Q. - All summer long our toilet tank sweats and drips water, especially when it's humid. We've tried several products, but they only work for short periods. One plumber suggested we hook up the tank to the hot-water line, but others had never heard of this. Who's right?
A. - The first plumber knows his business. When warm, moist room air hits your water-cooled tank and bowl, condensation forms. Tell your plumber to install a mixing valve that will flush your toilet with room-temperature water (not straight hot water). The valve can be adjusted to maintain the correct water temperature without wasting hot water.Q. - I've repainted the plaster walls of my living room several times, filling a large crack that starts at the corner of a finished opening with joint compound. Soon after each paint job, the crack reappears. How can I fix it permanently?
A. - The position of that crack is a sign that the framing is inadequate. The best solution would be to beef up the header or top plate of the bearing wall - the sooner the better.
If you're not prepared for such an extensive repair presently, chip out all loose plaster and clean the crack out thoroughly. Lay an ample bed of compound about 3 inches wide over the crack. Place wallboard tape down with a 4 inch taping knife, squeezing out the excess compound and making sure there are no air bubbles underneath the tape. When the compound dries (in a day or so), apply a second coat over the tape, feathering the edges flush with the wall surface.
Q. - My insulation installer recommended urethane foam in my attic. He claims that 1 inch of urethane will equate to an R-30 value. He claims that's a lot better than fiberglass as 6 inches of fiberglass can't get anywhere near that R-value. But I have heard that plastic foams should be avoided.
A. - You'd better change installers. Never even consider using foam in the attic. The material was developed for use in walls or on flat roofs (mainly commercial ones). By the way, don't confuse all "foams" with urea-formaldehyde, which the Consumer Product Safety Commission has deemed harmful to your health. Most foams, however, are flammable and certain precautions must be taken.
Q. - What can I do to prevent water from coming through cracks in my concrete basement walls and floor?
A. - If cracks are very narrow, epoxy resin paint applied to the inside of the basement wall may solve the problem. Fill wide cracks with trowel-grade epoxy mortar (2-part epoxy system with sand filler).
If filling a crack from the inside doesn't stop the leak, dig a trench around the outside to make repairs. When the crack is uncovered, chip it out with a mallet and cold chisel until it is about 3/4 inch wide and 1/2 inch deep. Then, line the chipped-out area with aluminum foil or wax paper. Fill the lined crack with polyurethane or silicone masonry sealer.
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