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Maintenance DIY: Garbage Disposals, Bathroom Sinks and Security

January 2022

Q. I have a garbage disposal that is very loud. When it is running with water, it can be heard across the kitchen and into the living room. It runs perfect and I don’t want to replace it. What can I do to soundproof the disposal?

A. You are in luck. There is a very simple solution. Every garbage disposal unit comes with a rubber drain deflector. When the deflector ages, the rubber hardens and stays open to the drain allowing spoons, forks and other items to fall into the drain, but more importantly, it allows sound to escape. Go to your local hardware store and buy a new rubber drain deflector. The disposal noise will almost disappear. Careful you do not forget to turn off the garbage disposal when swapping it out!

Q. I have a bathroom sink that is slow draining. I have already snaked the drain and found no stoppage. When I remove the pop-up assembly and have an open drain, water whooshes down with no problem. However, with the pop-up in place, water backs up into the sink and drains very slowly.

A. Most bathroom sinks have an overflow hole near the top edge of the sink. This hole serves two purposes:

1) Acts as a safety drain to keep the sink from overflowing should the water rise above a certain level in the sink

2) The overflow hole also serves as an air vent for the sink when the water levels are above the pop-up plug. The overflow hole allows air to escape through the drain and the water to evacuate more efficiently. 

What has happened is hair, toothpaste, grime, etc. have built-up and sealed off the overflow drain where it exits just below the pop-up assembly plug. Most snakes are too big to go through the overflow drain. Alternatively, a speedometer cable will work great or even a long zip tie will work. Push the cable or zip tie down through the overflow hole at the top of the sink and push any gunk out into the drain. Use water to help push the debris out the overflow drain; a funnel works great to direct a good flow of water. If you cannot get the overflow to drain, disassemble the main drain assembly to gain access to the overflow drain exit. Once the overflow drain has good airflow, the sink should drain a bit faster. If this does not solve the problem completely, look at restricting the water flow coming out of the faucet. Use a restrictive aerator to cut down on the gallons per minute (GPM) of the faucet.    

Q. My apartment building has freestanding garages that have a pedestrian door in addition to the main vehicle garage door. We have had several garages broken into recently and I’m looking into ways to strengthen the pedestrian doors, as that was the point of entry for each break-in. The doors swing inward, and even with a deadbolt locked, the thieves managed to get in. How can I strengthen the door without it looking like a jail? 

A. Try reversing the entry door. Have the door swing out instead of into the garage. You can reinforce the frame from the inside by installing a 1 x 2-inch doorstop all along your doorframe. The door will close against this new frame and will make it very hard to kick in. The frame stop can be either wood or square metal tube material. The door should be a solid core exterior grade and use a good quality deadbolt lock. The hinges will be exposed, so use three heavy-duty tamper proof hinges. This will produce a very solid and near impenetrable door. Without noisy power tools or a police ram, nobody is getting through without a key. 

Q. The wood patios on my property are not very old, yet the posts appear to be rotting. I expected them to last much longer. The fence now leans and is a hazard. I will be replacing all the posts soon and want to know how to stop them from rotting in the concrete footings.

A. Your problem is most likely poor drainage. The posts just rotted away because of excessive moisture. For a long-term installation, use either redwood or pressure treated lumber. Dig your posthole at least 6 inches deeper than normal. Fill the bottom 6 inches of the hole with half-inch-sized gravel. Then set your post in place, level it and pour in another 2 or 3 inches of gravel. Fill the balance of the hole with Ready-Mix or Post-Mix concrete. Taper the top of the wet concrete at a slight angle to the post; that will help drain water away from the post. For added protection, you may want to consider waterproofing your post with Thompson’s Water Seal or roofing tar. That should help keep your post healthy for much longer. 

Do you have DIY maintenance questions? Send them to [email protected]