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Ask the Remodeler: Can this tub be saved?

Plus, why is there an odor coming from a rarely used sink?

The paint is peeling off a reader's tub.Handout

Q. A little over a year ago, we moved into a circa-1905 house that had been heavily renovated by former owners, who did a lot of the work themselves. Within a few months, the pristine white finish on the tub started bubbling and peeling off. My husband and I know that professionally refinished tubs often have etching done beforehand to make the resurfacing stick, but we are not sure whether that was done here. If we are able to remove the paint down to the original tub, will the tub still be OK to use without developing leaks, or do we definitely need to have the tub recoated to protect the finish? And if we do need to have the tub recoated, what kind of products, process, and contractors do we need to use in order to extend the life of the tub?

M.E., Medford


A. If you wanted to take on stripping the tub back down to the original enamel paint, that should not cause the tub to leak. If there were cracks in the cast iron, the paint wouldn’t be doing much to hold that back, so you should be safe. From there, I would call a porcelain patch and reglazing company. There are several good ones out there. That is a highly specialized field. They can make it look like new, and it will last for decades.

Q. Why is there a really bad smell from the sink in a half bath that doesn’t get much use? Is the trap working properly? How do I get rid of the odor?


A. First off, is there a trap at all? I do see a lot of sinks where there is no visible P-trap; the pipe goes straight into the floor or wall without a visible trap. Does the sink drain properly, or is it sluggish? It is rare, but a plugged plumbing vent could cause the drain not to discharge water smoothly while also causing odors to back up from the vent above. It could possibly be grungy buildup in the sink overflow. Try filling the sink up all the way to the overflow with a bleach additive in the water, and that could flush away bacteria causing the smell. If it still persists, you may have to call a plumber.


Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.

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