Peace and quiet are going down the toilet


January 08, 1994|By Gene Austin | Gene Austin,Knight-Ridder News Service

Q: Our second-floor toilet makes a lot of noise when it is flushed. You can hear water running down the waste pipe inside an interior wall. The noise is especially disturbing when we're dining. Is there any way to silence the noise?

A: The best time to control noises of this type is when a house is built. Construction and insulation techniques can be used to eliminate or greatly reduce unwanted noises.

Any retrofit steps, short of literally rebuilding the walls, are likely to have uncertain results, but here are a few ideas.

It might be possible to reduce the water-pipe noise by having a contractor blow insulation into the wall so the insulation surrounds the noisy pipe. This could be done by cutting a few relatively small holes in the wall to allow access for the insulation blower. The holes would have to be patched and the walls repainted, of course.

To actually wrap the pipe with insulation would require tearing open the walls.

An extra layer of gypsum board on the dining-room wall facing the pipe might deaden some of the sound. Again, the wall would have to be refinished and redecorated.

An alternative is to cover the dining-room wall facing the pipe with Homasote burlap-covered board, a decorative panel available in several colors. Homasote is a fiberboard, made from recycled newspapers, that has excellent sound-deadening qualities. Call (800) 257-9491.

Finally, if the noisy toilet is an old-style type that dumps about 5 gallons of water with each flush, installing a new toilet could reduce the noise by cutting the water flow in the pipe. A new toilet would also save a lot of water. Modern toilets use as little as 1 1/2 gallons of water a flush.

More information about the role of insulation in noise control, plus other noise-control tips, is available from CertainTeed Corp. A CertainTeed booklet, "Practical Tips for a Quieter Home," can be obtained by calling (800) 782-8777.

Q: Does anyone make an inside caulk for windows that can be stripped off when the weather gets warm again?

A: Temporary, strip-off caulks were introduced by several manufacturers some years ago, but I have been unable to find them in the home centers where I shop, and I suspect they did not sell well.

If your windows are loose and causing drafts, I suggest sealing them with window weatherstripping, which is sold at most home centers and hardware stores and can be left in place year-round without interfering with window operation.

Another solution is inside storm windows of sheet plastic, which are fastened to the window frames with double-faced tape. The inexpensive plastic storms are also sold at some home centers and hardware stores.

Q: I'm thinking of having my bathtub reglazed. What should I look /out for or ask about?

A: First, make sure the work has a written warranty against peeling. Five-year warranties are available.

Second, ask the refinisher for the names of several previous customers and call them to see if they are satisfied. Find out how long the refinisher has been in business; at least five years is best. Finally, call the Better Business Bureau in your area to determine if there are any complaints against the firm.

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