Corrine B Hinkle - randchinkle on 2/12/2008:
We have had tile floors installed. The grout has been sealed
twice at installation. Still, the (lght-colored) grout gets
dirty and I cannot get it clean. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance for your consideration
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM
Here is a webpage that gives a good description of how to clean
Which describes the best way to clean grout (i.e., using a mixture
they describe of baking soda, vinegar, ammonia and water, and
then using a wet/dry vacuum to pull the dirt out of the porous
grout after applying a cleaning solution).
If this still doesn’t work for you, then it may be possible
that your grout has become stained (especially since you say
it is light colored). If it has indeed gotten stained, then
you have a couple of options: 1) you can use a tool called a
"grout saw" to gently remove the top layer of grout, then re-grout
your tile with clean grout; or 2) tile stores sell special grout
stains that permanently color the grout and hide the stains.
Hope this is helpful
from Lima on 4/27/2008
My baseboards are mold, bent and squeak by much too low air
from outside. Besides the air flow issue, how can I fix those
ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 4/27/2008
Just so that I understand your question, when you refer to your
"baseboards", do you mean the wooden baseboards where your walls
meet the floor? Or are you referring to your baseboard heating
system? Or are you referring to your hardwood floor boards?
And what do you mean by "much too low air from outside"? Are
you referring to an area that is getting wet, and not having
enough air circulation to dry it out?
If you can provide me with some additional information, I can
then give you the best answer.
from Lima on 4/28/2008
Thank you for your
The baseboard I meant is the board under the carpet sponge,
in this case which is like a big pannel.
What happen was, We installed a new furnace and heat pump, along
with it the installer recomended humidifierto come with it.
It was way too powerful and created extra noise and air leak
from the air hundler(the leak also created a very loud hissing
sound), even though no harm to the house for 5 or 6 months.
When the installer tried to fix the air leak and noise by reducing
the air flow to the lowest stage, I started to notice a mugging
smell, and I turned off the humilifier. Which is also when the
baseboard started to squeak.
But the smell was still there a month later. As the day
passed by the baseboard started to bent here and there so I
could feel the bump on the floor through my feet.
And one day, I happened to find out that the system automatically
set to bring in the out side air every 20 minute for 20 minutes.
In a normal weather or air flow those damage won't happen.
But in this Northwest it rains 24/7 and the humidity is most
likely more than 90 percent. Atop of that the Forced Air
flow was so low and won't be able to agitate the air.
It was prooved by the temperature different between the floor
and where the thermostat is. There are 6-8 degrees difference,
also room to room temperature are so different that my hands
and feet would went cold even though I set the temperature to
To prevent further damage I shut the whole system down and turned
on when the temperature dropped. By the way the whole
damage was caused by American Standard so called Comfort something
(16 ser)heat pump along with the Comfort R variable speed
furnace. Also the Air cleaner Acu clean couldn't get rid
of the oder because when I set the air flow to circulation the
air is so weak.
I have never dreamt of a air conditioning system could cause
so much damage.
So, should I tear off the entire carpet and change the baseboard
or I can just use a nail gun to nail it over the carpet?
But the floor were so uneven now, I actually felt like I stepped
on something and in some area the dark spots are visible ( I
assume those are mold, unfortunately the carpet is white)
Thank you again.
ANSWER from Home-Wizard.com on 4/28/2008
Thank you for your clarification. I now have a much better idea
of what you problem is, and can do a better job of helping you
From you description, it sounds like you actually have two problems
1) how to help you fix your floor underlayment which has been
damaged by moisture, and
2) how to solve the problem that is causing the excess moisture
in your home, which has led to the damage to your floor.
Let's start with your first problem: what to do with your floor
underlayment that has been damaged? Floor underlayment is the
layer of plywood that is fastened down on top of your floor
joists. And then on top of this layer of plywood goes the surface
flooring, such as tile, hardwood, or in your case, carpet. Underlayment
is typically made of plywood, and it is glued, nailed and screwed
down to floor joists to hold it securely in place, so that it
doesn't creak. And if you have tile or hardwood flooring, it
helps keeps the tile and hardwood flooring level and from shifting
Unfortunately, it sounds like your plywood underlayment has
been exposed to excessive moisture, and as a result, it has
gotten both swollen and has been attacked by mold. At this point,
just drying the area out is probably not going to be enough.
The plywood has gotten warped, and is not likely to go back
into its correct flat shape. So where it has pulled up the nails,
it will likely stay up, and therefore you will continue to get
the squeaking noise when you walk over it (its the sound of
the nails going in and out of the wood in the floor joists as
the underlayment flexes up and down).
But more importantly, since you have already seen significant
evidence of mold formation, this plywood has become contaminated
with mold, and even if you dry it out, the mold spores can remain
in the wood, and can therefore return when the room gets humid.
