Handyman on call
Cold with hardwood floors
Q. We live in a 1955 colonial, on a slab. The first-floor dining and living room hardwood floors are pretty cold. Is there anything I can do to insulate without taking the floors up?
RICH, in Hotton’s chat room
A. I assume the slab is on the ground. Not a lot. You could install a thick, insulating pad under wall-to-wall carpeting. Heavy pads, plus the thickest wool Oriental or broadloom area rugs will also help. These thicknesses may interfere with opening doors, mainly front and back exterior doors, but you can buy movable thresholds for those doors to counter that problem.
Another trick, but this requires removing the hardwood: Lay down one-inch Thermax, a rigid insulation, then put the hardwood back on.
Q. Now that the snow seems to be subsiding, what can we do outdoors to prevent flooding when the snow melts? Shovel snow away from the foundation or let time take its course?
D, in Hotton’s chat room
A. Do nothing. All that snow will go into street drains and into the ground. It will melt slowly enough to saturate the ground slowly, slowing down the rise in the water table until the spring (remember last March?) rains. Then let’s hope for shorter, lighter rains in the spring. The only time you have to shovel is to clear dryer vents and power vents for heating systems. And to clear a space for the fellow who fills the oil tank.
Q. In my recently bought 1890 Victorian, I discovered a cast iron lid that opens to a storage container in the backyard about five feet from the house. I assume it is an old trash can. I want to build a deck, and the posts would go where this bin is. Are there any issues with removing them?
RUSTY, in Hotton’s chat room
A. No issues, but if you can take it out intact you might get a few bucks; it is an antique, or at least a semi-antique. If the space is about the size of a 5-gallon can, it is a garbage (not trash) can. The garbage can contained things that were once edible. In the good old days, practically every house had one, and people used to collect the garbage and feed the hogs with it. As for locating the posts, you can dig the antique up, clean it up and use it as an artifact on your deck. Or, relocate the posts a bit. It’s funny, I had one in my yard in Plainville, Conn.
Q. My contractor put down large marble tiles in both bathrooms in my condo. I am concerned about potential damage to the marble flooring under my stacking washer and dryer. I have been afraid to use the washer and dryer and am wondering if I should I be concerned?
BEATRICE BELL, by e-mail
A. You could put a thick rubberized pad under each foot of the unit that touches the marble. Or a big rubber pad for all four feet. And for the marble, have your contractor seal the marble in both rooms with a marble sealer or a masonry sealer.
Q. I had my heating system checked and prepared for use in October before I turned on the thermostat. I noticed recently that a periodic knocking sound comes from the cast iron baseboard unit when the heat comes on. I opened up the spigot and there is water coming out, so there is sufficient water getting to it. It is on the second floor.
CALLER, by e-mail
A. There is nothing you have to do. The knocking is caused by the cast iron expanding when it heats up. It also may happen when the cast iron contracts as it cools.
Q. We have a cherry bed frame that squeaks loudly where mattress-holding side rails butt into the headboard and footboard. Is there some anti-squeak silicon or similar spray or whatever that might work better?
DENNY/DEBBY GRUBBS, Newmarket, N.H.
A. Ah, one of my favorite problems, butt of many bad jokes. So let’s be serious, and quiet: Try a silicone spray or
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 (email@example.com) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com