July 1998 Edition

Chimney Caps

I recently found a dead squirrel blocking my fireplace chimney. What can I do to keep this from happening in the future?                    
Uninvited guest, dead or alive, are never a welcome sight. You can solve this problem and protect the animals that fall prey to open chimneys, by installing a spark arrester cap. The caps are easy to install and are made to fit a variety of chimney flues.


They keep birds and other animals from being trapped, as well as protect your roof from sparks escaping through the chimney. You can buy the caps at most home centers for about $15 to $30.                       
Another way to keep out pests and drafts is to install a damper that closes at the top of the chimney with a cable control. For information on top dampers, call Chim-a-lator at 612-884-7274.

SOURCE:  The Family Handyman March 1995 

Bathroom Odor

Our hall bathroom, which we never use, has a terrible odor coming from the bathtub. Can you tell us what could be causing the problem?
Since the problem is with a bathroom that is seldom used, the problem is probably coming from a plumbing trap.                       
A plumbing trap uses a water dam to seal the plumbing drain lines to prevent sewer gases from coming out of the plumbing pipes.  The drain is made in the shape of a “P” that is laying on it’s face.


The P-trap holds water which seals the pipe. Since the trap has not been used in a long time, the water probably evaporated allowing the gases to escape. To solve the problem, simply run a little water into the drain. Try to remember to do this around every six months.                        
Another cause could be something similar. Some plumbers used S-traps which may have been needed when a plumbing vent pipe was not available. 


Modern plumbing codes do not allow the use of S-traps for a good reason. A large amount of water discharge through the drainage system can suck the liquid seal out of the S-trap, thus allowing sewer gases to enter the living space.  Today, air admittance valves have solved the problems associated with S-traps. If you have one, call your plumber and tell him to remove the S-trap and install an air admittance valve.  You will never have to worry about strange odors again. At least not coming from your drain pipes. 

 Scratched Countertops

We have plastic laminate countertops installed in our kitchen. Now we’ve noticed scratches in the surface. Can we remove them?                       
Unfortunately, there is no way to remove scratches from a plastic laminate countertop. This is true even if you have color-through laminate, where the color is impregnated through the complete thickness. Although both types have a durable surface, the original high-pressure laminate has a thin layer of surface color and readily shows deep scratches. The color-through laminate is less likely to show scratches.                       
You can hide small scratches and dents in both types by applying a seam filler (available from plastic laminate distributors). The filler comes in tubes in a variety of colors that you can custom mix. Apply the filler in 1/16” layers. Several applications will be required for deeper blemishes. For deeper gouges, you can also use another new product found at home centers. It’s a porcelain repair kit made from a colored epoxy. The color selection is a bit limited, but the colors can be blended.

SOURCE:  The Family Handyman January 1996

 Stained Countertops

Can you tell me how to get rid of grease stains in my plastic laminate countertops? I’ve tried cleansers and spray-on cleaners, but the grease doesn’t come off.                      
Regular household cleaners usually work, but some grease stains can be a problem. Check for a product at your local hardware store called “Countertop Magic”. It’s a liquid that’s applied with a dry cloth to remove grease and food stains from plastic laminate. If you can’t find it at your local hardware store, call Magic American Corporation at 1-800-321-6330 for a distributor in your area.

 SOURCE:  The Family Handyman April 1996

 If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

 Quote Of The Month

“Inch by inch, Life’s a cinch.

Yard by yard, life is hard.”

- Unknown 

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Pat Graves

Prudential Atlanta Realty

4390 Pleasant Hill Road

Duluth, Georgia 30096

****Thank You****