Pesky mold can get behind some bathtub liners

QUESTION: I have heard that mold can grow behind a bathtub liner. Is this possible?

— Anna

ANSWER: It is possible if water gets between the tub liner and the original tub surface and becomes trapped. The water entry could occur at any joint that is not thoroughly sealed.

With a typical tub liner, which is a tough plastic shell molded to fit into the existing tub, leaks are possible at the rim joint of the tub and liner, at the drain and at the overflow opening.

A “squishy” reaction when someone stands in a tub is said to be a symptom of water under the liner.

A spokesman for Re-Bath of Pennsylvania, Havertown, which has operated in eastern Pennsylvania for many years, said mold is not a problem with Re-Bath installations because the liners are made to fit exactly and are permanently sealed. The company offers a written, lifetime warranty.

Beyond that, hundreds of thousands of tub liners have been installed in homes, hotels and other buildings since about 1980, when tub liners became popular. To the best of my knowledge, liners are considered excellent treatments for beat-up tubs. The best protection against leaks is to choose an experienced installer and a top-quality product. Ask the installer if he or she is willing to give a written warranty against leaks.

There is a great deal of information about mold and tub liners on the Web, but much of it is sponsored by the tub-refinishing (painting) industry, which is in direct competition with the tub-liner industry. You can access this information by using a search engine and terms like mold and bathtub liners.

Basic information about tub liners is available at

I’d like to hear from readers who have had tub liners for at least several years and are willing to pass along their experiences with them.

QUESTION: Why do my furnace ducts make a banging noise when the heat goes off?

— J. Donnellan

ANSWER: Metal heating ducts can make banging noises for a couple of reasons. For one thing, metal expands when it is heated and contracts when it cools, which can cause noise in loose ducts. The force of air pushed through the ducts by the blower can also cause movement (and noise) if the ducts are not tightly assembled and supported.

Duct noise can sometimes be reduced by taping joints and making sure ducts are well supported with straps.

QUESTION: Is it possible to paint a concrete deck so the paint will last?

— L. Jackson

ANSWER: It is definitely possible to successfully paint concrete surfaces such as decks, patios and porches, but the results hinge on the same factors that affect other paint projects: Choose the correct paint and carefully follow directions for preparing the surface. You must use paint specifically designed for concrete floors; several varieties, including epoxies and water-based paints, are available at paint stores and home centers. Epoxies are the toughest and longest-wearing, but are somewhat more difficult to apply. Preparation will include repairing blemishes such as cracks, thorough cleaning that might include pressure washing and possible etching of the surface with a chemical etcher to improve adhesion.

Concrete can also be stained, incidentally. This is a good option if the surface is in good condition, since stain penetrates and is much less likely to peel.


Rope caulk is a versatile product that can help do-it-yourselfers quickly solve such problems as drafty windows and doors.

This caulk comes in a coil, like rope, and doesn’t require a caulking gun for application. It doesn’t harden and is also removable and even reusable. This means that the gaps around a drafty window can be sealed for winter and the caulk stripped off in spring. Rope caulk is sold in the weather-stripping departments of some hardware stores and home centers, and is also available online.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at