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Handyman on Call

Spiders are creating a mess

By Peter Hotton
Globe Correspondent / July 26, 2012
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Q. My house is clad in white vinyl siding, located near a large pond, and is in sunlight morning to early evening in the back, but only a short while in the afternoon. My problem is spiders; they are everywhere on the house, door frames, window frames, shutters. Their webs capture every insect that is attracted to the warm siding. The insects die and when they decompose they leave stains on the siding, which creates a mess. Mold Armor twice a year has worked nicely cleaning the stains and removing the webs. But the problem seems to be getting worse. I

DAVID MAHONEY, Plymouth

A. Hold onto your spiders, David, they’re your best friends. You have the best exterminators in history, and they work for free. They are neither neat nor choosy, but they are very efficient. The insect carcasses remaining are very small because the arachnids inject a liquefying agent into them and suck out nearly everything inside. Don’t try to get rid of them because you cannot. Hose them down with your garden hose once a day, morning or evening. They will be back, so you have to do it daily, which will keep the siding relatively clean with only water. Your impressions are right — most spider victims are bad (mosquitoes, flies, beetles, sowbugs, moths) and a few are good (hornets, wasps and other vespae, and butterflies). They’ll be gone by cold weather, but they will be back in the spring.

Q. I took off the asphalt shingles from my outside walls, revealing old, dry clapboards and curved shingles. Several clapboards and shingles will have to be replaced, but most of it is is salvageable. My painter said that the wood is so old and dry it will not take paint very well. Do I have to take off all that old wood? It looks pretty good.

CATHERINE WALKER, Dorchester

A. I think you can keep the old wood. You may have to get rid of wood that is particularly soft, but it is all cedar, which resists decay and should take paint well. Check with your paint store to see if there is anything like a conditioning primer available. If not, regular oil or latex primer can be used, but it must be well brushed in, not rolled or sprayed, unless it is sprayed with high pressure. Oil based is better because it will soak into the wood better than latex. Then, two thin coats of a latex house paint will do well.

Q. Part of my stove top has a shiny black finish. Someone cleaned it so well that it has lost its sheen. How can I restore it?

ED, Beverly

A. Call your appliance dealer to find out what the finish is, and follow his advice. Or, you can have it professionally lacquered, or if that part is subject to high heat, spray on a coat or two of high heat resistant paint.

Q. I hate to admit it, but I left 22 garden tools — spades, rakes, axes, hoes, brushes, and I don’t know what else — out all winter. In the spring a lot of the wood handles were split and beginning to decay from a lot of mold. I priced new handles and they cost nearly as much as new tools. Can I rescue some or all of them?

SUSAN, Saugus

A. I think so, maybe all. First, kill the mold with a solution of 1 part bleach and 3 parts water. Wear skin and eye protection. If there is any decay present, dig it out. It may not be deep enough to cause a problem, and the bleach will kill any decay organisms. Wrap splits with Gorilla Duct Tape to close the gap and keep it closed. A friend who didn’t know squat about tools wrapped the handle of a heavy hammer with 25 or 30 feet of duct tape, and by gosh it still works well. Treat bare wood with boiled linseed oil. Dampen a cloth with the oil and rub it well into the wood.

If the metal parts are rusty, sand them with emery cloth, then wipe lightly with the oil-damp cloth. Store them in a garage or tool house. Dispose of that oily cloth safely by burning it.

Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton 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 (photton@globe.com) also chats online 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to www.boston.com.

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