Now you can nail down the squeak in wooden floors


January 01, 1994|By Gene Austin | Gene Austin,Knight-Ridder News Service

Q: Our second-floor wood floors squeak badly. The floors are covered with wall-to-wall carpeting, and there are finished ceilings underneath. Is there a way to stop the squeaks without tearing everything apart?

A: Floors often squeak because floorboards or subfloor (a layer of wood under the surface boards) is loose and they are rubbing against each other. If you find the joists under the squeaking areas, there is a good chance the squeaking can be stopped or muffled by refastening the loose boards or subfloor to the joists, working right through the carpet. If done carefully, the repair is invisible.

The joists, the thick supporting beams under the floor, are usually spaced on 16-inch centers. Joists can often be located under carpeted floors by thumping the floor at various points with a small hammer or piece of wood. A solid sound is heard over joists, a hollow sound over the spaces between. Once one joist is located (usually 16 inches from a wall), others usually can be found at 16-inch intervals.

To repair, drive flooring nails through the carpet, floor and subfloor and into the joists closest to the squeaking area. Use a nail set to drive the nails completely through the carpet and carpet pad and into the wood. Flooring nails have small heads and, if the carpet is fluffed up a bit, the repair won't show.

Special screws that give a better grip between floor boards and joists are also available in a kit called Squeeeeek No More. The kit includes an alignment device, a power-screwdriver bit, and 50 screws.

Squeeeeek No More screws have notched shanks so the heads can be broken off after the screws are driven. Again, the repair is invisible if correctly done. A Squeeeeek No More kit costs $34.95, including shipping, from O'Berry Enterprises, 664 Exmoor Court, Crystal Lake, Ill. 60014 (telephone (800) 459-8428).

Q: What causes a water heater to become noisy?

A: Electric water heaters give off rumbling noises if scale and mineral deposits build up on the heating elements. This generally happens in areas where there is hard water or water with a high mineral content.

The heating elements can be cleaned or replaced. You should find instructions for this in the owner's manual for your water heater, or you can have a technician do it. Do not attempt to clean or change the elements yourself without full instructions, since there is hazard of electrical shock and/or ruining the heater.

Q: I want to apply waterproofing paint to my basement walls. I'm not sure what type of masonry the walls are made of. I had previously coated the walls with another type of paint that has loosened and fallen off in spots. What steps should I take?

A: Waterproofing paints can be applied to most masonry walls, including poured concrete, concrete blocks, stucco and bricks, but the waterproofer will work well only if the masonry is clean and free of other paint and contaminants.

Instructions for surface preparation are included on containers of waterproofing paint. If still in doubt after reading the instructions, the best bet is to write or phone the manufacturer of the waterproofer for more specific instructions. The address and/or telephone number of the manufacturer should be on the waterproofer container.

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