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Robert Lamoureux: Getting water stains off granite

Your Home Improvements

Posted: April 2, 2010 10:16 p.m.
Updated: April 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
We have designed a custom, full color Signal / Your Home Improvements T-shirt that we will send to you, with our compliments, if we answer your question in our column. - Robert Lamoreux

Hi Robert,
The granite vanity top in my powder room is badly water stained.
I have tried several granite cleaners including Miracle Tile and Stone Cleaner, but they did not help. Do you have any suggestions.

Jane D.

Hi Jane,
With granite countertops, you first want to make sure it is sealed properly. If not, liquids can penetrate down into the pores of the stone, and it will stain.
The best way to clean granite is with stone soap and cold water immediately after the spill. Be patient and use a lot of water. If this does not remove the stain, then the next step would be to use a poultice.
If you know what originally caused the stain, I would consult a stone company that specializes in granite to get their recommendations of what chemical/poultice combination to use. Don’t guess on this as using the wrong chemical could bond with the stain and make it permanent.
Poultices are cloth materials or powders that are mixed with chemicals and applied directly over the stain. Common poultices are clay, magnesium silicate, talc chalk and even sawdust.
If your stain was caused by coffee, mix a poultice with hydrogen peroxide to the consistency of peanut butter.
Spread the paste over the stain, seal with plastic and tape down the edges for 24 hours — or long enough to dry completely.
If the stain appears as if it is disappearing but still remains, reapply additional mixtures until gone.
If the poultice had no effect on the stain, consult another specialist for advice. They may suggest a different chemical.
Keep in mind, sometimes granite stains are permanent.

Hi Robert,
My swimming pool deck has cracks and white spots all over it. At first, I thought these spots were happening to the surface of the concrete, but then we realized it was problem coming from inside.
I called the concrete people that poured the deck and they said it was “reactive aggregate,” due to the rock in the mix, and is not a fault of the workmanship so they are not responsible. Other than that, they said there was nothing that could be done short of breaking out the deck and using a different mix. Is there any way to treat this?  
Thank you,

Sean M.

Hi Sean,

The condition is known as ASR – Alkali Silica Reaction caused by reactive aggregates in the concrete mix.
If you look closely at the center of some of those spots, you will probably see a gel-like substance seeping out of the concrete which is a leading indication of ASR.  
Typically, the reactive aggregate will also cause cracking and spalling to the concrete.
In some cases, the cracking is so severe you have to demo the decking and repour. Sealed concrete cracks are very unsightly. You’re left with these dark veins where the repairs were made that look much worse than the cracks.
One option for repair would be coming in with a cool-deck system. This is a tinted, textured surface that not only hides the concrete repairs underneath, but also provides a good looking, slip resistant and cooler to the touch surface.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent fix for ASR. It is a condition of the concrete that will continue to exist. If you decide to apply a cook deck over it, although there are treatments that may help impede the damages, you will be faced with an ongoing maintenance issue.
If you see white spots surfacing up through the cool deck, you would proceed with the following steps:
First, you would sand the spot.
You’ll want to open up the center area where the gel is located.
Next you would apply a solution of 20 percent muriatic acid and 80 percent water. Spray this on and let it set for about five minutes.
Of course, whenever working with any acid, protect your eyes, lungs and hands.
The next step would be to neutralize the spot by cleaning with an ammonia and water solution.
Use about a 50-50 mix and clean lightly with a rag. Allow to dry.
After the ammonia solution has dried, brush apply lithium silicate to the spot. This is available at concrete supply houses.
Apply enough to allow to soak in thoroughly and let dry.
Finally, apply your tinted sealer to match.
Depending on the amount of reactive aggregate in your deck, you may need to repeat this procedure every 1 – 3 years.

Hello Robert,
We read your column all of the time.
Our kitchen sink is making some really weird gurgling noises.
Do you have any idea what this may be and how to correct it?  
These noises are a bit scary late at night.     

Jody S.

Hi Jody,
That gurgling noise is due to a partial obstruction. What you’re hearing is a sink that is starving for air.
It could be the vent is blocked, or there is something just beyond the trap or it could be where it transitions from the overflow to the trap.
Let’s say you run a lot of rice through your disposal. If you don’t use enough water behind it, the rice will stick to the inside of the pipe.
It hardens like glue. It gets stuck and then additional food builds up on top of that, and soon your pipe is obstructed.
Pasta does the same thing.
Another reason is sometimes there’s a burr on the inside of the pipe.
Sometimes ABS will leave a rough cut and the burrs will hold the food.
Just run a snake through it and clean it out. That will take care of it.

Hi Robert,

In my bathroom, I will turn the lights on but it takes a few seconds before they come on. I know the bulbs are brand new.
Thank you,
Helen S.

Hi Helen,
It’s either a bad switch or a bad breaker.
The breaker and bus bar in your panel can get loose over time due to age, faulty parts or the expansion and contraction of the metal elements.
Once you have a loose connection, the electricity has to arc across the breaker instead of flowing as intended.
Continued arcing can cause damages to the panel that can become very expensive to repair, so it’s best to address these types of problems immediately.
Call a licensed electrician and have him check your breakers, neutral bar and the switch.

Submit your questions to:
Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor.
The opinions expressed in “Your Home Improvements” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.


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