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HANDYMAN ON CALL

Strong glue needed to keep skylight shades in place

By Peter Hotton
Globe Correspondent / April 24, 2011

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Q. I have six Velux crank-open skylights in my house that have roller-style blinds. The cloth-like material on the roller blinds has aged to the point where it has come apart and torn. I need to replace the material. I bought an inexpensive vinyl.

I have two questions: 1. What kind of glue would you recommend to attach the vinyl to the aluminum rollers?

2. How do I create and maintain the appropriate tension in the springs in the aluminum rollers, so that it allows the shade to pull down under tension, and then return the roller to its fully “rolled up’’ position at the top of the skylight when I want the sun to shine in?

By the way, the manufacturer was no help at all answering these questions.

A. I think you can use Gorilla Glue or Rhino Glue or a super glue to attach the shade material. That is, if such glues will bind vinyl with aluminum. Ask your hardware man what is best. There will always be tension on the shade, and that is why you need a good glue. If that doesn’t work, buy a regular room-darkening roller shade with a wood roller bar, or if you can find an empty wood roller bar, staple your material to it. That’s how they did it before “improving’’ the roller by making it aluminum.

To increase the tension in the roller, pull the shade down to expose most of it, then take it from its brackets and roll it up half way, then reinstall it in its brackets. Repeat until you get the desired tension.

Q. I have seen many tiny bugs about the size of red ants crawling in my basement, and some have wings. I keep spraying but they come back. What are they, and what can I do about them?

CONCERNED

A. If they are beige or light brown and have wings that tend to fold along their backs, they are probably termites, which are swarming; that is, developing wings as they come out of hibernation, looking for mates and new worlds to conquer. That does not mean your house is infested, but I suggest you call an exterminator to check. If they are black, they are ants, another kind of swarming insect, which are no problem because in a few days they will be long gone. Do not spray indoors, except maybe the basement, if it is not lived in.

Q. My 1920s two-family house has dark brown stained shingles. I stained them light green. The trouble now is with mold on the new light green. Why did it appear and how can I keep it away?

WORRIED

A. Mold is dark, usually black, and is readily visible on the bright green. You probably had mold on the dark brown but you did not see it. Why did it appear? Any time you have a damp surface and mold spores wafting nearby, they will land on that surface and voilà mold. Treat the mold with a mix of one part bleach and three parts water. It will be back. The nonbleach remedies like Shoo-Mold and Moldex, which sanitize the surface, do not work well, in my opinion and experience.

Q. Workers breached a hole in the brick firewall in the attic of my three-story attached brick building while doing a gut and rehab job. The hole is 2-feet high and 1-foot wide. Should it be closed?

ANGRY

A. The Handyman continues to be flabbergasted at the things that happen in buildings, especially during rehab. That firewall helps keep a fire from jumping across. It cannot do that with a hole cut in it. Have them mortar in new or old bricks to fill the gap. You can do it yourself, too. But it should be done.

Q. In my kitchen the noise of water gushing through the pipes is so loud that it is intolerable. How can I quiet that racket?

ANNOYED

A. Huh? Be grateful that you have fresh, clean water to shower in. Wear earplugs and live with this inconvenience. You’ll get used to it. The only cure is to expose the pipes so you can put pipe insulation on them. It will help, but not much.

Q. I had a round roof vent pop off and noticed that two others are loose. Before I climb up on a ladder, can you tell me what usually keeps them in place? The one that popped off does not have any holes to indicate it was screwed in place, or glued.

STEVE, in Hotton’s chat room

A. I think the plastic covers pop in somehow. If you are comfortable on a roof, try it yourself. Plastic units often click together. I stepped on mine once and turned it into a pile of dents, but I popped out the dents and it has been working nicely ever since.

Q. Should I get a pro to measure my windows for new storms? Do I need to install $180 Harvey True Channels, or will the $60 Lowe’s windows do the trick?

HEDLEY, in Hotton’s chat room

A. You mean trick or treat? Those $60 windows I don’t think are worth even $60. Storms are usually installed by contractors, for a fee, but you might be able to make a deal with Harvey to measure your spaces and you put them in yourself.

Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go to www.Boston.com.