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Handyman on Call

Roof answer is blowing in the wind — loudly

By Peter Hotton
Globe Correspondent / June 20, 2010

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Q. After I had a new roof put on my summer cottage in Mattamet, I hear strange rumbling noises when the wind blows. It sounds like thunder, and it never happened when the old roof was on. The roofer, who used a nail gun, also did not know. The asphalt shingles look OK, and I don’t see them flapping in the wind. What’s wrong, and how can it be fixed?

KAY CREEDON, Kingston

A. An idea popped into my mind when you mentioned the roofer used a nail gun. I think the nail gun was maladjusted so that the nails were driven clear through the shingle. The wind may blow under some of the shingles and lift up the whole roof just an inch or so, then drop it to make the thundering noise. It sounds weird, but we have a good example of what the wind can do in the Globe’s coverage of the uprooted trees on the Esplanade. The roofer said he didn’t know the cause, but I think he does. The only fix is to put on new shingles, with a hammer.

If anyone “out there’’ has a different idea, the Handyman and Kay Creedon would sorely like to know.

Q. In remodeling my daughter’s house, I put ceramic tiles on a concrete floor with thin-set mortar, and they stuck like crazy, but only where the floor was bare concrete. They started popping up where I put them on a black goo that previously held down resilient plastic tiles. They also did not hold on the concrete where I took off almost all of the black goo. The makers of the mortar said I could use it over the black goo. How can I make the ceramic tile stick to such a floor?

ALLEN CLARK, Waggaman, La.

A. I feel strongly for you in Louisiana and other Southern climes; first Katrina, then the oil disaster. You deserve a break today. I too thought that you could put thin-set over a tar emulsion (a better name than the black goo we keep talking about). So try this: Get as much of that tarry stuff off by cleaning with paint thinner, then install the ceramic tile with a tile adhesive.

Q. I have several long-handled axes that have rusted quite badly. Do I have to throw them out?

FROM READING

A. Absolutely not. Somehow we have been brainwashed into thinking that if something gets dirty or worn or rusty or cracked or doesn’t work, we should throw it out and replace it. In some cases yes, but in most, you can clean it , repaint or revarnish it, restore the rusted steel, or fix the crack or get it to work again. There is enough steel in the business end of those axes to sand off the rust. Use emery cloth, a sanding material that is much tougher than sandpaper. With the bright steel showing, wipe a thin layer of oil on it and store it away. Check regularly to make sure the oil is still on the steel, which will help prevent rusting.

Not all rusting tools can be restored. A hand saw, for example, is quite thin and if the rust has eaten through the thin blade, then it’s curtains for that saw.

Q. My 1969 house has good spring-loaded (no weights) wood windows and modern storms that work very well. The main windows slide up and down on aluminum jambs, but recently have been pretty hard to move. Can I coat them with something to make them move more easily?

LOVE MY WINDOWS

A. Sure thing. Rub the aluminum jambs gently with candle wax. Soap may work better, but it will melt and make a big mess. If the wax helps a little, you might be able to do a little better by spraying with silicone. Don’t overdo the spray.

Q. My front door is recessed into a sort of alcove that is 3 feet deep and as wide as the door assembly. I had a new sill installed to replace one that had rotted out, and also large baseboards of Trex-like material installed along the sides to replace wood that had failed. The door sill is just about 1 1/2 inches above the floor and well caulked. During the big storms last spring, water hit that alcove floor and rushed under the sill and inside the wall of the finished basement below. A contractor said the storms were 100-year storms and it is unlikely that future storms will be quite as bad. How can I keep that from happening again?

GEORGE, Arlington

A. Don’t count on lesser storms. The defect must be fixed. That defect is the short distance between door sill and floor. You could always install a wall and door to cover that alcove, but it might look pretty dumb. Or build a porch at the alcove entrance to prevent water from hitting that alcove floor. All well and good, but expensive. So try this: Caulk that space under the door sill. Do it heavily with an adhesive caulk, then stuff a 1 x 2 pressure-treated board into that space and nail it. The board will press against the caulking and make a permanent, watertight seal.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.