Around the House: What to do about flickering lights | Lifestyle

Dear Ken: My lights flicker often. It’s not only one room, however the entire home. The energy firm and an electrician have been out, however they’ll’t discover something improper. What ought to I do subsequent? — David

Answer: Light fixture fluctuations and flickering signify tiny voltage drops — and they’re regular when home equipment begin up or cycle on and off. These can embody the oven, fridge, garments iron and the central A/C system, amongst others. Is there any correlation between the dimming and a serious equipment? If so, it’s no massive deal.

But if it’s random and the electrician has tightened all the related connections, each inside the circuit field and in the outdoors meter enclosure, ask for a brand new most important breaker. This is the gadget — often rated from 100 to 200 amps — wthat controls all the present coming into the home. They are heat-actuated and so can put on out.

If that doesn’t clear up the drawback, ask the energy firm to set up a monitoring gadget, which may document the voltage in the system for every week or so. That would possibly reveal energy line issues that aren’t apparent throughout a single go to.

Dear Ken: The grout between the stones of my hearth is cracking and falling off in locations. How can I repair this myself, or ought to I ask an expert? — Craig

Answer: It can be tough to get an expert to come, even should you needed to. Brick masons are extraordinarily busy with new house development proper now, and your small job most likely wouldn’t get a excessive precedence. Not to fear, although, as a result of that is a simple restore for us amateurs.

All you want is pre-mixed mortar or a dry bag combine you’ll be able to whip up your self. First, scrape out all the free chunks, brush and/or vacuum out the residual mud, after which moist the areas that can obtain the new stuff. Then it’s merely a matter of deciding which instruments will most simply insert the new mortar into the cracks and clean it: Use your finger (put on rubberized work gloves), a screwdriver, a putty knife or a “pointing” software you should purchase at the ironmongery shop — which is called after the precise course of you’re about to undertake.

Dear Ken: I’ve heard you point out a robust drain cleaner in your program. What is it? Our 1968 home has an ongoing drain drawback. I’ve used a snake and gotten a couple of tree roots out, however final evening the dishwasher backed up into the flooring drain. Any options? — Jeff

Answer: The product is plumber’s acid — an aggressive type of sulfuric; one model title is Liquid Lightning. It’s fairly good for slow-running sink and tub drains, however you seem to have one other kind of drawback. The kitchen department line may be clogged earlier than it enters the most important Four-inch line to the avenue. It can construct up a greasy layer of crud over the years — significantly if it was laid a bit too flat beneath the basement flooring. So have an expert firm clear it.

Your ‘60s home most likely has a cast-iron sewer line working to the avenue. These may be invaded by tree roots, similar to their earlier clay tile cousins. The identical firm can put you on an everyday rooting-out schedule a couple of times a 12 months.

Dear Ken: We need to sort out this drawback earlier than the chilly climate will get right here. My youngsters’ room is correct above the storage and is so chilly on some winter nights that they’ll’t sleep. The heating contractor has redirected some extra warmth into the room, however that didn’t appear to assist. Do you will have every other concepts? — Wendy

Answer: When you say the room is chilly, you most likely imply 10 levels or so lower than the remainder of the home. If you merely increase the temperature of the storage (which is probably going about 45 levels or so in chilly climate) by an identical quantity, you’ll make up that distinction upstairs. The level is: You don’t want to get the storage to room temperature, however merely take the “edge” off of it.

If you will have an historic wooden or metal storage door, then it’ll pay to get an insulated one. And which may be all you want to do.

It may assist to set up a few electrical baseboard heaters — say 6 toes lengthy. Since most electrical panels are in the storage, it ought to be a simple hookup. Wire them right into a thermostat set to 55 levels and also you’ll be all set.

If the storage continues to be chilly in any case these efforts, then it could be poor or nonexistent insulation on high of the storage ceiling. You can lower a small viewing gap right here and there and examine it your self.

Incidentally, I do know it’s tempting, however you will need to not beneath any circumstances bleed warmth from the common furnace ducts into the storage, since that may let carbon monoxide and different harmful fumes leak into the dwelling quarters!

Dear Ken: My canine has to see every thing when he’s driving in the automotive, so he leaves “prints” throughout the home windows. Regular window cleaners gained’t fully take away them. Do you will have one other concept? — Dan

Answer: Dog drool and nostril prints require two steps. Mix equal elements white vinegar and heat water, spray it on and let it sit for a couple of minutes earlier than wiping. Then comply with up with a easy resolution of Dawn or Joy in a twig bottle —or your favourite grocery retailer glass cleaner. By the method, you want to look on the brilliant aspect: At least the canine by no means asks, “Are we there yet?”

Moon is a house inspector in the Pikes Peak area. His radio present airs at 9 a.m. Saturdays on KRDO, FM 105.5 and AM 1240. Visit

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