Q: We recently installed new granite tile countertops and backsplash in our kitchen. We are noticing that if we place a wet object on the countertop, the granite is stained in that area.
Most of the time it fades in a few days, but lately, we are noticing the dark stains staying longer. Is there any way to remove these or to prevent them in the first place?
A: We have granite countertops and don't have this problem, so I can only tell you what other readers tell me.
Most water stains are only a temporary problem. The granite may darken or lighten in color when the water is absorbed into the stone. However, once the water evaporates, the color of the stone should return to normal.
You need to seal the surface regularly with a high-quality sealant, which prevents water absorption. I seal ours once a year.
If you have hard water making the stains, they can be removed with vinegar.
Q: Two years ago, we had a four-inch plastic corrugated drain pipe installed under the edges of the basement floor, about one foot from the bottom of the foundation, with rock surrounding it and weep holes in the bottom of the walls so groundwater that drained down through the wall would leak into the pipe area and drain to the sump.
Works pretty well so far, especially last year with Irene, and more recently with Sandy dumping lots of rain on our area.
However, about two months after the pipe was installed, we started seeing little black drain flies — not too many, but somewhat noticeable in the basement.
Didn't know where they were coming from, and it wasn't a significant problem.
The last two winters, they seemed to disappear. This summer they were worse than last, and they began coming upstairs.
They appear to be breeding in the little bit of water that stays in the bottom of the corrugated pipe when water isn't flowing much. I tried pouring a bleach-water mixture into the pipe at the cleanout, and into the sump, but that seems to have only minor effects.
The company that installed the pipe said that shouldn't happen, and came over and poured a gallon of something called Mediquat down the pipe.
It smelled good, and seemed to clean everything out for about three to four days. Then the smell returned and we saw the flies again.
Can we solve the problem permanently?
A: You have the same setup that I have in my basement. While I assume there must be some dampness in the perimeter drains all the time, I don't think uncontaminated water will cause flies to breed. What I've seen online is that the breeding typically occurs when there is bacteria present.
I run the dehumidifier into the sump from March to October, and, during wetter seasons, there is water in it as well. But we don't have flies.
There is something other than just water facilitating the breeding of the flies — a sewage leak perhaps, or backflow problems if your sump pumps water into the sewer system, which is illegal in many towns.
You need to find out what it is, have the source of the leak repaired and the area cleaned.
You also can buy a cover for your sump.
The perimeter drain installer is correct. This shouldn't happen.