How To: Fix a buckling carpet

November 13, 2013

Question:

We had new carpet installed in our lower-level walkout. It’s a large floor space. I love the carpet, but it has developed a buckle in one section. A friend said this was caused by vacuuming too hard. How can we remove this hump? Does the carpet need to be pulled tighter? If so, do I make a complaint with the carpet dealer?

Alexandria

Answer:Definitely contact the carpet installer. An installation guide published by the Carpet and Rug Institute, a trade association, doesn’t list over-thorough vacuuming as a reason carpets sometimes buckle. Instead, the guide (www.carpet-rug.org) identifies the most common causes as “failure to adequately stretch carpet using a mechanical stretching device, using inappropriate or improperly installed cushion, adverse temperature and humidity conditions, or inadequate conditioning time.” All of these are factors that the installer either controlled or should have been paying attention to. Of course, you bear at least some of the responsibility if you bought a cheap cushion even after being warned that it wasn’t appropriate or if you told the installer to rush instead of allowing time for the carpet to become conditioned to the temperature and humidity in your home.

Whoever is at fault, proper restretching should fix the problem. The Carpet and Rug Institute has a guide on this, too, “Guidance for Restretching to Remove Buckles, Wrinkles, and Bubbles” (search for “Guidance for Restretching” at www.carpet-rug.org). Read it before you talk to the installer so you can discuss the logistics and who will take care of them. All furniture must be removed first, and carpet in an adjoining room or hallway will probably need to be restretched as well.

Our bathroom sink drain is chrome, I think. Over the years, the finish has corroded. Is there a paint or other covering that could temporarily cover the corrosion? Replacing the drain seems so relatively costly.

Potomac

If you haven’t already tried it, first make sure you can’t just polish the existing hardware. Sometimes mineral deposits make chrome look dull. If scrubbing hasn’t taken them off, try scraping with a razor blade at a low angle while the metal is damp, or rub it with piece of pumice lubricated by a little vinegar.

If that doesn’t work, consider replacing the drain assembly. It’s not as expensive as you might think, and it really is the best, most long-lasting fix. The parts cost $10-$30, and the whole job usually takes less than a half-hour. You don’t even need to turn off the water supply, though be sure to make sure the faucet’s off.

Basically, you just need to put a pan under the P trap (the curved pipe under the sink) to catch drips and loosen the couplings that connect it to the piping on both sides. If the parts are plastic, you might be able to unscrew the couplings by hand; otherwise use a wrench. Then work your way up to the underside of the sink, loosening and removing the parts as you go. Bathroom sinks often have a section with a slim horizontal rod sticking out; that’s the control mechanism for the sink stopper. Set the parts aside in the order you removed them, for reference.

Install the new drain assembly in reverse order, but check the instructions with the new drain and follow those if they are different. You can reuse most other parts, but put in new washers. Adjust the parts and hand-tighten the couplings. Once everything is lined up, tighten the couplings a bit more with a wrench. Be careful not to over-tighten plastic parts or they might crack.

There is an additional caution: If the plumbing in your house is really ancient, unforeseen things might happen when you start fiddling with connections. Tackle the task when your local hardware store is open, in case you need to make a quick run for parts.

And if the job still seems too costly, or too scary, yes, you can paint a corroded sink stopper, but don’t expect the job to look as good or last as long as a new one. Metallic paints match the look of chrome best, but even the ones made for outdoor use aren’t likely to stand up for long at the bottom of a sink that’s used frequently. For paint that sticks and doesn’t bubble up even when it’s frequently left immersed, consider a two-part epoxy paint, such as Rustoleum’s Tub & Tile. The standard package has way more than you need, so consider getting Rustoleum’s Tub & Tile Touch-Up kit, which has two tiny bottles of the epoxy components. It’s $9.99 at Strosniders Hardware (301-299-6333 for the Potomac store; www.strosniders.com).

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in November, such as inspecting smoke dectectors, at washingtonpost.com/home .

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