QOur bathroom sink makes a loud "glub, glub" sound when it drains, even though the water runs out fine. What's wrong, and what can I do about it? -- J. Marzecco
AGurgling sounds in a drain are generally caused by improper venting of the drain. The vent, usually a pipe that extends through the house's roof, prevents water from being sucked out of the sink trap, which could allow sewer gas to seep into the house.
The sink might never have been properly vented, or the vent pipe might be clogged.
If there is a vent pipe on the roof that appears to be in the vicinity of the sink and you can safely reach it, you might try running a plumber's snake (flexible cable) down the pipe to remove any obstruction. Otherwise, consult a plumber.
The ceiling in one of the bedrooms of our older house has always resisted paint. We scraped off all the paint one time, revealing a rather shiny surface. We painted again, but the new paint peeled and flaked. What can we do? -- Ruth
The shiny, slick surface of the ceiling is probably causing the peeling, because paint does not adhere well to slick surfaces. There are several ways to roughen slick surfaces before painting, often called providing a "tooth" for the new paint. Before repainting, you will need to remove all the loose paint and clean the ceiling as thoroughly as possible.
Probably the simplest and best way to give new paint better adhesion is to prime the cleaned ceiling with a product such as Bulls Eye 1-2-3 (www.zinsser.com), which is sold at many paint stores and home centers. This is a water-based primer that can be applied with a roller; it has little odor and cleans up easily with soap and water.
Other approaches to improving paint adhesion on glossy surfaces are to sand the surface with medium-grit sandpaper to roughen it up, or to use a chemical de-glosser. Both of these methods have disadvantages, especially on a ceiling, so I wouldn't consider them seriously in this case.
Why are so many chests and closets made of cedar? -- J. Westwood
Aromatic red cedar, which is often used to line chests and closets, is a beautiful wood, and it also has a distinctive odor that is supposed to repel moths, thus its use in containers for clothing. I don't know of any strong scientific basis for the moth-repellent theory, however. Some experts think it is simply the tight construction of cedar chests and closets that help make them bug proof.
Cedar that is used for chest and closet linings should not be given any finish, such as varnish or paint. The wood tends to lose its fragrance in time, but it can be renewed by sanding the surface lightly or by applying a cedar oil, which is sold at some paint stores and home centers.
Our older townhouse development has poor drainage in a low common area, which becomes a big mud hole when it rains. A company suggested drains that would cost thousands of dollars. Do you have any suggestions? -- K. Springer
I doubt there is an inexpensive solution for this. It is difficult to speculate without seeing the site, but one approach that might work is to install one or more dry wells. Dry wells are pits that are filled with stones and gravel, and then covered with grates. A dry well provides an outlet for excess water that would otherwise collect on the surface. Dry wells work best in soil that absorbs water easily.
It might also be possible to dig relatively shallow trenches and install drain collectors and flexible plastic drainage lines about four inches in diameter that would conduct the water to better drainage points. The trenches are backfilled with gravel and a few inches of earth.
Before any projects are started, consult with building-code officials in your municipality to see if they have any suggestions or restrictions
Also check under "Drainage Contractors" in the yellow pages to see if you can get an expert inspection of the site and some proposed solutions
Also, no digging should be permitted until you make sure no utility lines are running under the soil.
Questions and comments should be sent to Gene Austin, 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, Pa. 19422. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions cannot be answered personally.