Handyman on call
Q. I need to winterize my apartment windows. What do you suggest?
PAMELA,in Hotton’s chat room
A. If the windows are steel framed, the only thing you can do is buy a storm window kit, which enables you to tape polyethylene plastic over the window, taping it on the frame. Not pretty but effective. If you have old-fashioned wood windows and aluminum storms, it is another matter. For the storms, the main thing you need to know is whether they are in the right position. Like all double hung windows, the upper sash is the outermost sash, and the bottom sash will be the innermost sash. It sounds crazy, but this is important. If the sashes are arranged oppositely, they will do absolutely no good and will bring a lot of rain and other weather in. The main windows are next. All you can do is check to make sure they are tight and are weather-stripped. You can see the weather-stripping, if there is any, by opening the window and checking for metal or plastic lining the grooves or window edges. If there is none, you can buy plastic or metal stripping, and put some in yourself. It is sold in hardware and big box stores. Finally, as above, you can buy and install a storm window kit.
Q. The cathedral ceiling in my family room has knotty pine ceiling between the beams. It looks good and has a light oil stain. During a recent re-roofing project, a few leaks created a number of water marks or stains on the knotty pine. How can I remove them?
A. You can’t, but if you are patient, they may fade in a few months or you will become used to them. If there is no finish (like varnish) on the ceiling, you can use a semitransparent stain to darken the boards. The stain is either an exterior semitransparent stain that will give a slightly opaque color, or a Minwax stain, which is transparent despite its dark color. And if you keep the beams a light stain, it will be an interesting contrast.
Q. The room above my garage gets quite cold in winter. The room has three heat registers but no cold air returns. Could this be the cause?
ANDREA,in Hotton’s chat room
A. With three heat registers, it must be a big room. The lack of a return is probably the culprit. The forced hot air is pumping against a dead end and it cools off before it heats the room. One semi-fix is to keep the door to the room open so that air can escape down the stairs. It’s like installing your own cold air return.
Q. My mother lives in East Hartford, Conn. She has a three-season family room, an enclosed porch on a concrete slab, heated by a small in-wall heater. The floor was covered with quarry tiles 10 to 15 years ago. Recently a section of the tiles in the middle of the room came loose and lifted off the floor, so they settle back down when walked on. The grout is intact, so the loose tiles act as one piece. Could someone insert an adhesive under the tiles and re-lay them?
A. Inserting an adhesive under the tiles is probably not feasible, but this could be done. The tiles were put down with an adhesive, which failed because the tiles were cold. But the loose tiles (4-by-5 feet) can be lifted as one sheet and set aside. Then cover the bare concrete with thin-set mortar and put the sheet right back, pressing it in the thin-set. You may have to scrape off the old adhesive both from the backs of the tiles and the floor. The only other plan is to scrape up the loose tiles, scrape off all grout and adhesive, and re-lay them with thin-set mortar. In fact, if all the other tiles come up easily, then redo the entire room with thin-set. Sound crazy? Not in Connecticut where the Handyman worked for 12 years. So I know the state is full of practical, smart do-it-yourselfers who would find this project not only doable, but enjoyable.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (email@example.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com