Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: The home I just bought has a cracked bathtub. The sellers tried to fix the crack, but the patch cracked the first time I stepped into the tub. Do the sellers have to repair the tub, or is it up to me to have it fixed? Belle

Dear Belle: If the sellers did not disclose that the tub is damaged, or if they disclosed that repairs were completed, then they should repair the tub in a manner that will render it usable. However, forcing the issue after the sale is often more trouble than attending to the repairs yourself. You can notify the sellers of the problem to see what they are willing to do, but you may or may not get a favorable response.

If the sellers are willing to repair the tub, you should have them pay a professional to do the work, rather than allowing them to do it themselves. If they are not willing to pay for repairs, you can pursue the matter in small claims court or simply write off the issue as a learning experience.

Patching a cracked fiberglass tub is not always easy because the tub is flexible and bends when someone steps into it. This is why the patch itself can become cracked. To affect a permanent repair, mortar should be packed into the space beneath the tub to provide solid support. To access that area, you’ll need to cut one or two holes in the wall. Mortar packing will make the bottom of the tub rigid, preventing further cracking after it is patched.

As for repairing the crack: Try to find someone who does professional fiberglass repair work. You might contact a person who does boat repairs and ask about having a bathtub patched.

Dear Barry: Our forced air heating system heats every room in our home, except the master bedroom. For some reason, that room stays cold, in spite of the warm air register above the window. We’ve installed insulated drapes and plastic storm windows, but the room remains frigid. What can we do about this? Victor

Dear Victor: The first thing to check is the air output at the master bedroom air register. Set a ladder under it and feel the airflow with your hand. Then compare this with the heat output at other registers in your home. If the airflow is minimal, you should have it evaluated by a licensed heating contractor. The problem could be a faulty duct in the attic — either disconnected, crushed, or poorly configured. If the airflow seems normal at the bedroom register, you might need a second air register in that room.

You should also have the room checked for insulation. First, take a look in the attic, then the subfloor (if your home is on a raised foundation), and finally, try to verify insulation in the exterior walls. One way to spot-check for wall insulation is to remove some of the electrical outlet covers and try to look past the edges of the outlet boxes to verify insulation in the wall cavities.

Finally, check for air leakage at the windows, wall outlets, and switches. Sealing areas where cold air intrusion occurs can minimize heat loss in the room.