Q: I am replacing my bathroom subfloor because of an ongoing water leak, but due to previous repairs in the adjacent hallway, I am going to have to raise the bathroom floor about an inch so the two subfloors line up. When I raise the bathroom floor, do I have to raise the toilet flange as well, or are there extenders for the wax ring? – Chris S.

A: It’s usually only necessary to raise the flange if you’ve significantly raised the floor – typically a couple of inches or more. If you have ABS plumbing, this is simply a matter of cutting the riser pipe between the flange and the elbow below it, and gluing couplings and a short piece of pipe to lift the flange to the desired height. If there is not enough space between the flange and the elbow to make the cut and install the coupling, then the project gets a lot more involved and will probably require the services of a licensed plumber. Also, if your plumbing is cast iron, I would strongly advise that you not attempt the repair yourself but leave it in the hands of an experienced, licensed plumber.

If it does turn out to be only an inch, then a much easier method is to double the wax ring. You would use one standard ring – the type with the plastic “horn” on the bottom – along with an extension ring that is all wax, without the horn. Make sure all of the old ring has been removed from both the flange and the toilet. Let both new rings warm to room temperature to make them easier to work with, press the extension ring on top of the standard ring and mold them a little with your hands to get a good seal between the two. Press both of them firmly against the bottom of the toilet, then lift the toilet into place on the flange. Gently rock the toilet side to side as you press down to get a good seal, then install the bolts.

Q: We bought a new house in 1996, and are now thinking about replacing the siding because it is the Louisiana-Pacific type that there were problems with. Will our homeowner’s insurance cover this? Where do we go to get additional information? – Paul C.

A: It’s very unlikely that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover this type of damage. Insurance policies are typically limited to damage that is “sudden and accidental” – i.e., a fire, a water pipe that breaks, or a windstorm that blows shingles off the roof. The problems with the Louisiana-Pacific (LP) siding are considered either a product defect or a maintenance issue – or both – and as such are typically not covered. There may be exceptions to this, however, so it’s certainly worth discussing with your insurance agent.

Under the terms of the agreement reached by the courts, the deadline for filing a claim against LP relating to the siding litigation was Dec. 31, 2002. You can, however, talk with them about a possible warranty claim by calling them at 1-877-677-6722. You can also get more information at their siding claims Web site, which is lpsidingclaims.com.

Q: We do not have an air conditioner, and I understand that whole house fans can be a good alternative for cooling. Is that true? Also, I’ve heard about power attic fans that get rid of hot attic air. Is this different from a whole house fan, and would it help? -Brian and Wendi C.

A:Whole house fans are mounted in the ceiling of the home, with a large fan located in the attic and a set of spring-loaded louvers that open to the living space below. When the fan is on, the louvers open and cooler outside air is drawn into the home through open windows, which pushes the warm air up into the attic and then outside through the existing attic vents (some additional attic venting may need to be added). Whole house fans can be a very effective method of cooling a house whenever the outside air temperature drops below the temperature inside the house, and, depending on where you live and the average summer temperatures, it can supplement or even replace the need for an air conditioner.

Powered attic fans are designed solely to remove hot air from the attic and exhaust it to the outside. They do not open into the living space of the house, so they provide no air movement in the house and don’t draw any air from outside into the living areas. Lowering attic temperatures will help lower inside temperatures to some degree, and will also help prolong the life of your roofing. However, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that power attic fans do this substantially better than the natural attic ventilation that’s achieved through the use of the passive high and low vents already in your attic. Also, passive vents operate for free, while powered attic fan utilize electricity.


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