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Your Home Improvements: Noise from sink drives her crazy

Posted: December 26, 2008 9:13 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Whenever I run some water in the kitchen sink, I hear a whistling sound. I'm not completely sure, but it sounds like it's coming from the drain. I know it's not a big emergency question like you're used to answering, but it is annoying nonetheless. It started about one month ago and it's driving me crazy. I would just like to know what it is.

We have lived here many years and I have never heard this before - if that helps. Also, it doesn't matter if the water is hot or cold. That's all I can tell you.

It sounds as if your exhaust vent is partially obstructed. This vent travels up and out through your roof, which would cause a whistle noise. It's very similar to the "upside-down bottle effect." Once you get air behind it, it flows easier. So if the vent is obstructed with food particles, grease, soap or whatever, the water passing through will whistle. That's what you're hearing.

Within 24 inches of the trap, under your sink, there must be a vent. This vent has two purposes. It acts as both an exhaust and an air source to allow the water to flow. If that vent is plugged, the water won't drain properly because it's sealed. When it's partially obstructed, it will whistle or gurgle.

From time to time, we'll encounter this kind of problem. Plumbers will come out and snake the lines. They are all cleared and everything is fine but they won't flow. The water won't drain. So we clean the vents and the problem goes away.

Can you recommend a good product to keep my gutters clean? Preferably something that I can install myself. I hate constantly going up and scooping that gunk out of there.

Besides the nuisance of cleaning, what many people don't realize is that clogged gutters are dangerous. During a rain, if the downspouts are backed up on a two story house, there is enough water weight there to pull the spouts and the gutters off of your house.

Not only that, but after the rainy season has ended, if you've got all of those leaves impacted in there, this is nothing but tinder. If an ember happens to blow and land in your gutters you've got big problems.
There is a product called Gutter Brush that is easy to install yourself. You don't need any tools and it does not have to be cut. Basically, it's a professional grade brush that fits inside your gutter that prevents debris from going inside the gutters and clogging them, but allows water in and flow underneath.

You just slide it in one time and it's done. It is a simple idea but it works, and it comes with a money back guarantee. If you're not happy, send it back and they will refund the purchase price.

Gutter Brush has offered a discount to our readers. You can reach them by calling: (888) 397-9433 or by logging in to: Use coupon code gb15d during Internet checkout or mention this column when calling and receive a 15-percent discount.

I'm having a new electrical service brought into my home and part of the agreement with the Building Department was that I needed a new grounding rod. I spent a couple of hours driving this copper rod into the ground with a mallet and it bent. I went and bought another one and it bent also. Are there any tricks to make this easier and without bending? Any help please?

Take a chipping hammer or a hammer drill. If you don't have one, they are available at the rental yards. Instead of putting the bit in the chipping hammer, chuck up the grounding rod instead.

The repeated hammering action of the drill will slowly drive down that grounding rod.

Is the city only requesting a grounding rod? Most of the time, they request two separate grounding sources. The other two options would be a Ufer ground or a ground to a water pipe.

A Ufer ground is where you tie into the steel within the concrete foundation of the building. You just clamp it on. A lot of times, though, you don't have access to that steel. Let's say the electrical panel is inside.

You would just drill a hole through the concrete and drive the grounding rod in and clamp it to the steel. The principle being that concrete is more conductive than soil.

I enjoy your column. I know it's a little late in the year for this question, but what kind of roofing maintenance do you recommend?

Before discussing anything about roof work, I cannot stress the importance of safety enough. Roofs can be dangerous and based on the amount of accidents I've seen, I do not recommend anyone doing any of this themselves. Call a professional.

That said, you want to make sure all of your valley flashing is cleared from debris. These valley pans are usually 10 to 12 inches wide. What will happen if foliage gets jammed up in there is it will act like a dam.

The water keeps building until it spills out beyond the edges of the pans which then goes up and under and into your home.

All of the pipe vents need a good seal. Check to make sure all of the mastic is in good shape with no cracking. If there is any damage, scrape and pull the mastic all out of there and replace with Henry's 208.

The easiest way to apply is with one of those yellow dishwashing gloves. Dip your hand down in there and spread it around the pipes. Just so you'll know, it will get on you. No matter how hard you try to stay clean, it won't happen. It's almost like its magnetized.

Once you get the new mastic applied, we usually spray paint it with an oil base that closely matches the roofing color. Aesthetically this looks nicer than the black of the 208.

If you have a tile roof and you see any damages, pop the nail out and slip the old tile out and replace and nail the new tile in its place. Be very careful when walking on these tiles, especially man-mades or simulated woods. They will crack very easily.

The best way to walk on them is to stay where they overlap each other. This way your weight is being supported by a double layer of tile, but even then it's not that easy.

Of course, never do any of this in the rain. We don't even go up in the rain. But, since you've called in a roofer, you don't need to worry about this.

If you have a leak during the rain, just take a butter knife and open the ceiling enough to let that water drip down into a bucket or garbage can. Once it dries up, then proceed with the repairs.

Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection.
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