Q. I bought my house a few years back. The basement ceiling was installed upside-down (pink is facing up). Is this a concern?
JOHN, in Hotton’s chat room
A. Presumably the Kraft paper is showing. They did that because it is easier to staple the paper than hang the insulation with hangers.
While it is wrong, it might not trap moisture in the insulation. Open a bit of the paper and check the insulation for moisture. If it is dry, leave it. The paper does at least keep moisture from entering.
Q. I have had wall-to-wall carpeting for eight or nine years. Now, the carpeting is wrinkling. I have had it stretched and relayed a few times, but the wrinkles continue to come back. What’s wrong? Also, I am getting a slight musty smell in the carpeting upstairs. How can I fix that?
A. Alas, the carpeting is inexpensive (read that as cheap) and has absorbed moisture and expanded. There is no cure for such a product. Replace the carpeting with a top-quality product. For the upstairs musty smell, water vapor rises and has entered the carpeting. Ventilate those rooms or have the carpeting de-molded or replaced.
If you live in a spec house (one that is built for speculation), or in a remodeled condo, you will see the cute tricks builders use to save money. Much of everything brought into the house except the structure is as cheap as possible: Carpeting, appliances, boiler or furnace, plumbing, even roofing shingles, and they all might fail in less than their warranty period. Even the manufacturers put their names on the cheap products.
Another trick performed by these people is instead of installing hardwood floors and then the wall-to-wall carpeting, they install the carpeting on plywood floors. This is OK but the carpeting can fail after 15 years.
Q. I have some bathtubs I believe are enameled cast iron. They have several chips in four different places. Can I have the tubs refinished? What can I do myself?
By the way, the tubs are white, and I have kept some of the chips.
SHARON AHEARN, Andover
A. You have the best tubs in history: porcelain-enameled cast iron. You can’t get any better.
Do not refinish the entire tub; besides, the reglazing technique is not porcelain, but an epoxy, and you still have a superior finish. You can try putting in the chip with glue, if it fills the space. Then sand smooth and paint. For the others, it is best to use a filler paint. You can do it yourself, one chip at a time, easily enough to make a nearly invisible repair. Buy an appliance repair kit, a small bottle of thick oil paint with the brush in the cap. Apply a coat to cover and partly fill the chip’s space. Let dry for two or three days. Sand lightly and apply another coat to fill the space. Let dry and try a third, fourth, or fifth coat, or at least until the paint is above the old surface. Then sand smooth with emery cloth. If it’s almost perfect, be happy with that. No one will notice.
Q. My new granite kitchen tops are showing terrible stains, and no one seems to know what to do. I asked the dealer, who suggested I replace them with new granite. What do they need to look good again?
A. The problem with granite and most other natural stones is that they are absorbent. Marble is the biggest culprit, and will stain if you look at it. Granite is one of the hardest and densest of stones, but still absorbs water and stains. When granite became popular, many got on the bandwagon and became dealers, with little or no experience.
So, what you can do is clean the granite with soap and water. If it seems clean, seal it with a high-quality sealer. If it does not come clean, rub hard with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Or, have it polished by a professional, who will abrade it with finer and finer abrasives. Then seal it. If you have to replace it, (heaven forbid!), replace it with Corian.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (email@example.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.