Q: A previous column brought up the proper type of ceiling above a furnace. I have reinsulated my basement. Above my hot air furnace there was drywall with what appeared to be plaster applied to it. I ripped this down. I recently read your comments about plasterboard and a concrete heat shield. When you refer to a concrete heat shield, is this the same as cement board used in bathrooms? If not, how should a concrete heat shield be constructed? Also, is plasterboard a product that can actually be purchased? I cannot find plasterboard at The Home Depot or Lowe’s.
A: You did not find it because you used the term “plasterboard,” the generic name. Other names are drywall, wallboard and Sheetrock. As for the ceiling above any heating unit, use 5/8-inch plasterboard or cement board. Yes, I call it a concrete heat shield, which is waterproof.
The phantom flush
Q: One toilet seems to start running, usually early in the morning. Could this be a leak somewhere and the water level filling back up?
A: It’s called a phantom flush, which happens when the stopper ball or flapper, raised to flush the toilet, does not seat well in the drain hole. Then water builds up until it does leak, causing the phantom flush. Fix it by adjusting the ball or flapper so that it seals tightly. If you can’t do that, call a plumber.
Quelling fridge odor
A recent article discussed an ice maker that has a bad smell. When my mother’s fridge smelled like broccoli gone bad, an appliance repair person suggested using activated-carbon charcoal. We found the product in a store’s aquarium department, placed the small charcoal pieces in a large plastic container, and put it the fridge. Within a couple of weeks, the odor was gone! Please pass along this advice. Refrigerators are such expensive appliances that it would be a shame to have them deemed unusable.
The Handyman replies: Your reply breaks the case wide open. I hope it’s the last experience we have with smelly refrigerators.