Q: Is there any wood or laminate flooring or anything else I could use in the kitchen that does not smell? I have bad allergies.
The smells in flooring that I have tried in the past have lasted from about a month to more than a year, and I need to replace floors because of Hurricane Sandy.
I have a few different floors to work on. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
A: There are a number of flooring products on the market that do not off-gas or require adhesives that release chemicals into the air.
One I see recommended often, in large part for its sustainability, is bamboo, even though much of it has to be transported from China and Vietnam, adding to the carbon footprint.
Still, adhesives used in bamboo flooring sometimes contain a urea-formaldehyde resin.
Cork is another option — especially all-natural rather than cork-vinyl composites. Urea melamine, phenol formaldehyde and natural proteins are used as binders, rather than volatile organic compounds.
There are also ceramic tiles, stones, woods that may be recycled, and laminates that don’t contain volatile organic compounds.
There are a host of “green" websites that provide wads of information about the chemistry of flooring and how to reduce off-gassing.
Check them out before you buy.
Q: My husband and I purchased a Cape Cod-style home, circa 1973, with baseboard heaters, a little over a year ago.
The heating system consists of a dual-zone furnace, a large ceramic water storage tank, and an oil tank. Water is supplied to the copper pipes located behind the registers.
My problem is this system is quite noisy.
The registers start banging and clanging as soon as I turn on the second zone upstairs. This continues all night long as the system turns itself on and off.
It also sounds like the heated metal fins are clanking off each other. The noise seems to be coming from the walls or floors below where the pipes are running.
The first-floor heating zone also makes noise, but it is not nearly as troublesome.
Are we stuck with these noises or is there a maintenance issue that should be addressed?
A: It’s a maintenance issue that needs to be addressed.
The hot water pipes are supposed to be filled with water, but sometimes there may be air trapped in them, causing a lot of banging in the pipes.
Call the heating company and have it send someone to remove the air and adjust the water temperature, which will cut down on the expansion noises the pipes are making inside the walls.
Q: Our commode has started making a very low hissing sound after we flush. We never had this before and my husband doesn’t see anything wrong inside it. Are we losing water, and what should we do to fix it?
A: The refill mechanism is blocked. As the high-pressure water passes through the narrower opening, it hisses.
You could go to the hardware store and buy a replacement valve that fits the model of your toilet, or you could call a plumber and have him or her put in a new one.
It depends on how handy you are.
Q: Many repairmen give estimates for the work to be done. Should the homeowner accept and pay the estimated price, or ask for a detailed cost?
A: Many repair people say they don’t have the time to itemize. You are the person whose money will pay for repairs, and you should know what you are paying for.
Find someone who itemizes.