Adhesive caulk should fix wood door panels
Q. My wood front door is 40 years old but still in good shape. Last year I put a storm door on it, and I was warned that the heat buildup between door and storm will cause the panels to become unglued. Sure enough, the panels shrank, revealing unpainted edges where the panels meet the frame, and some actually split. What can I do?
JOHN BEST, Hyannis
A. The panels did not become unglued, because they were never glued in the first place. Panels in doors are set in the frames unglued and free-standing, so that when they expand and contract, they will float in the space and not split. When heat hit them, they dried and shrank, revealing those unpainted strips around them.
But in your case, something worse happened; the panels were so tight in their frames that they did not move when they shrank, and the shrinking caused the splits.
All is not lost. You can fill the splits with an adhesive caulk (Phenoseal and Polyseamseal are two good brands.) Put a bead of caulk on the split, then press it in with your fingers. Scrape off excess and wipe off residue with a wet sponge. Do the other side, too. Then repaint; the paint will also cover those unpainted areas exposed when the panels shrank. You can probably leave the storm on.
Q. You wrote about removing tub-shower sliders from a cast iron tub. Will that work with a fiberglass tub? What can I fill the holes with after the door frame is removed? How can I get the glue residue off the fiberglass tub?
A. Yes, you can take off the sliders and the frame. Fill the holes in the fiberglass surround with any kind of wood filler, sand, and try to match the color with an appliance patch-up paint. It comes in a small vial with the brush in the handle. And with luck you might get a color match. Or, instead of the filler material, drive in a small stainless steel bolt (without a slot) and glue it in. Painted, the bolt head will hardly show.
The glue on the fiberglass is another matter. Try scraping it off, being careful not to scratch the fiberglass. Try taking off glue residue with Oops!, Goof-Off, WD-40, or rubbing alcohol. Or, Citristrip, a citrus -based paint stripper, which is reasonably mild. Finally, try acetone, but try it in an obscure corner to determine if it messes up the fiberglass.
If the glue is hard, sanding may remove it, but do that carefully, as not to affect the fiberglass.
Q. How can I get the birds, mostly sparrows, out of my attic? They are coming in through the vent at the end of the house.
REBECCA DINSMORE, Quincy
A. You will have to get the birds out first. If they don't have eggs or babies, they should go out during the day. Then, install a screen on the back of the vent, from inside the attic. Hardware cloth is best to use; it is 1/4- or 1/2-inch steel mesh and is much stronger than insect screening. If you cannot do this, have someone remove the old vent from the outside, and install a new one, well-screened, in its place.
Q. Are there any disadvantages to painting wallpaper?
ROSE RIVERO, Newton
A. Yes: Painting wallpaper with latex paint can cause wrinkling of the paper, but the wrinkling will go away when the paint dries. I have done this in several rooms, with no adverse effects. There are no other disadvantages, so go ahead and do it. If the paper has a colorful pattern, it is best to prime it with a latex enamel undercoater first; then one or two coats of a flat latex wall paint. Also, if the paper is vinyl-coated you will have to use the enamel undercoater first. You can do a good job as long as the paper is adhering properly.
Q. I am getting water in my chimney dripping down into my fireplace. Twelve men have said they fixed the problem, but I am still getting water. I have stainless steel caps on the chimney, but I'm still getting water. Can you be the 13th man to see if you can fix it?
A. Well, I can try. Sometimes sealing the chimney with a special masonry sealer will do the trick if the brick is absorbing a lot of water. By special I mean a sealer that will seal against water intake, but will allow the bricks to breathe, not trapping moisture in or behind the bricks. It is called Chimney saver, and is applied by chimney sweeps.
Another possibility: Check to see if the clay flue liner that comes out through the top of the chimney actually comes up at least 2 inches above the concrete cap. The position of this liner prevents wind-blown rain from going straight down the flue. Sounds weird, but it is true. Without this lip, the rain will gaily go into the flue, unimpeded.
Finally, a cure may be to rebuild the chimney from the roof up.
Q. I am getting water in my basement, not a lot, but enough to be a nuisance. A man suggested putting in a sump and a pump. Also, there is a joint in the middle of the floor, that is leaking water. I wanted to fill it to keep the water out, but I was told it is an expansion joint and cannot be filled. Will the sump and pump be enough to keep the basement dry?
MICHAEL STEVENS, Sturbridge
A. It certainly is possible. The water is coming up through that expansion joint and possibly elsewhere, because the water table (water level under the slab) is high and the pressure is pushing the water through these seams and other areas. The sump (a hole in the floor) will relieve that pressure and water will fill it before it comes up through the floor, it is hoped. The pump will pump it away when necessary. This will indeed work if the flooding is minor. If the flooding is heavy, then a French drain might be necessary; that is a pipe under the perimeter of the foundation inside, to direct water to the sump before it floods the floor. By the way, you can't fill that expansion joint because it will not keep the water out.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton also chats on line about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to Boston.com. Hotton's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org