A Home’s Breathing Stains the Baseboard

Question: We have a 10-year-old white carpet that has developed black-and-gray stains along the edges next to the baseboard. Carpet experts haven’t been able to figure this out. Is there anyone who knows how these are caused?


Santa Ana

Answer: “What’s occurring is that the carpet is acting as a filter for all of the junk in our air,” says Don Whitley of the Carpet Beaters in Tustin. “On the sunny side of the house, air inside the wall heats up and rises, creating a vacuum at the base of the wall near the carpet, pulling the cooler air from inside the house into the wall. At night the opposite occurs. Air in the wall is cooler than that in the house, and it drops and pushes into the house.

“With this constant movement of air at the walls, all of the particulates have to pass through the carpet, and they stain it. These particulates are actually all over the carpet, but they’re only visible at the walls because they’re so concentrated and because the carpet is such a light color. We often see this problem on staircases that have been poorly constructed and allow a lot of air to move along the edges.

“Getting the stains out usually isn’t easy. These are oily, acidic stains that can be removed with dry-cleaning solvents. However, being so close to the baseboard is a problem. These solvents are paint thinners, and they’ll remove the finish off the wood. You may have some luck with Fantastik or some of the waterless hand cleaners mechanics use. However, you have the problem of how to rinse them out.

“When it’s time to replace your carpet, make sure that the installer sprays foam insulation against the wall that expands and fills the voids as it dries. Before he puts the carpet down, he trims the insulation with a razor.”


Q: I like those instant hot-water dispensers that fit on the sink. How expensive are they, and are they difficult to install?



A: “They range anywhere from $120 to $1,000, depending on the style you want,” says Tony DeSpain of Craig’s Plumbing supply in Garden Grove. “Installation is pretty straightforward. Many sinks already have a 1 1/4-inch opening that it can go through, or you can drill a hole through the sink. In most cases, the hot water unit attaches to the wall and plugs into the outlet that the garbage disposal uses. Then you can connect a quarter-inch waterline to the cold water outlet.”

Q: Our swimming pool pump works only intermittently and seems to be very weak when it does work. How big a job it is to fix this?



A: “It could be an electrical short somewhere if it’s only working occasionally,” says pool repairman Phil Greenway of Westminster. “If you’ve been keeping up the maintenance on it, changing filters and so forth, it may be worth repairing. Otherwise, if it’s old, you might consider getting a new pump.

“Changing a pump is not that hard to do yourself. Take a good look at the plumbing, it’s pretty simple.”

Q: I have a 6-foot orange tree in my front yard that I’d like to move to the back. What should I do to make it a successful transplant?


El Toro

A: “Citrus trees have long tap roots, which means only about 50% of them can be successfully moved,” says Tom Amling of Amling’s Nursery in Newport Beach. “First of all, dig a trench around the tree and let it sit for a month. Then, remove any fruit and prune the tree down. In moving it, you’re going to be losing some of the root system, so you’ll need to cut down on the tree’s limbs.

“Dig a hole that’s as large as the longest limb. Then dig the tree out and carefully move it to the new hole. It’s important to keep as much soil around the roots as possible, because the root’s fibers are delicate. Keep the transplant well watered, and you might want to use Vitamin B-1 to help it take.”