QWe hear water running in our toilet every few hours. I replaced the flapper valve that controls water entry from the tank to the toilet bowl, but we still hear water running in the toilet during the night. What can we do about it? -- G. Maguire
AFirst make sure you have a tank-to-bowl leak by trying this old test: Remove the tank lid and put some food coloring, such as Easter egg dye, into the water. Don't flush the toilet for several hours; let it stand all night if possible. If the coloring shows up in the bowl, you do have a leak, and it is almost certainly at the flapper valve where the water from the tank enters the bowl during a flush.
It is possible your new flapper valve isn't closing properly. This problem can sometimes be cured by adjusting the length of the chain that attaches the flapper valve to the flush lever. It is also possible that there is some debris stuck on the valve seat that is preventing full closing; clean the seat with a piece of fine steel wool or a scouring pad.
When you can perform the color test without getting any coloring in the bowl, you will know you have fixed the leak.
The gray grout in our bathroom floor has faded in many areas. Can I paint it and what can I use? -- D. Fantasia
I have never heard of anyone painting grout, but you can stain it to restore or change the color. A special grout stain is available at www.super-tek.com. Stain is available in many colors including gray and white. It is relatively easy to apply and won't peel or flake off, as paint is likely to do.
We stained our treated-wood deck five years ago with a stain containing Teflon. After about three years it started to peel and finally became such an eyesore that we decided to strip the deck. I tried sanding, paint removers and scraping, but still haven't got all the stain off some places. Do you have any suggestions? -- Joe
If you haven't tried Flood's StainStrip, I would give it a try. You can get more information about this product at www.floodco.com.
If that doesn't work, I would try pressure washing the deck, concentrating on the areas where the stain hasn't been stripped. Treated wood is very tough stuff (usually Southern yellow pine) and will bear up well under a strong stream of water. I have used pressures of 3,000 pounds per square inch on treated wood without damaging it. To be sure your wood holds up well at high pressures, test it first in an inconspicuous area. If you don't have a pressure washer, you can rent one at most tool-rental agencies.
We have new, brushed-nickel faucets in our bathroom and they have been getting water spots. What is a good product to clean them? -- C. Wagner
You should be able to remove the water spots with a little warm water, followed by buffing with a dry wash cloth or towel. If you keep a dry wash cloth or towel handy and use it to wipe off any splashed water after using the faucets, you shouldn't need special products. If the faucets do become so soiled that they need a cleaner, any good metal cleaner-polish will do the job. Cleaner-polishes for metal are sold at most supermarkets and home centers.
Our 27-year-old tile roof seems to be in good shape, but has some clumps of moss growing on it. I plan to replace the roof in about five years, but should I do something to remove the moss in the meantime? -- U. Maheshwari
I recommend having the roof checked by a roofer experienced with tile roofs to see if the moss is causing damage that might lead to leaks. Otherwise, if you don't mind the appearance of the moss, you can just let the roof alone.
If the moss must be removed, let a roofer do it. Walking about on a tile roof can break tiles, and a roof can become very slippery when wet.
In a house with forced-air heat, where is the best place to install a humidifier? -- J. Gandhi
The humidifier is generally installed in the air-supply duct near the heat source. In houses that don't have forced-air heat, free-standing humidifiers can be used to humidify individual rooms or larger areas.
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.