Dear Ken: I have a leak from inside my tub. How can you find out where it’s coming from? — Jen
Answer: There are basically three sources: from the shower head, leaks into the wall or from the drain. If the head is loose, remove it, add a little Teflon tape to the threads and retighten. Otherwise, unscrew the shower head and replace it with a 1/2-inch plug. Turn on the shower and watch for water to appear at your leak source. If it does, you probably have trouble behind the wall with the shower pipe or the tub valve connections.
Look for pinholes around the soap dish, the faucet and handles and at the joint where the tub and wall meet. Caulk them with a good siliconized tub and tile material, like Dap.
If your tub is a little out of level, water can also run along its top rim and out on to the floor. Create a temporary “dam” with a wash cloth to check it out.
To test the drain, fill the tub with about a foot of water. Let it sit for an hour or so while you listen for gurgles of escaping liquid. Then release the water while looking for any telltale water spots. If it is indeed the drain, you’ll have to expose the piping underneath and have a plumber reglue the drain connections.
Dear Ken: How can I remove my acoustic ceiling texture? — Jeff
Answer: I’m not a big fan of scraping off popcorn ceilings. It’s an extremely messy job, plus if your house was built in the ‘70s or earlier, there could be a little asbestos in the material.
But if you must, here is how to get the job done. Make up a spray containing warm water plus a little wallpaper remover and spritz it on to the ceiling. After about 15 minutes, you should be able to GENTLY scrape it off with a wide-blade putty knife.
The trick is not to gouge the underlying wall board surface, which will create another set of problems! Don’t forget to wear a mask and other common sense protection. Let the material fall on to plastic sheeting, then seal it in plastic bags before disposing of it.
Sometimes after you’ve gone to all that trouble, you’ll notice that the drywall seams have ridges in them. That’s because the drywall finishers — knowing that a thick layer of acoustic was coming — would skip the final coat of taping compound at all the joints. If that’s the case, you’ll have to start over. And that means hiring a company to finish floating the seams, and to then spray on a coat of an “orange peel” or other flat texture; it’s a lot of work and very expensive. Bottom line: I would leave it alone.
I know you’re concerned about smudgy dirt and dust on your popcorn ceiling. One way to obviate that is to paint it with some good semi-gloss, acrylic latex paint. The new finish will retard the accumulation of dust because it’s too slick to let the particles cling statically.
Dear Ken: What are weep holes? I was told that’s why the windows let dust come into the house. — Matt
Answer: They are small holes — sometimes slits — cut into the bottom track of each window to “weep” water back outside. Wind-driven rain that blows against your window panes can run down into that track, accumulate and then run along the inside of the sill. The weep holes alleviate that tendency quite efficiently. If you’re in a new home area with lots of dust blowing around, you can help keep the window sills clean by temporarily stuffing a small piece of sponge into each hole.
Dear Ken: I can see light coming under my garage door. What’s the best way to seal it? — Rick
Answer: This phenomenon is common in areas with clay-containing soil. When these get wet, they tend to shift and swell upward, and that can deform the concrete slab in your garage. When that happens, there is now a new curved profile under your garage door frame, which usually shows up as small daylight gaps at the outside edges. Sometimes if they are small enough, you can add a second layer of the same rubberized weather- stripping you have now to close up the gaps. Another idea is to screw some new rubber stripping on the vertical, inside surface of the door, instead of underneath it, and make it curve up and down to match the floor.
Dear Ken: I’ve got hair spray all over a bathroom mirror. What’s the easiest way to remove it? — Cheryl
Answer: Try some lacquer thinner or a little Goof Off — an all-purpose solvent you can find at the hardware store. This residue also can build up on exposed light bulbs on that light bar over the sink. They can be rubbed with the same stuff, but only after they’ve reached room temperature!
Ken Moon is a home inspector in the Pikes Peak region. His radio show airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit www.aroundthehouse.com