October 6, 2007

To Cure Rusty Column, Encase It in Wood To Cure Rusty Column, Encase It in Wood

Q. I have at least one lally column in my finished basement that is weeping rusty water. I was told to paint it with Kilz but it didn't work. What is happening and how can I stop that weeping of rust?

A. The Kilz did not work because the weeping rusty water is from condensation of water vapor in the room, when it hits the cold steel. The rust was caused by water penetrating the paint and causing the steel to rust. Ventilating the room to release water vapor will help, and is best done during the dry months of September and October (and May and June, at the beginning of the season).

Here is how to solve the problem: Box in the column with 1-by-5 or 1-by-6-inch pine boards. But first, if at all possible, lift the base of the column (try prying it up with a pinch bar) and slip a piece of polyethylene under it. This will prevent water vapor from coming up through the floor and into the concrete of the column. If the column goes into the concrete, forget it.

Once the box is around the column, caulk both at the top and bottom. A good way to do the bottom is to butt a bead around the box and the press in a quarter round as finish trim. Then you can stain or paint the box.

Q. How can I clean a rusty water stain from the toilet bowl?

A. Put a cup of bleach in the bowl and leave overnight. In the morning, scrub with a toilet brush before flushing. If that doesn't work, buy a pumice block on a stick (pumice is an abrasive volcanic stone). If you can't find such a stick, scrub with Ajax, Comet, or another strong abrasive.

Q. My house is on a concrete slab some 30 years old. A leaking outdoor faucet wore a depression in the side of the foundation. It is maybe an inch or so deep. The leak has been fixed, but what can I do about the depression?

A. Don't worry about that depression. It is nowhere near to penetrating the foundation, which is at least 10 inches thick. If you want to fill it, apply a bonding agent to it, then trowel on mortar.


Write Peter Hotton at the Boston Globe, Boston, Mass. 02107, or e- mail him at [email protected] Hotton is available 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call (617) 929-2930. Hotton also chats online about house matters 2 to 3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to Boston.com.

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