Q: We have been bothered by a vibration sound, like an organ, in our water pipes when I use the washing machine in the basement. If I basement or in a bathroom it stops for a while, then starts again if the washing machine is still running. The wahing machine works fine. Can you tell me what is causing this, and what I can do to stop it?
A: It seems to me that since the problem only occurs when the washing machine is working, that it is likely you have a water hammer problem that sets the pipes vibrating when the machine's internal valves cycle the water on and off. Hardware stores and plumbing supply houses sell inexpensive anti-hammer chambers that are easy to install next to the faucets or valves that supply water to your machine. I suggest that you put one on each of the water supply lines to your machine.
Q: The outside paint on the wood portiong of our house keeps peeling despite the fact that the painter sanded and burned off all the old paint. Do you have any idea as to what we can do to solve this problem?
A: Although I can't say for sure, it sounds as though you have a problem with moisture getting in the wood. This is the most frequent cause of paint peeling down to the bare wood. It could be that moisture is getting in from a leak around the outside (caulking, flashing, Etc.), or it could be from condensation caused by vapor on the inside. A vapor barrier on the inside surface of the wall should help prevent this, and it is possible that louvers or vents are needed in the outside siding as well.
Q: Several years ago we built a bed into the corner of our daughter's room so that the bed is at an angle and the triangular area behind the bed is a raised platform. Now we have a problem with mildew forming on the plywood that supports her mattress. The outside walls, which are made of cinder block, are insulated. We think the problem is a lack of air circulation under and behind the bed, but we don't know how to
Waht do you suggest?
A: You are probably right in suspecting a lack of air circulation under the bed and the platform next to it. Both are against an outside wall, which even though it is insulated, will still be colder than the rest of the room when closed off in that manner. Condensation probably forms there and, combined with a lack of air circulation, is what encourages the formation of mildew. I advise cutting a number of vents, making each one several inches square, in the framing under the bed, then either install louvers, or leave the openings as they are. Make sure you drill or cut them on opposite sides to encourage ventilation.