This can lead to health problems in your home.
So for both of these reasons, I would suggest that you carefully
pull back the carpeting, remove the affected plywood underlayment,
and replace it with new plywood. And you should be sure to remove
all of the old glue, nails, etc. from the floor joists before
you glue, nail and screw the new plywood down. So that the new
plywood fits down tight on top of your floor joists.
Now for your other problem, regarding what is causing the excessive
moisture that ruined your underlayment? If I understand you
correctly, that you were told that you needed to add a "humidifier"
to your air conditioner system (not a "de-humidifier"), even
though you are living in the Pacific Northwest where it typically
rains half of the year, and as such the humidity is already
relatively high? And further, you have a fresh air exchanger
that is bringing outside air into your home every other 20 minutes?
A couple of thoughts here. First, it sounds like you need to
find a different HVAC contractor. I could understand possibly
adding a humidifier to run in the winter when the air might
be dry. But in the Pacific Northwest, I would not add a humidifier
unless you have measured the humidity in your home during the
winter and determined that it is indeed too low (you can purchase
a low-cost hygrometer to measure indoor humidity). But the dry
season in the PNW is so short, I would question whether a humidifier
would be a good investment.
On the other hand, it sounds like the more important issue that
you have in your home is DE-humidification. That is, how do
you get the moisture out of the air in your home.
When an air conditioner runs, it cools the air which also lowers
what's called the "dew point", that is, the temperature at which
water condenses out of the air. This is why when you look at
your air handler, you should see some tubing or piping that
allows this water that has condensed to drain out of your house
(in our Newsletter last month we had an article about how it
is important to inspect this hose at least once a year to insure
that it is draining properly).
So it sounds like your air conditioner is working hard to lower
the temperature and remove moisture from your home, but then
your installed added a humidifier that put moisture right back
The other problem is that, since you are in the Pacific Northwest,
that your fresh air exchanger is bringing up to 90% humidity
air into your home during rainy days (and of course in the PNW,
you have quite a few rainy days . . . on average 155 days per
year). So this is bringing a whole lot of moisture into your
home as well.
This is why I suggested that you find a new HVAC contractor.
It sounds like you need someone who can look at the capacity
of your current heat pump and furnace, and determine:
a) do you really need a humidifier? Can it be set so that it
does NOT run when the humidity outside is above a certain level?
b) how should your fresh air exchanger be set to operate? Can
it be set so that it does NOT run when the humidity outside
is above a certain level?
c) does your system have adequate de-humidification capacity?
I hope this is helpful Lima. If you need additional help, just
let me know.
QUESTION from Lima Chan on 7/3/2008
Some of my house's foundation beams were twisted and it pushed
up the underlayment board. So I have some body put side board
between the beam and post all over my house but I was told that
it cannot correct the problem I have. It has to be two sister
board bolted against the post. Is it right? Also, I also have
him put extra posts, looks like it was not the right post. Is
it right that the foundation post has to be the one with a twisted
screw not cemented to the ground(I was told this kind is to
be used to build the deck but not foundation) Any information
will appreciated. Just to think what have done has to be redone
makes me frustrated. Thank you. lima
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 7/4/2008
Without seeing your specific situation, it difficult to say
what should have been done to properly level your floor.
I would have thought that to provide adequate support that the
new posts would need to be installed on top of concrete footers
that would have needed to be cut, dug and poured into the ground
below them. But again, it is hard to say without actually seeing
your exact situation. Similarly with the sistering of the beams.
However, here is a link to a webpage about floor leveling that
you might find useful: http://www.houserepairtalk.com/showthread.php?t=3099
Hope this is helpful.
QUESTION from David
Holeman, Sr. on 11/10/2008
I bought a 15 year old home with marble flooring in the master
bath. Bordering the shower, which once had leaks,the marble has
dark brownish stains which appear to be deep into the stone. Can
these stains be removed?
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/10/2008
Here is a webpage that describes how to remove various types of
stains from marble:
Note, however, that you will need to determine first what is the
cause of your brownish stains. Is it rust? Mildew? Iron which
occurs naturally in the stone? Because as you will see on the
webpage, the method for removing the stain will be different,
depending on the type of stain that it is.
Hope this is helpful.
FOLLOW-UP QUESTION from David on 11/11/2008
Your response is very helpful.
Since it was water leaking from the shower that caused the stain
and it is brown in color, I will treat it for rust first and
then for algea. I live in Baton Rouge, LA where the water is
extremely soft. Will this promote a rust stain?
ANSWER FROM HOME-WIZARD.COM on 11/11/2008
Glad we could be helpful to you.
Usually rust staining is associated more with hard water that
with soft water.
Good luck, and if you need anything else, just let us know.