Q - I am a new-home owner and have two problems. First, in our front hall foyer we installed no-wax tiles, and now the nails from the floorboards are beginning to show through the tiles. How can I drive the nails back down without damaging the tiles? Second, we have wall-to-wall carpeting in our bedrooms, but the plywood floors underneath squeak constantly. Is there any way to stop the floor noises? A - Sounds to me like you really have just one problem, not two. Your builder used too few nails, or the wrong type, or both. Ideally your floors have been built in two layers. The plywood subfloor should be nailed to the joists with 8-penny nails spaced 6" apart along the edges and 10" apart elsewhere. Over that goes another layer of plywood. It should be nailed down with special ring-grooved nails spaced 6" along the edges and 10" throughout the field of each sheet.
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to fix your tiles or your carpets. You can't drive the nails back down without damaging the tiles. Even if you could, they would just pop back up again. Your solution, I'm afraid, is to remove the tiles, nail down the flooring as above, drive the old nails down and retile.
If that sounds like too much work, you could nail down a layer of 1'4" hardboard over the existing tiles. Use ring-grooved nails spaced 4" at the edges, 6" throughout the field. Leave a 1/2" gap between pieces of hardboard to allow for expansion, and be sure to drive the nails down flush. Of course, this will raise the level of the flooring, but you can solve that with a wood or metal trim strip along the edges of the tiled area.
As for the carpeted rooms, you will have to raise the carpets and renail. If possible, try to locate the joists and nail into them with threaded flooring nails at least 2" long. Then use ring-grooved nails spaced 6" and 10" as noted earlier. Finally, reinstall the carpets. Your carpet dealer may rent you the tools you need for this job, which will be easy since the carpet is already cut to the right size. Q - My water tank is getting old. last week while I was at work it sprang a leak. My wife called the plumber and he fixed it with what looks like a rubber washer under a bolt. Is that a good way to fix a leak, or should I get a new tank? A - Your plumber used a boiler plug. It's like a big sheet-metal screw with a large head and a rubber washer. It does a perfectly good job. In fact, if your tank is getting old, you might pick up a few such plugs from a local plumbing shop. Keep them on hand for future leaks.
Shut off your pump and let the pressure out by running a few faucets. Then drill out the area of the leak with a bit slightly smaller than the shank size of the boiler plug screw. Drive the plug firmly and place until the washer is compressed, and turn the pump back on. This technique can add years to the life of your tank. But if the leaks start becoming too frequent, replace the tank.