Why does his bathroom sink only leak occasionally?

Q. Our problem is that there is an occasional leak under our 1929-era, pedestal bathroom sink as well as an occasional leak from one of the pipes going into the wall. The two leaks are not always synchronized. How can the leaks be only occasional, and what could be causing the leak from under the sink? Will the sink have to be pulled up? We’re concerned about damage and expense. When we call a plumber, we want to know if what he suggests makes sense.

LARRY ONIE, by e-mail

A. If the leaks are occasional, they are probably from the drain, not the water source. That is what the plumber should look for. I don’t think anything has to be pulled up. Larry added later that the same bathroom has peeling paint, which the plumber said was calcimine, and suggested putting up a Blueboard ceiling, then skim-coating it. A good idea, says the Handyman.


Q. I have a bed frame with a dark wood and metal headboard. It’s easy to prop pillows up against the wood part when reading in bed. Over time, I’ve noticed that the headboard has grown a patch of lint from the pillowcase on the finish from where the pillowcase has made contact with the headboard. Clearly the finish became tacky and the pillowcase adhered to it; I assume summer humidity is a factor. How do I remove this lint without ruining the finish and prevent it from happening again?

SANDY, Wenham

A. Try washing the lint with detergent and water, rubbing it on the lint. Then, rub with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. In the future, hang a bedspread, blanket, or comforter over the headboard. Or, buy one of those overstuffed chairs (with arms and back, but nothing else) that you can use in place of the pillows.

Q. I have an old (21+ years) oil furnace. I got carbon monoxide detectors a couple of years ago. The detectors began going off intermittently. The oil company checked the furnace and said everything was OK. The problem went away. This was over two years ago. I just learned that the reason the detectors aren’t going off is that my son disabled them, but I suspect the problem hasn’t been solved. I just had the furnace serviced. If I get new detectors and they start going off, what should I do? Does this mean the whole furnace needs to be replaced?


What about the vent? I don’t want to endanger anyone’s life, but of course I don’t want to make repairs unless it solves a real problem.


A. I assume your oil furnace is a hot air heating system, and 21 years is old for a hot air furnace. New CO detectors will help you keep an eye, or a nose on the heating system. If the new ones go off regularly, you probably need a new furnace. If the fire box cracks, then you will smell burned oil, and hear the CO alarms, in which case a new furnace is required.

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