June 20, 2010 in Features

Clogged gutters should be fixable

Gene Austin McClatchy-Tribune
Quick tip

Reader Arthur Rohlik foils mosquito breeding in water-filled containers in his tomato patch by adding a few drops of mineral oil.

Rohlik said the oil is “food grade” and “the same stuff I use on cutting boards.” The oil forms a thin film that smothers mosquito eggs.

The same technique should work in plant containers that collect water, puddles of standing water and similar applications.

The July 2010 issue of Consumer Reports magazine also contains helpful information for mosquito victims.

The magazine tested 10 mosquito repellents and rates them for effectiveness and long-lasting results. Six repellents were judged effective for seven hours or more.

Q. We clean our open rain gutters at least five times a year but they still overflow in heavy rains. I’m baffled and am wondering if gutters are really necessary. I have seen homes without them. What is your opinion?

A. If you live in a region where there are heavy rains, such as you describe, you should have rain gutters. An exception might be if the landscape all around your house slopes away from the foundation so rain runs off easily, or if your house is completely surrounded by a material such as concrete that won’t soak up rain.

If the gutters are clean but still overflow, it should be possible to fix them. One possible cause is that the downspouts might be clogged with wads of leaves.

You can check by running water from a hose directly into the downspouts. If the water flows through easily, this is not the problem. If clogged downspouts are found, clean them by running a plumber’s snake through them.

A second possible cause is that the gutters are not sloped properly so that water flows readily through the gutters to the downspouts. You can check slope with a hose; this time, run water into the gutters as far as possible from each downspout and see if it pools up or runs out quickly.

Improper slope can also be corrected by lowering the positions of some of the brackets that support the gutters until a good flow of water is achieved.

It could also be that there are not enough downspouts or they are not well located. It is sometimes necessary to have downspouts at intervals along a long run of gutter, as well as at the end.

Still another possible cause is that the gutters and/or downspouts are undersized. Aluminum gutters 6 inches wide are available, and can handle a larger flow of water than the 5-inch gutters usually installed on houses.

Q. I have an old bathtub that was painted on the inside by someone years ago. The paint is chippng and peeling. How can I remove the old paint and should I apply some new coating?

A. You should be able to remove the old paint with a strong paint remover such as Strypeeze, a paste-type remover that will cling to the sides of the tub. If epoxy paint was used, it could be a difficult project, since this paint is very tenacious even when it is chipping.

Since this is an old tub, the paint might also contain lead, a health hazard. Before attempting removal, you should test the paint for lead. You can buy a test kit at some home centers or on the Internet. Prices for test kits start at $13.

If the paint does contain lead, check the information on dealing with it at www.epa.gov/lead.

If you decide to proceed with the paint removal, read all the directions and cautions on the remover container. Use plenty of stripper and give it time to work. When the old paint is softened, scrape carefully with a plastic scraper such as is used to remove ice from auto windshields.

It is unlikely that you will be pleased with the tub’s finish after the paint has been removed; tubs in good condition are seldom painted.

Epoxy paint, called tub-and-tile paint, is available at paint stores, home centers and on the Internet. An example is the Rustoleum Tub and Tile Refinishing Kit, priced at $25.

Another option, and a better one in my opinion, is to have the tub examined by a professional tub refinisher. Look under Bathtub Repair & Refinishing in the Yellow Pages.

Hiring a pro will cost more, but should result in a better-looking and longer-lasting paint job.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at doit861@aol.com. Send regular mail to 1730 Blue Bell Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422.

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