Cleaning mold off A/C unit
Q. I have been told to keep my windows closed in spring, summer, and fall due to allergies, and to use my air conditioner, but to keep it free from mold. How do I do that? I don’t mean the filter because that is removable, but I can see black building up on grates and other plastic areas.
CECELIA ARTINO, Albany, N.Y.
A. At least by now the allergens mostly are dormant. To clean the visible black stains treat them with a mix of 1 part household bleach and 3 parts water. For the rest, presumably inside the air conditioner, which I also assume is a window unit, try this, but be careful when using bleach, which is toxic and corrosive. Spray a bit of bleach on the filter and turn the A/C on “air.’’ Get out of the house while this is going on.
If you are reluctant to do this, have it done by a professional cleaner or mold reduction expert.
Q. I am a handicapped person, and recently my aide, while dyeing my hair, dripped black dye across the kitchen floor. Amazingly, it seeped under the top layer of the linoleum, so scrubbing does nothing. I called Clairol, which did not know what to do. I called Home Depot, and they suggested things to do, none of which worked. Suggestions? Remedies? Creative thoughts?
ENID SMITH, Albany, N.Y.
A. I like that “creative thoughts’’ question, but any cure is unlikely because the stain is under the clear layer of sheet vinyl. Alcohol may be the solvent for the dye, but getting to it is another matter. I am not even sure that bleach will do anything, either, and might affect other colors. I suggest you live with it and consider it a bizarre part of your decor. You could put down a throw rug to cover it, if you can keep it from slipping.
Q. My concrete foundation has a rectangular hole in it, and the grille that covers it is loose. I am concerned about critters coming in. Can I fill that hole?
MARIE, from Leominster
A. Those grilles are usually secured with screws designed to go into holes drilled in the concrete. Check to see if they are loose. If any are, remove them and put in bigger ones. If the holes are still usable, fill them with an epoxy wood filler. Then drive in the screws. Keep the hole screened because it will provide needed ventilation.
Q. The hardwood floor outside my bathroom got wet over years, and some boards peaked, buckling a bit. I can press the buckling down by stepping, but can I make it permanent?
RICHARD CONCANNON, Boston
A. The hardwood expanded when it got wet, and some of the boards rose up into the shape of a tent; they had no place to go except up when they got wet enough. If the boards are parallel to the wall, a standard installation includes an expansion joint, a 1/2-inch-wide gap next to the baseboard, covered by a quarter-round molding. This gap will allow space for the wood to expand.
To check, pry up the quarter-round and baseboard to reveal the hardwood. If there is a gap, no problem. If there isn’t, cut half an inch off the hardwood and put everything back. Press the buckling down with your feet, and with someone standing to keep it down, drive hot-zinc-dipped galvanized finish nails through the hardwood.
Q. I found an old clipping of yours suggesting using Goo-Gone on dirty, oily wire closet shelving. I tried it without success. But I did find something that worked very well: Westley’s Bleach White Tire Cleaner.
RALPH KUNZE, Jupiter, Fla.
A. I like questions like yours. No answer needed.
Q. I have 1,800 square feet of hardwood flooring, and the usual baseboard and quarter-round molding. In two rooms the baseboard has pulled away from the wall, leaving a gap of 1/4 to 1/2 inch. What’s wrong? Neither the baseboard nor the wall moves when I push on them.
REGINALD GRUNER, Old Saybrook, Conn.
A. The carpenter used a nail gun on the baseboard, and missed a lot of the studs. He hit wood at the bottom because there is a floor plate there. To fix, pry off the baseboard and molding, and re-nail the baseboard, two nails per stud, one at the bottom and one at the top of the baseboard. Use hot-zinc-dipped galvanized finish nails.
Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays for repair questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (email@example.com) chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.