Screen vent to stop insects
Q. I’m the new owner of a home built in 1900 with a stone foundation. I recently discovered a louver at the bottom of the cellar wall at the present floor level which is a few inches higher than the original. Is this possibly a make-up air or coal furnace exhaust vent? Springtime sluggish bumble bees have found their way in via this opening.
BEALS, by e-mail
A. I’m guessing as you did, that it is an old basement make-up air for the long-gone coal furnace. There may be a vertical part to this vent, leading to the outdoors above ground. Without the coal furnace, it is still a good make-up air supply for the current heater, and will also vent the basement. Screen the vent to keep out insects.
Q. Recently (the last two weeks) we’ve noticed an odor when the washing machine is running. This odor is then left on the clothes. We have two washers and dryers next to each other. One is a stack (electric) for work clothes and the others are stand alone with a gas dryer. There is also a sink in the immediate area too. Again the odor only happens when the laundry is being done. After seven years, this began two weeks ago and only the laundry is affected. Could it be the trap? Should I have it snaked?
MATT, from Dedham
A. The discharge (from either or both washers) is a black hose that runs from the bottom of the washer to a standpipe next to it. Since the washer discharges while operating, check that standpipe and the hose, and make sure the trap is full and working. If the trap is open (not full of water), water gushing down the pipe will cause sewer gases to rise. If you don’t find anything amiss, have an appliance company make a house call.
Q. I bought some painted wood vanities six months ago, built by a cabinet maker. Now I see what I think is the color of the wood bleeding through the paint, or might it be the paint is wearing off? What can I do about it?
A. Chances are the wood is pine. I think a primer was not used, and pine often bleeds through the paint, not as knots, but as long streaks. It is resin leaching the color of the wood through the paint. Also, in some cases the paint was purposely removed at edges and other “wearable’’ parts of the wood, giving an antique look. In both instances I think you should contact the cabinet maker, and make these corrections: Sand the finish, apply a latex enamel undercoater or a stain-killer primer such as Kilz, and finish with two coats of a latex eggshell finish paint. The distressed finish (as the antique look is called) can be primed and painted.
Q. I have a flat-roof porch coming off the back of my house. I put in sliders and windows on three sides, and gutters on three sides. My gutters froze up and dripped icicles 2 to 3 feet, and water came in through the top casing around the sliders and windows. Now what?
JERRY, from Newton
A. Now what? What in the world did the installers do? Obviously, water is cascading over the frozen gutters, percolating under the gutters and under the soffit, and running down the wall. It quickly runs behind that casing. The problem I think is that there is no window flashing over those top casings. Window flashing is very simple, but essential to waterproofing the casing. It is an aluminum strip fashioned into an “L’’ shape, with one leg of the “L’’ under the siding and the other over the top of the casing, with a bit of it bent over the front. I say it is simple because it is, and it does a simple job of stopping water. Caulking will not do it; neither will anything else. If the flashing is indeed missing, the installers should come back and do it right.
Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.