A problem for the birds
Q. Help! A bird is constantly attacking one of my big casement windows, really banging against the glass and making a racket. He is a robin, and is feisty as all get out. I’m afraid he will hurt himself, in addition to keeping me awake. I think it is only one bird. I don’t see others doing it. Any ideas to get a good night’s rest?
FRED CAVOOTO, Acton
A. Robins are among the toughest of small birds, and nothing seems to deter them from perceived threats to their babies or some rival lurking around his bailiwick. The perceived threats may be no more than his/her own reflection. As long as the weather is good, try opening the window halfway or all the way. Or, tape painter’s tape or other sturdy opaque tape to form a grid pattern to make the window parts as small as possible. Or tape a fiberglass screen over the window.
I checked online and found many products available, some sold in bird hobby stores, including decals to change the reflection of windows, screens and mesh to act as a cushion against attacks, and lots of other things. Try Googling “birds hitting windows.’’
Q. One of the posts of my wrought-iron railing has broken at the base. I want to build a sort of concrete cone to hold it in place, and I would rather not spend a lot of money. Any ideas?
JOE, in Hotton’s chat room
A. A quick fix is this: If the stub sticks out of the base (brick, concrete, or other masonry), you can build a sturdy aluminum tube several inches high, with both the stub and the high part of the post in the tube. You may have to keep the tube open in order to fit it around the post, then bend it into a tube shape and tie it with wire. Then fill the tube with concrete.
Q. While hauling away my old water heater, the plumber dropped a lot of rusty water on my asphalt driveway, leaving rusty streaks on the drive. How can I remove them: Pressure wash, reseal, or what?
RUST-IN-DRIVE, in Hotton’s chat room
A. Pressure washing will do. Or, mix 4 oz. oxalic acid in a quart of hot water, and pour on the stains. Let dry and rinse.
Q. Is Hardie board siding worth the extra price?
RICK, in Hotton’s chat room
A. Hardie is just one brand name. The generic name is fiber-cement board, and I think it is the best of the non-wood siding. A primer and paint job is good for 15 years. Another good thing: The clapboards are rigid, and can be blind-nailed like shingles, with no nail heads showing.
Q. In winter, cold air comes right back through my bathroom vent fan when it is not working. Should I replace the fan with a new one that has a better flap to prevent back drafts? The hose vents out through the roof.
LOUIS, in Hotton’s chat room
A. You can put a cover over the grille in the bathroom, but that might not be convenient if you use the fan fairly often. Or, put an upside-down U-shaped extension on the vent. If the above do not work, get a new fan that has a proper closure.
Q. Every year I treat for dandelions, and the next year they come right back. Any suggestions?
A. Yep. Let them grow. They are really not that bad, but that is only one (handy)man’s opinion, and your neighbors might take it with extreme umbrage. For starters, don’t use herbicides; they are very dangerous. Don’t pull them out; that never works; you have to dig them out, roots and all. Do this before they go to seed; when the seeds start blowing, it is too late. If you do this regularly every year you will be dandelion-free after a year or so. And of course the neighbors must do the same. Come to think about it, I have only one or two dandelions each season, and the neighbors are clear, too. It must have been a neighborhood effort.
Globe Handyman on Call also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (firstname.lastname@example.org) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.