Hard Water Stains – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

Help! I have been researching how best to remove hard water stains from my glass shower doors. Most of the solutions I have found concern me because they have a warning not to use it on chrome. Since chrome surrounds the doors, it’s difficult to keep it from running onto the chrome. I hope you have a solution!

Great question! I’ve run up against the same issues. Here is what I have found to be the best way to take care of this. The best product I have found is CLR (calcium – lime – rust). It is available in the hardware stores, but you might even find it in the cleaning isle of grocery stores.

Although this product does caution about its use on chrome, I used it anyway, but used caution not to get the product on the chrome. I use a small bucket, along with a sponge and protective gloves. I simply wash the shower door with the sponge. If I do get any of the liquid on the chrome, I use a paper towel to wipe it off, then another towel to rinse the area. Once the glass is cleaned with CLR and dried, I then use an ordinary glass cleaner for the finishing stage. CLR is also a great product for the cleaning of shower floors.


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Changing a Sink Flange – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

I have a white sink with a disposal, and the chrome flange just doesn’t look good with the white sink. Do they make a white flange for this, and if so, is it something easy to replace?

You are in luck! They certainly do make a white disposal flange, and it isn’t very hard to replace it.
Once you have the flange and are ready to start, I would suggest lying a thick towel down on the cabinet lip. You’ll see why in just a few minutes of working inside the cabinet, lying on your back. Begin by disconnecting the pipe leading from the disposal to the drain. If you have PVC drain pipes, you may be able to loosen the couplings by hand, but if not, use a pair of channel–lock pliers. Once the drain is away from the disposal, you’re ready to remove the disposal from its mounting.

From below, just at the top of the disposal, you will see a ring (usually chrome colored) with a loop. Using the disposal wrench (an elongated “S” tool), insert it into the loop (using a screwdriver if you don’t have the wrench), then turn the unit clockwise. Be prepared as you do this, as the disposal will drop down into your hands, and it is somewhat heavy. When it does come down, set it aside.

Next, you will see a retaining ring which surrounds the flange. Using a screwdriver, pry one end of the ring down and the rest of the ring will come off. Be patient here; getting this ring on and off is usually the hardest part of the job. When the ring is off, unscrew the three screws which compress the mounting ring from the flange. You’ll then be able to drop the mounting ring from the flange. With that done, push the flange up and into the sink.

You’re now ready to install the new flange. Take some plumber’s putty and roll it in your hand to form about a ½” snake, which you will wrap around the rim of the flange. Set the flange into the hole, and if there is any writing on the top of the flange (the manufacturer’s name), it looks better if this writing is readable from the top. Next, you’ll simply reverse the process of installing the mounting plate.
Before you’re able to tighten the flange, the retaining ring has to be reinstalled. If you have any trouble, it may help to have someone press down on the flange from above. With the mounting ring secured, lift the disposal in place, insert the wrench and turn the ring counter-clockwise to tighten it. Reconnect the drain pipe and test for leaks. You’ll notice that the plumber’s putty has squeezed out from the new flange. This is normal. Just scrub the excess away until you can’t see any more.

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Touching Up Grout – Ask THE Handyman St Louis

I have an area of grout in my shower that is coming loose. Could this be a problem? Can you tell me how to fix it?

Yes, Yes, Yes! Grout coming loose or any areas where grout is missing can be an expensive problem. If water gets behind the tile, it will cause the drywall to become like wet cardboard. As it does, the tile will no longer have anything to hold on to and will begin to come out away from the wall. Depending on how old your home is, you may not be able to match the existing tile and it is not a good idea to reuse old tile (they never lay flat like a new one). If you can’t match the old tile, you end up having to replace all of the tile in the tub area, or the whole bathroom! Expensive!

To take care of this problem, you’ll first need to remove any loose grout. A grout saw is an inexpensive hand held tool that will do this. The process is to slowly, but with some force, slide the tool along the grout line as needed to remove the grout. Be careful not to scratch the tile. When the grout is removed, brush any dust away. You’re now ready to regrout.

Whenever grout is touched up, the new color may not match perfectly with the old grout. Besides getting a close color to match the old grout, you need to look closely to see if the grout is “sanded” or “unsanded”. If it is sanded, when you look closely, you will see small bumps within the grout, about the size of sand particles, hence the term “sanded”. If your grout lines are very narrow, usually these will be unsanded. So, when you go to a tile store, you can get the proper color, and each color will either come sanded or unsanded. If your grout is anything other than white, you may want to pick up a grout color chart from the store, take it home, then pick out the color that closely matches your grout.

When mixing the grout, be sure to follow the mixing directions carefully, so that the grouting is done properly. You don’t want to have to do the project again later. With the grout mixed, use a grout float to apply it. This is a hard rubber float, which allows you to spread the grout, going in a 45 degree motion to the grout joints, forcing it in. After the grout is in, again, following the directions, you’ll need to come back with a clean sponge and wipe the haze off the tiles.

I would recommend after 2 weeks, that you seal the grout. This is an easy process of wiping on a clear sealer (which has the consistency of water), being sure to get it not only on the tiles, but the grout as well. Sealing the grout will keep the color true and prevent mildew.

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Sewer Smell – Ask THE Handyman St Louis – Get It Done

We have a sewer-like smell in only one of our bathrooms. Several plumbers have not been able to find the source of the smell. Can you give us any ideas on how to find the source of this odor or someone with expertise in this kind of problem that might be able to help. We don’t know where to turn.

This is one of those situations that will require you to put on your detective hat! You’ll have to try a couple of things in order to attempt to fix it.

You need to try and locate the origin of the smell as closely as you can. Unfortunately, this means getting on your knees and literally smelling around the toilet, vanity, and tub or shower. Hopefully, this will let you know where the smell is coming from. If you can isolate the smell, then you’ll have an idea as to where to start.
Any drain, if open, will give off the sewer gas smell. That is why your sinks have a “p-trap”, or a drain which has a bend in it. This bend holds a small amount of water, and the water creates a “seal” or barrier from the sewer gas. Most likely, if you are smelling the odor, there is either a break in one of the joints, or water has escaped or evaporated from the “p-trap”.

If you pinpoint the smell coming from the vanity, it could be that the p-trap has failed, either due to low use of the faucet, letting the water in the trap evaporate, or possibly a seal on the p-trap is faulty (although this would usually cause water to spill out into the vanity). If the trap is chrome, it can be rusted on the top, letting the sewer gas enter, but not letting a leak occur. A new p-trap is about $5 – $10, and doesn’t take much time to replace.

If by chance this bathroom is in the basement and has a drain in the floor, you might try occasionally pouring water into the drain, perhaps once a month – especially if it doesn’t get a lot of use. Again, water may have evaporated from the trap, allowing the sewer gas to become noticeable.

If the odor comes from the base of the toilet, it could be a wax ring. This is literally a ring of wax which the toilet sits on. Replacing this can be done in about an hour, with a new ring costing about $5.

If you still smell the odor after trying these repairs, it could be a problem behind the wall, in which case a licensed plumber is going to your best bet. Talk with them beforehand to see how comfortable they are in solving the problem before they begin the work. The drain stack could have a crack in it, allowing the smell to be noticed, but because the pipe is horizontal, it may not cause a noticeable leak.

Hope this helps and that you can discover and remedy the source. Best of luck!

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