Q: I bought a house in which the basement floor is covered with linoleum squares. The glue used to put these down is oozing up between them, especially on damp or humid days. We don't want to pick all the tiles up and wonder whether it would be wise to cover the squares with a one-piece sheet of linoleum.
A: Linoleum is normally put down with a paste that is water-soluable, hence it really is not suitable for floors that are on or below grade -- such as a basement floor. The dampness softens the adhesive, which is why the condition is worse on damp days. Covering with more linoleum would only complicate matters. I'm afraid the only permanent cure is to pick up the old tiles, wash off the adhesive, then put down new tiles that are suitable for use on floors of this kind.
Q: When the waste line leading from our kitchen sink to the main sewer line in the basement clogged recently we had a contractor clean it out with a power auger. When he finished he told us the drain had been blocked by grease, soap, etc., and that if we wanted to keep it clean we should pour half a cup of Clorox down the drain every month. Is this a good idea?
A: It can't do any harm, but I doubt if it will do much good. It often helps to use a regular drain cleaner at intervals, but bleach is not really a drain cleaner. Your best bet is to practice prevention: Don't pour grease or fat down the drain, and don't allow coffee grinds or similar waste to be flushed down the drain. When you use soap make sure to flush it with hot water.
Q: Like many other houses in my area, the kitchen has incandescent lights recessed into the ceiling. Above is an unheated attic that goes out over an unheated garage. We have insulated the floor of this attic, but cannot cover the light fixtures due to fire hazard. As a result, cold air keeps spilling down from each fixture. What can we do to correct this?
A: First check around each fixture. Openings or cracks around each one are probably allowing cold air in. If so, you can caulk or stuff insulation around each one. Also, you can build a box over each fixture large enough to prevent heat buildup. The box should be at least twice the size of the fixture, and about 10 inches high. In addition, place some slots or louvers in the sides to help dissipate the heat.