How can you clean tiles of paint stains?
Paint stains are always tricky when they are allowed to set and are not cleaned immediately. You can try to clean the stains by applying light natural acids such as lemon and tamarind juice. If this fails, try paint-stripping chemicals instead of paint thinners. These chemicals start to blister and detach paint from its base in a short while (5-7 minutes). Then use an old toothbrush or a long-bristle (regular) wall painting brush to scrub clean the spots instead of cloth. The harder the tooth/paintbrush bristles, the better. Finally, clean the surface with paint thinner and then wash with water.
Try these strong paint-stripper chemicals on a spare tile or an obscure corner of the room (such as behind the door) to ensure that they don’t destroy the tile instead of cleaning it. Also, remember to wear a protective face mask and gloves when working with corrosive chemicals.
How can you avoid monsoon dampness along a terrace parapet abutting a neighbour’s home?
You need to seal all the joints between the two walls, your terrace wall (parapet) and the neighbour’s. This will have to be done in two stages:
• Remove all the cement mortar or plaster along the joint between the two walls, to create a cavity that is at least 25mm wide and 25mm deep. Clean inside and around the cavity thoroughly and fill it to the brim with strong elastic silicon sealant. This is a better alternative to the usual cement band or gola along the edge that often develops cracks with temperature changes.
• The next step: further protect this joint by fixing hard stone or metal coping (tin or galvanized iron, placed like a sunshade) on top of the wall. The stone or metal sheet should be fixed to the side of the neighbour’s wall, slanting away from it and with a slight projection beyond your wall, to ensure that the water doesn’t wet the parapet wall. While a metal sheet can be fixed to the side of the wall with the help of screws in plastic rawl plugs or metal dash fasteners (expansion bolts), a slab of stone will need to be embedded inside the external plaster of the neighbour’s wall. It would help if the metal or stone sheet does not rest on top of your parapet wall, or else, over time, it will displace itself along the wall below, exposing the joint. For best results, the stone or metal sheet should be fixed and cantilevered out from the side of the higher wall. Just like a sun shade, it should thus hover over the top of the lower wall.
How do i deal with leaks from the bathroom in the flat above?
This is a typical problem with the traditional method of housing the plumbing in a sunken or “drop down” roof slab comprising the floor above. It doesn’t improve the waterproofing capability and increases the time and cost involved in the repair and maintenance of leaking pipes buried in the same.
If you cannot get the owner to repair the leakage in the bathroom above yours, the best option is to drill a hole in the external wall that houses the existing (vertical) plumbing pipes, immediately above the drop down slab level. This should be about 6-7 inches above the bottom of your bathroom ceiling level. A small stream of water will ooze out as soon as you break the barrier. Insert a 20mm-diameter pipe in this hole and connect it to any of the existing rainwater/sewer pipes in the vicinity. If this isn’t possible, extend it down to the nearest manhole. Seal all the edges around this new pipe and the wall with an epoxy compound. The dampness in your house will recede as soon as the water pressure decreases. It may even stop eventually, if you haven’t been suffering from prolonged dampness that creates permanent weep pores in the RCC slab. Brush two or more coats of (cement-based) polymer compound (such as Tapecrete) on all surfaces where dampness was seen. Use an alternate colour of cement (black-white-black) with each coat to spot gaps in the surface treatment. Extend every coat beyond the visible outer boundaries of the dampness by 2-3ft. Allow the surface to dry before you repaint.
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