Last updated: February 20. 2013 3:39AM - 264 Views

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Q: I had granite countertops installed in the kitchen about five years ago by Riya Imports L.L.C. in Monroe Township, N.J.


There is a hairline crack about 22 inches long in front of the sink. I tried reaching the installer, but it apparently is out of business.


No help was available at either Home Depot or Lowe's, or at other granite suppliers.


Is there anything you can suggest other than replacing it, which is too expensive?



A: I tried calling Riya, and the number was no longer in service.


It seems a shame that there is a crack in such an expensive material just five years after your countertops were installed. This, of course, leads the Nick Charles of home improvement to want to determine the cause of the crack. (Nora is visiting her aunt; she'll be back next week.)


Some cracks in granite are natural and are the result of fissures that occurred in the formation of the stone.


Polishing the granite hides these cracks for awhile, but they can reappear.


The proximity of the crack to the sink should indicate a possible suspect, but I have to turn to the granite-countertop experts among my readers for advice.


It is regrettable that your installer has gone out of business, but that is the nature of the materials supply industry in a real-estate downturn. There should be someone out there who can repair granite or make a determination of the seriousness of the crack, instead of trying to sell you more of it.


Let's see what the experts say.



Q: We have a faux rock fireplace surround that was here when we purchased the home. It was built in 1979. It looks like it's on a panel, but I can't be sure.
I want to remove this but don't know where to start. We want to replace it with tile.



A: Manufacturers often use high-density polyurethane to make faux rock panels.


They use molds of different shapes and sizes of rocks to simulate the patterns, textures, and shapes of real rocks.


If you'd like to remove them, watch this YouTube video www.youtube.com/watch?vn7EhatwRvbc to see how you can do it in seven minutes and 20 seconds.



Q: Our chimney is 25 years old. We have an oil-fired furnace. Our roof shingles are getting a dark brown discoloration. Has this got anything to do with our chimney? Can we get rid of this eyesore?



A: Kipcon is a structural engineering firm I found on the Web. Here's what its website says about roof stains:


Soot and rust often cause black and brown roof stains below and around chimneys and other roof penetrations.


When there is little or no evidence of staining on other areas of the roof, soot and rust are the first suspects.


Soot is the fine, black powder byproduct of combustion. Whether it comes from a fireplace or an oil furnace flue, soot will wash down the slope of the roof and leave a trail of discoloration across the shingles.


From what I understand, the staining might indicate that something is wrong with your furnace or your chimney.


Before you even call a roofer to see if he or she is able to remove the soot from the shingles without damaging them, I'd ask a heating contractor to look at the furnace and the chimney.



Q: I fixed a leak in our shower but the ceiling below it has a brownish stain. I tried painting over it, but the stain bleeds through the paint. What should I do?



A: A stain-killing paint should be applied first to hide the problem — a couple of coats usually work. Then use paint with a primer to finish the job.


Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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