Q: I read with interest your recent column about filling a floor drain trap with water to eliminate sewage smells. I don't have a floor...

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Q: I read with interest your recent column about filling a floor drain trap with water to eliminate sewage smells. I don’t have a floor drain in my 10-year-old house, but we do have a sewage smell.

I have looked in the crawl space for leaks, to no avail. At first I thought it might be smells from the vents on top of the roof wafting down, and then eliminated that idea.

A: Smells can originate in a trap that is improperly aligned and siphons itself dry, or has dried up due to evaporation, as you know.

Smells also can come through a failed toilet wax ring seal (base of the toilet), or leaks in the plumbing system.

Leaks seem unlikely, as you checked that from the crawl space.

Cracked, disconnected or incomplete vent piping inside a wall or the attic are good possibilities in your case, as is the toilet wax ring seal.

You need to isolate the area where the smell originates by closing the windows and doors and doing some major olfactory detective work.

It may take pressurizing and depressurizing the house using exhaust fans to get the desired air currents.

One home I’m familiar with kept having rat incursions, despite repeated efforts of a pest control person to seal every available opening and trap the little critters.

After throwing his hands up in utter frustration, the owner ripped off drywall where vermin noises were heard and found a plumbing vent pipe wide open inside an interior partition wall.

It was a perfect entry place for rats or, in your case, a perfect exit point for sewer stench. So don’t be surprised by something really off (or in) the wall when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

Q: Upon recently buying a 1920s house in pretty rough shape, I’ve found many old wood windows with busted sash cords, some partially rotted and others painted shut. Some have broken panes, and many are just plain drafty.

I can’t really afford to replace them, nor do I really want to, since they are attractive — I can see the potential! Do you have a book or video you could recommend on restoring old wood windows?

A: The definitive source in my opinion is Terence Meany’s “Working Windows,” revised and updated version.

This book contains information on every aspect of dealing with and repairing old wood windows, from weights and sash cords to glazing and lead paint. It is published by Lyons Press.

Q: Good article on the differing types of materials used for trim lumber. One thing I thought was amiss is the fact that you did not mention that medium-density fiberboard (MDF) requires a nail gun.

A: True, MDF is harder to successfully hand nail than conventionally cut lumber, but it can be done nonetheless. It can be installed by predrilling and hand nailing, by gluing or with the use of a nail gun.

Darrell Hay is a local home inspector and manages several rental properties. Send questions to dhay@seattletimes.com or call 206-464-8514 to record your question. Sorry, no personal replies.

More columns can be found at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.