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Handyman on Call

Sink needs a back drain

By Peter Hotton
Globe Staff / May 12, 2011

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Q. While redoing my bathroom, I bought a small vanity to fit the space. Trouble is, the sink has no overflow drain. I am not concerned that some day I might overflow the sink, but I am concerned over a possible very slow drain. Wouldn’t that happen without a back drain?

PAUL

A. Yes, I think it would. We are all familiar with putting an extra opening in a can of beer or a big can of cooking oil to help the liquid come out evenly and surely, without a slow glug, glug, glug. Take the sink back and find one with a drain.

Q. Several of my old fiber acoustical tiles have loosened from the ceiling. They have not fallen, but is there a way to reattach them? They are stapled on wood strapping, I believe.

ROBERT from Belmont

A. Try this, simple and workable. Push the tile back into position, and drive galvanized finish nails near the edge where the tile fell, through the tile and into the wood. Countersink those nails, and the holes in the tiles will be invisible, or you will stop looking at them in a few days. The strapping might bounce a bit under the hammer, but careful but firm blows nailing will handle it.

Q. My patio flagstones are totally neglected. They are in OK condition, but dirty and tired looking. How can I clean them up?

NEGLECTFUL

A. You’d look tired and feel tired if you were millions and millions of years old. They will serve millions of years more, too. To keep them pristine, power wash them in the spring. And in the fall, if you feel like it.

That sweating toilet

Recently when a caller asked what to do to stop her toilet (tank and bowl) from sweating, the handyman suggested removing the moisture from the bathroom. Also, consider hooking a hot water line to the tank’s inlet at the bottom of the tank. Here’s another, from Americo Ventura of Weymouth. He said that Home Depot sells a kit of Styrofoam material to line the inside of the tank. Drain the tank, let it dry, and glue in the liners.

Thanks, Americo, I will try to remind myself of this valuable information in the future.

Q. My Corian sink is getting pretty old and is doing good service. Trouble is, it is turning yellow around the edges of the vanity and bowl. I have tried a number of things with success. What do you think will work?

TRIED EVERYTHING

A. OK, try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If that doesn’t work, buy the finest sandpaper or emery cloth that you can find, and abrade the Corian with that. Corian is designed to be cleaned by sanding off the very top, and it works.

Q. I have a two-story Cape style house, with a thermostat in the hall on the second floor. In summer the upstairs is a lot warmer, at least 10 degrees, than the first floor. Major rooms have cool air returns, and the system “looks’’ right. What can I do?

GREG DeROSIER, Raynham

A. Try balancing the system, which should be easy because all important rooms have cool air returns. These returns allow warm air that has entered all rooms to return to the furnace air handler, as it cools. Try this: Close the second floor vents halfway and see what happens. This should warm the first floor while cooling off the second. It works with cooling, too.

While it’s possible to adjust the vents in each room, it would be better to make the adjustments in the vents in the basement. Modern systems have round ducts in the basement leading from a large trunk line that comes from the furnace. The round ducts (four to eight, perhaps, have dampers where they leave the trunk line. The metal damper handles are outside the ducts. If they are parallel to the ducts, they are open. If they are vertical, they are closed, blocking the movement of warm air.

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 (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com