Use care to free compactor from under counter
Q. The hardwood floor was installed in my kitchen 10 years ago, after the appliances were in place. Now my trash compactor has gone kaput, and I need to replace it. Normally, I would slide the unit out and slide a new one in. But with the hardwood planks in front, there is not enough vertical clearance to do this. Any suggestions for an average do-it yourselfer?
MARY, in Hotton’s chatroom
A. What the designers should do is put inflatable tires under the compactor (and dishwashers, the other appliance usually trapped like your compactor is), so you could deflate them and pull the unit out. Or at least adjustable feet. In fact, check the unit to see if it has movable feet. If you see any, turn them to lower the unit, perhaps enough to pull it out. Washers and dryers have movable feet, to keep them level. Also, remove the fasteners that hold the unit against the under part of the countertop or cabinet sides before pulling it out.
More ideas. If the top is plywood under any finish, or granite, you can try prying it up just enough to pull out the unit. This is unlikely to hurt anything, if you do it very carefully. If the unit is close to a sink, beware of this trick. Also, if there is trim at the edge of the countertop, you might be able to pry it off to reveal more vertical clearance. If those flooring planks (4- to 6-inches wide) are parallel to the counter, you can pull up some to allow for clearance. With care, they can be put back in place.
If you ever redo the kitchen, it is best to take out all appliances and cabinets, then install a new floor in the entire room. Doing the floor this way will help make the kitchen vermin-proof, except for plumbing and wiring holes. These tricks are doable by an average DYI. One that is not is to raise the entire countertop, sink and all.
Q. My two-decker has a tar and gravel roof. Last spring I had cellulose blown in the walls. It has made a lot of difference on the first-floor unit, but not the second. The guy who did the walls said he could blow cellulose between roof and ceiling. I did some research and many people say this is a major no-no. As far as I can tell my only option is to put a new roof on over several inches of foam insulation. Other options?
ROOF, in Hotton’s chatroom
A. Insulating in that space is tricky, because it is difficult to provide the necessary ventilation. Another option is to have Icynene, a high quality foam, blown in the cavity completely, with no ventilation. This goes against standard procedure, but insulation companies are doing it with good results. Call Anderson Insulation of Abington for more info.
Q. I replaced my concrete patio with a new one last August, with rebar and expansion joints. In November, during the first cold snap, the patio cracked and heaved so much that it blocked the back door. How can I fix it?
SHIRLEY C., St. Paul
A. Break it up where needed, excavate 3 feet down, add 12 inches of crushed stone, 18 inches of Styrofoam insulation, top with 6 inches of poured concrete with half-inch rebar in the center of that 6-inch depth, and the usual expansion joints.
Q. When I had new siding installed, everything was good except in one second-story bedroom, where I feel a cold breeze along one exterior wall that has no radiators. It’s a definite breeze. What to do? Carpeting covers the floor.
FRANCES RICHARD, Lynnfield
A. Roll back the carpet and check for a molding under it, butting against the baseboard. If there is molding, remove it and put a heavy bead of caulk in that joint, then replace the trim. It there was no trim, caulk that joint and buy a piece of quarter-round to install over the caulking. The idea is to make sure that caulking is pressed in place and stays where it belongs and does its job. These joints between floor and baseboard are notoriously breezy. You may need a rug installer to put the carpet back.
Q. I removed interior doors to refurbish the hinges. After I put them back up, the doors didn’t lock anymore and don’t fit exactly with the latches. What can I do to realign the doors?
SEAN QUIST, Marlborough
A. If the hinges had several coats of paint and you removed it, this could cause the misalignment. Make sure the hinges are on as tight as they were in the first place, and are in their mortises (the cut-out sections in jamb and door edge).
Everything OK? Now check to see if the latch hits the bottom or top of the keeper (a hole in the brass unit on the jamb). If it hits the bottom, you have to lift the door so that the latch and keeper will jibe. If the latch hits the top of the keeper, you have to lower the door. A third problem is if the latch does not reach the keeper hole when the door is closed, that you have to press extra hard to make it latch. The cure for that is to relocate the side stop, the trim that the door butts into, and move it enough so the latch catches.
Peter Hotton (email@example.com) is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. He also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.