Q. I vent my range hood into the attic. My neighbor told me this should not be done because it will add heat and moisture into the attic? Does this really matter?
It is definitely not a good idea to vent a range hood exhaust fan into the attic. The purpose of the hood is to collect the moisture, grease and odors that result from cooking and discharge them to a point where they will generally do no harm. Venting into the attic creates moisture-related problems as well as a potential fire-spread hazard due to grease buildup. Water vapor from cooking can condense on wood framing and other surfaces in a cold attic, often contributing to sheathing and insulation damage, and mold.
Ideally, the range hood should be vented to the outside, through metal ductwork. This requires installing the ductwork and an exterior vent hood, but is worth the extra work and expense. If for some reason it is impossible to vent the hood to the outside, you can use a hood that contains a filter. After filtering the cooking vapors, the air that enters the hood is re-circulated back into the kitchen. Not the ideal situation, but it prevents the moisture or grease from contributing to other problems. Of course, the filter must be cleaned or changed regularly to be effective.
Q. A slimy black substance accumulates in the drain of my bathroom sink and eventually clogs it. What is it and how do I keep the sink open?
It’s impossible to say exactly what you find in your drain, but it likely is a combination of dirt, soap, bits of hair, as well as microorganisms. It occurs in all drains but tends to accumulate more in some cases than others. If your sink has a pop-up stopper, remove it periodically and clean it with soap and water and an old toothbrush. Check down into the drain tube for blockage as well. Long tipped needle nose pliers may prove helpful in removing loose matter. Some stoppers remove easily, others require disconnecting components under the sink.
If the sink clogs, first carefully try using a plunger to open the drain (remove the stopper and seal the sink’s overflow holes with duct tape before using the plunger). If that doesn’t work, some people have had good results in opening clogged sinks with water-pressure and air-pressure devices, sold at some home centers. Another option is gel-type cleaning product that clings to and eventually dissolves the buildup. Do not use a plunger or add water or air pressure to the drain if a chemical cleaner has been used, as the potentially hazardous chemical could splash back or be blown out of the drain. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar, flushed by warm water can help clean slightly clogged drains.
Q. I have a typical older garage floor with stains and slight cracks. What is the best way to spiffy it up without much effort?
The simplest and least expensive approach would be to clean the floor with a degreaser/cleaner, fill any larger cracks, and apply two coats of a patio or floor paint. There are other products specially designed for use on or over garage floors. These options can be expensive, but include, laying down heavy-duty, flexible vinyl flooring (available in up to 12-foot wide rolls); using interlocking plastic tiles, or applying durable, epoxy paints designed specifically for garages. Some of these epoxy products can be finished off with an application of multi-colored chips to help hide dirt and imperfections.