Question: I read your column on removing wallpaper. My problem is how to fix wallpaper that is opening at the seams. I have tried using the seam sealer that comes in tubes but none of it works.
Answer: It's apparent that the seams are reopening as a result of a wallpapering job done poorly. If the seams won't close with all the products on the market designed to accomplish this, the problem may not be fixable, and you'll need to remove the paper and do it again.
Q: We've bought a five-year-old house in Winter Haven, Fla. The driveway is all brick and very nice. However, the brick is half an inch higher than the start of the garage-door floor.
This works OK, except at the left corner of the garage door, where water pools and then flows into the garage, forming a large puddle.
Do you have any solutions for this? The seal seems OK on the rest of the double-car garage.
A: You have a problem that needs to be addressed, and that might involve lowering the bricks so that water will flow away from the garage and not into it. A Florida hurricane could turn a little water ponding in a corner into a much bigger issue.
Maybe the brick can be cut down a half-inch at the left corner so that water will drain away from the garage at that point - if it has a place in which to drain. That may be another issue you need to have addressed.
Check with a driveway contractor to see if this can be done.
Q: I have five glass block windows in my house, which was built in the late 1940s or early '50s. They are the source of very cold air that penetrates all through our main floor. I don't want to replace the glass blocks, but aside from raising the thermostat - which would dry out the house and increase our energy bills - is there a way to stop the drafts?
A: What's the mortar between the blocks look like? Most sources I've checked say the mortar tends to dry out or crack, allowing cold air to flow in and warm, out.
A white or clear silicone sealant is suggested. Wipe the excess away quickly.
Q: I live in a 20-year-old townhouse and have municipal sewer and water, with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) drain pipes.
Although the drain didn't seem to be clogged, there was a sewer odor near the first-floor powder room, just off the kitchen, that began late in March.
The toilet is a two-year-old low-flush Toto toilet with an unusual configuration in the bowl so a plunger will not work on it, so I used a drain cleaner containing sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, surfactant, and sodium silicate. The label stated that the product contained no phosphorus and was safe for PVC pipe.
I poured half the container into the toilet, let it sit 30 minutes, then flushed.
Later, I noticed an odor, burning in my eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, and a feeling that I was losing consciousness. I have awakened at night with my eyes burning and my heart pounding.
I called the 800 number on the package and was told that their product did not cause this, and that I should use vinegar and baking soda in the drain, run a lot of water down the drain, which I did, and that the odor would eventually fade with time.
I still have this terrible odor and the health effects from it, which intensify when I use the water and drains in the powder room, the shower and bath on the second floor, the dishwasher on the first floor and the washing machine in the basement.
A: Sodium hypochlorite is bleach and sodium hydroxide is lye, and when you mix them, according to the New Jersey Department of Health, it can produce "deadly gases and cause burns, watery eyes, cough, and other symptoms."
Something is preventing that mess from proceeding through the plumbing system and into the sewer, so that's why the effects linger.
Call Toto USA at 1-888-295-8134 for advice about solving the problem.
Never, never, never pour anything you aren't sure of down a drain. Plumbers cost a lot less than funerals.