “vacation”, can I just turn it to the “vacation” setting and leave it at that, or is there something else I need to do? Upon my return is there anything I need to do with regard to the water heater? Any other advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

A:

Just turn the water heater down to the “vacation” setting and that should be fine. That is, if the water heater is in the basement. By turning the temperature down to the “vacation” setting you are still leaving the pilot on and the water slightly heated. When you return, just turn the temperature up to 120-degrees, which is the sanitary setting for the water if you have a dishwasher. For those of you who do not have a basement and will be gone for a month or more in the winter, I suggest turning the water heater off and draining the water from it. It would be unlikely, but not impossible for the water to freeze in a water heater in a basement unless it was a winter like we had last year.

By the way, once you turn off the water at the meter, open all the faucets in the house to drain any water in the pipes that could freeze. After you do that, then pour a cup of camping antifreeze in all the drains because remember, there is water that can still freeze in the traps and this will keep the water from freezing and busting the pipes.

As for the toilets, if you are worried about the heat failing (and I would) I suggest flushing the toilets once the water has been turned off and pour a cup or two of camping antifreeze into the toilet as well as the toilet box. Unlike automotive antifreeze, camping antifreeze is not harmful to the environment. Camping antifreeze is available wherever camping equipment and outdoor camping supplies are sold.

Q:

Why does my single lever faucet leak when it states they never do?

A:

I f you have one of those single lever faucets, like a Delta faucet, people are under the impression that it’s not suppose to leak. Boy, what a drip!

No one ever said they aren’t supposed to leak. The advertising claim is that Delta faucets as well as other brands of single lever faucets, are washerless and you will never have to replace a washer. Well, the ads were right. However, you will have to replace “O” rings, springs and seats. This job is easy to do and kits can be purchased containing everything you need for the job, including the Allen wrench. The kits are inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware and home centers.

Start by determining the model of your brand of leaking faucet and then purchase the repair kit. Turn off the water and stop up the drain. Now comes the hard part. Follow the directions on the kit for your particular faucet. (You knew there had to be a catch somewhere). Actually, the directions are very simple to follow. Even I can do it.

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Furnace Troubles / Cold Slab Floors in the Winter / Clean Bathroom Mold Before Painting

In Flooring, Getting The Most Out of Your HVAC, Painting Tips on February 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Q:

I have a newer gas forced-air furnace and when I set the thermostat at 64-degrees the house heats up in the 70’s, the furnace shuts off and won’t come back on until the house feels like an icebox. What can be causing this? Do you have any suggestions?

A:

I have heard of several people that have newer gas forced-air furnaces complain of the same thing you are experiencing. The problem is probably not the newer furnace, but your older thermostat. In your thermostat there is an “anticipator”, which turns off the furnace’s burner before the temperature reaches your setting. The furnace still produces heat for a while, however, because the blower will keep running until the accumulated heat in the furnace drops to about 90-degrees.

Remove the cover on the thermostat. Inside you should see a small dial or scale with numbers. Set the dial to the electrical current rating of the furnace primary control. Sometimes it is noted on the gas valves, oil relays, stack switch, etc. You might want to check with your heating contractor about the proper setting or you can experiment yourself. If the furnace cycle is too long, as in your case, slightly lower the setting. If too short, raise the setting.

By the way, periodically blow the dust off the thermostat. If it has a battery for the clock, replace the battery. Now you’ll be able to cool down and relax in comfort.

Q:

My house is built on a slab and I find that my feet are always cold when I walk on the floors. Is there anything I can do to make them warmer?

A:

If your house or any room in your house sits on a concrete slab, the floors may always be cold. Here are a couple of tips to give your self a hot foot…

Most, if not all, insulation manufacturers, such as Celotex, Dow, Owens-Corning, Trend Products, etc. make excellent insulation panels and kits specifically designed for insulating slab floors from the exterior. Follow these simple instructions:

  • Trench around the exterior.
  • Clean off the foundation walls and spread on a mastic adhesive waterproofing substance.
  • Install exterior insulating panels down several feet.
  • Add drip edges and apply caulking.

There is also a product from the Homasote Company called “Comfort Base” It can be applied over concrete slabs and floors as an underlayment for carpet or other floor coverings. Comfort Base has an insulating R-Value of 1.2, adds only 1/2 inch to your floors height and can be easily installed by a flooring company or a handy person. It comes in easy-to-handle four-foot by four-foot sections. This product makes rooms feel warmer as well as will help reduce your heating bills. Contact the Homasote Company (800-257-9491) for cost and local distributors.

Q:

My bathroom has a lot of mold and mildew on the walls and ceilings. How can I get this cleaned up so I can repaint my bathroom?

A:

If your bathroom looks like a set from a horror movie because of all the mold and mildew on the walls and ceiling, you still can have a happy ending.

That black, furry stuff will be facing extinction when you do the following:

  • Clean everything thoroughly with a solution of one cup of trisodium phosphate, (which can be purchased at local hardware stores) one quart of chlorine bleach, and three quarts of warm water.
  • Repeat the above process for stubborn areas.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Let the walls and ceiling dry thoroughly.
  • Re-clean and spray the areas with Concrobium™ (available at Lowes). Concrobium not only kills all surface mold, and unlike bleach, it also kills the roots.

When repainting the bathroom, add a mildewcide additive such as M-1 Advanced Mildew Treatment (priced about $5.00) to your paint. A few manufacturers already add a mildewcide to their brand of paint, so check the contents on the can. A good product is Zinser’s Perma-White™ paint (sold at Home Depot for around $28.00 per gallon.) The manufacturer claims that if you follow directions (there’s always a catch) they will guarantee that mold and mildew will not reappear for five years. I wonder if they have anything like that for telephone solicitors?

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